A broken windshield on your car can't be ignored. When it comes to replacement, you will have a few options.
Dealer glass is most often only available from a certified dealer of your auto make and model, although some certified mechanics and glass services may also be able to provide it. In general, dealer glass will be the most expensive option for windshield replacement, simply because it is directly from your car's manufacturer. The windshield will be exactly like the one that originally came with your car.
There are a couple of reasons to consider dealer glass, regardless of the price. First, it may be the only option available if your windshield is being replaced under warranty. It may also be necessary in order to avoid voiding a warranty. Further, if your windshield is equipped with sensors or integrated defrost coils, the only way to replace it may be with the dealer glass — at least if you want to keep these features.
OEM stands for Original Equipment Manufactured. OEM manufacturers are licensed by the car manufacturer to make replacement parts that live up to the specs of the original equipment. If there is a choice between dealer and OEM glass, then OEM is usually more cost-effective but similar in quality and features to the dealer option.
In some cases, OEM and dealer grade are the same, while in other cases the licensing occurs after the original production of your car so there are some minor differences. This latter type of OEM is more commonly available for makes and models that have been around for a few years. The auto manufacturer quits producing replacement parts for older makes and models, and instead, licenses out all replacement part production to an OEM manufacturer. Depending on the warranty, an OEM replacement may qualify.
Aftermarket glass is the least expensive option, but it can be the riskiest. These glass manufacturers are not licensed, so there is no guarantee that the glass is of the best quality nor that it will fit your car perfectly. If your car is under warranty, damage that occurs as a result of aftermarket glass may not be covered under the warranty.
Only consider aftermarket glass if your glass installer has experience with the manufacturer and feels confident in recommending them. Further, verify that the aftermarket manufacturer provides an in-depth warranty for their glass, just in case problems do occur.
Contact an auto glass service in your area for more help if you need a new windshield.