Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) Versus Original Equipment Equivalent (OEE) – Auto Glass

But I Thought You Said This Windshield Was Original Equipment?

Here is a common story for a consumer. A person has a brand new or leased vehicle and a piece of glass becomes damaged. They call an auto glass company and the consumer is told OEE is an original equipment equivalent replacement piece for their vehicle. But when the auto glass technician shows up to complete the replacement, the piece of glass does not actually have the vehicle makers OEM manufacturer logo.

OEM – Original parts installed by the vehicle’s maker during the assembly of your vehicle.

OEE – Parts produced for installation in the “aftermarket” by third party companies.

What Is OEM Auto Glass? (Original Equipment Manufacturer)

When a new vehicle is designed the vehicle maker can use an existing windshield part from an older model vehicle, or they can create a whole new windshield and part number. If the decision is made to create a whole new windshield the vehicle maker contracts a glass manufacturer to create the part. The glass manufacturer and vehicle maker create a unique mold and a unique molding/firing process to produce the OEM windshield (Original Equipment Manufacturer). The parts are installed when the vehicle is assembled at the vehicle makers factory.

OEM parts are available for purchase through your local dealership or through an auto glass company. Do be aware that OEM installations through a dealer will be significantly higher priced than choosing a third party company for the replacement. OEM parts are typically more expensive than OEE. In fact, OEM can cost over 100% more. Although Carlite (Ford) windshields are extremely affordable!

What Is OEE or OE Auto Glass? (Original Equipment Equivalent)

After a new vehicle has reached dealerships and is sold to consumers, third party glass manufacturers will actually acquire OEM glass and reverse engineer a mold to manufacture their own aftermarket glass parts. This mold is created after they digitize an outline of the part. Then the companies create a firing process to bend and shape the glass. OEE aftermarket parts are slightly different in size, they have slight differences in the bend of the glass, and the glass may have high distortion when viewed from a side angle. All of these differences may be minimal or dramatic depending on the manufacturer. The cheaper the glass, the cheaper the manufacturing was.

Removal Of The Manufacturer Logo

Some auto glass installation companies remove the windshields manufacturer logo to fool consumers into thinking its actually OEM. Remember to never buy glass without a manufacturer product label. The label is usually about 1 square inch in size and is located in the bottom areas of the windshield right above the painted black ceramic band. The manufacturer logo includes information about where the glass was manufactured, and has information for the Department of Transportation. Removing the logo is illegal.

What Are The Main Differences Between OEM and OEE.

1. Side View Clarity – All glass that is bent during manufacturing has some distortion when viewed from a side angle. This can be described as waves or waviness. Aftermarket glass is pressed, molded and fired during manufacturing in a slightly different way than the original process set by the vehicle maker. As a result of the difference in manufacturing the aftermarket process typically creates more distortion in glass when viewed from a side angle. Sometimes its a lot more!

2. Safety – Both types of glass meet all federal safety standards and also go through testing at such places as AMECA, Automotive Manufacturer’s Equipment Compliance Agency Inc.. Because both types meet certain safety guidelines, many auto glass installation companies push the argument that aftermarket is equivalent to the vehicle makers original replacement equipment simply based on this one similarity.

3. Glass Thickness – The federal government actually has mandates on the thickness of a windshield. Most windshields are between 2-3mm (millimeters) thick. OEE glass may have a.01mm or more difference in thickness. This may result in the idea that aftermarket is more cheap. Although this is still as safe and equivalent to OEM, I find it is different none the less and may have a higher risk of cracking from debris impacts.

4. Black Ceramic Paint Design – Both types of glass will typically have the same exact paint designs around the edges of the glass, although there are a few unique OEM windshields out there. This black design only hides areas from view (ex: under the dashboard, behind side pillars) and it protects the urethane glass adhesive from UV emitted by the sun. UV will degrade the adhesive which will result in the glass falling out or coming loose. One of the few differences found in paints bands may be, the vehicle maker or vehicle model logos embedded in the design. An example is a Ford Mustang windshield. The OEM windshield includes a picture of the Mustang logo above the rear view mirror bracket in the third visor.

5. The Manufacturer/Vehicle Maker Logo – OEM windshields have a logo that matches all of the other pieces of glass on your vehicle. This is the easiest to see if a piece of glass has been changed before, or to confirm if an auto glass company has ordered the right glass for you. The logo will either have the vehicle maker logo or the original vendor logo.

6. Rear View Mirror Brackets And Sensors – Aftermarket windshields (OEE) use a different process to adhere the mirror brackets to the glass. I find that their quality of adhesion and location is not as accurate as OEM parts. In fact, aftermarket distributors repeatedly drip glue on the glass below the bracket which may stain the black ceramic band on the interior side of the glass. When it comes to sensor components such as a rain sensors, the problem it not as rampant. But on a BMW windshield, a mirror bracket not correctly aligned may hinder the re-installation of the mirror’s plastic cover assembly which hides the sensor and bracket.

So Which Windshield Should I Choose, OEM or OEE?

The biggest impact on your decision will be budget. OEM parts are almost always higher priced. Most consumers simply choose OEE because they have no choice, everyone needs to save a few bucks. Don’t be scared of choosing aftermarket glass though because safety is mostly impacted by the technician installing the windshield correctly, not the glass itself. But if you really love your vehicle and expect the best quality, you should choose OEM. And if you are leasing your vehicle, your dealer may have restrictions on what type of glass is acceptable upon returning the vehicle. You may get a fee added if you have an aftermarket glass installed. Call your dealer for more information.

Auto Repair Services in Okinawa, Japan: Mechanics That Speak English

I recently visited Okinawa, Japan and found the people there are very friendly and kind. One problem, however, is that most of them do not speak English. On my first morning there, I spent the entire time looking for a person who could tell me in English where I could find a bank. I needed to exchange my US dollars for Japanese yen.

In the neighborhood where I was staying I visited a grocery store, walked the streets, and finally found a small police station outside Kadena Air Base. They did not understand English, but they had a map. I said I was looking for a bank and they said "ginkou." I thought they said "banko." So I said "yes, yes!" They did direct me to a bank thankfully.

Now if it is that hard to discuss the location of a bank, imagine how difficult it is for a US serviceman or woman to talk to an automotive mechanic about repairing their vehicle. Fortunately, I know of 2 American mechanics that are retired military who live and work in Okinawa near the Kadena Air Base. I saw firsthand the relief on the faces of customers who came in to drop off or pick up their cars.

Bill Siekert is the owner and head mechanic at B&M Okinawa. Bill explained that some of the automotive services provided on bases nearby are priced a little high because they are run under contract and frankly, they have a bit of a monopoly.

In Okinawa, some auto parts can be a difficult to find. Bill grinned as he said, "One way we have been able to help our customers is to go to the local junk yards in the area and find the parts we need." It pays to have local connections. Bill speaks Japanese and has connections with local auto body specialists. Bill can arrange for any kind of automotive work that needs to be done.

If you are stationed in Okinawa, Japan you can contact Bill Siekert about his auto repair services or you can use this map with directions to his automotive repair shop .

How to Buy Auto Parts Online

Buying auto parts online can be extremely hit and miss. There are so many uncertain variables if you do not know exactly what you need. Choosing the right auto parts online store can be the difference between getting the right part at the right price or finding yourself chasing the proverbial rabbit down the hole. The tips and tricks presented here will help you have a pleasurable shopping experience online.

You Do Not Have to Be an Expert

It comes as no surprise that the past several years have been financially heavy for most people here in the US. This fiscal struggle is everywhere when you take a moment to focus on our spending habits. For instance, new vehicle sales have gone down considerably in the past 5 years while restoration of existing autos have gone up exponentially. These days, we are becoming DIY mechanics, replacing faulty auto parts with new ones as necessary. However, most people are not aware that they can save even more money by buying auto parts online instead of at their local store.

You Do Not Have To Be an Expert!

In years past, consulting with an expert before buying replacement auto parts was the only way to go. We had to trust what our local mechanic was saying as gospel.  Nowadays, with access to a world of information with the onset of the internet, provided you know a little bit about your car, it isn’t really necessary to start your search with your local mechanic. If you want to buy auto parts online you can do it provided you know the make, year and model of your vehicle. Buying replacement parts online is even easier if you happen to know the part number.

Save Time When You Buy Online

If you shop for new car parts locally your selections are limited in terms of price and quality. What’s more, you are not guaranteed to find the exact part you need. This is painfully true if you are shopping for an uncommon auto part. Shopping online for auto parts can be far more efficient in terms of getting quality and accurate results. That’s because there are dozens of online auto parts stores that deal in the sale of auto parts. This means you are likely to find the precise part you need, even if it is an unusual one.

Saving Time

If you shop at traditional venues for auto parts you might have to drive to several different places before you find the part you are looking for. Driving from one place to another takes time. If you shop online what would have taken hours if not days can be accomplished in thirty minutes or less. Therefore, if you have a busy life as most of us do,  shopping online for new parts definitely frees up your time to do what you need to be doing instead of shopping for your parts around town.

Save Money Buying Online

Let us suppose that you decide to buy a used 2001 Ford Mustang, but it needs a new suspension. If you shop locally for the shocks and struts, it will cost you $400 or more at retail pricing. If you shop online for the exact same suspension parts, you can get them for as little as $200. That is half the cost, and usually shipping is free. When you buy new parts online it cuts out the middle man. That’s what makes it so much cheaper.

Warning – Do Be Careful

If your car is in desperate need of a replacement car part immediately, then you will pay for that time sensitive need.  if you have a day or two to spare to allow for your purchase to arrive, it is a much better idea to shop online than it is to buy locally. However you must be careful to order exactly the right part the first time. If you have to send a part back because you ordered the wrong one, it could cause a significant delay. It is also a good idea to ensure that any website you consider buying auto parts from is legitimate before making any kind of purchase.

Trust in these tips and tricks when shopping for auto parts online and you will save time, money, and will enjoy greater satisfaction in knowing you accomplished your goal of getting your car back on the road for less.