By Filum Ho*
Replacing your windshield or any other glass on your motor vehicle shouldn’t have to be a painful and expensive experience.
In South Africa, it’s all too common for large carmakers, also known as Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), to scare customers into purchasing more expensive replacement glass.
OEMs sometimes even threaten car owners with voiding their warranties if they decide not to go with OEM products. Not only is this ethically wrong, but it will soon fall foul of the law as the Competition Commission is set to implement sweeping right to repair changes to the market on 1 July 2021.
As part of the new guidelines for the Competition Act, South Africans will have more choices when it comes to choosing aftermarket glass and products. A full update of these changes is published on the Competition Commission website.
Until these changes come into effect, you may find yourself having to replace your automotive glass but having to deal with these tactics. A key way to stop getting ripped off is by knowing more about OEE, or Original Equipment Equivalent glass, and asserting your rights.
Getting to know OEE
In many ways, OEE is to the automotive world what generic medicines are to the medical world.
OEE parts and glass products are typically made in the same factory as their OEM counterparts, but they can sometimes cost up to 300% less. Some insurers even waive the excess when you opt for OEE glass.
You may also find it interesting to know that carmakers are not auto-glass makers and that they rely on products produced by manufacturers such as Saint Gobain, AGC (Asahi Glass Company), Pilkington, Guardian Glass, Xinyi Glass, Korean Autoglass, Magna International, and others.
These companies, in turn, cobrand their names onto the OEM glass products in the market - if you go look at your windscreen, you should see one of these companies’ logos alongside your carmaker’s badge.
From a quality and safety standpoint, OEM and OEE glass undergo exactly the same quality and safety checks and they typically have the same components.
At this point, it’s important to note that the SABS mark is not a quality certification — it is a product safety certification. The SABS’s ambit focuses on aspects such as measuring how glass breaks and if it is within certain tolerances.
However, the SABS doesn't measure quality in terms of form and fitment. If the form and fitment aren’t correct, then there is a greater chance of wind noise and leaking. If you opt for an OEE glass product, it’s important to look out for the likes of E Marks, Dot Marks, CCCs (These are the internationally recognized standards of quality for glass in Europe, The United States and China) as well as the SABS quality stamps of approval on the product.
Poor form and fitment further impact calibration, which will negatively affect the centering of your vehicle as well as its sensor-driven lane and distance control. Top-quality factories will use robotics to fit your calibration sensor to ensure that it fits onto the windscreen within the accuracy of millimeters.
Benefits for all
Internationally, the trend is for car owners to rely more on OEE glass. In the European and US markets, only 1.5 - 2% of car owners use original glass when it comes to windshield replacements.
In South Africa this trend is 15 - 18%. And in recent months at Autoboys, we have seen this figure often hovering around 26%.
It’s therefore clear that when local consumers need to become more aware of their options as it empowers them to make better choices.
The overall effect of this is that it can further result in lower insurance premiums across the board for everybody and, ultimately, more money in your pocket.