Posted 05 September 2009 - 12:32 PM
Just a bit of advice for anyone looking to buy automotive glass. Thought this seemed an appropriate place.
When you set about getting glass, there are a couple of things to make sure that you get. The thing to remember here is that price IS NOT everything. In fact, in some ways, price can serve as a red flag for you if you know what you're looking for.
In the US, there are essentially only 3 OE glass manufacturers. They are Pittsburgh Glass Works (PGW), formerly known as PPG, Libbey Owens Ford (LOF), formerly known as Pilkington, and Carlite. Carlite manufactures glass almost entirely for Ford, but their glass does occasionally find its way into other makes. PGW and LOF provide the OEM glass for pretty much every other vehicle manufactured in North America. There are other manufacturers, such as Safelite, but they are aftermarket glass. So there are essentially 3 types of glass out there. OEM (comes from the factory, complete with logos and premium price tag), OE (made by the same people) and Aftermarket. As a rule, you'll want to stay away from the aftermarket glass unless you just need to put a piece in a car so you can sell it or something. The aftermarket glass is cheap and does not meet vehicle manufacturer standards for product quality. That can lead to problems as minor as "the glass is just not the same color as the rest" or as severe as "the shape is just not quite right and it doesn't quite fit the hole". So how do you tell?
Well, since there are only three manufacturers, essentially all glass shops pay about the same for the glass itself. So when you call to get a quote, ask them to break down the total. That breakdown should include glass, labor and any moldings/clips/etc. You will notice that most of the shops in your area will be right about the same cost on the glass. The low-ball outliers are the ones using cheap glass and, therefore, should probably be avoided. THen, you need to compare labor rates.
Most shops, again, will be right there together. The high-side outliers will be the ones with high shop rates. That fact gives you room to negotiate with them. The low-side outliers will be the ones who either have low shop rates or make a practice of cutting corners during install. Usually both. Again, these low-side outliers should probably be avoided.
Your windshield is part of the safety features of your car. If it is not installed properly, it could come out in an accident and that is B A D bad.
The other thing to be aware of is the fact that there are LOTS of glass installers out there who only do mobile work. While that is convenient, it also leaves you, the customer, susceptible to some problems you just don't want to have. Make sure that your installer has a shop, even if you are going to have them come to you to do the work. That way, if there is a problem with that glass down the line, you aren't at their mercy for when they want to come deal with you. You can simply take the car to the shop and get the problem taken care of.
For those of you who own newer vehicles or carry comprehensive insurance on your car, talk to your agent about reducing your deductible for comprehensive. That deductible isn't the expensive one in terms of your monthly premium. As an example, the difference between $250 and $50 deductible on my wife's 01 Forester is about $8 every 6 months. Of course, your mileage may very, etc. The worst they can say, though, is "sorry, we can't do that" and you're no worse off than you were. Definitely worth a conversation with your agent.