What Windshield Replacement Cost on a Leased Car Can Really Cost

Replacing a Windshield on a Leased Car — What You Should Know

Replacing a windshield on a leased car has different concerns than replacing a windshield on a car you own.

You Own the Car

If you financed your car, you purchased the car and you own the car. The finance company does not own your car. You can replace your windshield with an OEM or OEE windshield.

If you own an expensive car, using an aftermarket windshield could devalue your car but that’s your decision.

You Leased the Car

You don’t own a leased car. The leasing company owns the car and you merely rent it for a period of years with the option to buy. The leasing company has the right to make you return it with an OEM windshield.

If your car is leased, you could be in for a nasty surprise after you return your car if you replaced the windshield with an OEE windshield.

The leasing company may reject your OEE replacement windshield when you return your leased car and replace it with an OEM windshield.

The leasing company will then charge you the retail dealer price of a new manufacturer’s windshield even though your insurance company already paid to replace your windshield.

What should you do? Make sure your insurance company pays to replace your windshield with an OEM windshield.

This windshield was broken on my wife’s car during a storm when a tree branch flew straight at her windshield missing her head by a couple of feet and would have killed someone in the passenger seat. There was very little other damage and, of course, I made sure the windshield was replaced with an OEM Mercedes windshield.

The real windshield replacement cost for this broken windshield on my leased car could have been $2,5000 it wasn't replaced with an OEM Mercedes windshield ordered from the dealer using glass coverage on my insurance policy

Usual Process of Replacing a Windshield

The usual process of replacing a broken or cracked windshield:

  • You call your insurance company to make an insurance claim under your glass coverage to get a “new” windshield. Your insurance company sends you to a windshield replacement company, or
  • You go to a windshield replacement company and pay for a new windshield yourself.
  • Neither your insurance company nor the windshield replacement company will mention anything about the difference between using a generic aftermarket windshield and a new manufacturer’s windshield.
  • The windshield replacement company will give you a new aftermarket windshield. If you ask about safety, they tell you it is just as safe as the original manufacturer’s windshield. Is it? I certainly don’t know.

Most insurance companies will send you to Safelite, one of the main aftermarket auto glass manufacturers, which will give you an aftermarket windshield also known as an OEE or Original Equipment Equivalent windshield.

State Farm sent me to Safelite when I needed a new windshield on my leased car. Safelite wanted to install an aftermarket windshield on my Mercedes.

Leasing companies generally do not accept OEE windshields that are less expensive and manufactured to different specifications. If you return your leased car with an OEE windshield, when you submit your car for inspection, you will probably find yourself paying for another new windshield.

Your leasing company may require a manufacturer’s windshield or may accept an OEM windshield that is made to the same specifications. Before you replace your windshield, check with your leasing company to find out what will be required when you return your car.

I have glass coverage on my auto insurance policy for my two Mercedes. The Mercedes windshield has the Mercedes Benz signature on the windshield so it is easy to spot an OEE aftermarket windshield. The cost of a Mercedes windshield on my car is approximately $2,500.

What Is the Difference Between OEM and OEE Auto Windshield Glass?

Safelite’s website states, “Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) auto glass is made by the same manufacturer as your original glass. Original Equipment Equivalent (OEE) auto glass is made to the same standards, but by a different manufacturer. Our customers can choose OEM or OEE prior to service.”

Unfortunately, a car owner has no way to determine that an OEE windshield really meets the same standards as the manufacturer. additionally, most leasing companies will not accept an OEE auto windshield glass.

What is the Problem With Using an Aftermarket Windshield?

  • Your insurance company, the windshield replacement company, and your leasing company have different definitions of what is a new windshield and your leasing company may charge you to replace again what looks like a perfectly good windshield when you return your car;
  • If you have an expensive car that you own rather than lease, an OEE aftermarket replacement windshield may result in the diminished value of your car, devaluing your car which you may find out about when you try to sell it.

What Happened When I Replaced the Windshield on My Leased Car

When a stone hit the windshield on my Mercedes and caused a small chip, I had it repaired by Safelite. The chip and repair were small enough that it would be accepted by Mercedes when I returned my car. Months later, the windshield was hit again by a stone and this time it caused a large crack so the windshield had to be replaced.

My insurance company, State Farm, told me to call Safelite. I asked Safelite if they would install a Mercedes windshield and was told my insurance company probably wouldn’t pay for it and they would replace the windshield with an original equipment equivalent windshield which is just as good.

I told them that I had to have an original Mercedes windshield because my car is leased and I insisted that State Farm would pay for it.

Safelite then tried to persuade me to take their windshield by telling me that I would have to wait a couple of days to get a Mercedes windshield because they don’t stock it and would have to order it from Mercedes.

I told them I did not have a problem waiting. They then obtained permission from my insurance company and two days later, they installed an original Mercedes windshield.

If you are filing a glass claim with your insurance company for a new windshield, tell your insurance company that your car is leased and insist that they provide you with a dealer or OEM windshield accepted by your leasing company.

If your insurance company gives you a problem, provide them with a copy of your lease and advise that if they do not give you an acceptable windshield you will file a complaint with the insurance department.

Will a Dealer Accept a Cracked Windshield When You Return The Car?

BMW Financial Services will only accept a windshield with a crack that is no more than ¼” and which is located outside of the wiper span.

Leasing companies generally will not take back a car with some windshield repairs or aftermarket replacement windshields.

If you have an unacceptable crack or aftermarket windshield, your leasing company will replace the windshield with the manufacturer’s windshield when the car is returned and charge you the full retail replacement cost which could be as much as $800 – $2,500.

Do Dealerships Replace Windshields?

Yes. If you bring your car to the dealership to replace a windshield, the dealer will call in a glass company to replace your windshield. Although the dealership is more expensive, the dealership will replace your windshield with an OEM windshield.

Advantages of Replacing a Windshield at the Dealership

  • A car dealer will only install an OEM windshield.
  • You won’t have to worry that you may be charged for a new windshield when you return a leased car.
  • Your car will not be devalued with a less expensive OEE windshield which may or may not be as safe as an OEM windshield.

Does a Lease Cover a Cracked Windshield?

No. Your lease will not pay to replace a cracked windshield. You need to purchase glass coverage on your auto insurance policy to cover the cost of a cracked or broken windshield.

Your lease may require you to replace a cracked windshield with an OEM windshield. If you replace a windshield with an aftermarket windshield, when you return your leased car, the leasing company may charge you to replace your perfectly good windshield with an OEM windshield!

Will Replacing a Windshield With Glass Coverage Increase My Insurance Premium?

Probably not, BUT years ago I had glass coverage on my Allstate policy and I became assigned risk when I replaced a cracked windshield because Allstate said I had 5 claims in 40 months.

The 5 claims were a stolen and recovered car, an accident in which Allstate said I was 50% at fault, and 3 cracked windshields.

Allstate said they considered the replacement of the cracked windshields under my glass coverage as 3 separate claims.

Tip: Fixing a Windshield Crack

Star cracks in a windshield can spread very quickly, within hours. As soon as you see a star-shaped crack, take your car to an auto glass shop immediately. Most star cracks can be repaired inexpensively.

By Philip L. Franckel, Esq.