Replacement Windshields on Leased Cars

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

If your car is leased, you could be in for a nasty surprise if you replace the windshield. It can cost you the retail dealer price of a new manufacturer’s windshield if you repair or replace your windshield.

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

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 had the windshield replaced with a Mercedes windshield.

broken windshield on my leased car was replaced with a 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 car and Safelite wanted to install an aftermarket windshield on my Mercedes.

Leasing companies generally do not accept OEE windshields which 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 because I have 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 cars is approximately $2,500.

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.

Safelite was going to replace the windshield with an original equipment equivalent windshield. I told them that I had to have an original Mercedes windshield. Safelite tried to persuade me to take their windshield by telling me that my insurance company, State Farm, probably wouldn’t pay for a Mercedes windshield because it is twice the price of their windshield. I insisted that State Farm would pay for it. Safelite then said 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. 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 in to the dealership to replace a windshield, the dealer will call in a glass company to replace your 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.

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 because Allstate said I have 5 claims in 40 months. The 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.