Given the number of times we see this issue, we found ourselves wondering…do Jeeps have a cracked windshield problem?! Why do they break so easily?
Turns out the answer is pretty simple. One of the original goals with the Wrangler windshield was to produce something that was cost effective for manufacturing and easy to replace. As a result, the flat, vertical windshield we know and love was born.
Any flat, vertical windshield is basically a magnet for rock chips. When the windshield is more upright, any rocks being kicked up will hit the glass head on. In contrast, when a rock hits an angled windshield, it's more likely to bounce off and exert less force on the glass, making it less likely to break.
On top of the orientation of your Jeep windshield, if your Wrangler is more than a mall crawler, and you're out there living that #jeeplife there's a good chance your tires are more off-road than on, which means your windshield is even more likely to take some nasty rock hits.
Both the Wrangler and Gladiator windshields have the perfect combination of susceptible windshield orientation and off-road shenanigans - that’ll pretty much guarantee you a lifetime membership to the cracked windshield club if you’re not doing anything to prevent it.
Now there's a good chance that you're here because you already have a crack in your windshield, and learning why it's broken is not as useful as knowing what to do next. One of the first questions you probably have is going to be "how much will this cost me?"
The cost to repair or replace your windshield depends on a few different factors:
- 1. The year your Jeep was manufactured
- 2. Whether or not you have any advanced driver assistance systems behind the windshield (this often comes down to the trim level)
- 3. The type of glass used for replacement (OEM, OEE or Aftermarket glass)
With older Jeeps, you tend to see lower replacement costs since there’s usually a much larger supply of replacement parts for older vehicles (in general). On top of that, newer vehicles are far more likely to have advanced tech behind the windshield - this is what powers features like Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) and Forward Collision Warning (FCW). Don’t get us wrong - these features are awesome, but when you go to replace your windshield, they’ll need to be recalibrated, which can be pretty expensive. And it’s not just Jeeps! We have a whole post about how windshield replacement costs have skyrocketed lately here.
To give you an idea of the amount you can expect to pay, we used Safelite’s online quote calculator tool to see the difference in replacement cost between a 2015 Wrangler and 2021 Wrangler windshield.
Here’s what we found:
2015 Wrangler: $589.99 for full replacement
2021 Wrangler: $1009.99 for full replacement
Keep in mind that this will depend a little bit on where you live, the glass repair/replacement shops near you, so we recommend reaching out locally if you need to get an accurate estimate, but this should give you an idea of what you can expect to pay.
The amount you pay also depends on the choice of windshield you pick for replacement - opting for an OEM over an aftermarket part is generally going to cost you quite a bit more.
If you've started looking at your windshield replacement options, you probably already know that there are a few options available for when it comes time to replacement glass: OEM, OEE, or aftermarket windshields.
The differences between all three of these can be confusing, so we'll break it down for you here:
OEM glass is as close as you’ll get to an exact copy of your original windshield and will have the same quality and features as the windshield your vehicle had straight off the assembly line. As the tech behind the windshield gets more advanced, many manufacturers are starting to strongly recommend only replacing your windshield with OEM glass to maintain the integrity of these safety systems. As far as we know, FCA has not mandated this for Jeeps yet, but a few other OEMs like Honda and Mercedes-Benz have.
On top of that, if you choose an OEM glass replacement, you also get to keep your Jeep logo and that little easter egg on your windshield (not literally...if you know you know).
Keep in mind that purchasing an OEM windshield for your replacement will almost always be more expensive than aftermarket alternatives, and with how regularly Wrangler windshields need replacing, it's worth considering your options.
OEE windshields are aftermarket windshields made to the exact standards and specifications of OEM glass (albeit missing the logos and decals you may be used to on your original glass).
According to most expert auto glass specialists, it is not exactly the same as OEM glass, and you may notice a slight difference in the thickness and clarity compared to OEM glass. That being said, many people choose to replace their windshield with OEE glass since it does tend to be cheaper than OEM glass, and offers acceptable quality.
If you're looking for a cost effective option that is still reliable, OEE glass may be the way to go.
Aftermarket windshields are cut to fit your vehicle, but are produced by a manufacturer that is not the OEM. The quality of aftermarket glass varies widely, with some of them being a pretty good copy of the original, and others being noticeably worse in terms of all-around quality (fit, clarity, thickness - you name it). In some cases, an aftermarket windshield may even be more likely to break than your original windshield if the thickness may be compromised. Given the wide variety and number of aftermarket windshield manufacturers out there, it's hard to say whether or not this is a good idea. We'd suggest talking to an expert or something who had tried the aftermarket glass option you're considering before taking the risk.
Also keep in mind that the sensors behind the windshield are designed to be compatible with the original glass, so if you do choose to go the aftermarket route, we definitely recommend doing your research (we’re all about safety here at ExoShield!).
Ultimately, the choice is up to you! After doing some digging around the Jeep forums there are plenty of people who are perfectly happy with their aftermarket glass. That being said, others swear by OEM windshields and will spend the extra cash for that peace of mind. Taking into account the cost difference and your driving habits, make the choice that makes the most sense for you (and your wallet).
If you’re trying to make the decision on OEM vs Aftermarket glass, here’s a resource that might be helpful!
Even if you have windshield coverage as part of your insurance, it's still important to understand exactly what will happen when you file a claim. For some people, depending on the quotes they get for replacement, it may make sense to pay out of pocket to avoid the hassle of filing a claim. It also helps to keep your record free of claims.
While infrequent replacements shouldn’t cause a massive increase in your insurance costs, more regular replacements (which are typical for Wrangler & Gladiator owners) might cause a spike. This could also affect costs in the future if you are regularly filing insurance claims.
Wrangler ownership comes with the unique experience of a constant countdown until your next rock chip. That being said, new solutions are starting to enter the market that can help save your windshield.
One of these solutions, especially for current Jeep owners, is to protect your windshield with something called a Windshield Protection Film. It’s like a fancy phone screen protector - except it’s made specifically for your windshield. It essentially absorbs the force from rocks or other debris that might hit your windshield while driving or doing Jeep things, which will reduce the chance of a cracked windshield.
A windshield protection film will significantly reduce the chance of damage to your windshield. With ExoShield, you’re 6 times less likely break your windshield when a rock hits your windshield on your next drive down the highway. We also use a fancy coating on the surface of ExoShield to prevent the wipers from scratching the film, making it last a lot longer regardless of where you choose to take your Jeep.
If you’re interested in learning more about windshield protection for your Jeep Wrangler, check out this post here or visit our map to find a local shop you can talk to about protecting your wrangler windshield.
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