Seeing your windshield get damaged can be frustrating. You know that, for the safety of yourself and your passengers, you’ll have to get it fixed right away. When this happens to you, you may wonder: Will I need a windshield repair, or does this damage require a full windshield replacement?

The answer to this question ultimately depends on the nature of the damage. To get a proper idea of when you’ll need an auto glass repair versus an auto glass replacement, you’re better off having the details about both.

Auto Glass Repair

Minor windshield damage can often be taken care of by an auto glass repair service. This minor damage normally appears in the form of chips and cracks. A chip is usually a result of the impact of debris on the windshield. Cracks generally create a distinct line in the glass and usually run horizontally, in a wavy or fairly straight line.

When chips or cracks are less than 6 inches wide, and there are three or less chips present on the windshield, auto glass repair is usually possible. Damage located away from the edge of the windshield is also a better candidate for an auto glass repair. Damage closer to the edge of the windshield compromises the structural integrity of your windshield, meaning a windshield replacement is probably in order.

Another factor to consider when determining whether you qualify for an auto glass repair is the depth of the damage to your windshield. Note that a windshield often consists of both an outer and an inner layer of glass. If the damage has crossed beyond the outer layer through to the inner layer of glass, it is too deep to perform an auto glass repair.

If your windshield damage allows for an auto glass repair, a clear resin will be applied to cure the outer layer of the windshield glass. When done properly, auto glass repair restores your glass to its previous, smooth state.

Auto Glass Replacement

A windshield replacement involves the complete removal of a vehicle’s windshield. The windshield, along with the old bonding agents, trims, and gaskets are completely replaced with new ones.

Sometimes, an auto glass replacement is necessary for safety reasons. It is never okay to drive around with a crack in your windshield, as it can pose a major safety risk. When windshield damage is too wide or deep to simply be repaired, a total reinstallation of a new windshield is appropriate.

If in doubt, find an auto repair specialist that offers free estimates. They will be able to tell you for certain whether an auto glass repair or replacement is right for your vehicle. And remember, the sooner you take your car in, the less chance the damage has to spread. That means it’s more likely that you can save money by getting away with just an auto glass repair.