DECATUR - No matter how safe a driver may be, he can’t avoid rocks and debris. And the windshield is usually the first casualty.

Like any automobile repair, windshield repairs can take time and money. But the windshield can be the easiest and least expensive to repair, if performed early. A delay in the repair could cause the fracture to spread, thus costing more.

Many factors can affect the growth of a windshield crack. Temperature, pot holes and gravel can all speed up the life of the fracture. Water and dirt can find its way into the crack and freeze, making the crack grow. To avoid further damage, the crack will need to be repaired as soon as possible.

Home repair kits can be inexpensive and a possible time-saver. These kits can be used on breaks no larger than a quarter. They usually include a bottle of resin, suction cups and adhesives. Window cleaner and a steady hand are also needed.

“Even if you can’t make it perfect again, a windshield repair kit can often prevent the damage from spreading further,” said Phillip Reed, Edmonds.com Senior Consumer Advice Editor. Prices can range from $10 to $20 and take about one hour to repair.

But once the ultraviolet light cures the resin, the repair can’t be done again. “It could damage it more,” said Mike Powell, owner of Poor Mans Auto Glass.

According to Powell and other windshield repair shops, this repair is best left to the professionals. “The pros know how to draw vacuum and apply pressure so there’s no air,” Powell said.

“It’s like any repair,” said Ron Talley, vice president and managing partner of Glass Specialty. “Any contaminants in the chemical can affect the repair.”

Many glass repair shops offer a mobile unit for a small fee. Repair personnel will repair the vehicle wherever it is most convenient for the customer. The process can take 20 to 30 minutes and, depending on the size of the break, cost $50 to $100. “And it is guaranteed for life,” Talley said.

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