Visiting a mechanic doesn’t have to be complicated. After all, you just want your vehicle to be repaired. But in reality, the auto repair process often becomes more complicated than necessary.

When the auto repair experts are trying to explain what could be wrong with your car and the potential costs, it may become confusing. You may not know whether they are taking advantage of you if they’re shooting you straight. In fact, research suggests that most Americans don’t trust auto mechanics.

So, how do you avoid getting ripped off? Part of the answer lies in asking the right questions before you commit to having work done by a mechanic or auto repair shop.

Chris Holsinger of All Valley Car Care, an auto repair shop with locations in Gilbert and Surprise, offers this advice, “Shop around before an emergency. If you are in a rush to get your car to the shop, your judgment might be clouded.”

Whether you find yourself in an emergency, or if you’re just doing research preemptively, here are a few questions to ask before you choose a mechanic.

Can I Get a Written Estimate?

Before the repair work begins, ensure you ask for a written estimate outlining what needs to be done and the related charges. Professional repair shops will not withhold this information. Providing the information makes their work easier.

Is Your Auto Repair Shop Certified?

You need to make sure the shop you visit is certified by the relevant bodies to make the repairs you need. One of the most important certifications that you need to check is ASE. For a mechanic to get the certificate, they are required to upgrade their skills and pass tests. If an auto repair shop has the certification, it means they do safe and quality repairs.

What’s the Nature of My Car Problems?

Most car owners are not trained to do repairs, which is why they go to mechanics. You need to understand the specific components that may be failing and the possible reasons. It could be an unavoidable mechanical breakdown, or your fault. Getting the information can help you to avoid similar problems in the future.

How Long Will the Repairs Take?

It’s often advisable to ask how long it will take for a mechanic to repair your car. Note that the duration is different for every case. Some services such as oil changes and other maintenance tasks are routine enough, and a repair shop can give an exact timeline. Some issues are serious and may require more time.

What’s Your level of Experience On My Model and Repair?

If you have a dental problem, you go to a dentist and not a psychiatrist. Similarly, technicians can specialize in specific models. Therefore, ensure you work with a mechanic with direct experience working on your vehicle type. Additionally, ask whether they have handled similar problems before.

Is Your Car Covered While in the Shop?

Some of the common risks while your car is undergoing repairs are fire and theft. Therefore, you should ask your auto repair shop whether they have fire and theft insurance. With the coverage, you will get compensation if your vehicle is damaged or stolen while in the shop.

Can I Choose the Auto parts to Be Used During the Repairs?

Mechanics can use several types of parts for your car. Some may suggest using the parts from an original manufacturer, while other mechanics may recommend used ones. If the used parts are in excellent condition, this is an effective way of saving some money.

Will You Call Me With Unexpected Expenses?

In some jurisdictions, technicians are required to get approval from car owners on repairs and parts that exceed a specified amount. Even if you don’t live in such states, you should ask the auto repair shop to contact you in the event of additional costs.