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I Married A Car Guy: My Journey Toward Car Literacy

Hi, I'm Debbie Nol, and I married a car guy. My 14 years of working at Arie Nol Auto Center has been an incredible journey, building amazing relationships with customers and learning so much from our experienced technicians.

Now I'm launching a blog to share what I've learned about cars and some of my most memorable customer stories. Hopefully you will find my blog both helpful and entertaining!

Friday, 02 June 2017 15:55

A Day in the Bay

Have you ever wondered about the process of auto repair? When you drop your vehicle off, what happens in ‘the bays’? While not every auto repair shop has the exact same process, I’m guessing that most processes are similar to ours.

Thursday, 11 August 2016 13:31

Change Your Oil…Please!

One of the things that many people ask is, “What is the number one thing I can do to prolong my car’s life?”

Wednesday, 18 May 2016 15:52

Sometimes, It’s the Little Things

Customers call when their brakes are making noise, their muffler gets loud or their vehicle isn’t starting. These are all part of car ownership. They also never happen at an opportune time. These are things that need to be taken care of either right away or soon.

Thursday, 24 March 2016 13:32

Is That Deer Real?

Deer in road Check engine light

Every day I drive past a home that has a decoy deer in the yard. The first couple of times it took me by surprise and I actually slowed down, thinking it was real. I don't even notice it anymore.

This week I was driving by and I realized the deer was still there. He's looking a little worse for wear but he still hasn't moved. I was thinking about how we get so accustomed to something that after a while we don't even see it anymore.

A check engine light, or malfunction indicator light, can be like that deer. At first, you notice it and it catches your attention. After a while, your brain lulls itself into thinking that light is nothing. You don't even notice the light anymore, just like I don't notice the fake deer.

Customers will sometimes be in vehicles and let us know that the check engine light “has been on for months.” It doesn't bother them because they figure the car is still running well, so it must not be a problem. And it might not be. Sometimes the light came on for a reason, months ago. Maybe just a temporary issue that caused the computer to think there was a problem. Since it wasn't checked, the light stayed on. But then another problem started to occur. That code is also causing the light to be on. Getting your check engine light notification checked is important. We’ve actually seen vehicles with tape over the light because people didn't want to see it.

Your car is talking to you. You should listen to it!

Wednesday, 03 February 2016 16:02

My Car Won

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The 2016 Volvo XC90 won Sport Utility Vehicle of the year at the Detroit Auto Show. I don't own one and had nothing to do with the design or engineering but I'm pretty excited.

Most car people have a favorite car make or model. I'm not a car person but, as I may have mentioned in previous blogs, I love Volvos. They used to be the stodgy, safe, soccer mom car. Instantly uncool. I prefer the wagons. I believe they are ‘stealth cool.’ Not everyone sees this.  

I kind of feel redeemed. I told all of our technicians it won. They weren’t nearly as happy as I was. They all have their favorite cars and they are not the same as mine. I'm not really concerned with horsepower or performance. I love how it looks and I've read all the reviews and looked at the pictures. I do have a tendency to follow the informational car blogs because it's interesting to read what people, experts and non-experts, think about a certain vehicle.

I haven't driven one yet because I'm afraid I might not bring it back to the dealership. I might see it as a ‘permanent test drive’. I understand they get really upset if you do that and you get another ride. In a police car. I'll avoid that.

We work on a fair amount of Volvos and it's interesting to see the evolution when we have a 1992 and a 2012 sitting side-by-side. That is true of any manufacturer. Safety is the biggest difference. Passenger vehicles have evolved from the days of metal stick controls on the dashboard that caused maximum damage to the human body in an accident.

Congratulations to Volvo! And to all of the other winners in different categories also. You give car enthusiasts something to look forward to each year in The Motor City.

Wednesday, 09 December 2015 14:16

Jewelry’s an Option Too

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The search for the perfect Christmas gift is on, something the recipient will use and appreciate. It’s normally tough to find something in my world that both men and women would consider a great gift. I've been on tool trucks, and I don't really find items that make me think, “I've always wanted one of those!”  They do have telescoping wands with a magnet on the end that I did get for my kids when they were younger. Technicians use them to get metal items that may have been dropped in the course of a job. A bolt that has fallen many times is unreachable without this tool. Not so high tech but necessary. Also a fun gift for little kids, as long as they stay away from the computer hard drives.

Last year a vendor came in with a “newish” item. It's a box about the size of an e-reader. It jump starts a car and powers any mobile devices. We commonly use a jump box to start cars that have a bad battery or alternator, or to start a car that has been sitting for a long period of time. Although they are mobile, the jump box tends to be bulky, heavy and takes up space. The new portable power bank jump starts your car as well as powers any mobile devices. You simply clamp the power bank to a battery and push a button.

I'm a bit of a pessimist but I bought one for myself and used it. I kept it charged and used it to power my phone and tablet. The techs used it to jump start cars. I had it in my car one weekend and was hoping I'd be at the mall and see someone in need of jumper cables. I could just hop out and jump start the car. (It does have jump starting directions in the case). It didn't happen, but I was hoping. I also brought it when traveling and driving a rental car, just in case.

It's a great gift for almost anyone. Having it in the trunk of your teenager’s car ensures they’re able to start their car if the battery has been drained. It's also probably on every zombie apocalypse preparation list, so you've got those people covered too!

Wednesday, 02 December 2015 13:04

Out of sight but not out of smell

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Cabin air filters are the hidden, forgotten, unloved car part. You can’t see them so you don’t really think about them. They are usually hidden in the area under your dashboard or close to your engine compartment.

They clean the air inside your car. Is this an important job? I think it is. Have you ever noticed a musty, old smell inside your car? It may be that your cabin air filter needs to be checked. In the summer the air conditioning unit is on and drawing all that sneeze causing air into your car. Allergens float around inside your car like little uninvited hitch hikers. In the winter, the heat and defroster are on and they both utilize the air coming from the outside which goes through the cabin air filter.

I mistakenly thought summer was the hardest time of year for your cabin air filter. I was reading an article on the importance of timely replacement of your filter and learned that winter is tough on them. Soot levels from the engine are increased as the weather cools off. The cabin air filter helps to clean the air coming into the vehicle. One of our technicians explained that the filters are located in such an inconvenient place because they have to be at the point of air intake. This makes it hard to visually inspect them. There is usually some disassembly required to get to the filter.

I see many examples of dirty cabin air filters. I’ve seen some that are completely black with leaves and branches stuck in them. You would have gotten your money’s worth but if you actually saw the cabin air filter in its environment, you’d wonder if you really wanted that stuff floating around in your car.

It is recommended that you have your clean air filter inspected every 15,000-20,000 miles. Remember, you can always ask to see the used filter after it has been removed from the vehicle.

I’ve suggested that an essential oil infused cabin air filter would be terrific but no one seems to be jumping on that idea. Maybe a holiday scent for this month?

Wednesday, 19 August 2015 10:18

The Tree Won, But So Will the Car

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One of our technicians, David, is a triathlete. He bikes, runs, or swims daily to be ready for his next competition. He started out mountain biking a while ago and progressed to what he does now.

At the shop, we have had several discussions about safety equipment while biking. Many people from our Arie Nol family have participated in different types of bike racing, including Iceman in northern Michigan. Everyone agrees safety equipment can be irritating. You purchase it, wear it and most of the time never have any reason to be glad you wore it.

Until an incident that reminds you of the ‘just in case’ reasoning behind that helmet, neck protector or reinforced vest. David had that situation last week. Going 10-15 mph, he hit a tree. He bounced off that tree and hit another head on. The pictures below are of his helmet. In his words, it “rang his bell for sure” but he got up and walked away. The helmet did its job. He walked away able to participate in a sport that, like everything else, has risks. Because he made the smart choice to prepare for a possibility of an accident, he was able to hop back on his bike several days later, albeit with a couple of bruises.

As more people use bicycles for transportation, the risk of car and bicycle interaction increases. The car always wins in those situations. Whether you are riding your bike for sport, fun or exercise, wear a helmet, it protects a mighty important part of your body.