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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!

Thursday, 27 October 2016 11:54

Who will take the wheel?

There is a lot of chatter about self-driving or, autonomous cars. There are articles in trade magazines talking about their possible capabilities and what being a passenger in an autonomous car may look like.

Thursday, 22 September 2016 12:35

An Interview with a Technician - Gordon

I’m fortunate to work with a great bunch of professionals that love what they do. Customers will sometimes ask about the technician that worked on their vehicle. I decided that I would do a Q&A with our technicians so our customers would get to know a little bit about them.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016 11:01

Just One Foot on the Soapbox

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Cars and the human body are not that far removed from one another when it comes to our responsibility to them. We know we are supposed to take care of our bodies by eating healthy, getting enough sleep and exercising. We depend on our body to hold young children, carry the groceries and walk up and down stairs.

The same goes for our cars. We depend on them to take us to the grocery store, our place of employment and sporting events. Possibly even the mall, if you’re lucky. They take us to the beach or the woods on the weekend, so we can enjoy Michigan’s great outdoors.

We know that changing the oil in our cars, getting the brakes replaced when needed, and staying on top of maintenance is necessary to minimize repairs. Delaying an oil change is kind of like eating a doughnut occasionally. It’s not going to hurt you unless you make a habit of it.

As you age, your body is less able to handle not being taken care of correctly. Just like your car. An older car is less likely to have problems if maintenance is performed when needed as opposed to waiting until something breaks. You can live on pizza and donuts when you are twenty years old, but it would be a bad choice as you age. There is always the exception to the rule. There is always the person that ate everything they wanted, never exercised and smoked like a chimney and lived to be ninety-seven years old. Just like the older car that had the oil changed whenever and had no maintenance and the owner got 300,000 miles on the odometer. It happens but it’s not the norm.

Take good care of your car and it will serve you well.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016 11:50

I Dream of Shoes!

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Can you imagine the first person to strap some leather to their feet for protection? I'm sure it wasn't very pretty.

Over 2000 years ago, someone actually took several pairs of shoes and put them in an earthen jar. These shoes were discovered in a burial site in Luxor. They believe they placed them in a wall because they were the most valuable possession they owned. They may have intended to return for them and never did.

Fast forward to 2016. Some people think of shoes as simply foot protection. A female customer and I were talking about our difference in opinion about footwear. She buys a pair of shoes and wears them until they wear out. I could not comprehend that statement.

Some people feel like that about cars. Drive whatever works for you and then replace as needed. Some people love a certain type of car and may collect them. Others, like Jay Leno, collect cars of all types, makes, and vintages.

I would like to be the Jay Leno of shoes. Spring is coming and I'm lured by all the pretty espadrilles, sandals and strappy-type shoes. My Pinterest board is filled with all the spring styles that I love.

So, let me know. Would you rather be the Jay Leno of cars or shoes? Perhaps both, and match your shoes to the car you're driving that day.

Wednesday, 02 March 2016 15:10

Sunscreen and Oil

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This is the time of year when our thoughts turn to Springbreak. The migration of northern state residents to the sun and surf of the southern state beaches. The tide rolling in while the sun shines down on us, our toes tucked into the sand.

Before that moment, there is the drive for many people. Bumper to bumper, cars headed south. Your vehicle is packed with snacks, pillows, a video player of some sort, bathing suits and suncreen. The sunscreen is for our pale, hasn't seen the sun in months, northern skin. Forgetting this leads to sunburn, blisters and possibly missing a couple of days in the sun. When I was a teenager, we laid out in the sun covered in baby oil and fried ourselves. After the blisters healed and the red faded, you might, if you weren't me, end up with a tan. We’re so much smarter now and know the value of suncreen and SPF.

While you dream of this trip on a gray, snowy day, make a call to your local repair facility. Schedule an appointment to have your vehicle checked over. Get an oil change, fluids checked, have them check the wear on your tires and have your wiper blades replaced if necessary. Being low on oil or coolant can add a stop on the trip and rob you of sun time. It could also cause you to run out of movies for the kids and start to have to repeat movies. Calling ahead several weeks gives you the opportunity to schedule a time and date that fits into your busy schedule.

Have a great trip and enjoy the sun!

Wednesday, 13 January 2016 11:59

You’re on Pinterest? Really?

image1A gentleman was in the shop and we were talking about different interests. Somehow, the conversation turned to Pinterest and social media. I was saying that I loved Pinterest and he mentioned that he had an account. I told him that Arie Nol Auto Center also had a Pinterest account and that we had some fun things he might find interesting. He was surprised that we (OK, it’s me) ‘pinned’ and said he’d check it out. He likes cars and much of what he pins is related to that subject. In the social media world, I think Pinterest has been seen as geared towards woman but the reality is, there is more and more geared towards men’s interests. Not saying that women don’t love cars, wood working, etc. but most men are not pinning their dream shoes.

If you don’t know what Pinterest is, ask around. You’re bound to find someone that uses it. For us, it’s an opportunity to share things we find funny, educational, interesting and inspirational. There are Michigan road trip ideas, ways to maintain your car’s interior, old car ads, quotes and coffee memes.

If you find a pin we should add, send it to us. We love to share what you find interesting because someone else will too. We have potlucks and Friday meetings here, and I tend to try a Pinterest recipe because honestly, I have a great group of test subjects. Crockpot monkey bread was a favorite and I added it to our board.

So, check it out. Visit www.pinterest.com and search for Arie Nol Auto Center. However, if you’ve never visited this time-consuming, never ending, trove of information and fun, we are not responsible for any loss of productivity that results.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015 12:17

Not Just Metal Cars

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In our customer lounge area, there is a cabinet filled with model cars. The curio cabinet is an old 1980’s style cabinet that you don’t see much anymore. All the shelves are filled with the different make and models of cars. There are Corvettes, Mercedes Benz, Ferraris and Lancias.

The cars are die cast models that Jeff collected with his dad, Arie, over the years. Arie passed away over twenty-three years ago. He and Jeff spent a lot of time collecting the cars together and each one has a memory attached to it. They are all vehicles that were rare. When they searched for cars, they looked for makes that either hadn’t been produced for very long or that had something unique that year. The doors, hoods and trunk or boot all are functional.

They are at our shop because that is where they belong. Arie’s dream was to have an auto repair shop and to pass along all his knowledge to Jeff, who also loved cars. Collecting the cars with Jeff was something that they enjoyed doing together. Jeff’s mom had the cars at her home until she passed away and Jeff received them. There was a sense of nostalgia and great memories when we brought them to the shop and they were put back on their glass shelves in the case.

Every night when we leave we pass by the car case as well as the picture of Arie that we have up in the waiting area. It’s a gift to be able to continue with a family business and sometimes, to stop and look at something like these cars, and savor the memories of time spent together.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015 14:25

Abraham Lincoln’s Take on Tools

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If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend six hours sharpening my ax.” – Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln is someone that can be quoted for many different situations. I think because his words were so simple yet so true, even today.

In his day, an ax was an important tool used by people on a daily basis. It could be used for protection, acquiring fuel for your fire, and building your home. Your muscles were what powered this tool so your ability to perform a task was limited by your physical strength.

The tools that we use in our business vary from a wrench or mallet to a computer. The correct tools are required now more than ever. We’ve gotten to the point where some tools are very vehicle specific. Some are even based on the year, make and model of the vehicle. What implications does that have for today’s car owner?

One thing it does is limit your ability to work on your vehicle. As technology advances and cars become more technologically sophisticated, the average person isn’t going to invest in all of the tools to work on their one particular car. Secondly, making sure that the business working on your car has the tools and experience needed to complete the job. We’ve had more than one car towed in that someone had started working on and was not aware a specialty tool was needed.

Some tools are powered by the air compressor; others are using software, while some are still powered by the technician. Whatever the case may be, having the right tool and the knowledge to use it is imperative for any job.

We haven’t had to use an ax while repairing a vehicle. That’s probably a good thing!

 

Wednesday, 14 October 2015 16:39

The Exciting Properties of Antifreeze

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We are in the process of putting winter tires on our family cars. I am not a fan of winter so to me this is the harbinger of what is to come. I’m probably a 5th generation Michigander so you would think that my DNA would include a snow and cold loving gene. People suggest that finding a winter sport is the key to loving Michigan winters. The problem with that is that I’d have to be outside.

Making sure that my car has heat, good tires and the coolant is working correctly helps me get through the winter. Coolant/antifreeze is more interesting than one would imagine. Seriously, I always thought it just kept the engine cool but it does more than that. Worn out coolant is more electrically conductive than fresh coolant. Electrolysis (and not the hair removing kind) in the coolant causes it to become corrosive and can damage the engine and components. So it’s important that your coolant/antifreeze be tested to make sure that it is still doing all the things it is required to do.

Driving along in your car and smiling happily as your heat is turned up high on one of the first really cold days is something to celebrate. Having your defroster working is a safety issue and, if it isn’t working, you’ll constantly have to get out to scrape your windows. Or, as a customer once told me, “get out to pour warm water on your windows to clean them off.” Don’t do this. Get your fluids checked soon so you are prepared for whatever Mother Nature brings us this year.

Thursday, 08 October 2015 11:43

A Job Well Done

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We have a customer that has been driving for 58 years and has never gotten a ticket. Not one for speeding or parking, nothing. He also has never been involved in an accident. When he stops in to chat with Jeff and they have an ongoing conversation about this milestone.

When you watch people on the road today, it's amazing how much driving has changed over the years. When Bob started driving, drivers paid attention to the road. There were no cell phones, GPS technology, Starbucks coffee in the cup holder, no distractions.

We hear all the stories about someone's last text before they crashed their car, or the “almost” accidents when someone chatting on their cell phone cuts another driver off on the road. Sometimes we are that person and understand what we're doing when we look up and realize we weren't paying attention to our driving as much as we thought we were.

I read something when I was a teenager that said you should drive as if every car on the road was out to hit you. Defensive driving requires eyes on the road. I've been guilty of paying attention to something else in my car or reaching for my cell phone whenever I have a text. We all have this idea that we are the exception and that we’re perfectly capable of multitasking and doing several things at once. Research shows that we don't actually multi-task but switch our attention rapidly from one task to another. If you are texting, you are not paying attention to your driving. You may think you are but you're not.

Bob has reminded me that our job on the road is to drive. Not schedule appointments, take selfies or post to Facebook and Instagram. Ironically, if I answer a text from one of my kids or my husband while driving I put myself and those on the road at risk. Somehow we managed our lives before cellphones, and we should revert back to that time when in the car.

Congratulations to Bob on a stellar driving record. He's a good reminder of what you can accomplish by being a responsible driver.

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