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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, 18 August 2016 11:19

College Student Car Preparation

Walk through any of the local stores and you will see the signs of back to school are everywhere. Backpacks and lunch boxes for the little ones and extra-long twin sheets for the dorm-bound college student.

Thursday, 21 July 2016 10:23

Car shows, ice cream and summertime!

It’s summer time in Michigan! Beaches, barbeques and road trips. There are also a lot of car shows. A LOT of car shows.

Thursday, 14 July 2016 12:45

Peace of Mind

I've always been amazed by the damage that can happen inside an engine compartment or on the suspension of a vehicle. The technicians always let me know when they have some car part carnage for me to take a picture of before they repair it.

Thursday, 12 May 2016 18:09

Finding Your Place

Have you ever gone to another hair salon or stylist to get your hair cut? Not your usual stylist. Maybe you heard about a new stylist, and you weren’t unhappy with the current person keeping your ‘do looking good, but you thought, “Maybe this new person will create this incredible new look?”

Wednesday, 30 March 2016 12:07

Why ASE Certified matters to you?

ASE Cert Checking oil with dipstick

ASE Certified is the designation given by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence for automotive technicians that have met certain criteria. It matters to us because it means that our technicians have taken the extra testing and met the criteria to reach this goal. The testing requires a certain level of knowledge and a required amount of time spent in the automotive repair field. You also need to retest every five years, which helps ensure your knowledge is current.

We ask our technicians to put in the time and effort required to stay current with their licensing. Education is important to us and our technicians are required to attend numerous classes throughout the year. This translates into a stronger knowledge base, enabling them to repair and maintain vehicles better and more efficiently.

Why does this matter to you? It matters because anyone that is willing to take the additional step of not only being state-certified, which is required in Michigan, but also ASE certified is someone that respects their job and usually wishes to succeed in their chosen field.

You can find out what type of certifications your technician has by checking the wall of the business you bring your vehicle to for repairs. State certification should be displayed somewhere in the facility. If you find out that they have ASE certification, that’s a positive for you.

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, 24 February 2016 11:39

Michigan Potholes

Pothole Scrap parts

This winter hasn’t been too bad. The roads however, started out bad and winter weather always makes them worse. We’ve been having some customers come in after reporting hitting pot holes. We’ve all done it. Driving down the road and all of the sudden you are trying to avoid a pothole without hitting the cars around us. As your tire rolls into the hole in the road, you calmly begin hoping there is no damage.

Maybe not so calmly, because unfortunately, those holes in the road can cause a lot of damage. According to the annual TRIP study, the average Michigan motorist pays an additional $686.00 annually in repair and fuel dollars due to the bad roads.

Your best bet is obviously to avoid the potholes. If that isn’t possible and you’ve hit one with your car, you need to pull over. Take a look at your tire and look for damage. Is there tread damage or a bulge on the side of the tire? Look at the rim of the tire and see if there is any damage. If you don’t see any damage, then drive your car. Does your steering feel off or is there a pull to one side? If your vehicle feels or drives differently, you should get it checked out.

An automotive shop isn’t going to think you’re being over cautious. We’ve seen far too many vehicles that have had serious damage that made the car unsafe to drive. I believe it is always better to be safe than sorry and it also gives you piece of mind.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016 11:02

Dental Care and Your Car

Dental tools

Picture going into a dentist office, telling them you have pain in the lower left side of your jaw. You had a friend that had the same symptoms and that person had a cavity. You precede to tell the dentist you would like him to figure out which tooth needs to be filled without x-rays or looking in your mouth. You think you know which tooth it is and tell him that’s the one he should start drilling.

There is a good chance you are going to be disappointed with the outcome of this scenario. This isn’t the recommended oral health care choice. In the automotive repair business, as diagnoses becomes more complicated, we deal with this sometimes. Back in the day most people could diagnose their vehicle or their neighbor could. That isn’t true anymore. There are many more complicated electronic and computer systems that exist in your car.

We work with our customers to educate them as to why diagnosing the problem in many situations is less expensive than just beginning to replace parts hoping you hit on the correct malfunctioning part. The technician feels confident after the diagnoses that he is correctly repairing your vehicle, and you will be happier because the actual issue will be addressed.

Like a dentist who has to purchase his x-ray machine, train a technician to correctly and safely take an x- ray, and then read the x-ray while taking into consideration your symptoms, there can be a lot involved in a car diagnoses. Knowledge, equipment and listening to the customer all need to happen to correctly fix the problem.

If a service writer is explaining that the technician needs to spend some time checking into the problem, it isn’t a way to inflate the cost of your repair. Today’s vehicles are filled with complicated systems. Our goal as an automotive repair and maintenance facility is to keep your vehicle running. And when it isn’t, our goal is to repair it correctly and get it back to you as swiftly as possible.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016 08:39

It's Not a Bad Gig

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We’ve all heard the term ‘grease monkey’. I never thought about it until I married an automotive technician. If I hear it used now, it irritates me. Here’s why.

I know how much education, intelligence and hard work it takes to excel in this field. As with any other career, there are varying degrees of aptitude. Some people are born with the natural ability to comprehend the complex systems that run today's vehicles. Through constant education, they are able to maintain and repair essentially “computers on wheels.” They may have started out learning at their father’s side in the garage. They may have disassembled an engine because they knew through trial and error they'd be able to fix it and have it back on the road. These are the technicians that love the challenge of their job and enjoy the constantly changing technology.

I do not have this capability. I've learned a lot and understand a fair amount of how and why your vehicles run. I can identify many parts and their function. I have never taken anything apart or cared to. I read a lot about the industry, cars, etc. but don't ask me to fix your engine. We’ll both be very sad by the end of the ordeal.

The automobile industry is suffering from a severe lack of qualified technicians. I think because many times people don't see it as a viable career for a student contemplating their future. They should. If your child or someone you know likes to take everything apart or has an interest in cars and how they run, automotive technician should be an option for them. It isn't the low- paying, no skill, dirty job people picture.

Spending a day or two at several different repair facilities as a job shadow is a good idea. Checking out different educational opportunities is key. It's rare that you'll be hired without some type of education in automotive technology.

Love what you do and you'll never work a day in your life!

Wednesday, 29 July 2015 15:43

A Vehicle Genius Bar

Broken iphone

It's interesting how many customers come in and say, "I don't know anything about cars, but this is what's happening with my car."

Back in the old days, if your phone broke, you purchased a new cord, because that's probably what was worn out. Now, when my iPhone isn't working, I call the Genius Bar and make an appointment. I walk in at my appointed time, hand the wonderful Apple employee my phone and say, "It's broken. It won't open when I drag my finger across the screen.”

I don't know why. I don't care why. I just want it to work. It's usually something I did and I'll try not to do it again, but no guarantees.

In the past, many people had a lot of knowledge about vehicles. Many people performed oil changes, tune-ups and worked on brakes in the garage with their dad. They had a basic understanding of a vehicle’s mechanical systems. When they did have to bring their vehicle in for repairs, they could tell the technician which system was malfunctioning.

In my opinion, people still have that sense that they are supposed to know what's wrong with their car. But you don't have to know, and in many cases, you can't know. Modern vehicles are so much more complex and have so many more working parts. Computer systems have changed your vehicle in so many ways and without the knowledge of how those systems work, it is tough to figure out what's wrong.

If you come into our shop, the person you speak with at the counter will ask you some questions about what is happening with your vehicle. They will then pass this information along to the technician, who will use his many years of experience and his many hours of training and education to fix your car. Sometimes, the technicians will collaborate with one another to come to a diagnoses.

So, if you come in, relax and don't feel that we expect you to tell us what's wrong with your car. Our goal is to fix your car with minimal disruption to your life. Just like the person who fixes my phone, we don't expect you to tell us more than you're able to.