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!
Snow. Cold. Maybe even bitter cold. Bitter cold in Michigan is best described as cold that causes you to sit in your car at the gas station saying to yourself “Get out and pump gas!”. Ok, maybe that’s just me. But you know that feeling if you’ve lived in Michigan for any amount of time.
Michigan is a beautiful state filled with incredible landscapes, hiking paths, parks and an incredible amount of lakeshore. Most of these places require some driving to access. The best way to ruin a good hike is to get back to your car and find out your battery is dead and you need to find someone to jump start your car.
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.
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?
This time of year, Jeff is thinking about snow tires and antifreeze. I'm thinking about boots. I should be thinking about boots that are practical and repel water and snow. I need good boots for work but then, I go online.
I'm lured in by the ‘what's new for winter 2015’. All the pretty, furry, funky boots, lacing, zippers, and all the other fun things that are added but not needed. Boots, like many things nowadays, aren't just functional but have to be attractive or a certain style. Boho, classical, cowboy, western, motorcycle or equestrian. And work boots. Even work boot style boots have had their moment of being chic. I've never seen a photo spread in Vogue with the title “technician boots, not just for the shop” though. Then there's the open toe booties. They show those on models wearing winter coats, hats and gloves. I love how they look but the reality is, in Michigan you'd get frost bite on your toes and they'd fall off. Not such a good look.
Then I'm besieged by the stalker ads. Those ads that follow you around the internet after you've expressed an interest in something. They keep showing me pictures of the boots I looked at and mentioning that they're still available. Hey, thanks! Stop following me!
I'd like to say that practicality wins but in most cases, I'll go half-practical. They keep my feet warm and dry but are also fun to wear.
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.