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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!

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I’ve been the observer in many discussions about which vehicle is the best. Many people that love cars have a particular favorite, with stories and statistics to back it up. Chevy vs. Ford, BMW vs. Mercedes Benz, Volkswagen vs. Audi, Honda vs. Toyota etc.

It’s like cat lovers vs. dog lovers. For every reason you love a particular brand, breed or make, someone has a reason you should choose something else. Everyone has an opinion. Cats are snobby and unloving and dogs are man’s best friend. Or, dogs are messy and cats are meticulously clean.

Choosing a car is a very personal decision. I like speaking with people when they are in the shop having an inspection performed about a vehicle they are interested in purchasing. Most people do their homework to determine what fits their lifestyle and driving needs. Sometimes everything fits the criteria, but they drive the vehicle and they just don’t like it. Maybe they just can’t get comfortable in the seat or they don’t like the dashboard layout. Or, there is something they just don’t like about the car.

Depending on where you are in life, you may be buying something strictly for utilitarian reasons. A minivan is a good example. They are mocked all the time, but as a former 1990 Ford Aerostar minivan driver, they can’t be beat when you have three small children. If children are out of the equation, the thirst for that sports car dictates what type of vehicle you choose. Doing your homework and determining what fits your needs is key to loving your vehicle. In case you wanted my input, the answers are cats and Volvos.

Vocation Day1Our business was invited to a local high school for their Vocation Day. Cameron and I went to share information with students that are perhaps interested in a career in the automotive repair field. The students in the class had a lot of good questions. It was rewarding for both Cameron and I to be able to share our experiences working in an automotive repair shop.

The automotive industry is suffering from a lack of technicians. There are far fewer people going into the industry than are retiring from it. At the same time, there are more automobiles being added to the nation’s roads. Hopefully some of the students we spoke with will turn their passion for cars into a career that they love.

What a great opportunity for high school students to be able to talk to people in so many varied careers. Many students that day where able to get questions answered and hopefully direct them to a great career. People will tell you ‘Do what you love and you won’t work a day in your life.’ Finding what you love and making a living doing it is a gift to yourself.

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We rely on our cars, but, overtime as we drive, parts start to wear out. Normally people don't even think about this wear and tear – I didn't used to – but it is an important issue. 12 – 13% of auto accidents are caused by mechanical failure due to recommended work being deferred. The worn out part continues to wear down, the parts around it work overtime to compensate and suddenly, several pieces of equipment are worn down, not just one.

When it comes to driving a car with worn out parts, the cold, hard reality is it is unsafe for the driver, passengers and the other people on the road. If that isn't bad enough for you, driving with a worn out part can also lead to higher repair bills down the road as it leads to multiple parts needing replacement. (If your shocks aren't working correctly, your ball joints, control arms, etc begin to break down from all the extra work.)

You can't avoid wear and tear to your car, but you can avoid extra repair costs by being proactive. When your technician lets you know that they see parts that are in need of replacement, ask them when it should be replaced, if it will do additional damage and if it is a safety issue.

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The beginning of the New Year seems to be when we feel the urge to start anew or change our bad habits. We’re going to exercise, eat healthy, be organized and finish up all those projects we started. All the procrastinating and complaining is going to stop!

A study by Franklin Covey showed that only 35% of people surveyed stuck with the resolution they made on December 31. Facebook currently has lots of weight loss, money management and organization ads popping up. Everyone wants to help us with our resolutions.

A better resolution is to appreciate where you are and make small changes every day that help you reach your goal. Take the stairs, eat an apple instead of chips, or get a plain coffee instead of a mocha- cinnamon cappuccino with whipped cream.

Enjoy your New Year’s Eve, be safe and Happy 2015!

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I’ll walk for miles on the beach looking for shells. They’re amazing creations that used to be the home of an animal, and they are usually beautiful colors and shapes. I have several that, when I first saw them, they appeared perfect. But when I pulled them out of the sand, I found either a large hole or they were broken. They are still beautiful but not what I was picturing.

Used cars can be like that. You drive by and then stop, lured by the beautiful (insert your favorite car color here) exterior. You look inside and the interior looks like new. The seller tells you that it was only driven on Saturdays to the grocery store and has never seen a winter. You love this car so you drive it around the block once, then purchase it.

This can have two outcomes. The first one is: the car is in pristine condition mechanically and was a terrific purchase. The second is: You’re standing at the repair shop staring at an estimate for the totally unexpected needed repairs. You can avoid the second outcome by having a pre-purchase inspection.

A technician performs an inspection of the vehicle looking for potential repairs and needed maintenance. It puts the buyer in the position of knowing what they are purchasing. Even if some repair or maintenance items are found, it puts you as the buyer in the driver’s seat. It’s fine to make a purchase based on emotion, but have the facts when you are negotiating the price. Follow your heart but take your brain with you.

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I have a board on Pinterest devoted to pins of shoes I love. If you don’t understand that sentence, you may be a guy. Or you are missing out on the greatest time waster ever created. My Pinterest shoe board is, to me, what Car and Driver magazine is to men. I look at pictures of shoes other people love and decide if I want to pin them to my board. Like Car and Driver readers and the cars they love, I will never own 99% of the shoes that I see and like.

The boards on Pinterest are somewhat like going to a car show. People stop and look at the cars and then discuss if they’ve had that car, want that car or just admire that car. I pin a pair of shoes and if someone else pins them, we’ve bonded. We like the same shoes. We’re shoe-sisters. I saw a poster that said, “Shoes make me happy. I’m superficial. Whatever.” I didn’t want to relate to that statement, but I did.