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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 love getting to know the customers who come into Arie Nol, it's one of my favorite parts of working in a service industry. Visit by visit I build relationships with our customers, until seeing them is the same as seeing old friends. I always look forward to hearing their stories.

A specific memory comes to mind. A few weeks ago, an older female customer came to show us her new car. For years she had driven a nice, low-key vehicle. Nothing flashy, but very reliable. On her last visit to Arie Nol, we stood and watched her car as it was towed away to the scrap yard. It was bittersweet as that car had served her well for a long time.

I wasn't sure what to expect when she came by with the new car, but when she walked in the smile on her face was contagious. Without even seeing the new vehicle, I broke into a huge smile, happy for her happiness. I walked into the parking lot and there sat a sleek, shiny, brilliant red car.

“Why the change?” I asked, curious.

She paused a moment, a new smile igniting on her face, and explained she had wanted a red car her entire life and now, she had one. “After all,” she said, “if not now, when?”

I think about her words often. We have one lifetime to do what makes us happy. I'm grateful to work with people and in a place that makes me happy.

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We've all seen it, that one car driving down the highway as it hits a slight dip in the road. Suddenly, it's bouncing up and down and you think, “Wow! The ride on that car must be horrible!” What that actually indicates is bad shock absorbers. The shocks are not holding the tires to the road the way they should be and, as a result, the car rebounds from the dip in the road. This can make your vehicle much more difficult to control safely.

As if that weren't enough, bad shock absorbers are also rarely an isolated issue. When your car's shocks start to wear, the parts surrounding them have to work double-time to make up for the issue. This can cause increased damage to your car and raise the repair cost. If your car is experiencing strange symptoms, bring it in to a trusted technician. Not only are technicians aware of what bad brakes, shocks, etc. mean for the safe control of your vehicle, they'll also be able to help identify worn parts before the problem spreads.

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As the holidays rapidly approach, there is a lot of marketing of the idea of ‘being thankful’. It usually is accompanied by pictures of family, Christmas events and turkeys. Sometimes in the rush of all of this, we forget to be thankful.

We forget that, for some people, the holidays are not a happy time. Whether it is the loss of a family member this year which changes the dynamics of the family gathering, or the lack of funds to celebrate the holidays the way we would like, it is harder to be thankful. We see Martha Stewart-type celebrations or spend some time on Pinterest and feel the pressure of thinking every item for the holidays should be handmade.

Most studies show that we can increase our happiness level by doing something for someone else. It doesn’t have to cost money. It can simply be doing something for someone. Make cookies for a neighbor or rake leaves for someone who is not able to. You will walk away feeling better and you will realize, you have a lot to be thankful for.

Trust keychain resAny seasoned, auto repair technician can tell you, at some point everyone is accused of using “scare tactics”. It's a common stereotype, but it isn't true of everyone in the business. Most technicians take their responsibility very seriously.  Here a few things to think about the next time you feel scare tactics are being used at the repair shop.

  1. It is an automotive technician's first is job to make sure your vehicle is roadworthy. Ask them questions when you don't understand. The technician should be able to explain to you in detail why they think your vehicle is unsafe. If you still don't follow, ask if it's possible to have them show you what they're seeing.
  2. Technicians are aware of what bad brakes, shocks, etc. mean for the overall safe control of your vehicle. You don't need to settle for the response, “Your shocks are bad,” instead, ask what this means for your vehicle's overall performance.
  3. If you still feel like you're being told an untruth, have a different shop take a look. A second opinion is worth the added time when it comes to safety.

We sometimes forget we're driving thousands of pounds of metal down the road. It's important that you feel comfortable asking questions and getting honest responses, both for you, your passengers and the people on the road around you.

Carnage montageI call it “car carnage,” all of the things that happen to a vehicle and damage the working parts. Fire, heat, water, operator error, mice.

I remember the first time I saw a vehicle come in with intermittent electrical problems. After some investigation, it was diagnosed as mouse damage. I was shocked, I had no idea that happened. Then we got the full story.

The vehicle owner had a dog. The dog's food was kept in the garage and so was the car. The winter was cold. A certain mouse was too. Then, he found the perfect place, the engine compartment of a warm car located seconds from an endless supply of kibble.

The mouse settled into the engine compartment and did what all mice do, chew on wires. A lot of very important wires. The story ended sadly. The mouse perished and the car had electrical issues – not to mention an engine compartment littered with dog food.

Not all carnage features a tragic end for a furry creature. Some damage comes simply from driving with worn parts. The worn part stops working as it should and all the other parts try to compensate.  This usually causes the owner of the vehicle a higher repair bill because other parts – not just the worn part – need to be replaced now too.

So, while you can't always avoid damage or wear, you can avoid some of it via proactive repairs. Oh, and if your dog food is in the garage, maybe invest in a mouse proof container.

Blogs, they're everywhere, covering every conceivable topic. I bet you think since this is an auto repair shop's blog, it'll be all cars, all the time. Well, that's not quite my goal. Sure, I'll talk cars, but only sometimes.

You see, I'm not a technician – honestly, I'm not normally a car person either – but I married into a family of automotive repair experts. It's hard to admit, working with a husband and son who live and breathe auto repair, but when it comes to my car I see it mostly as a way to get me to the shoe store. I'm like most car owners; I don't need a great performance car. I just want something functional, reliable and in a color I like.

After fourteen years of working at Arie Nol Auto Center, I've learned a thing or two about cars. It would be hard not to when you're spending 8 hours a day with some of the most passionate technicians around. They're a patient group, always willing to answer my questions, and very friendly. The team here has been integral in helping me learn about what makes a vehicle run – or not run – and while I'm pretty well-versed, I don't speak technician lingo. On the Arie Nol Auto Center blog, I talk cars – and shoes – in plain English. So, welcome! Here's to learning something new and having some fun!

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