Nol Auto Center 2563 res

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!

Angry man Airplane Angry woman

I love the commercials that show an actor being grouchy, ornery or annoyed and then eating a Snickers candy bar and reverting to a different person. I’ve occasionally used it as a joke when I’m tired and said, “I need a Snickers bar!”. Coffee is usually the better answer for those moments.

Jeff and I were flying out of Ford airport and the flight was repeatedly delayed. The airport is under construction and there is only one restaurant available once you’ve gone through security. There isn’t a lot of space to walk and, if you’re obsessed with your Fitbit like I am, trying to get in a few steps is a challenge. Every hour or so we would be told we would be leaving in a certain amount of time and then the flight was delayed again.

Did I mention this was during Spring Break week? We were traveling for business but most of the people on our flight were on vacation. There was a group of kids that were traveling to Ecuador that were going to miss connections. It got so bad that the airport had pizza delivered when it had been about five hours after our original departure time.

When we arrived at our destination late at night, our luggage had been misplaced. It was in the airport but they weren’t really sure where. When we arrived in the lost luggage department we found we were one of several people in the same situation. The employees were helpful and funny. Everyone was joking while they tried to determine where our luggage was currently. There was also a bowl of Hershey’s Kisses on the counter that I made quite a dent in while standing there.

It was an example of realizing that “things happen” and sometimes, the person in front of you trying to help had nothing to do with the original issue. The teenagers were especially impressive as they sat, ate pizza and talked about what they would be doing with an unexpected day in their layover city. No complaining about the missed connections and missed day in Ecuador. One woman said, “I’m glad they realized there was a problem before we got into the air.” I agreed.

It was a good reminder to keep your cool in irritating situations because it doesn’t usually change the situation and probably negatively impacts someone else’s day. It’s the old adage, you get more bees with honey...

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.

Deer in road Check engine light

Every day I drive past a home that has a decoy deer in the yard. The first couple of times it took me by surprise and I actually slowed down, thinking it was real. I don't even notice it anymore.

This week I was driving by and I realized the deer was still there. He's looking a little worse for wear but he still hasn't moved. I was thinking about how we get so accustomed to something that after a while we don't even see it anymore.

A check engine light, or malfunction indicator light, can be like that deer. At first, you notice it and it catches your attention. After a while, your brain lulls itself into thinking that light is nothing. You don't even notice the light anymore, just like I don't notice the fake deer.

Customers will sometimes be in vehicles and let us know that the check engine light “has been on for months.” It doesn't bother them because they figure the car is still running well, so it must not be a problem. And it might not be. Sometimes the light came on for a reason, months ago. Maybe just a temporary issue that caused the computer to think there was a problem. Since it wasn't checked, the light stayed on. But then another problem started to occur. That code is also causing the light to be on. Getting your check engine light notification checked is important. We’ve actually seen vehicles with tape over the light because people didn't want to see it.

Your car is talking to you. You should listen to it!

Greek urn 2 Shoe closet Roman sandal

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.

image1I had the opportunity to attend the 50 Most Influential Women in West Michigan awards. There were over 800 people there celebrating women that are making a difference in West Michigan. Sonia Manzano, Maria from Sesame Street, was the keynote speaker. Ms. Monzano was inspirational while speaking about how she ended up where she did and why it made a difference.

Our city amazes me with its ability to recreate itself. When I was younger, downtown Grand Rapids was somewhere you rarely went. Herpolsheimer’s department store was one of the only reasons to go downtown. Here we are in 2016 and you can see the drastic changes that have helped our city end up on so many lists of “great places to live” lately.

Listening to the honorees and hearing their words of encouragement and motivation was doubly enjoyable as my daughter was there with me. She had the opportunity to speak with several women at our table that are doing research which will eventually impact us all.

The Grand Rapids Business Journal held the event and recognized the women that are instrumental in making Grand Rapids the great city it is to live and work. I am thankful to be a part of a community that values its citizens, celebrates the good, and focuses on making lives better through both words and deeds.

We are proud to be a part of the Grand Rapids community. It was a terrific event, that in many cases, showed the entrepreneurial spirit of our city and the benefit of a positive, can-do attitude.

IMG 6020 res IMG 6035 IMG 6036

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!