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My Journey Toward Car Literacy

 I Married A Car Guy: My Journey Toward Car Literacy

 Welcome to the non-automotive automotive blog. My name is Debbie Nol, and I have been the Business Manager at Arie Nol Auto Center since 2000. I have a unique perspective, as I am not a ‘car person’ but work in an industry filled with people passionate about vehicles. It gives me the ability to share what I’ve learned over 20 years and hopefully help you navigate the world of car repair and maintenance more comfortably. However, posts will not always be vehicle related. I love to share observations and story’s from ‘auto world’ with shoes and cats thrown in for good measure.

I’m glad you’re here, and I look forward to you getting to know us a little bit better through this blog!

Articles:

Thanks, Dads!

Thanks, Dads!

I’m thankful for the Dads in my life. My own, my stepdad, my father-in-law and the fathers of the people my children married or are marrying. My Dad has a great sense of humor and an obsession with birds. My son recently said that sometimes it’s scary how many birds he can identify from all of his walks with Grandpa when he was young. He taught all of my kids how to fish and to appreciate nature. He taught me: “you get what life hands you”, “work for what you want”, and “to appreciate the good and tough out the bad”. My father-in-law demonstrated to Jeff how you always put family first and to stand up for your beliefs. Arie shared his love of cars with Jeff and that placed Jeff on the path to doing something he loves every day. My stepdad has been a part of my life and my children’s for many years and continues to be an important part of our lives. My children are either married or will soon be married. They are all fortunate to be marrying people who have excellent exampl ... read more

It's The Little Things

It's The Little Things

There are some things that most people don’t know when bringing their vehicle in to be serviced. If you have a lock on your tire’s rims, know where the key is in the car. Nothing will slow down a repair job faster than not having any way to remove the tire from the car. Most shops have some that may work but with the plethora of tire rims available now, we don’t have them all. If you are purchasing a car that has locking rims, make sure they give you the key when you purchase the car. My advice, keep it in your glove box. A flat tire on the side of the road is bad enough. Not being able to remove that tire makes for a bad day. Sometimes, our technicians will need to go in the trunk, hatch, glove box etc. if they are diagnosing a problem. Some people, like myself, have stuff in their car. Grocery bags, emergency kits, boots, bungee cords (you never know when you’ll need one), a blanket, etc. Others, like Jeff, have nothing in their car. If you are like me, ask when you b ... read more

GPS

GPS

Technology is an interesting beast. It has changed our lives in almost every way. We live in a day and age where change is constant. I’ve read articles that say that the human mind has to adjust to the rate of technological change because it is more rapid than ever in history. I don’t work on vehicles, so it’s rare that I can assist a customer with the mechanics of their vehicle. A while ago, an older woman came to the shop counter and explained that her son bought her a GPS unit for a long trip. Appreciative yet clueless on how to use it, she had hoped someone could help her. Luckily, I know my way around a GPS unit. I have no sense of direction and don’t look at being lost as a potential problem when traveling. I assume it’s going to happen and I hope to discover something new and exciting while trying to find my way back to my route. GPS and my cell phone have changed this. My Dad once said while traveling with me that the use of GPS was going to make future generations ... read more

Death Valley

Death Valley

Jeff and I had the opportunity to spend two days in Death Valley. We wanted to visit someplace different. It fit the bill for sure -- rattlesnakes, no water and long stretches with no sightings of other human beings. We read up on the do's and don'ts of hiking in Death Valley National Park. Having your vehicle well maintained and your fuel tank full was strongly recommended. Did I mention there is no cell service? GPS also doesn't work well, if at all. I realized how much we rely on our technology. We had planned ahead and had maps. Well, we actually took pictures of the map with our phones. We made sure our phones were charged at all times, but they were really only useful for the maps and for taking pictures. We couldn't even Google the snake we saw and couldn't identify! We had a rental car and were completely at the mercy of whoever maintains the vehicles. That is an unusual feeling for both of us, but also a good reminder of how dependent our customers are on our techn ... read more

It’s Vegas, Baby!

It’s Vegas, Baby!

Jeff and I went to Las Vegas last week to celebrate NAPA’s 90th anniversary. We were able to take advantage of training and to meet with vendors to see what new tools and equipment were available. There were people from all over the world at this event and many times you learn a great deal from the attendees. Conversations are started about issues and solutions that have occurred in another shop owner’s business. The classes we attend encourage you to look at your business and see where you can improve…always a good thing for your business and customers. Being a NAPA Autocare Center is something that we are proud of achieving. We are an independent business with access to training and programs, specials and parts that we might not have access to otherwise. We are affiliated with groups that reflect our values and commitment to our business. We just put up our new NAPA Autocare sign. I tried to get the NAPA Corporation to switch their colors to our signature burgundy and ... read more

Moms, Kids and Cars

Moms, Kids and Cars

I remember when my oldest child was taking driver's education, eagerly anticipating the day she’d have that license in her hand. To her, it meant freedom. To me, it meant additional worrying. She excitedly drove us everywhere so she could accumulate the needed hours behind the wheel. She drove in the city, including downtown Chicago, in the country with lots of 2 and 4-way stops and everywhere in between. I was a lot more relaxed with the next two children getting their licenses. As a mom, I understand when someone has their vehicle checked over to make sure it’s safe and reliable because they have a new driver in the house. I understand that feeling of apprehension. You're handing the keys of a 2000 pound piece of metal with an engine to a 16 year old. There's not much scarier than that. You hope that your child remembers all the things you told them about good decisions. Don't text and drive; don't have too many friends in your car; don’t speed; don’t drink and drive; an ... read more

Prioritize Repairs

Prioritize Repairs

One of the things I’ve learned working at an automotive repair shop is this; replace your ball joints. I actually have an unnatural fear of broken ball joints. Here’s my reasoning. If they fail, it might get ugly. Here’s why. Ball joints are part of your suspension. They attach to the hub assembly and lower control arms. They attach into something that looks like your hip socket. If they are loose and come out of that assembly, your car continues to move forward without all of the suspension holding it up and no steering ability. Several years ago, there was a white Dodge Intrepid sitting on M6, between the 68th street and 76th street exits. The ball joint had broken and the front of the vehicle was almost sitting on the road. I remember it because I drove past it every day for probably a week. It was a good visual of a bad situation. We’ve had vehicles towed in that had the ball joint break; and I don’t ever recall a customer enjoying the abrupt stopping then losing contro ... read more

Josie and Her Car Seat

Josie and Her Car Seat

My daughter Liz has a small Sheltie puppy named Josie, who will only be about 25 lbs. when full grown. When Liz first started driving with Josie in the car, Josie wanted to sit on her lap. Liz realized that this would be a problem. I decided to do a little research and found several interesting articles about how unrestrained dogs in vehicles are often hurt or killed, even in low speed accidents. Owners can also be hurt because dogs become a projectile in the car during an accident or fast stop. In a 2011 AAA survey, 23% of pet owners used their arms to restrain a dog while braking, and 17% admitted to holding their dog in their lap while driving. Unfortunately, if the airbag deploys in an accident while your dog is on your lap, this could seriously injure your pet. Years ago, when a customer came in to have the air in her tires checked, I saw her two dogs in the back seat with harnesses and seat belts on. I hadn’t seen this before, but now realize her wisdom of safe trave ... read more

Legacies

Legacies

Each of our three children has worked at Arie Nol Auto Center at some point, progressing from clean-up crew or stock person to learning how to do oil changes, tire rotations, etc. Although the older two are now in non-automotive careers that they love, Cameron has become an ASE Certified Technician and a service writer in our business. Cameron continues to follow the path that Jeff took in 1976 when he began working for his Dad at the shop. When Arie started this business in 1976, he did it because he loved fixing cars, just as Jeff does. Cameron has been around the shop his whole life and also loves cars. I wish that Arie was around to see the third generation of his family continue in his footsteps. The legacy of a family-owned business strives when you take what you learned from the previous generation, carry on the drive to succeed, and learn as much as you can to continue growing the business and supporting your community. Passing along the legacy of hard work, passio ... read more

Coffee and Local Business

Coffee and Local Business

I always thought all coffee was the same. It didn’t really matter where it came from or how it was roasted. Then I met Craig. Several years ago, we began purchasing our coffee from Grand Rapids Coffee Roasters. They were a new business and very enthusiastic about their product. Craig Patterson explained the process of roasting the beans and why it was better coffee. We figured our customers would love a good cup of coffee. Grand Rapids small business community is amazing. You have a guy with a passion for good coffee and he has built a business that embodies the focus on buying local. All of us that work here at Arie Nol Auto Center, as well as our customers, appreciate the fruits (coffee beans are actually the pit in a coffee cherry) of Craig’s labor. We love being able to support a small, local business that employs local people. We also love drinking the coffee. It is an instant cup of happiness. Do you want to try out a great cup of coffee on a Saturday morning ... read more

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