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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:

Hook that scanner up!

Hook that scanner up!

No, it can’t do that. We hear several times a day, “Can you hook up the computer to see what is wrong with my car?” While technology is amazing and the scanners and computers we use are an important part of the diagnostic process, they don’t tell us exactly what the problem is. The most important part of the diagnostic process is the technician and his experience, education and skills. A scanner can give the technician the starting piece of the puzzle and he has to fit it all together. The code may indicate what general area of the vehicle is malfunctioning, but it’s up to the technician to figure out what part is failing to do its job. Most technicians avoid being ‘parts changers’ and want to get to the root cause of the problem. In the past, diagnoses were simpler because cars were simpler. They didn’t have numerous computers helping to run the system. If your vehicle was hesitating, a tune-up was recommended. Today, that hesitation can come from a myriad of different parts o ... read more

Our Sign

Our Sign

When we put our sign up years ago, we made a decision. No ads, specials or auto information. It is a great topic of conversation and, in general, just fun. Most people love it. Some people have stated that whatever the quote was for that week, we were meant to put it up for them to see. There are an amazing amount of quotes on the internet and in books. Some are funny, some insightful or thought provoking, and some are really just ancient wisdom. Many have been around forever and still are relevant today. I have made some mistakes. I put up ‘Menopause is to women what kryptonite is to superman’ right before I left one night. I thought kryptonite made superman strong. I was wrong. The many phone calls received first thing in the morning pointed out my error. A young woman called one afternoon and said that she didn’t understand the current quote because she didn’t know the definition of one word. I explained it. She said she felt stupid. I told her that she wasn’t stupid ... read more

Progression

Progression

We are using a new software program in our shop. It has some really interesting capabilities which will make us more efficient and bring added value to our customers. But it's new software, and we have to learn how to use it. It's not always pretty. The temptation to go back to the old 'known' way of doing things is strong. However, nowadays, there is rapid progression in how we do everything. It's very evident in the automotive industry. We are very dependent on our vehicles because our lives are busy. Therefore, we need our vehicles. If someone had told me when I was sixteen years old that I would have a small computer in my pocket that acted as a phone, game board, internet connection and a myriad other things, my first question would be, 'What's an internet?' Those portable information centers allow us to be busier and receive more information than any human in history – all without actually 'speaking' to anyone. We can now send you a picture of what is malfunctio ... read more

Spring Is (Almost) Here

Spring Is (Almost) Here

We’ve waited long enough. I think this means that we cannot complain when it is 95 degrees and 100% humidity. But we still will. It’s part of living in Michigan. It also means that it is time to test your air conditioning system. By testing, I mean turn it on. Turn the dials. See if it cools in both the back and front of your car, if that is an option for your vehicle. The first hot day in the auto world brings phone calls from drivers that haven’t turned on the A/C since last summer. Be the ‘cool’ one and check your A/C now. The other item you want to check is your coolant system. Coolant protects your engine from extreme temperatures. Let’s go back to last summer and remember what it felt like when you climbed into your steaming hot car. Do your car a favor and have the coolant tested now so that you are ready for the heat. You’ll be glad you took care of these things. If you get your air conditioning recharged, you can sit in the car when it’s 95 degrees outside wit ... read more

Car Blood

Car Blood

My nephew is three and likes to stop and see Aunt Debbie at work, mainly because I carry him out to the bays and he looks at the ‘cars in the air.’ Last time he was in, one of the technicians was performing an oil change on a vehicle, and Jack asked me what he was doing. I told him, but he wanted to know what oil was. I explained to him that it was essentially car blood – not the most technical description but pretty accurate. I explained how oil lubricates the engine and becomes dirty, so the oil and filter need to be changed regularly. Similarly, your body uses the kidney, liver and spleen to filter your blood, but your body “cleans” them automatically. Your car is dependent on you for this necessary function. Car manufacturers have many specifications and recommendations so it’s important to follow these. Although using synthetic oil for an oil change is more expensive, deciding to use conventional oil to save some money is not usually a good decision. Down the road, the ... read more

Spring Break Mayhem

Spring Break Mayhem

Dreams of Spring Break dance through our heads as we continue to endure the cold, grayness of Michigan. Lying on the beach in the hot sun, with the sound of seagulls fighting over snacks left in the sand by previous sunbathers. I can almost smell the sunscreen! Are you taking a road trip for Spring Break? Every year, the week before Spring Break is very busy at local auto repair facilities -- people wanting to get their vehicles checked over before they leave, in hopes of avoiding an emergency pit stop along the way. I would recommend scheduling an appointment at least two weeks before your trip. Have your tires checked, oil changed, fluids checked and filled, hoses and belts checked, and battery tested. Your windshield wipers should be replaced if necessary. Have them check your brakes to see how much of the pad remains. It’s a long trip and parts that are nearing the end of their lifecycle should not be going on the trip with you. Every year, without fail, we get a co ... read more

Mom Advice

Mom Advice

My Mom always told me to have a pair of boots in the trunk of my car. Probably because she knew I would not have weather-appropriate shoes on if I was involved in an accident or my vehicle broke down. She was correct. Jeff and I were driving on the highway and were hit by another car on New Year’s Eve years ago. I had on an awesome pair of high heels appropriate for New Year’s Eve, but not so appropriate standing on the side of the highway in the winter. After Jeff boosted me out of the car, he was able to get the trunk open and get my boots. I called my Mom the next day and told her she was right. The lesson here is to make sure you have some emergency items in your vehicle. Michigan weather can be vicious and we should be prepared for it. Having a blanket, extra boots, gloves and a hat in your vehicle can mean the difference between being inconvenienced by a dead car or being put in a dangerous situation by not being prepared

Such A Small Word

Such A Small Word

We all do it. As we go about our day, we fail to think about the people who contribute to our day going well. We rely on our vendors and their employees. For example, you drop off your vehicle for new brakes on your way to work in the morning. After our technician determines what needs to be replaced, the system kicks into gear. If we don’t have the item in stock, we call our supplier. Someone pulls the part from the shelf, schedules it for delivery, then the driver delivers it to us. 98% of the time, the system works perfectly. Said part is delivered and installed in the allotted time frame, and you receive your vehicle with new brakes. It’s when the system doesn’t work that we all notice. We’ve all been at a restaurant and had a less than ideal experience. It could have been the hostess, server, dishwasher, chef, person bussing the table, or the cashier that caused the system to fail, but you feel the effect. If the server is having a bad day and isn’t very pleasant, you ... read more

Car Noises

Car Noises

We should make a tape of car noises. You could push a series of buttons and tell us which one best identifies the sound you’re hearing. Some customers come into the shop and are very hesitant to make the noise they’re hearing, while others are all in. They’re totally committed to making the correct sound. It’s surprising how many times the sound really does give the service advisor a good starting point to the follow-up questions they ask. This is helpful when passing the information along to the service technician to determine what is happening with your vehicle. So, if your vehicle is making a noise and you want to demonstrate that sound to the service advisor, go ahead. You won’t be the first or the last, and we’d never laugh. Everyone here has demonstrated the sounds themselves at some point. Customers will joke about turning up the radio to drown out the sound the vehicle is making. A good rule of thumb is to occasionally turn off your radio and listen to your car as ... read more

Operation Save The Parakeet

Operation Save The Parakeet

We have a bird feeder outside of our lobby door. Last summer, we had an unusual bird arriving with a flock of sparrows. It was yellow and I thought maybe it was a finch. My ornithology knowledge is limited. One of our employees, David, has raised birds and recognized it as a parakeet. We watched it all summer as it showed up daily to the bird feeder. Reality set in when David said it would die during the winter. I thought it would fly south – hence, the comment about my ornithology knowledge above! Operation Save the Parakeet kicked into gear. For those of you who don’t know, air bags are shipped in something that resembles a live-trap style cage… we had just received one. That was the beginning of the plan. When everyone was finished devising the trap, it was similar to a Wyle E. Coyote setup. An air bag cage with a stick holding it up at one end, food inside the cage and a rope attached to the stick. The chance of success was low. One of the technicians, Grant, was walki ... read more

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