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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:

The Farmer’s Almanac is Forecasting…

The Farmer’s Almanac is Forecasting…

Snow. Cold. Maybe even bitter cold. Bitter cold in Michigan is best described as cold that causes you to sit in your car at the gas station saying to yourself “Get out and pump gas!”. Ok, maybe that’s just me. But you know that feeling if you’ve lived in Michigan for any amount of time. Not being prepared for winter weather can put you in an inconvenient situation. A non-starting car at school, home, or work throws everything off. And if it’s cold outside, that just adds injury to insult as you stand in the blowing wind and wait for a ride or tow truck. Helping you deal with this situation is our job. Getting you back on the road as quickly as possible is always our goal. We would rather see you perform routine maintenance and not have to deal with this situation at all. Sometimes, a car breaking down is just a part failing and nothing you can control. But, having an ASE certified technician inspect your vehicle before the winter wind comes rushing in makes it l ... read more

Our Logo

Our Logo

I could tell you that our logo, a drawing of a crankshaft and pistons, was created by a large marketing company. That we had focus groups come in and tell us what feeling the logo invoked. That we reviewed the feedback, adjusted the design, spent large amounts of cash to get the color just right, and concluded the project with a launch party. Possibly with crowd- sourcing involved! In truth, what really occurred was that Jeff was taking a high school graphic arts class. His father, Arie, was running his newly-opened auto repair business where Jeff worked every day after school. Jeff had created a drawing in his graphic arts class of a crankshaft and pistons. He brought it home and his Dad thought it was well done and decided to use it for the logo for Arie Nol Auto Center. Some adjustments were made to the original drawing to make it more ‘logo friendly’ and it has been the logo for Arie Nol Auto Center for forty-one years. We’ve tweaked it on occasion but it has remain ... read more

Are you a Prepper?

Are you a Prepper?

Not the type of prepper that has an underground bunker and is eagerly awaiting the zombie apocalypse. However, if you are, September is the month for you! September is National Preparation Month which focuses on planning. The theme for 2017 is “Disasters Don’t Plan Ahead. You Can”. If you’re an optimist, you believe that ‘nothing will happen’ and if you’re a pessimist, you figure, “Why bother? If I prepare for a water event, there will be a wind event”. The reality is, this past month has taught us that many things can happen—and do. I firmly believe in having items in your car that make an inconvenience or emergency a little bit easier to deal with. Having water, snacks, boots, matches, a candle, a cell phone charger, etc. can prepare you to deal with sliding off the road, getting stuck in traffic for an extended amount of time, evacuating a flood, and many other situations. I’ve written several blog articles in the past about this because it can make a big dif ... read more

Maintenance and Cats

Maintenance and Cats

Most of the educational opportunities I take advantage of now are management or marketing related. I also attend conferences geared towards women in auto care and female entrepreneurs. Mostly because I believe you should never stop learning, and keeping myself current by learning from people that are experts in their field helps me to be better at what I do. On occasion, I take advantage of an automotive technical class. Why? I work in the automotive industry and while I don’t repair vehicles, I need to expose myself to new technology. Several weeks ago I went to a class with Jeff and one of our technicians, Gordon. Contrary to what many people believe, diagnostics doesn’t simply consist of ‘hooking up the scanner’. Vehicles have many interconnected systems and our technicians need to know what to look for when one of them is malfunctioning. One section of the training was on catalytic converter (cats) diagnostics. While I have been exposed to many conversations ... read more

Avoiding 'Flood Cars'

Avoiding 'Flood Cars'

The news is filled these past two weeks with hurricane damage and potential hurricane damage from another approaching hurricane. We see pictures of the devastation that these storms have caused. The emotional and physical damage is devastating and I can’t imagine watching everything you own wash away in a flood. In the automotive world, the talk starts to be about the ‘flood cars.’ These are vehicles that were damaged during a catastrophe and probably totaled by an insurance company. They’re not supposed to end up being resold but, sometimes they end up in the used car market. How does it happen? There is money to be made. Should this happen? Probably not, but if someone’s vehicle is uninsured or under insured, many people will try to dry them out and drive them or sell them. These cars may end up for sale in your area and you need to know how to spot them when searching for a used car. I could list all the signs of a potential flood car here but I’m not going t ... read more

Family-Owned and Operated

Family-Owned and Operated

Grand Rapids is the home to many family-owned businesses. I feel really fortunate to work with my husband and son daily. It is rare to enter our business and not interact with a Nol family member. Most people that have been in our business eventually figure out the familial relationships. When our children worked in the business when they were young, we asked them to call Jeff and I by our first names. It was admittedly an adjustment to have my kid’s call me ‘Debbie’ instead of Mom. There was a reason for it though. We felt that while they were our children, they were also our employees. It changes the dynamics when you are referring to your employer as Mom or Dad. We’ve always told our children that when your family owns the business, that means you work harder. You don’t get to skate by on your last name or go to Mom or Dad and expect special treatment. We knew that they wouldn’t always work for us and with Arie Nol Auto Center being their first work experience, we wa ... read more

Is Your Car Ready for College?

Do you have a student heading off to college and taking a vehicle? If so, is the car ready? You've bought the microwave, mini fridge, extra-long twin bedding and talked about the importance of making good personal choices. But is their car ready? It's important that a vehicle headed to school be maintained correctly and any minor repairs be taken care of before your student leaves. Many times, your child is headed to a town that you're not familiar with and they may not have the number of a shop you can trust. Being proactive about vehicle repairs and maintenance BEFORE they leave saves you a potential phone call about a broken-down vehicle. We know it's stressful trying to find a shop to repair your student’s vehicle. We know it's stressful for the student trying to deal with something they may not have had a lot of experience handling. While it can be a teachable moment, it's one you'd probably rather avoid. Make sure that they understand several thin ... read more

Forget Your Phone

Forget Your Phone

One of our quotes for this week seemed like a good one for this time of year. “Do more things that make you forget your phone.” It’s summer in Michigan. It’s a time we should be enjoying the summer weather, walking on the beach, eating at one of the locally owned restaurants, hiking and enjoying nature, and spending time with the people that make us happy. I’m as guilty as the next person of having my phone with me all the time, taking photos of whatever catches my eye, checking out social media, and responding to emails that don’t need to be responded to right away. It’s easy as a business owner to believe you need to be reachable 24/7. Being ‘connected’ is what it’s all about now. With Facebook and Instagram (and I admittedly love Instagram) it’s almost a matter of ‘if it isn’t posted, did it happen?’ If a tree falls in the woods and no one hears it… The real question should be; if you were busy taking a picture of a moment and finding the perf ... read more

Supporting and Sharing | The Women in Autocare Conference

Supporting and Sharing | The Women in Autocare Conference

More women are making the choice to join the ranks of the automotive world as engineers, salespeople, auto technicians, supply chain managers, CEOs, etc. Networking our way. Sharing stories of success and challenges. The moments of clarity when you realize there are many shared experiences and you contribute to the conversation. Being a proud Michigander while listening to Cynthia Kay and Doreen Bolhuis— co-authors of Stop Wishing, Stop Whining, Start Leading—talk about aspiring to lead. Both speakers have built businesses in Grand Rapids and are an inspiration as a woman business owner. Speaking with women from all over the country that I’ve met at past conferences. Meeting new members and recognizing the growth of this organization. Being inspired by a young woman from Pennsylvania who, at 17 years old, is on her way to a career in the automotive field and is taking the steps to make it happen. Having the opportunity to listen to Megan Meyer of Randy M ... read more

Know What You’re Buying

Know What You’re Buying

It's that time of year again. Lots of new drivers on the road. College students preparing to leave the nest and head to their college campus. People are on the lookout for the used car that fits their needs, is reasonably priced and has been well-maintained. That can be a tall order when looking for a used car. Everyone's idea of well-maintained is different. To some car owners, that means following the manufacturer’s recommended services and having regular oil changes. To other vehicle owners, regular maintenance means putting gas in the car when the low fuel light comes on. It's hard to tell when looking at a used vehicle what the care of the vehicle has been over its life span. That's why you should invest in a pre-purchase inspection for any vehicle that you are considering purchasing. I know. It's sounds like a sales pitch. Here's the deal. Most people purchase a vehicle that fits into their budget. Rarely does anyone say, “I have $7000 for a used c ... read more

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