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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:

Preparing for Summer

Preparing for Summer

Michigan is such a fickle place to live when it comes to our weather. If you've lived here long enough, you really will have worn a coat and gloves in the morning and shorts in the afternoon. Some days it feels like Mother Nature looks into my car and says, “You forgot your gloves? Time for snow and cold wind and by the way, you need to fill your gas tank. Have fun standing outside of the car!” Now think about your car. You want it to be prepared for any weather Michigan dishes out. Check your coolant. Can it handle the heat? Make sure your windshield wiper fluid is full and that your wipers are in good shape. Are all of your vehicle’s lights working? Here’s the most important thing to do in the spring. Turn on your air conditioning. Don't wait until you need it. Remember last year when the A/C wasn't quite as cold as it usually is? Or it was making a noise? But then it became cold and you switched over to heat in your car. The lack of cold air flowing through y ... read more

Lambos and Peep Toes

Lambos and Peep Toes

I was just down south and noticed two things. One, lots of Lamborghini, Aston Martins and Ferraris. Two, lots of peep toe shoes. Being married to a car guy, i usually have those shiny, engine that purrs, crazy-expensive vehicles pointed out to me. I do appreciate how beautiful these vehicles are as they cruise by us. Living in Michigan, I realize that I'd rather have an all around vehicle that can be used twelve months out of the year. I'm obviously too practical to be an exotic car collector. A true car aficionado is willing to visit their vehicle wherever it is stored, visualizing the first sunny day they take it for a drive. In the southern United States, their shoe requirements are different. A southern woman can wear peep toes year round. Sandals, espadrilles, flip flops etc—all those open toed, strappy, pretty shoes sit in my closet waiting. It doesn't make me happy to visit them in my closet. I bypass them on the way to boots and wool socks. Their soft pa ... read more

Auto Repair Shops and Trust

Auto Repair Shops and Trust

Some people think that auto repair and trust don't belong in a title together. I was reading an article about a survey performed by AAA. AAA stated that according to their survey, ‘75 million drivers don't have a trusted auto repair facility and ⅔ of drivers don't trust auto repair shops in general’. Some people have had bad experiences or there's always that reputation that seems to persist for centuries. Mechanics! Argh! They're always out to get people! I'm going with my 17 years of experience in this industry and saying that 10%, probably the same in other service industries, of shops are…….less honest than they should be. The less honest ones aggravate everyone. We get the customers they've mislead and have to work to earn their trust. But that's OK. I understand. Technology is changing so fast and the average car owner isn't going to understand when your technicians says you have, “excessive noise on bit serial data line causing no communication wi ... read more

A Woman In Auto Care

A Woman In Auto Care

Last year I had someone approach me to see if I would be interested in attending a leadership conference in Indianapolis for the Women in Auto Care. I had heard of this group over the years, but I hadn’t pursued learning more about them. The group’s focus is on industry insights, networking, and professional development. I have since attended that conference, as well as their winter leadership conference this past month. Many of the conferences and trainings Jeff and I attend are geared towards shop owners. The Women in Auto Care conference is geared towards women working in the automotive industry aftermarket. The speakers were amazing and I walked away feeling like I had learned about what is happening in the automotive industry, with a renewed opportunity to improve my skills as a business owner. Women share their experiences and expertise in their positions working in development, sales, logistics, engineering, technicians, etc. The Women in Auto Care also f ... read more

I Saw the Sign

I Saw the Sign

“I love your sign!” This is a sentence we hear a lot. And we love it! This is our own little piece of the world on the corner of 52nd and Eastern in Grand Rapids. We are fortunate to have a lot of traffic passing our business every day. From the standpoint of business visibility, etc, it's a great spot. When Arie Nol purchased the property in 1976, there wasn't much out here. It was the edge of Grand Rapids. The ’burbs. Having the ability to impact so many people every day is kind of fun. We made the decision 15 years ago, when we erected the new sign, to not put anything up but quotes, puns or something inspirational. At first it was tempting to place ‘specials’ on the sign. Where we missing a huge opportunity to reach potential customers? Maybe. As a small business owner, it's natural to revisit decisions to see if they were good ones. The unexpected aspect of our sign is how much enjoyment WE get out of it. Having someone that is not a customer come i ... read more

A Lasting Legacy

A Lasting Legacy

Cameron was only three months old when his grandfather, Arie Nol, the founder of our business, passed away. Cameron has no memories of his own but he has heard many other people’s memories of Arie. While working here, he has the unique opportunity to talk to people that worked with his grandfather or have customers share their stories about Arie. Arie loved what he did and shared his passion for cars with many people. He also loved people and enjoyed helping them and sharing his knowledge to enable them to keep their vehicles in safe condition. Even though Arie has been gone for almost twenty-five years, we still hear the stories of how he impacted people’s lives. Cameron has been able to hear stories about his grandfather negotiating with vendors who’ve since retired but stop in to say “HI.” On occasion, he’s heard stories from people that shared how they had to deal with Arie after they caused damage to the family car by ignoring needed maintenance or driving ... read more

Job Shadowing Opportunity

Job Shadowing Opportunity

There has been a lot of talk about the automotive technician shortage. If you don’t work in a trade, you may not be aware of how few students currently enter a trade field. The push for a college degree is important but not all high school students need to pursue a degree to achieve their goals. If your son or daughter likes to disassemble items to see how they work, hopefully they'll have the opportunity to use that skill in their job if that's what they enjoy. Being a naturally technical person is a gift. One I don't have but I watch it in action day-after- day. Most of the trades require post high school education. There are very few jobs you can walk into without some type of training in this day and age. We were fortunate to be asked to have a student from a local high school job shadow with us for part of a day. It's a great opportunity for all of us to share what we love about this business as well as give someone the opportunity to see what ‘a day in the life of ... read more

The Fitbit And Your Car Battery

The Fitbit And Your Car Battery

I have a Fitbit that I may be mildly obsessed with. It was charging one day and I left the house and arrived at work without it. Walking anywhere seemed so pointless. No steps counted. No way to tell if I was going to make my 250 steps every hour that day. Did I even sleep well the night before? My Fitbit wasn’t there to tell me. I’d like to admit I’m exaggerating but I’m not. We have several scanners that have the capability to let us know the health of certain parts of your vehicle. One of these that’s very important is your car battery health. I like seeing the printout from a battery test, especially when it’s bad. It shows the voltage and rates the battery’s health. Here’s my reasoning. It’s cold out. Having your battery fail in Michigan in February will probably be miserable. You could have avoided this by having your battery tested periodically. It doesn’t take long and it’s painless. Finding out that your battery is weak is an opportunity to say, “Hey, I ... read more

This Isn’t Your Grandparents Car

This Isn’t Your Grandparents Car

There was a time when car owners brought their vehicle in for a grease job and an oil change. You also made sure that your car was ‘tuned up’. You might also have needed your carburetor adjusted. Those services are no longer needed on the newer vehicles. Why? There are several reasons. A tune-up consisted of replacing spark plugs, wires and checking the distributor. Today's vehicles no longer have wires or a distributor, thanks to a direct ignition system. The spark plugs that previously had copper tips now have iridium tips, which last thousands more miles than their predecessors. We also have fuel injection which makes the carburetor obsolete. You needed a grease job because some of your suspension parts needed to be greased on a regular basis. That's not true of most anymore. They essentially don't have to be greased because they have more of a closed system that doesn't allow you to insert grease. They're ‘pregreased’. Pre-greased is not an actual ‘automotiv ... read more

Get To Know Your Technician - Ken

Get To Know Your Technician - Ken

Ken joined our team bringing a lot of experience as an ASE certified technician with twenty-four years of experience at dealerships and several years as an independent. Ken is our Volkswagen and Audi go-to guy. He enjoys working on German vehicles the most. I have learned a lot from him as he is very adept at explaining what transpired as a vehicle part was failing. I sat in Ken’s bay and peppered him with questions for this blog post. What is your favorite car – R129 Mercedes Benz SL from the 90’s. Why? They can be purchased reasonably and they are a beautiful car. Favorite thing to do when you’re not working? I sing in ‘Hark Up.’ I’m a bass singer and play bass, acoustic and electric guitar. My family, including my wife Mary, my two sons, and my daughter, enjoy going to Whitecaps baseball games as well. Why did you become a technician? – My first car was a 1972 Chevy Nova SS that was a “hunk of garbage” and I learned to work on that to keep it ... read more

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