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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:

Zumba shoes and your suspension

Zumba shoes and your suspension

I try to attend two Zumba classes every week. It’s a fun way to stay in shape and doesn’t require anything more than comfy clothing and good shoes. I’ve learned over the years that I need to replace my shoes more often than I would expect. The reality is that the shoes I’m wearing for Zumba support not only my feet but the weight of my body as I jump, spin and dance around. I don’t pay a lot of attention to them until my legs or knees are sore after a workout. My first thought should be, “Maybe I need new shoes.” It never is. I always think of a myriad of other things it could be. Harder workout, different floor, etc. Customers will come into our shop and say, “I think I need new tires or maybe a wheel bearing is going out.” In reality, many times it is a suspension issue that needs to be addressed. When you think about what your suspension does on the road, it is easy to recognize why parts wear out and need to be replaced. Your suspension holds your car, that ... read more

Celebrating this holiday!

Celebrating this holiday!

It is National Preparedness Month in the United States. The idea behind the federal designation is that Americans will prepare for natural disasters. As of 2009 according to FEMA, only 57% of Americans are prepared with supplies in their home and only 44% of Americans have an emergency plan. While I wholeheartedly agree that we should be prepared for a natural disaster, I also believe that you should be prepared for an emergency while in your vehicle. As a lifelong Michigan resident I know that being unprepared for a vehicle emergency can make it, if not more dangerous, at least more inconvenient. These are several of my recommendations for items to be kept in your vehicle. Specifically, for the winter months: Boots and gloves – This I know from personal experience. US 131 southbound on New Year’s Eve and a young woman driving too fast for the conditions who decided my beloved Nissan Maxima would look better on its side in the center median. I h ... read more

Kevin's Car

Kevin's Car

Kevin, our go-to I.T. person is also a customer. He called because he was having immediate car issues. A while ago, I was having immediate I.T. issues and called Kevin. He had his young son Paul with him but came to the shop to fix the problem. I gladly entertained Paul while Kevin worked to diagnose and fix our computer issue. Kevin’s vehicle was towed in to be diagnosed and repaired. Paul, in the meantime, was worried about his Dad’s car. Kevin told him it was at Miss Debbie’s shop to be looked at. Kevin later told me that Paul said, “Miss Debbie will fix your car.” He had every confidence the vehicle was in good hands with Miss Debbie. While I love the fact that Paul believes I have the ability to fix cars, I do not. We are lucky to have a gifted and well-trained staff. They are the ones that diagnose, repair and maintain all of our customer’s vehicles. I work on the business and customer service side and understand a lot about automotive repairs but I’m not ... read more

College Student Car Preparation

Walk through any of the local stores and you will see the signs of back to school are everywhere. Backpacks and lunch boxes for the little ones and extra-long twin sheets for the dorm-bound college student. Along with all this busyness, getting your vehicles ready for students can be overlooked. College kids leaving with an older car and new drivers preparing for their first year of driving to school. Moms and Dads also have more driving ahead with school events, sports and music practice, etc. Before the college student leaves, get the oil changed, check the tires and have an inspection done for any needed maintenance. I recommend asking your service advisor about anything that may cause issues before the car returns home later in the Fall. Make sure your student knows how to handle certain scenarios. Car break downs, new noises, and changes in the way the vehicle drives are things that have to be addressed. Make sure they have a local towing company’s number ... read more

Change Your Oil…Please!

Change Your Oil…Please!

One of the things that many people ask is, “What is the number one thing I can do to prolong my car’s life?” The answer is to change your oil. Because I work in the automotive industry, I probably pay more attention to the messages relating to auto repair than the average consumer. I think sometimes people tune out the radio, online and magazine ads because they are inundated with ads to come to certain places to have your oil changed. If you asked your car, it would tell you to change its oil in the recommended increments with the recommended oil. It would tell you not to try to stretch your oil changes out too much, too often. Our family cars have a tendency to get in excess of 200,000 miles. Our 1999 Ford Expedition has 290,000+ miles on it. It went through three teenagers learning to drive and numerous biking and soccer trips. Sometimes it was not shown a whole lot of love in the maintenance department but it always, without fail, had the oil changed on time ... read more

Are you ready for Whitecaps baseball?

Are you ready for Whitecaps baseball?

We were! Every summer we have a company event where we can all get together with our families and have some fun. We feel very strongly as a company that spending time together contributes to the team atmosphere we have built. Getting to know family members is important for all of us for the same reason. Luckily Grand Rapids has some terrific options for entertainment. We’ve attended a Whitecaps game before as a group and decided to do it again this year. We have a mix of ages with some of our group having young children and some with teenagers. Or, the empty nesters, which Jeff and I have covered. While I’m not a huge sports fan I always have a great time at the Fifth Third Ballpark. The food is terrific, there are activities for pretty much everyone and there is always something happening on the field. Franky the Swimming Pig made an appearance and decided to shine up Jeff’s scalp, which we all thought was pretty humorous. Crash made his rounds and threw out it ... read more

Moving on to the next stage

Moving on to the next stage

When I started working here sixteen years ago, our kids were young. As with many small, family-owned business’, the kids did a lot of the behind the scenes things. Take out trash, clean floors, stock shelves, etc. As they got older, they still did these things but they also worked in the office and helped with customer service. Then they started college and their own careers. Two of them are in totally different businesses and, as many of you know, our youngest, Cameron, is one of the service advisors in the front office. Just when we were trying to figure out what our next step was to fill the now open position, we found out that Luke was looking for a job. He attended the same high school our kids did and we knew his parents. He started working for us a couple of years ago and left at the beginning of this summer for a full-time position elsewhere. His job description we joking referred to as our ‘minion’. He painted walls, cleaned bays, helped me clea ... read more

Car shows, ice cream and summertime!

Car shows, ice cream and summertime!

It’s summer time in Michigan! Beaches, barbeques and road trips. There are also a lot of car shows. A LOT of car shows. I have attended my fair share of car shows. This is what happens when you marry a car guy. In the early days of dating, I attended a lot of automotive related events. I asked a lot of questions like, “Why are there mirrors displaying the undercarriage of that car?” as well as, “Why is that guy carrying a car hood?” Turns out there was a race car driver autographing whatever you brought in to the show. Fast forward thirty years later and I now work with my husband in the automotive repair business and my life revolves around cars. I can appreciate a beautiful car and the hum of an engine but I don’t have the deep down love of the automobile that many people, including the ones I work with every day, do. Several weeks ago in Northern Michigan, my stepmom and I attended a craft show and were walking to a favorite local restaurant. There wa ... read more

Peace of Mind

Peace of Mind

I've always been amazed by the damage that can happen inside an engine compartment or on the suspension of a vehicle. The technicians always let me know when they have some car part carnage for me to take a picture of before they repair it. There are many reasons for visible damage. Age and wear, lack of maintenance, and sometimes just a part that fails before its time. Sometimes damage can happen simply due to another part failing and it becomes a domino effect. The technicians always explain the sequence of events that lead to the damage. I've learned a lot from seeing situations like this and having them explained to me. Automobiles are mechanical. There are a lot of moving parts and sometimes if it is a moving part fails, it causes a lot of damage. At times, even a new part can fail. We are choosy about the parts we use for the repairs and maintenance; however, on occasion even a new part will fail. It isn't just disappointing for the customer but also for t ... read more

Intrepid Fallen Heros Fund

Intrepid Fallen Heros Fund

Being a NAPA Autocare center gives us, a small independent business, the opportunity to take advantage of training, parts purchasing and the ability to participate in different programs. Each year, NAPA offers a 'give back and get back' program that offers customers a rebate as well as a way to give back to the service people that have been injured protecting our freedom. We've participated in this program for years and always felt it was a terrific opportunity to give back. Several of us from Arie Nol Auto Center had the opportunity to attend a NAPA training event this past year. One of the speakers was an Armed Services veteran that had suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) while serving in the military. He spoke about the affect his injuries had not just on his life but on his family's life. Listening to him share what having access to the programs offered by the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund meant to himself and his family, put the struggles he faced right i ... read more

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