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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:

Why ASE Certified matters to you?

Why ASE Certified matters to you?

ASE Certified is the designation given by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence for automotive technicians that have met certain criteria. It matters to us because it means that our technicians have taken the extra testing and met the criteria to reach this goal. The testing requires a certain level of knowledge and a required amount of time spent in the automotive repair field. You also need to retest every five years, which helps ensure your knowledge is current. We ask our technicians to put in the time and effort required to stay current with their licensing. Education is important to us and our technicians are required to attend numerous classes throughout the year. This translates into a stronger knowledge base, enabling them to repair and maintain vehicles better and more efficiently. Why does this matter to you? It matters because anyone that is willing to take the additional step of not only being state-certified, which is required in ... read more

Is That Deer Real?

Is That Deer Real?

Every day I drive past a home that has a decoy deer in the yard. The first couple of times it took me by surprise and I actually slowed down, thinking it was real. I don't even notice it anymore. This week I was driving by and I realized the deer was still there. He's looking a little worse for wear but he still hasn't moved. I was thinking about how we get so accustomed to something that after a while we don't even see it anymore. A check engine light, or malfunction indicator light, can be like that deer. At first, you notice it and it catches your attention. After a while, your brain lulls itself into thinking that light is nothing. You don't even notice the light anymore, just like I don't notice the fake deer. Customers will sometimes be in vehicles and let us know that the check engine light “has been on for months.” It doesn't bother them because they figure the car is still running well, so it must not be a problem. And it might not be. Sometimes ... read more

I Dream of Shoes!

I Dream of Shoes!

Can you imagine the first person to strap some leather to their feet for protection? I'm sure it wasn't very pretty. Over 2000 years ago, someone actually took several pairs of shoes and put them in an earthen jar. These shoes were discovered in a burial site in Luxor. They believe they placed them in a wall because they were the most valuable possession they owned. They may have intended to return for them and never did. Fast forward to 2016. Some people think of shoes as simply foot protection. A female customer and I were talking about our difference in opinion about footwear. She buys a pair of shoes and wears them until they wear out. I could not comprehend that statement. Some people feel like that about cars. Drive whatever works for you and then replace as needed. Some people love a certain type of car and may collect them. Others, like Jay Leno, collect cars of all types, makes, and vintages. I would like to be the Jay Leno of shoes. Spr ... read more

Celebrating Grand Rapids and its Influential Wome

Celebrating Grand Rapids and its Influential Wome

I had the opportunity to attend the 50 Most Influential Women in West Michigan awards. There were over 800 people there celebrating women that are making a difference in West Michigan. Sonia Manzano, Maria from Sesame Street, was the keynote speaker. Ms. Monzano was inspirational while speaking about how she ended up where she did and why it made a difference. Our city amazes me with its ability to recreate itself. When I was younger, downtown Grand Rapids was somewhere you rarely went. Herpolsheimer’s department store was one of the only reasons to go downtown. Here we are in 2016 and you can see the drastic changes that have helped our city end up on so many lists of “great places to live” lately. Listening to the honorees and hearing their words of encouragement and motivation was doubly enjoyable as my daughter was there with me. She had the opportunity to speak with several women at our table that are doing research which will eventually impact us all ... read more

Sunscreen and Oil

Sunscreen and Oil

This is the time of year when our thoughts turn to Springbreak. The migration of northern state residents to the sun and surf of the southern state beaches. The tide rolling in while the sun shines down on us, our toes tucked into the sand. Before that moment, there is the drive for many people. Bumper to bumper, cars headed south. Your vehicle is packed with snacks, pillows, a video player of some sort, bathing suits and suncreen. The sunscreen is for our pale, hasn't seen the sun in months, northern skin. Forgetting this leads to sunburn, blisters and possibly missing a couple of days in the sun. When I was a teenager, we laid out in the sun covered in baby oil and fried ourselves. After the blisters healed and the red faded, you might, if you weren't me, end up with a tan. We’re so much smarter now and know the value of suncreen and SPF. While you dream of this trip on a gray, snowy day, make a call to your local repair facility. Schedule an appointment to ha ... read more

Michigan Potholes

Michigan Potholes

This winter hasn’t been too bad. The roads however, started out bad and winter weather always makes them worse. We’ve been having some customers come in after reporting hitting pot holes. We’ve all done it. Driving down the road and all of the sudden you are trying to avoid a pothole without hitting the cars around us. As your tire rolls into the hole in the road, you calmly begin hoping there is no damage. Maybe not so calmly, because unfortunately, those holes in the road can cause a lot of damage. According to the annual TRIP study, the average Michigan motorist pays an additional $686.00 annually in repair and fuel dollars due to the bad roads. Your best bet is obviously to avoid the potholes. If that isn’t possible and you’ve hit one with your car, you need to pull over. Take a look at your tire and look for damage. Is there tread damage or a bulge on the side of the tire? Look at the rim of the tire and see if there is any damage. If you don’t see any dama ... read more

Dental Care and Your Car

Dental Care and Your Car

Picture going into a dentist office, telling them you have pain in the lower left side of your jaw. You had a friend that had the same symptoms and that person had a cavity. You precede to tell the dentist you would like him to figure out which tooth needs to be filled without x-rays or looking in your mouth. You think you know which tooth it is and tell him that’s the one he should start drilling. There is a good chance you are going to be disappointed with the outcome of this scenario. This isn’t the recommended oral health care choice. In the automotive repair business, as diagnoses becomes more complicated, we deal with this sometimes. Back in the day most people could diagnose their vehicle or their neighbor could. That isn’t true anymore. There are many more complicated electronic and computer systems that exist in your car. We work with our customers to educate them as to why diagnosing the problem in many situations is less expensive than just beginning ... read more

My Car Won

My Car Won

The 2016 Volvo XC90 won Sport Utility Vehicle of the year at the Detroit Auto Show. I don't own one and had nothing to do with the design or engineering but I'm pretty excited. Most car people have a favorite car make or model. I'm not a car person but, as I may have mentioned in previous blogs, I love Volvos. They used to be the stodgy, safe, soccer mom car. Instantly uncool. I prefer the wagons. I believe they are ‘stealth cool.’ Not everyone sees this. I kind of feel redeemed. I told all of our technicians it won. They weren’t nearly as happy as I was. They all have their favorite cars and they are not the same as mine. I'm not really concerned with horsepower or performance. I love how it looks and I've read all the reviews and looked at the pictures. I do have a tendency to follow the informational car blogs because it's interesting to read what people, experts and non-experts, think about a certain vehicle. I haven't driven one yet because I'm afra ... read more

It's Not a Bad Gig

It's Not a Bad Gig

We’ve all heard the term ‘grease monkey’. I never thought about it until I married an automotive technician. If I hear it used now, it irritates me. Here’s why. I know how much education, intelligence and hard work it takes to excel in this field. As with any other career, there are varying degrees of aptitude. Some people are born with the natural ability to comprehend the complex systems that run today's vehicles. Through constant education, they are able to maintain and repair essentially “computers on wheels.” They may have started out learning at their father’s side in the garage. They may have disassembled an engine because they knew through trial and error they'd be able to fix it and have it back on the road. These are the technicians that love the challenge of their job and enjoy the constantly changing technology. I do not have this capability. I've learned a lot and understand a fair amount of how and why your vehicles run. I can identify many parts a ... read more

Utilizing the knowledge around you

Utilizing the knowledge around you

Technology changes in vehicles; therefore, we need to upgrade our tools and training. At the same time, our software and hardware also change and need to be upgraded. Computers, phone systems, security systems, etc. need to be kept running efficiently as well as taking advantage of upgrades to increase our productivity. Who would have imagined thirty-five years ago that not only would there be phones without cords but we would have Bluetooth? A device that sits in your ear and you can answer the phone while driving, walking, eating or perhaps even while you’re at the mall? Each of our technicians has an iPad they use to communicate with the service writers. No more paper and pen. They’re able to take photos which the service writers can then email or text to the customers. This keeps the customer aware of what is happening with their vehicle. I’m not an IT person and have no desire to become one. We were fortunate enough to be connected with a great, local, smal ... read more

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