Articles:

The Mouse: Car Carnage, What It Is and How It Happens

I call it “car carnage,” all of the things that happen to a vehicle and damage the working parts. Fire, heat, water, operator error, mice. I remember the first time I saw a vehicle come in with intermittent electrical problems. After some investigation, it was diagnosed as mouse damage. I was shocked, I had no idea that happened. Then we got the full story. The vehicle owner had a dog. The dog's food was kept in the garage and so was the car. The winter was cold. A certain mouse was too. Then, he found the perfect place, the engine compartment of a warm car located seconds from an endless supply of kibble. The mouse settled into the engine compartment and did what all mice do, chew on wires. A lot of very important wires. The story ended sadly. The mouse perished and the car had electrical issues – not to mention an engine compartment littered with dog food. Not all carnage features a tragic end for a furry creature. Some damage comes simply from driving with worn parts. The worn part ... read more

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 perfect filter to post the photo, did you re ... read more

Welcome To My World... In The Automotive World

Blogs, they're everywhere, covering every conceivable topic. I bet you think since this is an auto repair shop's blog, it'll be all cars, all the time. Well, that's not quite my goal. Sure, I'll talk cars, but only sometimes. You see, I'm not a technician – honestly, I'm not normally a car person either – but I married into a family of automotive repair experts. It's hard to admit, working with a husband and son who live and breathe auto repair, but when it comes to my car I see it mostly as a way to get me to the shoe store. I'm like most car owners; I don't need a great performance car. I just want something functional, reliable and in a color I like. After fourteen years of working at Arie Nol Auto Center, I've learned a thing or two about cars. It would be hard not to when you're spending 8 hours a day with some of the most passionate technicians around. They're a patient group, always willing to answer my questions, and very friendly. The team here has been integral in helping me ... read more

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 wanted it to set t ... read more

Autumn Leaves and Summer Cars

The fun cars are getting ready to be put away for the winter. The sparkly, convertible, wind blowing through your hair on the way to the beach cars. The little two-seaters that bring a grin to your face as you sit in the driver’s seat. We see so many of the vehicles that are completely an emotional purchase. I love the stories! We’ve had cars that someone will bring in because their dad owned one and they remember those summers spent helping him wash it in the driveway or taking it out together for a ride. Some people purchase a car because they had a similar model when they were younger and want to relive that feeling. I feel that way about Corvairs. We had a Corvair when I was younger and I remember riding in it with my family. Unfortunately, everyone knows that they had engineering flaws back then and were dangerous. By the time the kinks were corrected and it was only a cute little sports car, the name was synonymous with horrible accidents. So, I will never own one but I can admir ... read more

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 because she ask ... read more

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 to. I’m hoping that when ... read more

Peaceful

During the course of our day, we have many people in and out of our office. Customers, vendors, and salespeople are constantly walking in and out. There is research that shows that when you smile at someone, you’re not only making an impression on them but yourself as well. Smiling lowers stress and some research even suggests that you can improve your own mood just by smiling. We have a vendor that comes every day who is always smiling. When you ask him how he’s doing, he says, “I am peaceful.” Everything in his day has not gone perfectly as planned but he still smiles and says, “I am peaceful.” I am not always peaceful and he laughed when I mentioned that to him one day. His response was, “You woke up this morning and got out of bed. For that, you should be thankful.” He was right. On any given day, our computers may start acting up, parts didn’t arrive, frustration builds, the Internet is slow etc. Someone has a car that is towed in because it unexpectedly broke down, and it usually ... read more

Who will take the wheel?

There is a lot of chatter about self-driving or, autonomous cars. There are articles in trade magazines talking about their possible capabilities and what being a passenger in an autonomous car may look like. There is a lot of discussion about the improved safety on the road. On a long trip where being tired could cause you to doze off and potentially cause an accident, it makes sense. If you have elderly parents and would feel better with them not driving, that also makes sense. The safety features of the autonomous vehicle are understandable. From what I’ve read, they are able to teach the vehicle to essentially make decisions. It can discern the difference between a deer and a person in the road. The vehicle also can ignore screaming children, a ringing cell phone and a spilled drink. These are all causes of accidents that most people struggle to ignore while driving. Most people in Michigan know when a deer leaps into the road not to swerve. It’s hard to not try to avoid the deer t ... read more

Thanks, Dads!

I’m thankful for the Dads in my life. My own, my stepdad, my father-in-law and the fathers of the people my children married or are marrying. My Dad has a great sense of humor and an obsession with birds. My son recently said that sometimes it’s scary how many birds he can identify from all of his walks with Grandpa when he was young. He taught all of my kids how to fish and to appreciate nature. He taught me: “you get what life hands you”, “work for what you want”, and “to appreciate the good and tough out the bad”. My father-in-law demonstrated to Jeff how you always put family first and to stand up for your beliefs. Arie shared his love of cars with Jeff and that placed Jeff on the path to doing something he loves every day. My stepdad has been a part of my life and my children’s for many years and continues to be an important part of our lives. My children are either married or will soon be married. They are all fortunate to be marrying people who have excellent examples of what a ... read more

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