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 Michigan, but also ASE ... read more

Being a Part of Something Bigger

Jeff and I were fortunate enough—as owners of an ‘A NAPA AutoCare’ business—to be chosen to represent the NAPA Central Division on the AutoCare Advisory Council. We served a two-year term and traveled to the meetings twice a year. It was an honor and a privilege to have the opportunity to make an impact in our part of the automotive world. Along with the eight other divisions represented, we looked at programs meant to enhance the customer experience as well as help NAPA AutoCare automotive repair shops function well as businesses. The nine divisions each bring their own unique perspective and knowledge to the table for the betterment of the AutoCare program. Each one has their own story and business model, and wants success for other shop owners. Being an independent small business owner means making a lot of decisions daily. You wear many hats—some fitting better than others. One thing I love about the automotive repair business is the willingness of other shop owners to answer a que ... read more

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 had on high heels that looked fantastic b ... read more

Independence Day

Most Michiganders’ memories of the 4th of July usually include sparklers, insect repellent, hamburgers and hot dogs, fireworks and cars. And either a trip in the family vehicle or sitting on the hood of the car watching fireworks explode overhead. The air is filled with oohs and aahs as we celebrate the birthday of our country. Whether you are driving a minivan, SUV, convertible, truck or sedan on the way to your festivities, you are celebrating the American way of life. We are very busy for several weeks preceding this holiday as people prepare for either a trip to visit family or a camping trip. From my limited vantage point, it seems most people stay in Michigan. Why? What better place to celebrate than our great state! You can take advantage of either the beautiful woods and campgrounds, numerous beaches and the towns they’re in, or one of the many small-town 4th of July parades. If you love cars, sitting at a parade and watching the antique and classic cars go by is like seeing a ... read more

Car Noises

We should make a tape of car noises. You could push a series of buttons and tell us which one best identifies the sound you’re hearing. Some customers come into the shop and are very hesitant to make the noise they’re hearing, while others are all in. They’re totally committed to making the correct sound. It’s surprising how many times the sound really does give the service advisor a good starting point to the follow-up questions they ask. This is helpful when passing the information along to the service technician to determine what is happening with your vehicle. So, if your vehicle is making a noise and you want to demonstrate that sound to the service advisor, go ahead. You won’t be the first or the last, and we’d never laugh. Everyone here has demonstrated the sounds themselves at some point. Customers will joke about turning up the radio to drown out the sound the vehicle is making. A good rule of thumb is to occasionally turn off your radio and listen to your car as you drive. It ... read more

Lessons from a Red Car

I love getting to know the customers who come into Arie Nol, it's one of my favorite parts of working in a service industry. Visit by visit I build relationships with our customers, until seeing them is the same as seeing old friends. I always look forward to hearing their stories. A specific memory comes to mind. A few weeks ago, an older female customer came to show us her new car. For years she had driven a nice, low-key vehicle. Nothing flashy, but very reliable. On her last visit to Arie Nol, we stood and watched her car as it was towed away to the scrap yard. It was bittersweet as that car had served her well for a long time. I wasn't sure what to expect when she came by with the new car, but when she walked in the smile on her face was contagious. Without even seeing the new vehicle, I broke into a huge smile, happy for her happiness. I walked into the parking lot and there sat a sleek, shiny, brilliant red car. “Why the change?” I asked, curious. She paused a moment, a new smil ... read more

That’s not a present!

I’m getting a thermostat for Christmas. Ok, not really. I don’t often have vehicle issues because Jeff is pretty serious about maintaining our vehicles. I’ve only had one break down in thirty years and that was a bad starter. The vehicle I was driving had 175,000 miles so I couldn’t complain. Last week it was starting to get cold and it seemed like my heat wasn’t very warm. I thought that it was due to how cold it was. The thing is, I really do know better. I had no check engine light or anything indicating something was wrong. So, I chalked it up to the lovely freezing temperatures of Michigan. While driving early this week my check engine light came on. Jeff scanned it when I got to work and I told him, “My car hasn’t been getting very warm when I turn on the heat.” It has been getting very cold this week and a seat heater only does so much. I have learned it won’t warm up the whole car, no matter how high you turn it up. No one ever appreciates having to spend money on repairing the ... read more

Stop? Go? How do I know?

What do you do? Your vehicle temperature gauge or oil light is in the red but you are SO close to your destination. Just a little bit farther and you won’t have to pull over on the side of the road. This happens and I totally understand. The last place I want to be is on the side of the road with a dead car. Especially if I’m on the highway or in an unfamiliar place. My goal would always be to get to my destination or a service facility. Unfortunately, you can do additional damage to your vehicle if you continue to drive it. It’s also hard to determine, based on what’s happening, as to whether continuing to drive is a bad idea. Looking at your owner’s manual may give you additional information but pulling over to read the owner’s manual isn’t really ideal either. From the time Jeff and I started dating and he became in charge of my vehicle maintenance for my 1976 Honda Civic Wagon, he told me the rules for non-technicians. Stop. If the vehicle is overheating, if the oil light comes on ... read more

The Triangle of Safety

Sometimes l will be thinking about my blog post content. I will be set on a topic and then something happens here that causes me to change the topic. This week a vehicle came in with a broken ball joint. If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you know I have an unnatural fear of broken suspension parts. I’ve seen too many vehicles towed in and the accompanying story of the sudden stop or loss of control. So, we should discuss the triangle of safety. This is steering, stopping and stability. These all play a part in your ability to control your vehicle in a stopping or maneuvering situation. The other triangle is who it affects. It affects the driver, any passengers and anyone else on the road with you. If your brakes are worn and not operating correctly, you affect everyone on the road around you. If your ball joint breaks, you will come to a sudden stop. If your shocks aren’t operating within certain perimeters, you have less tire-to-road contact. Worn parts don’t’ just affect ride ... read more

An Unexpected End to my Day

A long-time customer came in with coolant leaking from her vehicle. Her vehicle contained her work items along with three grandchildren. Sitting at our shop was not on her agenda for the day. Jeff had one of the technicians check out the vehicle and it was determined that it wasn’t drivable. The customer had someone that could arrange to pick her up but they didn’t know if there would be enough room for all three kids, with one in a car seat, to be taken home in one trip. I had been putting plants in the planters outside of the office door, one of my favorite jobs every spring. One of the young ladies came out and chatted with me while I planted the flowers and our technicians inspected her grandmother’s vehicle. We talked about basketball, summer vacation and her two sisters. Most days my job requires paperwork, phone calls, speaking with customers, social media and probably more paperwork. Customer service is the focus for all of us here. Making people’s vehicle repair visits as eas ... read more

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