Car Care Tips to Make Life a Little Easier

, , , , ,

Car care isn’t always about oil changes and performance. That just seems to be what we like to talk about most. Sometimes the rewards of car ownership are about simple car care tips for the ease of ownership. With the number of years we’ve been handling car maintenance and services for European cars like BMWs, Mercedes, Volvos and domestics like Chevy, Fords, and Buicks, we’ve picked up a couple handy tricks along the way.

iParkedHere app - easy car ownership tips

The iParkedHere app will help you find your car in the craziest of parking lots!

Add these three simple car care tips to your “did-you-know” list and it will make ownership of that Honda or even that special summer Mazda all the more fun:

1. Clear faded headlights with toothpaste
If your headlights appear faded or don’t seem to illuminate the road as well as they once did, you can spend a chunk of money to replace the headlight assembly. But you might not have to. Try rubbing some whitening toothpaste on to the headlights, apply a little elbow grease, and rinse off. For many cars, this hack does the trick. If it doesn’t, ask us about headlight resurfacing.

2. Use wet newspaper to remove expired registration tag
When it’s time to renew your vehicle tags, the Iowa Department of Transportation gives you those ultra-sticky tags to put on your license plate. But removing the old one can be a problem. Do you chisel it off with a screwdriver or place the new sticker over the old one? You could. But wet newspaper can work wonders. Simply get some newspaper wet with warm water, press it against the sticker, and leave it there for about 10 minutes. It helps soften the sticker glue and makes removing it easy.

3. Use the iParkedHere app to find your car
If you’re shopping at the Des Moines Costco, picking up groceries at Wal-Mart, or enjoying some me-time at Valley West Mall or the Jordan Creek Town Center, you’re going to park your car in a massive parking lot. So when you’re done shopping and step outside, where’s your car?

If you’re not sure where you parked, you’re not the only one. And it can be frustrating if you’re in a hurry, you’re hauling a ton of packages, or trying to rustle kids back to the car like you’re herding sheep. But it doesn’t have to be. The iParkedHere app can keep track of where you parked your car and guide you back to it with a click and a swipe on your smartphone.

These simple car care tips can make driving, owning, and maintaining a car a little less of a headache at times. For everything else, bring your car in to Beckley’s for a free inspection, quote, and affordable service.  Schedule today by simply clicking here.

Water Pump is Critical to Protecting Your Engine

, , ,

When former race car driver Dick Trickle blew a water pump in a short-track race in Wisconsin, he wasn’t about to throw in the towel and concede to losing. Instead, he jumped out of his car, grabbed the announcer’s microphone and yelled into the crowd, “Does anybody have a Ford?”

race car driver Dick Trickle blew a water pumpAmong the fans there to see the race, a guy emerged from the crowd and proceeded to drive his Ford down to the track. While other races still circled the track, Trickle went to work. He dismantled his car to remove the water pump. Then he pulled the water pump off the Ford and put it in his race car. Seconds later, he was back in the race, caught up with the other drivers, took the lead and won.

Water Pump Helps Keep Engine Cool
Driving around the Des Moines-area can sometimes feel like you’re in a NASCAR race. And even the day-to-day stuff like commuting to work and going to the grocery store can take a toll on your car. Drive your car long enough, and eventually your water pump might could begin to fail. If it does, you’ve should stop your car immediately, or risk overheating the engine and doing permanent damage that’s expensive to repair.

Warning Signs of a Bad Water Pump
The water pump in your car helps keep your engine cool. That’s important when you’re on a road trip, cruising down the Interstate, or just driving around town. If your water pump is going bad, taking action if you see any of these early warning signs can save you from a car breakdown and more expensive repairs. Your water pump may be going bad if:

  • You notice water or coolant leaking from the engine when you park your car.
  • The belt that helps drive the water pump is cracked or loose.
  • You noticed a low-pitched grinding noise when your engine is running.
  • Water leaks or even a small spray is coming from the water pump gasket.
  • The engine temperature warning light comes on in your car.
  • Your car’s air conditioning doesn’t seem to cool things off.

You can’t always predict when a water pump will go bad. Trickle certainly didn’t expect that to happen in the middle of a race. But paying attention to the warning signs, and bringing your car in for an inspection if you do, will keep you in the race.

Click here to schedule an appointment and make sure your water pump is “race ready.”

Stop In Time with Brake & Rotor Maintenance

, , ,

Not too long ago, a driver in a white sedan was following a DART bus in Des Moines during Friday morning traffic. When the bus slowed near the intersection of 30th Street and Hickman Road, the driver in the sedan stepped on the brakes to slow down, but nothing happened. Her brakes failed, and she slammed into the back of the bus.

In troubles - unhappy woman in carFortunately no one on the bus was injured. The woman driving the car was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries, but her car was totaled. Investigators believe the woman tried to stop or slow down for the bus, but faulty brakes prevented her from doing so.

Unfortunately, accidents like this happen all the time, but sometimes they’re fatal. Driving your car with faulty, worn out, or poorly-working brakes is a bad idea. The brakes and rotors that help your car slow down and come to a spot are wearable parts. Over time, the rotors can become thin or warped and metal or ceramic brake pads can wear out. In extreme cases, poorly working brakes can cause the brake fluid to boil and prevent you from stopping your car safely.

If you step on the brakes and you don’t slow down, experience significant vibrations, or have to press hard to get the brakes to respond, get your brakes checked out immediately.

In most cases, a simple and low-cost brake repair will get you back on the road knowing your brakes are working properly. However, if you continue to drive your car for miles after the early warning signs of failing brakes, you could be in trouble. You could cause an accident. And ignoring brake problems can make repairs more expensive.

If your rotors are in decent shape, we can resurface them to make them smooth again, and save you some money. But extended driving with faulty brakes can damage the rotors with excessive heat, warping, and deep scores that interfere with proper braking.

If you’re wondering if your brakes are going bad, don’t wait to find out. Bring your car in for an inspection and we can help you come to a stop before it’s too late.

Yes, Cold Weather Can Damage Your Performance Tires

, , , , ,

Some performance tires can crack in the cold!

We all know those cool summer tires not only lack grip in cold weather, but did you know they can also be damaged in these freezing temperatures?

cold weather damage performance tiresRubber products, including tires, become more rigid as temperatures get this low. We’ve even seen performance tires not only lose traction and grip, but crack and damage beyond repair due to our Iowa blow freezing wind-chills.

General Motors notably advises against such driving during colder chills, at the risk of developing damaging cracks in their tires. Also, important to owners looking forward to those zippy spring drives, it’s imperative to have their tires thoroughly inspected by a professional.

GM went as far as to publish a notice in January of 2014 saying:

“…avoid driving, moving, or test-driving vehicles equipped with high-performance summer-only tires below 20º F as operating at these temperatures can cause damage to the tires.”

In many manufacturers’ quest to deliver “the ultimate handling” in their higher-end cars, they’ve built performance tires with essentially a racing compound to deliver the goods. These tires are great for driving in temperate areas and are ideally suited for track use, but the practicality of the tires stops there.  And while Iowa does have it’s own NASCAR track, it certainly isn’t running with temperatures as low as we see them today (-30 windchill projected!).

Pirelli, the king of performance tires, explains that in colder temperatures, the performance tread compound becomes so stiff on such tires that it can lead to cracking when deformed. In measuring the hardness of numerous brands of summer tires at 0º F, {they’ve} found the tread becomes almost inflexible and the tires lose their bounce when dropped. The cracking is characterized as cosmetic, but in {their} experience any cracking shouldn’t be taken lightly as it can evolve over time. If there is crack, you should replace the tire.

Here is what you need to do if you own or are considering purchasing performance tires for your car (tips from Consumer Reports).

  1. If you’re considering buying a new car with performance tires:  check the tires on the car for cracking in the tread area. The car may have only a few miles on the odometer, but if it has been parked in the cold and moved around during transport or by the dealer, the tires could have cracked. This is the time to have the dealer change the effected tires, because once you make the deal and drive off, it’s your headache.
  2. If you own a car with summer tires: refrain from using it at all in cold temperatures as the tires may crack. Leave it parked. Beyond cracking concerns, summer tires have diminished grip below 40º F on dry and wet roads and virtually little to no grip on snow and ice.
  3. If you bought your dream car with summer tires on it and live in an area that does have winter: consider using performance all-season tires or dedicated winter tires. These will provide better cold-weather grip and preserve the pricey summer times for the other seasons.

There are a number of all-season tires that also offer higher performance and grip in the warmer months. But for your safety and the benefit to your car’s wheels and general health, make sure you’re driving on the tires best suited for the weather dominant to your area.

Beckley Auto offers a 30-point inspection for all makes and models of cars. Tire inspection is part of that package, and before you drive through this winter, risking potentially expensive repairs or dangerous conditions, have one of our technicians offer the best solutions for your Winter driving.

Click here to schedule an appointment to have your car’s tires inspected today.

 

Timing Belt Replacement Can Save You Money

, , , ,

If you’ve driven your car more than 70,000 miles, there’s a good chance a the timing belt is over-worn and a breakdown is imminent. If it breaks before being replaced, your engine could be lost and repair costs could be staggering, but if the timing belt is replaced in your vehicle before it breaks, it’s a relatively low-cost repair.

replace your timing belt des moinesJust about anyone can inspect a timing belt. It’s the thick-toothed rubber belt that helps power the engine and control the camshaft, crankshaft, valves, and pistons. Periodically checking the belt for wear can reveal small cracks in the rubber or missing teeth that can hinder engine performance.

Unfortunately, too many drivers fail to inspect the timing belt or have it replaced before it’s too late. If it snaps while you’re driving, you’ll be stranded and your car will need to be towed. If you’re lucky, replacing the timing belt will get you back on the road. But in many cases, a broken timing belt damages the engine too. And that can be expensive to repair.

Timing Belt Replacement Recommendation
Most car manufacturers recommend replacing the timing belt every 70,000 to 110,000 miles. Remember, in most cars the timing belt is a wearable part made of rubber. It won’t last forever with all the friction it endures along with hot and cold temperatures. Inspecting your timing belt and having replaced before it breaks can save you thousands of dollars. When your timing belt is replaced as recommended, it typically only costs a few hundred dollars.

Warning Signs of a Bad Timing Belt
Sometimes a timing belt can reach the end of its life without warning. One minute you’re driving down the road, the next minute your engine is running but you’re not going anywhere. It’s a good reasons to have the timing belt replaced based on the recommended guidelines before it’s too late. However, there are a few warning signs to be aware of that are telltale signs of a timing belt about to break:

  • Trouble starting the car. If you can rule out the battery, starter, or lack of fuel, a bad timing belt may be the problem. A poorly functioning timing belt can interfere with the car’s ignition timing.
  • Thick smoke from the exhaust. If your car begins emitting thick smoke from the tail pipe and it progressively gets worse, it’s an indicator that fuel in the engine isn’t being used efficiently. Poorly functioning valves linked to a bad timing belt may be to blame.
  • Shaking or vibrating engine. When the timing belt in a car begins to age, gets stretched out over time, or has missing teeth, you may notice more shaking or vibrating from the engine.
  • Hot engine, leaking fluids. If you’re not taking care of your car, the engine could be running hotter than it should be or it could be leaking fluids. These conditions can further weaken and damage the timing belt.

Taking care of your car and avoiding costly repairs with routine maintenance can save you time and money in the long run. If your car is due for a timing belt replacement, or you just want to have it inspected, give us a call or click here to schedule service on your car today!