Would Your Car Pass a Vehicle Emissions Test?

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Thirty-one states in the U.S. require annual or bi-annual vehicle emissions tests, but Iowa isn’t one of them. If you celebrate the fact that you don’t have to pay the testing fees other states require, you’re not alone.

emissions testing des moines iowaBut that doesn’t mean vehicle emissions tests are useless. In fact, emission regulations are intended to help make the cars on the road as efficient and environmentally-friendly as possible. Would your car pass a vehicle emissions test if it was required in Iowa?

Some of the most common reasons cars don’t pass vehicle emissions tests can have a major impact on performance. Iowa may not require vehicle emission testing, but these problems could be costing you money.

  • Fuel Meter Problem – It’s often caused by a problem with a computer system in the car, the carburetor, or the fuel injection system.
  • Bad Oxygen Sensor – It’s common problem that can trigger the Check Engine light to come on. Left unchecked, it can cause your car to overheat, interfere with acceleration, and fuel economy.
  • Ignition System Error – If your car is emitting a higher than normal level of hydrocarbons, you’re not helping the environment. This can be caused by problems with your ignition system or spark plugs going bad.
  • Vacuum Leaks – Take a look under the hood of your car, and you’ll see lots of hoses can connections your engine needs in place to operate efficiently. Leaks in hose lines and gaskets can prevent your car from running clean.
  • Fuel Mixture Problem – A problem with the mixture of oxygen and fuel can produce dangerous levels of carbon monoxide. It’s often caused by a failing oxygen sensor or fuel injectors.
  • Air Injection System Defect – Your car may be producing higher than normal levels of hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide if there’s a problem with the air injection system. It’s not environmentally friendly, and the gases your car releases when this is a problem are poisonous.
  • Excessive Gasoline Vapors – This is another common emissions-related problem that can interfere with engine performance and fuel economy. Defective hoses, vents, valves, and gas caps are usually the problem.

Just because you don’t have to pass a vehicle emissions test in Iowa, doesn’t mean the testing procedures used in other states are useless. In fact, keeping your car in working order and handling these common issues can improve your gas mileage and engine performance, and be better for the environment.

If you’ve got questions about your car’s emissions or any of the issues mentioned above, we can help. Bring your car in for an inspection or give us a call at 515-423-8185 or click here schedule an appointment.

 

 

Your Car’s Electrical System Maintenance

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Were you aware that your car’s electrical system needs scheduled maintenance, too?

car electrical system help des moines iowaIt wasn’t that long ago that most cars were made with a basic electrical system. A fuse box and series of relays delivered power to electrical features like the radio, dash lights, turn signals, and power locks and windows. Now these are standard features in most cars. Improvements in technology and consumer demands for mobile-everything have made car electrical systems far more complex.

It’s great for things like Bluetooth compatibility, global positioning navigation systems (GPS), and DVD players. And many new safety features like back-up cameras, tire pressure monitors, car alarms controlled by your smartphone, and other on-board indicators all depend on your car’s electrical system to function properly.

Your car can literally be a mobile office on wheels or keep the kids entertained on a road trip with a movie, video games, and even separate climate controls for the front and rear of the cabin thanks to your car’s electrical system. But what happens when something goes wrong with a fuse, wiring, or relay, and these much-loved features quit working?

A blown fuse that disables your DVD player might be a minor inconvenience. But if you were just about to go on vacation, it could be incredibly frustrating. If you can’t turn your headlights on, your turn signals don’t work, or your car alarm can only be shut off by disconnecting the battery, it’s more than an inconvenience.

Beckely’s – Car Electrical System technicians for over 30 Years

Fortunately, we’ve been unraveling crossed wires, fixing blown fuses, and troubleshooting electrical problems for more than 30 years. We know the ins and outs of vehicle electrical systems from the basic commuter car to luxury SUVs and everything in between.

When your car has an electrical issue, we’ll diagnose the problem and aim to fix it for less than $125. When your car’s electrical system needs help, it’s not always easy to pinpoint the problem. Some mechanics with the best of intentions might rack up the labor costs trying to find the source of an electrical problem, and that’s not good for customers.

We created a strict policy to help keep repair costs as affordable as possible. When car electrical system issues costs more than $125 to fix, we won’t proceed without providing you with a full diagnostic report, explaining what’s required to fix the problem, and receiving approval to proceed.

If you’ve got an electrical problem that’s buzzing, shorting out, or a feature that’s no longer working, we can help. Bring your car in for an inspection or give us a call at 515-423-8185 or click here schedule an appointment.

 

5 Signs Your Car May Have Pothole Damage

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If you’ve been excited to see the winter snow melt in Des Moines, you’re not alone. After all , we had some seriously cold-weather days, some heavy snow storms, and plenty of snow and ice-covered roads that contributed to a long list of traffic accidents.

pothole damageBut just because most of the snow is gone, doesn’t mean it’s smooth sailing through spring and summer. Why? Because there’s a good change you drove your car through some rough patches of ice during the winter. And now that the snow is gone, there are plenty of potholes around to still do some serious damage to your car.

Driving through a pothole is unmistakable. With even a little speed, it feels like you’re off-roading, which isn’t exactly what sedans and minivans were designed to do. Potholes can damage the shocks and struts your car uses to cushion you from bumps in the road. Plowing through potholes can also damage suspension, alignment, tires, steering, and braking.

Think your car might have been beat up by one too many potholes? Here’s five telltale signs your car has pothole damage:

  1. When you turn, it feels like the car is moving more than you want it to.
  2. When you step on the brakes, the front end of your car moves downward.
  3. Your car feels like it’s sliding or out of control when driving on roughs roads with a lot of twists and turns.
  4. You frequently hit bottom when driving over speed bumps or other small bumps in the road that didn’t cause a problem in the past.
  5. When you look at a side profile of your car from the outside, it’s lower in the front than the back, instead of parallel.

When your car has battled it out with potholes (not uncommon in Des Moines), you might not always notice a problem with performance right away. But damage from potholes only gets worse over time. If your car demonstrates any of these telltale signs of pothole damage, schedule your car for an inspection or give us a call at 515-243-8185. We’ll make any necessary repairs to keep your car running properly and keep you safe when you’re on the road.

Knock, Knock… Is It Your Engine Knocking?

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If everyone could afford to drive a new car, most probably would. Hearing a brand new, perfectly-tuned engine is almost a magical sound (even if you’re not a mechanic). But the reality is that you’re not going to be able to replace your car as often as you wish. That means your car is bound to tally up some miles, experience some wear and tear, and need regular maintenance.

engine knock service des moines iowaSo what happens when you start up your car and hear a knocking sound coming from under the hood? Do you ignore it and keep on driving, hoping it will go away? Do you pop the hood and try to identify where the knocking is coming from? Or do you take your car to the shop right away?

While we prefer the latter, some times the simplicity of changing the way you drive and maintain your car can help.

3 Ways to Fix Engine Knocking

Engine knocking is nothing to ignore. It’s typically caused by a bad mix of fuel and air needed to power the engine. When the gasoline in your engine burns unevenly, it creates a kind of “POP” shock-wave that makes the knocking sound. Run your car for very long with this kind of problem, and it can cause serious engine damage.

The good news is that, in some cases, there’s a simple fix to the problem. Here’s the three things we recommend when you hear your engine making knocking sounds.

  1. Fill up with premium unleaded. The typical low-grade and least expensive gasoline at the pump may be the problem. If you normally use this type of gas, fill up with premium unleaded next time. Higher-octane fuel can often help correct a knocking engine.
  1. Add fuel detergent. Pour in detergent in your dishwasher or washing machine, and it helps clean the dishes and clothes. Fuel detergent works the same way. Most gasolines include some fuel detergent, but if your engine is knocking, you may need something a little stronger. Kind of like using the stain-buster detergent when you want to get some grass or grease stains out of clothes. Adding the right fuel detergent can help remove carbon build-up that could be part of the knocking problem.
  1. Replace spark plugs. If your car has ever been serviced, it’s possible the original spark plugs were replaced with the wrong ones. They may still fire, but not the way they should. Making sure the right spark plugs are installed for your car can often help silence the knocking.

These are a few basic do-it-yourself strategies to consider if you hear knocking sounds coming from your engine. Troubleshoot it yourself or bring it in for an inspection. Fixing the source of a knocking engine sound sooner than later can save you time and money.

Beckley Imports works on all make and models of cars. From BMW to Ford and everything in-between. If a knock or other strange sounds are starting to concern you, call our team of professional technicians at 515-243-8185 or click here to schedule your car for service.  After over 30 years in the industry, we’re darn certain we’ll be able to clear it up and get you back on the road quickly.

Road Salt Damage… Not So Savory for Our Cars

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It may already be March, but that doesn’t mean Mother Nature is done sending snow through Des Moines anytime soon. We’ve had some mega-snow storms this winter, and that’s had the Iowa Department of Transportation and local municipality road crews laying down deicer and road salt to keep the highways and by-ways clear.

road salt damageHow much? An estimated 200,000 tons of road salt is used by the Iowa Department of Transportation every winter and laid down through Des Moines and across the state to try and keep the roads clear. It’s a strategy that’s been used for decades to help prevent snow and ice from freezing to the road. It works, but it’s not all that savory for your car.

Road salt damage = corrosive. And the place it most likely accumulates after driving in winter weather is underneath your car. Unless you have the underside of your car treated with a oil-spray solution before the first snow fall, or have the underside of your car washed regularly throughout the winter, there’s a good chance salt is eating away at your car.

Road Salt left to corrode the underside of your car can damage the muffler and exhaust system. Left unchecked, salt can even make its way through coil springs and the steel frame of your car. It’s even been known to penetrate a car’s subframe.

If you didn’t do any pre-winter maintenance on your car to prevent corrosion from salt, it’s never too late to get an inspection, remove any remaining salt, and make repairs if necessary. In some cases, a late-season cleaning of your car’s underside may be enough to prevent extensive corrosion damage.

If corrosion is excessive, rust repair and replacement parts may be necessary. Either way, the sooner you get any salt off your vehicle that’s accumulated from driving in winter weather, the better.

With a simple Oil Change, you also get a free wash and cleaning of your car’s exterior and light interior. This time of year, that alone is worth the price of an oil change.

Schedule your service now and get that salt and road grime off, and help save the beauty that is your car!