Stop. It’s Time for a Brake Inspection

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We hate to hear stories of vehicle accidents, especially when, with a little preventative maintenance, they could have been avoided.

When a car hit a curb near 19th St. and Clarke Ave in Des Moines on Thursday morning, the impact launched the car into the air, then rolled and hit a tree.  Investigators haven’t determined an official cause for the crash, but officers first on the scene reported “minimal skid marks.”

preventative maintenance brake repair des moines iowaWe may never know all the details, but “minimal skid marks” raises some questions that could point to bad brakes a possible contributor to this accident. When you step on the brakes to slow down, the pedal should feel firm under your foot. The harder you press on the pedal, the firmer the brakes should feel. And if you’re in a situation that requires a sudden stop, mashing down on the brake pedal will feel almost as firm as stomping your foot on the ground.

What if your brakes don’t feel firm when you slow down or need to make a sudden stop? If you’re like most people, that sensation can leave you feeling a little anxious. When you press on the brakes, you want to know without a doubt that they’re going to slow your car down.

Getting your brakes checked periodically can be a lifesaver. In many cases, simple and inexpensive repairs and preventive maintenance can keep your brakes in working order for many miles. Check out these three warning signs that suggest a problem with your brake system:

  1. Brake pedal quickly goes to the floor when you press it. This may be a sign that your brake system’s master cylinder is no longer pressurized and could have a leak.
  1. Pressing the brake pedal feels soft or has less resistance than normal. It’s often caused by low levels of brake fluid.
  1. Braking feels rough. Worn brake pads and uneven rotors can make braking feel rough and bumpy. You may even hear screeching or grinding noises coming from the wheel hub where the brakes are located if these parts are worn or warped.

If you’re wondering if your brakes are working properly, don’t wait to find out until you’re faced with making a sudden stop to avoid an accident. And even if you think your brakes are fine, but it’s been 30,000-plus miles since your brakes were inspected, is a good idea to have them checked out.

Need a brake inspection or brake system repairs? We can help. Give us a call at 515-423-8185 or click here to schedule an appointment.

Muffler Repairs & Preventing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

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Earlier this year one Iowa teen died and a second was hospitalized after an exhaust leak filled their car with poisonous carbon monoxide gas, according to KCCI-8 News. Investigators believe the teens were hanging out with the car running at the close of a Saturday night date and were unaware that the vehicle’s exhaust pipe was broken.

muffler repair downtown des moines iowaCarbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas your car engine releases when running. But it normally travels through the muffler and out the exhaust into open air where it doesn’t pose a serious health risk. In the recent Iowa case, the exhaust pipe was broken directly under the passenger side of the car and toxic fumes filled the interior of the vehicle in a short amount of time.

Accidental carbon monoxide poisoning from a faulty muffler or exhaust system is largely preventable. If you notice changes in the sound of your muffler, a different smell coming from your exhaust, or can visibly see holes in the muffler or exhaust, take action.

Here’s what you can do:

Listen up. You drive your car every day. You should be the first to notice a change in the sound your engine makes as you cruise down the road. If it sounds rougher or louder than normal, your muffler or exhaust system may have a problem, and you should schedule an inspection.

Use your sniffer: You’ve probably been walking or driving down the road when a car passes you spewing nasty-smelling exhaust fumes. No one likes that smell. If you start to notice a similar smell in the cab of your car, don’t ignore this. It’s often a sign of holes or perforations in the muffler or exhaust system allowing carbon monoxide into the cab of the car instead of exiting the tailpipe. If your car starts smelling like exhaust fumes, get it checked out.

Take a look: If you think your muffler or exhaust system might have a problem, take a look. Be sure the muffler is cold before you try this. Look under the car at the muffler and exhaust pipe. You might see obvious holes, rust spots, or splits that could be the source of the problem. Even a problem as small as a pinhole could leak carbon monoxide into your car, and getting it repaired is important.

Muffler and Exhaust Repairs

If your car does have a muffler or exhaust issue, pinhole-sized problems can often be welded closed. For bigger problems, the muffler and all or part of the exhaust system may need to be replaced, which may include the resonator, catalytic converter, and the pipes that carry exhaust to the tailpipe exit.

Need your muffler and exhaust system inspected? We can help. Give us a call at 515-423-8185 or click here to schedule an appointment.

5 Essentials for Planning Your Next Road Trip

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It’s been a week since kiddos in the Des Moines area said goodbye to another school year. That means it’s officially summer vacation. More people hit the road in cars, trucks, and motor-homes during the summer season than any other time of the year.summer road trip tips iowa

In fact, Americans take an estimated 657 million road trips during the summer months from Memorial Day to Labor Day, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. The typical vacationer drives their own car to a destination about 284 miles away for a little R&R. The survey results showed that 9 out of 10 vacation road trips are taken by car.

If you’re planning a summer road trip, it’s a good idea to get a tune-up before you go. Regular and preventive maintenance can give you peace of mind and prevent a break-down that could throw a wrench into your vacation plans. Once your car’s ready for the road, be sure to bring these five things along on your road trip.

  1. Emergency kit. Keep some basic tools and set of jumper cables in your car. And make sure you’ve got a first aid kit stocked with Band-Aids and other essentials to treat minor aches, pains, cuts, or scratches.
  1. GPS system. If your car doesn’t have a built-in system, use your smartphone or a stand-alone GPS device. Being able to find your way from Point A to Point B, and all the places in between without getting lost can lower stress and make your vacation more relaxing and enjoyable.
  1. Food and water. You don’t need to pack like you’re never coming back. But having a little extra food and water on board is a good idea. You won’t have to stop as often. If there aren’t any restaurants for long stretches, you’ll still have something to eat and drink. And if you plan it right, you might even save money eating your own food instead of going out to eat when you’re on the road.
  1. Extra keys. A magnetic key box you can hide under your car, or just an extra key you keep in your wallet can save the day if you lock yourself out of your car. It happens. Sure you could call a locksmith, but that will mean waiting around and forking over some extra money you probably didn’t plan on spending for your vacation.
  1. Cell phone and charger. Love it or hate it, having a cell phone when you’re on a road trip is a good idea. You’ll be able to call for help if something happens. And it will make it easier to check in with family and friends when you’re on the road.

Start planning your road trip by getting your car serviced before you go. We can help. Give us a call at 515-423-8185 or click here to schedule an appointment.

10 Ways to Get More Money When Selling Your Car

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At some point in time, you’re probably going to decide it time to replace your ride with a different car. Maybe you need more space for a growing family, or downsizing to a smaller ride as an empty-nester. Or maybe you want to sell off a gas-guzzler for a more fuel efficient vehicle.

tips for selling your carWhen you’re ready to sell, taking care of a few details can help you get more money for your car. Check out these 10 ways to boost the resale value of your car.

  1. Replace windshield wipers – It’s an inexpensive fix and only takes a few minutes to install new wipers.
  2. Clean the engine – You can try and clean the engine yourself with products designed to help remove dust, grease, and dirt. Or check out our detailing services to shine up your engine.
  3. Refill or top off fluids – Letting a potential buyer know your car has had a recent oil change and reservoirs are filled for anti-freeze, brake fluid, windshield wiper fluid, etc., can help seal the deal.
  4. Check tire tread – You’re good if you’ve got a decent amount of tread remaining. But if tread is worn, replace the tires to increase the sale price of your car. If a buyer will have to replace the tires, you’re more likely to haggle over the asking price.
  5. Clean up the exterior with a wash and wax – Simply giving your car a thorough wash and wax can shine it up and make it more appealing to a potential buyer. If your headlights are foggy from years of oxidation, consider replacing the headlight casing or headlight restoration. Shining rims and wheels can also increase the wow-factor when you show your car to a potential buyer.
  6. Clean the interior – After miles of road trips or shuttling kids around town, the interior of your car could probably use a makeover. Give it a thorough cleaning by vacuuming and wiping down surfaces.
  7. Get the brakes inspected/replaced – Like new tires, new brakes can cost a couple hundred bucks. If you’re had your brakes serviced recently, let the buyer know. If you think it may be time to get your brakes replaced, bring your car in for an inspection. Selling your car with new brakes can be a good way to get the price you want.
  8. Take care of minor repairs – Over time most cars develop minor problems that are easy to overlook. These are things like a burnt out dome line, a squeaky door, windshield cracks and dings, or minor body damage like a small dent from a shopping cart. Taking care of minor repairs like these may cost a few dollars, but it can help you get closer to your asking price when you list the car.
  9. Consider major mechanical work – When you’re trying to sell a car, it may need some major repairs like a new transmission or alternator. Major repairs may cost you a little more, but it may be worth it depending on the age of your car, mileage, and overall condition.
  10. Bring your car in for an inspection before you sell. – Our experienced mechanics can give you a complete diagnostic report about your car. This information can help you determine a fair asking price, decide on repairs you might want to make, and give you some negotiating power when you’re ready to sell.

Want help getting your car ready to sell? Give us a call at 515-423-8185 or click here to schedule an appointment.