Low on Oil? Aging Piston Rings May Be the Problem

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white exhaust smoke, aging piston rings, beckley automotive, beckley importsMost car manufacturers recommend changing the oil in your car every 3,000 miles. It’s a good practice to maintain your engine and keep clean oil running through all its moving parts.

But if you’re ultra-busy, changing the oil on your own or taking your car to a shop for an oil change doesn’t always happen. Sound familiar? We’ve seen cars that haven’t had an oil change in 5,000 and even 10,000 miles.

Check the Oil

You might be able to make it that long without an oil change, but it can have disastrous and expensive consequences. A simple solution: check your oil periodically. To get the most accurate reading, wait until your engine is cooled, like in the morning before you start the car. Pop open the hood, find the dipstick and pull it out. Using a paper towel, wipe the dipstick clean and then push it all the way back in. No when you pull it back out, you can get a true view of your oil level. If the dipstick has semi-clear oil up to the “full” mark, you’re in good shape.

Too Low, Too Often?

What if it’s low? For a short-term solution, add a quart of oil recommended for your car’s engine and check the level on the dip stick again. That’s better than driving around with a low oil level. However, if your car seems to be burning a lot of oil, faulty piston rings may be to blame. Other telltale signs of faulty piston rings include:

  • White or gray smoke coming from the exhaust
  • Slow response time for accelerating when you press the gas pedal
  • Noticeable decrease in power and overall performance

Compression Test Best Way to Check Piston Rings for Oil Leak

If your car seems to be perpetually low on oil, the pistons may be leaking oil. It happens, especially as you rack up the miles on your car. Moveable parts just don’t last forever. If your car exhibits any of the signs above, a compression test is the standard used to check for piston ring leaks. If the test reveals low pressure levels in the engine, aging piston rings are likely the cause.

Need an oil change for your car? Wondering if your car is burning an excessive amount of oil? We can help. Click here to schedule an appointment, call us at 515-243-8185, or stop by at 901- 8th Street in Des Moines.

Delaying Auto Repairs Can Cost You Big

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When your car stops running it’s easy to know that something major is wrong and you have no choice but to head to your mechanic immediately.

don't delay auto repairs, beckley automotive beckley importsBut what happens when there’s a minor noise, a slight firing delay, an occasional stutter? You can still drive the car so it must not be catastrophic, right? The demands of real life – work, family, friends, fun – certainly enable us to put off that visit to the auto shop as long as the car still gets us from point A to point B every day. Plus, who wants to spend the money if they don’t absolutely have to?

Putting off auto repairs is never a good idea. Let us explain:

  1. Your antifreeze is leaking, but it’s only a little bit. You can just add more every week, right? Unfortunately, that can only exacerbate the problem and you will still probably overheat your engine, causing a chain reaction to the tune of thousands of dollars. Ignoring a “little” problem can spread like a virus throughout your engine. Each system is connected to and relies on another, so if one isn’t working properly, it can cause the next system to fail, as well. Then you’re staring down the barrel of a multi-problem fix instead of just the original “little” one.
  2. That knocking in your engine has been there off and on for a couple weeks without any issues, so you’re cruising down the interstate on your way to the tournament or a hot date. Suddenly, the knock becomes more insistent, louder, the wheel begins to shake, smoke pours out from under the hood and with a last sputtering gasp, the engine quits completely while you limp to the side of the road. Now what? You’re late to your appointment plus you’re out the cost of a tow truck and a taxi (or a favor to a friend) as well as the parts and repairs. You have to sit on the side of the road alone, or with your family stuck in a dead car with nothing to keep them entertained, while other cars and semis zoom past at terrifying speeds within inches of you and what you hold most dear.
  3. A regularly scheduled oil change and routine inspection may feel inconvenient and, for many, falls under the category of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” But those inspections are imperative to keeping your car running and keeping you and your family safe. It’s more than just an oil change and a cursory glance under the hood. Routine inspections are where minor leaks, dirty filters, frayed wires and loose screws are found. If these things are skipped you are looking at the possibility of whole lot more than just inconvenience!

Are you sure you want to gamble with the life of your car’s engine and the safety and peace of mind of your family and passengers? No one wants to be stranded on the side of the road in the middle of the night, or worse, during rush hour!

Don’t wait until your engine figuratively – or literally! – falls out, dead, in the middle of the road. Bring your foreign or domestic auto into Beckley’s for minor repairs, a check-up and oil change! Click here to schedule an appointment, call us at 515-243-8185, or stop by at 901-8th Street in Des Moines.

 

Reboot: Quick Tip for Fixing Electrical Problems

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It wasn’t that long ago that cars were designed with a basic electrical system. Wiring, fuses, and relays helped power basic things light lights, dashboard messages, and the radio. And there are still a lot of older cars on the road that don’t have any more bells and whistles than this.

car electrical systems, auto electrical problemsBut the vast majority of cars on the road today have a much more complex electrical system to power things like DVD players, automatic controls for doors and windows, navigation systems, mobile devices, and satellite radio.

And dashboard messaging is no longer limited to letting you know the emergency brake is on or flashing you with the dreaded “Check Engine” light. Now many cars are designed to monitor tire pressure in all four tires, let you know if a door is open, track the temperature inside and out, and much more.

With a greater demand for features powered by electricity in your car, there’s a greater chance for something to go wrong. And it does from time to time. Ever get a dashboard message you don’t recognize, and have to break out the owner’s manual or look it up online? It happens.

Diagnostic Tools Can Help Identify Electrical Problems

Then what? When we service cars with electrical problems, one of the first things we do is connect the car’s computer to our diagnostic tools. In a few minutes, our tools can gather a lot of information about your car and help identify potential problems, both electrical and mechanical.

Sometimes the solution to an electrical problem is pretty straightforward. Replace a fuse or sensor. Change out a relay. Replace wiring damaged by corrosion or worn out over time.

How to Reboot Your Car’s Electrical System

But is it always that way? No. In fact, we sometimes resort to using a technique that’s a lot like hitting Ctrl+alt+delete when your computer starts acting up. Giving your car a reboot can sometimes correct electrical problems. And it’s easy. Disconnect the battery from both terminals, touch them together, wait five minutes, and then reconnect.

In many cases it helps get that electrical problem unstuck, a lot like rebooting your computer or resetting a wireless router to get your Internet signal working again.

Have an electrical problem that you don’t know how to fix? Try giving your car a reboot. Or bring your car in and we’ll take a look. Click here to schedule an appointment, call us at 515-243-8185, or stop by at 901-8th Street in Des Moines.

Spring Break Road Trip? Give Your Car a Check-Up Before You Go

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spring break, road trip, car inspection, beckley automotive, beckley importsWhat are your plans for spring break?

It’s that time of year when a lot of people take a road trip. Some will catch a plane and head to super-sunny places like Hawaii, Cancun, or the Bahamas. But for a lot of people with kids home from school, a week off work, or a spring-fever feeling for some much needed R&R, getting behind the wheel and driving to a spring break destination is the way to go.

Preventing Car Trouble Can Save Your Vacation

Sounds simple enough, right? Pick your destination. Pack up the car. And hit the road. But what happens when you’re in the middle of nowhere and your car has a problem. You can’t anticipate every car problem you might experience on a road trip. But you can take steps to prevent car trouble from spoiling your spring break.

Inspection Time – Before You Go…

Take a few minutes to inspect your car before you go. Check the following:

  • Tires – Check the tire pressure. Make sure it’s inflated to the manufacturer’s recommended PSI. Low tire pressure can reduce gas mileage and cause the tires to wear faster. Inspect the tread, too. Bald spots or bulges raise your risk for a flat or a blowout. And if you don’t have a decent amount of tread left, traction, regardless of the weather, will be compromised.
  • Belts and Hoses – Pop the hood and inspect the belts and hoses like the ones attached to the engine and radiator. These are usually made of rubber and can become loose or cracked over time. Taking care of any aging belts or hoses before your trip can save you a lot of headaches down the road.
  • Fluids and Filters – It’s also a good idea to check fluid levels for key operating systems (i.e. oil, brake fluid, power steering fluid, windshield wiper fluid, and antifreeze). A clean air filter will also help improve gas mileage for your road trip.
  • Lights and Wipers – Have someone step on the brakes, turn on the lights, and use the turn signals, while you walk around the car. It only takes a few minutes, but can alert you to any lights that need to be replaced before your road trip. Check the lights inside your car, too. And if it’s been a while since you replaced your wiper blades, before your trip would be a good time to replace them, especially if you know you’ll be traveling in rainy or snowing conditions.
  • Battery and Brakes – To give your battery a basic inspection, make sure it’s got a good connection, and the battery terminals are free of acid or corrosion. And if your brakes are squeaking or you feel a lot of vibrations when you slow down, it may be time for new pads and/or rotors. Or bring your car in for a battery and brake inspection.

When you make plans to take a road trip for spring break, you want to enjoy the experience. Making sure your car gets you there and back without any problems will help, regardless of your destination.

Ready for a pre-road-trip inspection? Click here to schedule an appointment, call us at 515-243-8185, or stop by at 901-8th Street in Des Moines.