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.

The Four-Step, Go-Green Guide for Car Owners

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go green, eco-friendly car, beckley automotive, beckley imports, environmentally friendly autosEver heard of Elon Musk? He’s one of the masterminds behind a series of high-tech companies like SpaceX, SolarCity, and PayPal. But he’s not just a savvy businessman and entrepreneur. He’s also an engineer, inventor, investor and founder of Tesla Motors.
If you ever thought about driving a hybrid vehicle or all-electric car to save on gas money, reduce emissions, and protect the environment, driving a Tesla should be on your list. But there’s just one problem with this for most people. The typical price tag for a Tesla starts around $70,000 with luxury models priced at over $100,000.

Pretty expensive. Of course there are more affordable electric and hybrid cars to choose from, too. But what if you’re not in the market to buy a new car or don’t have the cash to drive a Tesla? Is there anything you can do to make your gas-powered vehicle more environmentally-friendly?

Yes! Follow these four steps to go green, save money, and keep your car running efficiently.

  1. Get regular maintenance. Ignoring the little things like regular oil changes, replacing the air filter, changing brake pads, and neglecting to flush the radiator can take a toll on vehicle performance. Taking care of your car can help reduce exhaust emissions, help you get better gas mileage, and save you money in the long run.
  2. Stick with your old car longer. A lot of factors go into buying a new car like a more luxurious interior, electronic upgrades, additional seating, or more storage capacity. But take a closer look at what you’re driving and you might find that your current car is running just fine. Take good care of it, and you’ll be able to drive it longer, save on car payments and insurance, and avoid adding another vehicle to the junkyard.
  3. Recycle car waste. There’s a right way and a wrong way to dispose of car waste. The wrong way: illegally dumping a pile of old tires in the woods, or pouring chemicals down the drain. But it happens, a lot more than you might think. If you want to go green, do your part to make sure car waste like old tires, oil, batteries, and other fluids are recycled or disposed of properly. If you’re not sure how, call us or check with Metro Waste Authority.
  4. Consider an engine replacement. Here’s another way you can go green and cut down on waste when it comes to cars. Instead of buying a new car when your current vehicle needs major engine work, consider getting a rebuilt engine. It will save you a lot of money, improve engine performance, fuel economy, and emissions output.

If you’re not in the market for an electric or hybrid car, or can’t afford one, that doesn’t mean you can’t do your part to help the environment. Smart car care, regular maintenance, and other environmentally-friendly practices can make a difference.

Click here to schedule an appointment, call us at 515-243-8185, or stop by at 901-8th Street in Des Moines.

Dent or Ding? Paintless Dent Removal Can Fix It

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You get in a minor fender bender. Your car door gets dinged with a dent in a parking lot by a mysterious driver who doesn’t stick around or leave a note. Your kid tries some don’t-try-this-at-home stunt on the hood of the car and leaves a dent.

car dent, car ding, minor dent, paintless dent repair, beckley imports, beckley automotive, european car repairStuff happens.

If a dent is big enough, your car will probably need traditional body work that could cost you and your insurance carrier big bucks. But not all dents and dings have to be repaired with new parts, paint, and high labor costs. In many cases, minor fender benders and door dings can be repaired with a process called paintless dent removal.

About 80 to 90 percent of dents can be removed with paintless dent removal. If the dent in your car can be accessed from behind, there’s a good chance it can be removed without the hassle of traditional autobody work that can take a lot more time and money.

Here’s how it works:

  1. You bring your car in to our shop.
  2. We assess the damage. We look at the dent, location, size, and ways to access it from behind by removing lights, panels, etc. If we can fix it, we’ll get out the tools and equipment to get the job done.
  3. We’ll remove all the pieces on your car necessary to access the dent from behind. Then using special tools and measurements, we’ll massage the dent back into place. And voila.
  4. Then we’ll put all the pieces back and call you.
  5. You’ll drive away happy with a dent-free car, and money left in your pocket.

Have you been driving around with a dent or ding that bugs you every time you see it? Kind of takes the fun out of driving sometimes. But it doesn’t have to. Bring your car in for an inspection, and we’ll let you know if that dent or ding can be fixed with paintless dent removal.

Click here to schedule an appointment, call us at 515-243-8185, or stop by at 901-8th Street in Des Moines.

Has Your Car Been Recalled?

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If you’re the owner of a new car and it’s been recalled for some reason, you’ll get a notice directly from the manufacturer. And even though we live in a high-tech world where the car design and manufacturing process gets heavily scrutinized before production begins, recalls do happen.

30-Plus Recalls in a Month. That’s Normal.

automobile recall, vehicle recall, car recall, recall repair, recall serviceFor example, in December alone there were more than 28 recalls from major manufacturers for things like faulty locks, defective fuel pressure, ignition fuel leaks, wiring problems, defective air bag deployment, drive axel issues, and other problems that could potentially lead to a fire or accident.

Recall Notification for Original Owners

If you find out that your car is on the recall list, you also receive instructions on how to get the problem taken care of (usually at an authorized dealer/repair shop specified by the manufacturer).

Sure, it’s a hassle, but it’s better than the alternative that can occur if you choose to do nothing about a known problem. And if you do find out your car has been recalled, take care of it as soon as possible. Sometimes manufacturers end up putting customers on a waiting list because they run out of parts needed to complete the recall repair.

If You’re Not the Original Owner…

So what happens if you’re not the original owner of a car when a recall is issued? Nothing. You won’t get a visit from the Car Recall Response Team, letter in the mail, or even a phone call from a spammy-looking number.

Want to find out if your car has been recalled? Check with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Visit the site and check Recalls & Defects to see if your car has been recalled for a problem. You can also find recall info on tires, motorcycles, and travel trailers.

Deadline for Recall Repairs

Car recalls happen pretty frequently. But there’s one detail you don’t hear very often from car manufacturers when a recall occurs. You have up to 10 years from the original sale date of the car to get a no-cost repair for a recall.

If your car doesn’t seem to be running right, or you’re concerned it may have been issued a recall, do something about it. Check with the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, or bring your car in for an inspection. Our team of certified and experienced mechanics stay up to date on the latest recalls, and can let you know if your car is on the list.

Click here to schedule an appointment, call us at 515-243-8185, or stop by at 901-8th Street in Des Moines.

Beckley Auto Tips – Five Preventable Car Repairs

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Even if you’re a smart money planner and have a special fund to pay for car repairs, there’s a good chance you’d rather spend the money on something else. Right? Cars do need regular maintenance and repairs from time to time.

car repiar tips des moinesWhether you drive 100 miles a week or 1,000 miles a week, wear and tear happens. But you can keep repair costs down by paying attention to a few things. In fact, some of the most common car repairs that we perform can be prevented. Like what? We’re glad you asked.

  1. Damaged Ignition Switch

If you’re driving a car with a remote starter, or press a button to fire up the engine, you probably won’t have this problem. But for everyone else who uses a key to start their car, take a good look at your keychain and everything you have dangling from it.

The most common reason for a damaged ignition switch is a heavy keychain. Is yours loaded with keys, a mini flashlight, lanyards, charms, and other stuff? A heavy keychain can pull on the gears inside the ignition switch, cause damage, or even cease up. The solution: Limit the amount of keys you carry with your car key.

  1. Power Steering Pump Problems

Ever turn the steering wheel hard to make a sharp turn and hear a squealing noise? It’s an indicator that something’s wrong with your car’s power steering. It could be a simple fix that requires topping of the power steering fluid reservoir. But if you’re cranking the wheel like that a lot, it can damage the power steering pump. The solution: Avoid making hard turns and turning the steering wheel too far.

  1. Rumbling Rotors

Rotors are part of your car’s braking system. And they can last a long time with proper care. But if you drive your car with brake pads that need to be replaced, you’ll damage the rotors. Worn out brake pads grind away at the rotors. How can you tell if the rotors are going bad? For drivers, the most obvious sign is rumbling or uneven braking, especially when you slow to a stop. The solution: Replace brake pads at the first sign of wear.

  1. Engine Trouble

It wasn’t that long ago that getting 100,000 miles out of a car was the norm. But that’s not the case anymore. Many of today’s cars can run for 200,000 miles or more without any major mechanical problems. But that’s only if you take care of your car. Too often, people neglect the most basic routine maintenance of car care: changing the oil. It’s often the source of serious engine problems and expensive repairs. The solution: Follow the manufacturer guidelines for regular oil changes for your car.

  1. Fuel Pump Failure

You try and start your car, but can seem to keep the engine running. Or you’re driving, when your car begins to sputter and stall. It happens, and a bad fuel pump is often the problem. Just like any other moving part, fuel pumps do wear out over time. What’s the main reason that causes fuel pump failure? Running your car on fumes. The solution: Avoid driving your car on an empty gas tank.

Routine maintenance, regular oil changes, and smart driving habits are the best ways to prevent car trouble. Click here to schedule a service appointment, contact us at 515-243-8185, or stop by at 901-8th Street in Des Moines.

Not your Typical Repair Shop

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You’re in a rush to pick up your kids from school. But with afternoon traffic and hundreds of other parents trying to do the same thing, you’re running behind. And if it’s not picking up kids, you probably know what it’s like to fight traffic when you’re trying to get to work, go on vacation, make a delivery, or get to an important appointment.

car repair, beckley automotive, beckley imports, great customer service, auto repair des moinesSo what do you do? You deal with it. You listen to the radio, talk to others in the car, check your phone messages (But no texting while driving. It’s against the law in Iowa), or people-watch as drivers and other cars go by. All the while, you’re counting on your car to get you from here to there.

But what happens when your car has a problem?

All hell breaks loose. Right? Or at least that’s what it can feel like.

It happened to an Altoona mom recently. Her car overheated. Quick thinking and a Google search pointed her to our shop, and she rolled in with smoke and steam billowing from under the hood. Fortunately, it wasn’t a major problem, but it was going to take the rest of the afternoon to repair. And that had this mom a little worried.

“I just picked up my daughter from school,” she said. “And I took the afternoon off to take her shopping, and spend some time together.” She was worried their plans were going to be canceled because of car trouble.

Our waiting area is nice and comfortable, but there’s probably other places you’d like to be with some free time on your hands. We like taking care of our customers, so we worked out an arrangement that let this mom keep the shopping date with her daughter (check it out, here). A couple hours later, and we had her car fixed and ready to roll.

“We had a wonderful afternoon,” she said. That’s not the typical response you expect to hear when you ask someone about getting their car repaired. But then again, we’re not your typical auto shop.

We’re the best automotive repair shop serving the Des Moines area since 1979.

Got car trouble? Need repair work done, or just routine maintenance? We can help. Click here to schedule a service appointment, contact us at 515-243-8185, or stop by at 901-8th Street in Des Moines.

5 Ways to Make Winter Weather Driving Safer

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It happens every year. Mother Nature shows up with a delivery of snow and ice for the greater Des Moines area. From a window seat in your home, it’s nice to look out at the winter wonderland. And if you’re lucky, you don’t have to head out the door to drive to work, go to school, or stock up on groceries to weather the storm.

But what if you do need to get behind the wheel? Plenty of people still need to drive during winter weather. If you’re prepared, you’re more likely to get to your destination without incident. But that’s not always the case. For example, this past Monday, slick conditions on I-80 near Altoona caused a 25-car pile-up, and blocked Interstate 80 westbound for hours.

winter weather driving, winter driving safety, safer winter driving, beckley automotive des moines, beckley imports des moines, des moines foreign and domestic auto careYou can’t always prevent an accident, especially in difficult driving conditions. But you can take steps to lower the chance of having problems if you do go somewhere during bad weather.

Here are five ways to make winter weather driving safer:

  1. Keep your car topped off with gas. If you get stuck in a line of cars because of a road closure, you’ll be able to keep your car warm and running, without worrying about the tank running dry.
  1. Schedule routine maintenance on your car. It’s a good way to save money and prevent costly repairs. But it also gives you peace of mind, especially during winter weather, knowing your car is reliable and running properly. You don’t want to find out your brakes aren’t working right or your defroster is broken in the middle of storm. Get your battery checked. Make sure the wiper fluid and antifreeze reservoirs are full. Little things like this can help prevent problems.
  1. Use studless or studded winter tires. If you want to improve the way your car handles in conditions like drivers experienced on Highway 80, getting studded or studless winter tires can make a big difference. A lot of times, it’s your driveway and neighborhood side streets that make winter weather driving the most difficult. Use winter weather tires or carry chains/traction devices just in case.
  1. Pack emergency supplies. You don’t have to turn your car into a survivalist bunker, but having some emergency supplies on hand when you’ll be driving in winter weather is a good idea. Consider storing things like basic tools, a blanket, snack food, road flares, and a first aid kit in your trunk or back of the car. Keep an ice scraper handy, too.
  1. Slow down. Fortunately, no one was seriously injured in the 25-car pile-up on Highway 80. You can’t always prevent an accident when the roads are covered in snow and ice, but speed is often a factor. Slow down. You’ll have better control over your car, and be more likely to avoid an accident.

If you know it’s time to give your car a tune-up, or you’ve been putting off doing something about that funny noise coming from under the hood, don’t wait until winter weather leaves you out in the cold.

Click here to schedule a service appointment, contact us at 515-243-8185, or stop by at 901-8th Street in Des Moines.