Pushing Limits Can Damage a Car’s Fuel Pump

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When it comes to performance vehicles like BMW and Mercedes, drivers often push the limits, racing RPM, red-lining, and testing suspension and speeds. But there are some limits set for your car you shouldn’t test. If you’re the kind of driver that pushes the limit on all of your vehicle’s systems, like your fuel pump, you may be in for trouble.

fuel pump replacement des moines iowaAlthough it’s exhilarating to drive withe the fuel gauge on “E” with ten miles to go as your spouse stresses out in the passenger seat, it takes a toll on your car’s fuel system. Save yourself from future problems and visits to the shop by knowing when to draw the line on your gas tank.

Vehicles have fuel level warning lights to give you a warning before your car runs out of gas. It’s simply a buffer to remind you of how far you have until you have no other option but to fill up or walk home.

The gas light also serves as a red flag. It’s telling you you’ve crossed the line. According to most driver manuals, 1/2 tank should be considered low and 1/4 full is the time to consider getting it topped off again. Not only will it prevent you from experiencing that small panic of not making it to the next stop, but your car’s fuel system will also see better life.

By letting your gas tank go lower than suggested, you are in more likely to burn your fuel pump. It’s an expensive price to pay and an inconvenience when you take it into the shop.

The mechanical parts of a fuel pump are lubricated by fuel which travel through the pump. When the fuel level is low, air is drawn into the pump. Similar to running an engine without oil, too much air can damage the fuel pump if it isn’t properly lubricated.

Debris is likely to sit at the bottom of a fuel tank but when the fuel level is low, the debris has a better chance of entering the pump and plugging the fuel filters, which in turn, damages the pump.

The flashing and dinging of the gas light should be your ultimate last warning, however it is better to take precautions and fill up sooner rather than later. Pull over when you can and make it a priority to save you time and money by filling up.

For more information on how you can get the performance you need from your car while protecting your finely tuned systems, contact us at 515-243-8185, send us an email at service@beckleyimports.com, or stop by at 901-8th Street in Des Moines.

 

 

If You Don’t Replace Your Car’s Air Filter…

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Anytime you get some basic service done on your car, a good mechanic will check a number of important things that can have a major impact on engine performance. One of those things happens to be your car’s air filter.

car air filter replacementCar Air Filter Inspection: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Many technicians like to pull out the air filter under the hood and show you what it looks like. If it’s new and relatively clean, the filter will be a nice, bright white. With a little age, it might have a dull-gray color. And if it’s been trying to protect your engine for far too long, it might be borderline black and filled with tiny dust-like particles. We’ve even seen air filters neglected for so long that they’re even packed with bigger debris like leaves and small twigs.

How Much Does a New Car Air Filter Cost?
Replacing an air filter is a relatively easy thing to do. It’s something most people can do on their own, once they know where to find the air filter and how to remove/replace the old one. A new air filter at an auto parts store typically $10 to $25.

But a lot of people neglect to replace the air filter. Sometimes it’s just because they don’t want the cost of a typical oil change to double in price. And sometimes, it’s just something people forget to do. Unfortunately, neglecting to replace your air filter on a regular basis could cost you a lot more than a bag of groceries.

A Bad Car Air Filter Damage the Mass Air Flow Sensor

Your engine is powered by a mixture of air and fuel. The amount of air your engine gets is regulated by a part called a mass air flow sensor. For the most part, the mass air flow sensor isn’t one of those parts that needs to be replaced on a regular basis like brakes and belts. However, running your car for mile after mile with a dirty air filter will take a toll on the mass air flow sensor. If it fails, industry estimates show the average repair cost to replace the mass air flow sensor runs about $400.

Need your air filter changed or routine maintenance to help prevent costly repairs? We can help. Give us a call at 515-423-8185 or click here to schedule an appointment.

Tips to Protect Your Car Battery in Iowa’s Hot Weather

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When Mother Nature heats things up during the peak of summer, most people take action to keep cool. Consuming cold drinks, swimming, or cranking up your home’s air conditioner can help you stay cool. But your car probably doesn’t have that luxury.

battery care des moines iowa When you’re not driving it, your car is probably soaking up the sun in your driveway, in the parking lot at work or the store, or in your garage where it’s still hot. Too much exposure to direct sunlight can take a toll on your car’s paint job, but that’s the least of your worries when it’s hot and you’re in a hurry to get to work or pick up the kids from swimming lessons. Hot weather can take a toll on your car battery too.

In fact, it’s one of the most common factors that shorten the life of a car battery, according to the Car Care Council. Cold weather might prevent your battery from firing and make the engine harder to start, but it’s not nearly as damaging as hot weather.

When your car battery gets hot from being in 80-plus-degree weather, it causes fluids inside your battery to evaporate. Lack of fluid in your car battery cells, can cause permanent damage to the battery. If this happens, it can cause your battery to be overcharged, which slowly drains the life out of it. At first, your car might seem hard to start in hot weather. And then one day, you’re walk out the door into a blast of heat, put your key in the ignition and nothing happens.

Here are some things you can do to protect your car battery from exposure to hot weather:

  1. Have your battery and electrical system checked to make sure it’s charging correctly. Overcharging or undercharging can shorten the life of your battery.
  1. Check fluid levels in your car battery. If any of the cells are empty or low, add distilled water. It’s a good idea to check battery fluid levels regularly during hot weather.
  1. If you need a new battery, follow the manufacturer’s recommendations to get the right battery for optimal performance.
  1. Keep the battery, cables, and terminals clean. Dirt on the battery, cables, and terminals can drain your battery and prevent your battery from working properly.

Need to give your battery a check-up? Give us a call at 515-423-8185 or click here to schedule an appointment.

Car Purchasing Advice from Millionaires: Buy Used

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Have you been thinking about purchasing a new car? It’s tempting when there’s countless commercials, magazine ads, and promotions showing off the latest models in style and features. But in order to afford a new car, most people are going to finance the cost with a combination of a down payment, trade-in, and years of monthly payments.car purchase tips des moines iowa

But if you can avoid financing a car, you should. That’s what authors Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko discovered in their book The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy. They interviewed dozens of ordinary people who amassed at least a million dollars in wealth through hard work, smart investments, and frugal living.

In their quest to uncover the habits of self-made millionaires, they found that many intentionally bought used cars for years instead of making payments on a new one. It’s a novel concept that can save you a lot of money.

Car Repairs and Regular Maintenance Can Save You Money

Buy used and pay cash. Take good care of the car with regular maintenance and necessary repairs. Save some money. After a couple of years, trade-up for another used car with your trade-in and cash to cover the cost. It’s one of the ways people with ordinary jobs in The Millionaire Next Door were able to save a lot of money and eventually drive their dream car.

If you’re driving an older car that has a few issues, you might be tempted to get rid of it and buy a new-off-the-lot car. But in most cases, it’s going to cost a lot more in the long run to buy a new car than to keep your used car up and running.

Have a used car that needs a little help? Basic maintenance like regular oil changes and replacing the brakes, belts, and air filters can prolong the life of your car. Keeping up on routine maintenance can help prevent more costly repairs and save you money over time. In The Millionaire Next Door people used that extra money to save and make smart investments instead of making monthly car payments.

Want to get the most mileage out of your car? We can help. A full-inspection can identify any issues and routine maintenance will keep your car running longer, smoother, and more efficiently, and cost you less money over time. Give us a call at 515-423-8185 or click here to schedule an appointment.

Radiator Cap Check Can Save You Time & Money

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It’s a hot summer day. You’ve packed up your car with everything you need for a week-long vacation and take I-35 out of town. Everything seems to be going as planned on your road trip, until you notice the needle of the thermostat gauge start creeping towards H-O-T.

radiator cap checkIf your car overheats, it’s possible to let the engine cool, refill the coolant reservoir, and keep on going. But driving your car when it’s overheating, can lead to serious engine damage. And if there’s any truth to Murphy’s Law (anything that can go wrong, will go wrong), your car could overheat in the middle of nowhere during the hottest time of day where cell service is poor.

While car trouble on a summer vacation road trip might be funny in the movies, it’s not when you’re the one stuck on the side of the road. There are a variety of reasons your car could overheat. But sometimes, it’s as simple as a faulty radiator cap.

How the Radiator Cap Works

The radiator cap on the coolant reservoir is made of metal. There’s a spring inside that helps regulate pressure inside the radiator. The cap also has a rubber gasket designed to create a proper seal with the coolant reservoir. Both the spring inside the radiator cap and the rubber seal are wearable parts and should be inspected periodically.

How to Inspect Radiator Cap

A quick inspection of the radiator cap can save you time and money. But you’ll want to do this before your next road trip. Here’s how:

  1. When your car engine is cool, open the hood and locate the radiator cap. (It’s typically a silver-colored cap on the reservoir that contains coolant or antifreeze.)
  1. Push down, twist, and pull up on the radiator cap. It requires a little effort because it’s spring loaded and should have a solid seal if the rubber gasket is good.

Here’s what to look for:

  • If you don’t feel any resistance or pressure when you push down on the radiator cap, the spring inside may no longer be working properly.
  • Once the cap is off, take a closer look at the rubber gasket. If it’s cracked or brittle in any places, it’s not creating a proper seal.

If you find either of these problems, replace the radiator cap. It’s a good time to check the coolant level and top off the reservoir, too.

If you need help with a failing radiator cap, or your car is still prone to overheating after replacing it, we can help. Give us a call at 515-423-8185 or click here to schedule an appointment.

 

Listen… 5 Warning Sounds Your Car May Be Making

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When you start up your car, you want to hear your engine running smoothly and quietly. And when you leave the house in a rush to get to work or head out of town on vacation, the last thing you want to hear some unfamiliar sound coming from your car.

engine noise warningsTo the untrained ear, any unfamiliar or new sound coming from under the hood can seem like impending doom for your vehicle. While some sounds may indeed be a telltale sign of a serious problem, some sounds are early warning signs that are inexpensive to fix. Here are five common sounds you might hear coming from your car, along with what to do about it.

1. Clicking and Tapping
It’s a warning sound you’ll notice right away, especially when your car has been running smoothly. Hear clicking or tapping, and you’ll probably roll down your window while driving to get a closer listen to the sound. Chances are pretty good it’s either a valve problem related to a worn part, or low oil pressure. Make sure the engine has enough oil, and if you can’t find the source of the sound, schedule an inspection.

2. Loud Knocking Noises
If you hear this warning sound, stop driving as soon as possible. Loud knocking sounds usually indicate a major issue with a part inside the engine. Continue driving, and the problem can lead to serious engine damage that might only be repairable by replacing the engine.

3. Rattling and Whining
If your car has a cam shaft belt problem, you might notice a rattling or whining sound when you step on the gas. The camshaft helps open and close valves in the engine, and it’s a critical component for engine performance. If the cam shaft belt is loose, poorly aligned, or slips, it can cause a rattling or whining noise, particularly when you accelerate. A problem with the cam shaft is best handled by a trained mechanic.

4. Squealing During Acceleration
When an engine fan belt is loose or slips, it can make a terrible squealing sound. It’s most often caused by an aging belt that has developed cracks and is beginning to loosen. The engine fan belt is also called a serpentine belt. When the rubber teeth of the belt no longer grip the pulley tightly, they can drag across the pulley and make the telltale squealing sound. The belt either needs to be tightened to eliminate the squealing, and in most cases usually needs to be replaced.

5. Grinding Sounds
If you hear grinding sounds, it may not be coming from the engine. Let’s hope not (grinding sounds coming from the engine usually indicate a very serious problem). Roll down your window and listen carefully. The grinding sound may be coming from your brakes. Worn out brake pads and rotors can make a grinding sound. Hear this warning sound, and it’s a good time to get a brake inspection.

Got a car sound that’s driving you crazy? We can help. Give us a call at 515-423-8185 or click here to schedule an appointment.

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.