Fight Leaks and Keep Your Engine in Top Shape with Our Fluid Service

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car fluid check, fluid leaks, engine leaksIt’s never a good thing to find a puddle on your garage floor or in the driveway. How long has it been there? Where is it leaking from? Are there multiple leaks? How long until the engine throws a rod or simply eats itself?

Bring your car in for regular fluid service at Beckley Automotive and head off leaks before they become a problem!

There’s more to automotive fluids than simply keeping them contained. To prevent premature wear and failure of engine parts, most manufacturers recommend replacing the fluids for systems such as brakes, transmission, coolant and all-wheel drive units on a regular basis. When our technicians change out and recycle your car’s fluids, they will also have the opportunity to look over the different systems and find the potential for leaks before they become a problem.

If your car is a European import, the replacement specifications is often much more frequent than it is for standard performance cars. Beckley Automotive always uses the proper fluids for your specific car and our knowledgeable and experienced technicians know exactly how to service all types of autos. Through continuing education and certification, every technician at Beckley’s is trained and ready to provide outstanding service to keep your auto free from leaks and your engine running at its best!

When was the last time you had your vehicle’s fluids changed and your engine checked for leaks? If you can’t remember, now is a great time to schedule an appointment at Beckley’s online HERE. You can also call our service department at 515-243-8185 or simply stop at our convenient downtown Des Moines location at 901 8th Street today!

Know Your Car’s Electrical System Warning Signs

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electrical system, car starter, car battery, car alternatorYour vehicle’s electrical system is an involved arrangement made up of three main components: the alternator, the starter and the battery. When you start having trouble with your car’s electrical system, it’s apparent – but how do you know which part needs the attention? We’ll outline the most common warning signs for each part to help you pinpoint the issue to be addressed.

Your battery provides the juice to the entire electrical system. When your battery is giving out, it affects the rest of the system. Watch for:

  • Sluggish engine cranking when you try to start the car; the battery alone starts the car, so if you have trouble at the get-go you know what’s causing it.
  • Excessive corrosion around the positive/negative cable connection posts; this indicates a battery leak and the “gunk” needs to be removed or the connectors won’t get the power
  • Swollen battery case; this means the battery has been exposed to excessive heat and/or cold and has been damaged
  • Smell of rotten eggs under your hood; a shorted battery causes a chemical reaction, releasing sulfuric acid that can damage other engine components

If your starter malfunctions, the pistons don’t rotate and won’t pull in air/gas mixture needed to fuel the engine. Watch for:

  • Grinding noise; if the drive gear isn’t engaging or is worn, you’ll hear a sound like when you start your car and then try to start it again. Ignoring this noise can cause irreparable damage tot he engine flywheel.
  • Freewheeling; if you only hear a whining noise and the engine isn’t cranking, the starter gear isn’t engaging with the flywheel and this is called freewheeling.
  • Single loud “click”; you may have a bad starting motor, bad solenoid, or even a bigger mechanical problem in the engine.

The alternator is exceptionally important as it recharges your battery and turns energy from the crankshaft into useable electricity. Watch for:

  • Flickering or dim headlights; this means the alternator is struggling to get the necessary power to the headlights.
  • Car stalls; since the alternator powers the spark plugs that keep the engine alive, if your car stalls for no reason while running you should have the alternator looked at.
  • Other electrical failures; if your power windows and locks, air conditioning or dashboard lights aren’t working correctly or working at all, the alternator could be the culprit because it supplies all of these electrical parts with power.

Your car has literally dozens of electrical components that send power throughout your auto to keep everything going. When one part fails, it causes a chain reaction and ultimately keeps your car from running. Come see the expert technicians at Beckley Automotive who have the training, the tools and the experience to diagnose and correct any and all problems you might be having with your electrical system.

Don’t wait until your car leaves you stranded! Schedule your appointment online today, call our service department at 515-243-8185 or stop by our shop in downtown Des Moines at 901 8th Street.

Beckley Automotive Meets Growing Need for Diesel Service

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As people become more concerned about the environment and auto emissions, the call for diesel service shops grows. If you’re in the market for a diesel vehicle, you won’t be disappointed in your selection. Auto makers from Jeep to Chevrolet to BMW to Volkswagen offer great diesel options. You can choose from pickup trucks, crossovers, SUVs and luxury models.

Now that you know where to go for trustworthy diesel service, why should you look at purchasing a diesel vehicle?

  1. diesel service, diesel engine maintenanceMileage. Diesel engines are well-known for being cost effective. Diesel fuel generates more power from less fuel, so you can easily get more bang for your buck and stretch that tank of gas farther with diesel over gasoline.
  2. Safety. Your standard gasoline engine relies on ignition from a spark plug, diesel engines use compressed hot air to ignite the fuel. Diesel fuel has a higher flashpoint than gasoline, so it takes much more than a spark to set it on fire. There is a much lower chance of the fuel igniting in the case of an accident.
  3. Maintenance. Diesel engines are built ruggedly to combat the rigors of higher compression. Also, because they don’t rely on electrical ignition parts like spark plugs and a moving distributor rotor, you don’t have to change out as many engine parts on a regular basis.
  4. Power. You get far more torque from a diesel engine. Because of its slow burn, high compression design, the driveshaft receives much more powerful torque to assist in acceleration and towing capabilities.
  5.  Longevity. Mercedes-Benz currently holds the record for longevity, having multiple vehicles that have racked up more than 900,000 miles on their original engines. Gas-powered cars start needing more love and money poured into them around the 100,000 mile marker. If you are looking to purchase a vehicle for the very long haul, diesel can stick by your side for at least a couple generations.

Of course, there are cons to balance out the pros of diesel engines: While you have less frequent maintenance demands, it can cost you more when you do need major diesel service. The initial purchase price can be about 10% more than the gasoline counterpart. Diesel fuel doesn’t perform well in frigid temperatures, so you may need to install an engine block heater to insure that your car will start on cold winter mornings.

Whether you’re looking at purchasing a diesel vehicle or you already own one, rest assured that Beckley Automotive has the knowledge, the tools and the experience to provide outstanding diesel service. Schedule your appointment online HERE or call our expert service department at 515-243-8185 today!

Check Engine Light Isn’t Always a Wallet Drain

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check engine light, engine diagnosticsVery few things can set your heart racing like an illuminated Check Engine light on your car’s dashboard. You start wondering how long your car has before the transmission falls out, the engine catches on fire or your car just expires on the side of the road. You also begin panicking trying to decide whether fixing the problem or buying a new car is more cost-effective.

The “Check Engine” light became standard around 1995 and can alert the driver to a slew of engine troubles, big or small. This warning light is attached to the computer in your car, and that computer is pretty smart. If it comes on and stays on, you need to get it checked as soon as possible. If it comes on and flashes, pull that machine over, turn it off, and call for help.

The only thing the computer and the check engine light can’t tell you, is what the actual problem is. Here are some of the top reasons your Check Engine light might come on:

  • Loose spark plug wires or faulty spark plugs
  • Faulty sensors, such as the oxygen sensor or the mass airflow sensor
  • A bad catalytic converter
  • A loose or missing gas cap

Some of these problems are more serious than others and are more expensive. But be wary of any DIY workarounds that you might find on the internet. If you mess with the data storage by disconnecting or running out the battery, you wipe the memory and make true diagnostics harder down the line.

The expert technicians at Beckley Automotive are trained and certified to diagnose any issue with your engine, whether your vehicle is foreign or domestic. And, the best part is that Beckley’s puts a cap on your cost for that diagnostic check. You won’t be charged more than $125 for that first step toward finding what’s wrong. Sometimes that’s all it will take to fix the problem, but the experts at Beckley’s won’t move forward on repairs above and beyond that cost without your approval. The diagnostic findings and a comprehensive repair plan will be outlined before you spend another dime. That’s the Beckley way.

The quickest and least expensive way to handle a check engine light is to bring your car to an expert that can identify the fault correctly and repair it without a lot of guesswork. Schedule your appointment online HERE, visit our convenient downtown Des Moines location at 901 8th Street or give our service staff a call at 515-243-8185 today.

Pre-Purchase Inspection Takes the Fear Out of Car Buying

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bmw pre-purchase european luxury vehicles

bmw pre-purchase european luxury vehicles, pre-purchase inspectionPurchasing a new car is an exciting event, and at Beckley Automotive, we want to keep it that way! When you’re looking to spend a substantial amount of money on a pre-owned vehicle like BMW, Mercedes, Audi, Volvo or any number of domestic beauties, you want to know that you’re getting the value you expect – style, performance, reliability, and economical value! That’s why Beckley’s offers a pre-purchase inspection to set your mind at ease and ensure you’re getting what you pay for.

By scheduling a pre-purchase inspection with Beckley, you can save yourself from inheriting someone else’s problems, not to mention saving potentially hundreds of dollars. Our specialists have years of experience with most makes and models – domestic, Asian and European – so you know you’ll be getting the best service around. We’ll check the brakes, steering, tires, and more, giving you a clear, written explanation of results when it’s all said and done.

Having your future vehicle inspected by someone you trust is also important. At Beckley Automotive, our certified experts give you the facts and verify the listing against the potential issues you may have after the vehicle purchase.

The Beckley Imports pre-purchase inspection includes:

  • An under the hood inspection, where we check the engine for any signs of leaks.
  • A thorough body inspection, where we check out all the body panels to look for any signs of previous accidents or any damage the seller may have not reported.
  • A comprehensive road test to see if the transmission is working properly, as well as the rest of the car.

As soon as you drive the car off the lot, the liability is all on you. Whether buying from an established used car lot or an individual in the paper or online, the seller may not be truly forthcoming with all the details. Even the fear that the seller isn’t telling you everything can make the car-buying process far more stressful than it needs to be.

Make sure you have your vehicle inspected before you purchase to avoid unexpected and expensive repairs down the road. Let Beckley Automotive help you make a good decision in your luxury ride – schedule an appointment online HERE or give us a call at 515.243.8185 today!

Protect Your Warranty With Beckley Automotive

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scheduled maintenance, protect your warranty, car warranty, auto warrantyOne of the great things about buying a new car is the warranty. Knowing that the manufacturer will stand behind the quality of the products they make helps take some of the stress out of the purchase. But there is some confusion about how, exactly, to use the warranty and what will truly negate it. How can you protect your warranty?

If the dealership tries to tell you that you have to bring the vehicle to them for maintenance and repairs, they may be committing a crime. The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act established in 1975 makes it illegal for dealers or manufacturers to say that the warranty will be voided or denied if anyone but the dealer does the work. You can take your vehicle to any independent mechanic, retail chain shop or do the work yourself without negating the warranty. Of course, the manufacturer or dealer can require the use of specific facilities if the services are to be done without a charge to the consumer under the warranty.

How can you avoid problems with the warranty? According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, there are a few steps you can follow to avoid issues:

  • Read Your Warranty: It’s important to know what it covered and what isn’t before repairs are needed. The warranty is usually in with the owner’s manual and will provide specific details of the warranty so there aren’t any surprises down the road. Most manufacturer websites will have an owner’s manual available online if you happen to misplace the one that came with your car.
  • Know Your Warranty Period: Warranties DO have an expiration – either a number of years or a number of miles. It’s important to know the time limits of your warranty so you can be certain to get problems corrected in plenty of time.
  • Service Regularly: While regular service is a good idea in any case, it’s essential to follow the manufacturer’s recommended service schedule to be certain you are following the parameters of the warranty.
  • Keep All Service Records and Receipts: Whether it’s an oil change, new brake pads, tire rotations or a major repair, create a file to track all repairs and maintenance. If you have to take advantage of your warranty, it will be in your favor to be able to prove that you took care of the vehicle.
  • Fight For Your Warranty: In some cases, a warranty claim may be denied unfairly. If you feel this is the case, ask to speak with a supervisor or go to the manufacturer or another dealer. You can also file a complaint with your state Attorney General or the FTC if service is denied arbitrarily.

Beckley Automotive has been servicing domestic and European vehicles for over 30 years. Our technicians are ASE and Bosch certified and are well-trained in all the latest diagnostic and service tools. You can rest assured that our team will protect your warranty and your investment with integrity.

Do you have a question or concern about your car’s maintenance? Are you needing a repair estimate or a pre-purchase inspection? Contact Beckley Automotive today at 515-243-8185 or conveniently schedule an appointment online!

It’s Not Too Early to Get Your Car Ready for Winter Driving

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car battery, winter driving bmw des moines iowa

It’s hard to imagine prepping your car for fall and winter driving with the 80+ degree temps we’re currently enjoying.  But reality is that fall is practically here and that means football, turkey, presents and HARSH WINTER DRIVING are just around the corner.

TIP:  When you see the garden centers closing up and the patio furniture on clearance at the stores – it’s time to winterize.

winter driving bmw des moines iowaWinter puts an amazing strain on your car’s systems and fluids.  And if you leave your car outdoors overnight, it endures even more punishment.  Here’s what you should do now to avoid shivering on the roadside waiting for a tow.

Get caught up on recommended maintenance

If the summer was just too busy, it’s a good idea to get caught up on the simple things.  We’re sure that with other shops you’ve visited, you might have felt “taken” a bit with add-ons and extras that didn’t seem necessary.  We guarantee that our technicians will recommend only what’s necessary for your vehicle and give you clear guidance on additional maintenance items that you should consider.

TIP:  Sometimes you just feel like asking, “Is it OK if I wait on servicing say…my water pump…until the next time I visit?”  Don’t feel awkward about it! At Beckley, you’ll get an honest answer that does not contain a hidden agenda or innuendo.  We’ve built our business on honesty and good value…so ask any question you’d like and we’ll give you a straightforward answer.

Kick the tires

Possibly the most essential element in the winter equation is tires.  If you don’t do a summer/winter tire switch, make sure you have tread – and lots of it.  Sometimes when you’re at that “in between” stage where there’s probably just enough tread to get by until Spring, this is a tough decision.  Safety should be your first consideration here.  Stopping distances go through the roof on snow and ice and tread is your friend.

Get the cooling system ready to be REALLY cool

It might seem like “cooling” systems are less relevant in the winter.  It’s true you’re less likely to have overheating issues from a 10-minute drive when it’s 20 degrees outside.  But a properly operating cooling system is essential to your engine’s life at ALL temperatures.  Freezing temps can really push an old water pump to the limit, so if you’re approaching or are over the max life for that part – consider a proactive replacement.

Put the scraper and winter emergency kit back in the vehicle

It’s a great idea to keep a plastic bin containing simple roadside survival items in your trunk.  Be sure to check your items each year for expiration dates and put in fresh batteries. Some things to include are:

  • spare gloves/hats
  • jackets
  • flashlights
  • first aid kit
  • blankets
  • small shovel
  • food
  • knife
  • chains
  • jumper cables

TIP:  Consider putting one or more 40 pound sandbags in the rear of your car.  This will help with traction in a rear wheel drive car of course.  But a side benefit is that if you get stuck, you can grab the knife from your winter safety kit, cut open the bag, and lay the sand down under and around your tires for extra traction.  You’d be surprised how much this helps when things get slick and you’re spinning those gorgeous wheels.

Now is the perfect time to schedule an appointment online to get your car ready for the harsh Iowa winter. Our convenient shuttle can get you to work or home and our service advisers can help you with further transportation arrangements. Call Beckley Automotive today!

How to Choose the Best Auto Repair Shop in Des Moines

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best auto repair shop des moinesWhen car troubles show up out of nowhere, it can be stressful figuring out who to call. Most people don’t have a mechanic or repair shop on speed-dial, and it’s easy to panic when faced with the prospect of going without a car for an undetermined period of time. How do you select the best auto repair shop? Do you rely on Google or Yelp reviews? Do you talk to friends and coworkers? Or do you choose based on location or because your dad used that facility?

Tips for Choosing the Best Auto Repair Shop for You

  • Be sure to research and find a repair shop BEFORE you need one. The first shop on the Google list isn’t necessarily the best for your car or your repair needs.
  • Have a plan for alternate transportation already in place. It’s easy to choose a repair shop closest to home or work without knowing their reputation or skill set. Some roadside assistance plans like AAA offer car rental coverage in the case of mechanical repairs.
  • Ask your friends and family where they go, who they would recommend and who they would recommend to stay away from. Find out their reasons for a positive or negative review so you know it’s about the shop and not just a bad day.
  • When you call the facility, ask if they specialize in only certain types of repair or certain vehicle makes and models. Ask specific questions about the qualifications of the technicians and what types of certifications they hold. Are they ASE certified? Is there a requirement for ongoing education to keep up with technology?
  • Put in the legwork and visit potential shops. You should be looking for cars in the parking lot or service bays that are comparable to yours in age and technology. Are there awards in the lobby regarding outstanding customer service or community involvement? Is the reception area neat, clean and professional?
  • Are diagnostic fees, acceptable payment types and guarantees posted? Is the staff courteous and willing to answer your questions and explain charges, services and procedures?
  • Be sure to reward outstanding customer service and repair work with repeat business. Show customer loyalty and make referrals through positive word-of-mouth. When you find the best auto repair facility, you’ll want to support the business and spread the word!

You never want to get stuck picking a service shop out of hat without knowing anything about their certifications, pricing or reputation. It’s important now more than ever to do your own research and form your own opinions. Take the time to look for professionalism, great customer service, current certifications or advanced course work and pricing transparency. If you put in the work, you will be rewarded with the best auto repair shop and peace of mind.

Are you in need of auto repair or routine maintenance? Beckley Automotive may just be the best auto repair shop for you! Give us a call at 515-243-8185, stop by our convenient downtown Des Moines location at 901 8th Street, or schedule a service appointment online today!

What is an ASE Certified Technician?

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ASE certified techniciansHave you noticed Beckley Automotive’s “ASE Certified” signs or stickers displayed in the shop or on the website? You’ve probably wondered what that’s all about and what it means for you and your vehicle.

ASE – the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence –  offers consumers a way to find a reliable, knowledgeable auto technician. It’s hard to feel confident trusting your car to a new mechanic. How do you know he’ll be able to diagnose your car correctly AND have the ability to fix the problem once it’s found? ASE takes the guesswork out of the equation by vetting vehicle technicians all over the United States so you don’t have to.

How does it work?

  • Every year, roughly 100,000 technicians take the difficult national ASE tests. To become ASE Certified, each technician must have two years’ of work experience as well as a passing score on at least one ASE exam. A technician can attain Master Technician status by completing a tough series of further specialized exams on top of meeting the experience requirement.
  • ASE tests are developed by industry experts and then administered by ACT, the college entrance exam group, so you know the tests are comprehensive and challenging.
  • There are eight tests available for auto technicians that cover all car systems: Manual Drive Train and Axles, Suspension and Steering, Automatic Transmissions, Heating and Air Conditioning, Engine Performance, Brakes, Engine Repair and Electrical/Electronic Systems. ASE also offers comprehensive exams for parts specialists, collision repair technicians, engine machinists and more.
  • ASE credentials do expire, and technicians have to pass exams for re-certification every five years to ensure they are up-to-date on the newest technology.

Your car is an essential component of your everyday life. You rely on it to get you to and from work, to play, to transport your children to practices and school and family functions. Is that something you want to take a chance on? Doctors have to pass rigorous tests to be able to practice medicine, letting you know that they can be trusted to have the knowledge and skills to take care of you and your family. Why would you take any less precaution when entrusting your vehicle’s care to a technician? You can rest easy knowing your car will be in the hands of Beckley’s certified, knowledgeable and skilled technicians.

Beckley Automotive is proud to participate in the ASE Certification Program and to provide peace of mind to our customers. Schedule your auto maintenance or repair appointment ONLINE today!

 

 

Oil Changes Every 3,000 Miles? Not So Fast…

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des moines oil change, european car service tips

Did you know automobile oil never wears out? It’s the additives in oil that help keep your engine clean and protected that cause the problems. Plus, oil gets dirty and abrasive from combustion contaminants which leads to sludge* and premature wear.

*We see more engine failures from sludge than old age. Sludge occurs from using the wrong oil or not changing oil frequently enough. It becomes thick like tar then clogs the oil passages. Not unlike what happens to us with a bad diet.

des moines oil change, european car service tipsConventional wisdom was “change your oil every 3,000 miles. Today, some new car manufacturers are recommending 10-15,000 miles between oil changes. How do you know what’s right for your car without spending TOO much? The answer depends on two considerations:

1.Conventional or Synthetic Oil?

Conventional petroleum based oils offer excellent protection for most circumstances and are recommended by many automobile manufacturers. They are also less expensive than synthetic oil.

Synthetic oils hold up better under extremes of temperature and extended drain intervals of 10,000 miles or more*. The only drawback is they can cost twice as much as conventional – about $8-$10 per quart.

*If you go an extended drain interval you need a premium oil filter to last as long as your oil, not the discount filters sometimes used to keep the price down.

At Beckley Automotive, we always advise using the type of oil the manufacturer recommends. Failure to do so can jeopardize any warranties and, as we’ve experienced, will hurt your engine if it’s not up to specification. We can tell you what your car’s manufacturer recommends.

2.How Do You Drive Your Car?

Your owners manual typically has two maintenance schedules. One for “Ideal” driving conditions, one for “Severe” conditions. How do your driving habits stack up? Unless you primarily drive long distances, most of us operate our cars under “severe” conditions. Here, your manual says to cut the “ideal” service intervals in half.

[one_third]

Ideal Driving Conditions

  • Mostly highway miles
  • Moderate temperatures
  • Moderate loads
  • Dust free environment[/one_third]

Severe Driving Conditions

  • Frequent trips under 10 miles or stop & go (city) driving
  • Very hot or cold temps (below freezing)
  • Towing or heavy loads
  • Dusty, unpaved roads

 

And The Answer Is…

Based on the car and oil manufacturers recommendations and our long experience with all European car engines we recommend to change conventional oil every 5000 miles and synthetic oil every 7500 miles. This is based on the typical mix of temperatures and driving styles we experience in Central Iowa.

One Final Consideration

If you drive a particular car infrequently, say under 7500 annually, change your oil once a year. Just because your oil lasts 15,000 miles doesn’t mean everything else will. Our experts will report on your tires, brakes, steering, etc. so you know your car is safe for you and your family. Do this in the fall if you’re going to store it. It will last longer with clean fluids.

When we change your oil at Beckley Automotive, your car gets a 30 point written safety inspection performed by a certified technician with years of training and experience on European cars just like yours. They know what to look for and how to respond to prevent any problems while you’re on the road. We use Mobil oil and original equipment (or better!) filters to ensure the longest life for your car and protect any warranties you might have. Plus we have the proper equipment to reset your service lights. Don’t forget – you also get a free car wash with every service.

So be sure to call us the next time you need service. We’ll be glad to give you a price and explain all the benefits our car care specialists will provide. Or you can go online and Schedule your service appointment today.