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.

 

How Many Mechanics Does it Take To Replace a Car Headlight Bulb?

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You’d think that would be the beginning of a bad joke, but it seems car manufacturers are increasingly engineering headlight assemblies that are making the once-simple task of replacing a headlight bulb much more difficult.

replace car headlight bulbFor example, in the Saturn Aura and some Cadillac models, the only way to get to the headlight assembly is by removing the entire front bumper. In the Chevy Traverse, the inner fender has to be removed to gain access to the headlight assembly. And it can be incredibly frustrating if you’re trying to figure out how to change a headlight on a car like this on your own.

Fortunately, enough hands-one mechanics and consumers have complained about this design, that some manufacturers have tasked their engineering team with making it easier to change a headlight. GMC added an easy-to-remove access panel under the fender of the Sierra. Chrysler did something similar to the PT Cruiser. And for those who drive the latest VW Beetle models, Volkswagen was kind enough to add an access panel too.

If you’ve got a burned out headlight, and you’re scratching your head about how to replace it, we can help. We’ve been servicing foreign and domestic cars for over 35 years, and seen just about every headlight assembly out there.

Got a headlight that needs to be replaced? Let us brighten your day. Give us a call at 515-423-8185 or click here to schedule an appointment.

Stop Your Car From Overheating

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If you’ve ever driven a car prone to overheating, constantly seems to be low on coolant, or has an unknown problem with the radiator, hoses, thermostat, or other components that help keep your engine cool, there’s rarely a happy ending. All too often, overheating happens when you’re on a road trip, a long way from a service station, or out of cell phone range. But with the right maintenance and a little diligence, keeping your car from overheating is easier than you think.

car overheating des moines iowaKeeping your car from overheating by keeping its radiator and cooling system in working order is important for engine performance and reliability. When your car’s cooling system is working properly, the thermostat gauge in your car should be about in the middle between hot and cold. Your car’s engine performs best when it runs at a moderate temperature. An engine that runs too hot or cold causes more wear and tear on plastic parts, decreases efficiency, and spits out more pollution in the exhaust.

Simple inspection and maintenance practices can keep your radiator and cooling system working properly and stop your car from overheating. Here are some things you can do to check on your cooling system:

  • Examine rubber hoses for cracks or missing rings where the hoses attach to the radiator or engine.
  • Make sure the rubber gasket on the radiator cap is creating a proper seal.
  • Monitor your thermostat while driving to make sure your engine is running at a moderate heat.
  • Inspect the coolant level in the reservoir.
  • Look for coolant leaks where you park your car.

If you take these preventive measures to monitor your car’s radiator and cooling system, you’ll be more likely to identify warning signs of a problem. Cracked hoses or a failed gasket need to be replaced. An engine running too hot or too cold, is an indicator of a radiator problem. And if coolant seems to be evaporating, you may have a leak or poorly performing radiator. Taking care of these kinds of problems you can identify on your own, can keep you from getting stranded and prevent your car from overheating.

Need help giving your radiator and cooling system a checkup? Give us a call at 515-423-8185 or click here to schedule an appointment.

Improve Fuel Economy With Proper Engine Maintenance

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improve fuel economy des moines iowaHow much highway driving do you do? Whether you’re planning to take a summer vacation, travel for work, or just have to get on the interstate to head across town, your engine performs best and achieves peak fuel economy during ideal highway driving conditions. In Iowa, that means traveling at 65 miles an hour or better. Cross state lines and the speed limit goes up. That can be good for getting to your destination faster, and it can improve fuel economy, but only if your car’s engine and supporting systems are working properly.

That’s where Beckley’s comes in. Through proper maintenance of your car’s engine, you can get the best fuel economy, drive safe and secure, as well as save a little money in the long run. Proper engine maintenance is simply a matter of discipline.  Some of the issues you need to pay attention to for the best fuel economy include:

  • intake and exhaust restrictions
  • timing and gearing,
  • mechanical resistance, and
  • tire performance

These can have a substantial impact on fuel economy and how well your car runs. Even driving conditions like temperature and wind resistance can have an impact.

Get the most out of every dollar you spend at the pump. Our team of expert technicians can give your can an inspection and recommend needed services to help your vehicle achieve optimal fuel economy for driving around town or when you’re cruising down the interstate. In many cases, a simple tune-up can make a big difference.

Have you been wondering how to go a little farther on a tank of gas, especially as prices at the pump begin to rise with peak travel season approaching? Bring your car in for an inspection and tune-up. We’ll get your engine ready for summer travel. Give us a call at 515-423-8185 or click here schedule an appointment.

Tailpipe Exhaust Color, Is It Bad?

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One of the telltale signs that a car has a problem is colored exhaust or smoke coming from the tailpipe. If there is smoke coming from the tailpipe, its color can often provide clues to help identify the problem.

exhaust smoke color repair des moines iowaOf course, we use high-tech diagnostic tools to troubleshoot all of your car problems, but any information you can provide (like the color of exhaust coming from the tailpipe) can help us identify the problem and get you back on the road faster. Here’s what some exhaust colors can indicate:

White: Your engine may put out white smoke if the fuel mixture has been compromised by water or antifreeze. It’s often caused by a faulty or failed rubber gasket designed to maintain a tight seal to keep antifreeze out. Sometimes a leak can develop if your car overheats and damages a head gasket.

Blue: All it takes to spew blue smoke from your exhaust is a tiny drop of oil leaking on to the engine’s cylinder. Only a mixture of gasoline and oxygen are meant to power your engine. If a gasket or seal has failed, there’s a chance that a small amount of oil may reach the engine’s cylinder and could potentially damage spark plugs. In addition to making any necessary repairs to prevent this, some older cars may also benefit from using thicker engine oil or an additive that can minimize the potential for an oil leak.

Black smoke: If too much fuel gets into the engine’s cylinder and you try to start your car, you may see black smoke coming from your exhaust. In many cases, a poorly-working carburetor is to blame. Black smoke may also be linked to a failing fuel pump, a fuel injector that needs to be cleaned or replaced, or a computer-related problem connected to your engine.

If you see odd colored smoke coming from your tailpipe, getting it checked out before other problems develop is the best idea.

Concerned about smoke coming from your car’s tailpipe? We can help. Give us a call at 515-423-8185 or click here schedule an appointment.

Scheduled Maintenance Helps Your Car Last Longer

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Drive off the dealer’s lot with a new car, and you should be feeling pretty good about your new ride. That new-car smell, nice seats and interior, new tires, a problem-free engine, and peak performance for all the other systems in your vehicle can give you peace of mind and improve your driving experience. But your car still requires regular scheduled maintenance.

scheduled maintenance bmw mercedesIf you’re as serious as we are about taking care of your car and getting the most out of that investment, reading through the owner’s manual is a good place to start. There’s more to learn in that little book than you might realize. It’s got all the how-to details about the controls in your car, and most also include a recommended factory-service maintenance plan.

Too many new-car owners don’t pay attention to the scheduled maintenance recommended for their car. If you’ve ever balked at the replace-your-oil-ever-3,000-miles recommendation, you’re not alone (even we advise some vehicles extend the mileage based on the engine and oil type). Ignore recommendations to save a few bucks and time may not seem like a big deal at first. After all, cars are engineered a lot better today than they were even a few years ago. The trouble is that over time, all the wear and tear on your car from driving to and from work, around town, and on vacation, eventually takes its toll.

All too often, we find ourselves working on cars that require major repairs that could have been prevented by following the recommended scheduled maintenance, usually every 30,000 miles. So what’s so great about regular maintenance? It’s a lot like getting an annual physical from your doctor meant to detect and treat any issues before a small problem becomes something chronic. When you bring your car in, we it up to a computer that scans all the systems in your vehicle to identify potential problems.

Based on the results along with your car’s mileage and performance, and scheduled maintenance recommendations created by the Motorist Assurance Program, we can create a tailored plan designed to help your car last longer, maximize performance, and potentially save you from the expense of costly and preventable repairs down the road. We’ll help you understand what maintenance recommendations are most important and help you prioritize any service and repairs.

When you buy a car, new or used, you want it to last and be problem-free. The best way to do that is by following the factory service maintenance recommendations. If you can’t find your car owner’s manual or locate service recommendations for your make and model online, we can help. We’ve got access to the factory service maintenance recommendations for most cars, both foreign and domestic.

Ready for regular maintenance to prolong the life of your car? Give us a call at 515-423-8185 or click here schedule an appointment.

Back-Up Camera Improves Safety

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A Des Moines woman was recently in a hurry to leave home when she hopped in her car and started backing up to leave her driveway on Broadway Avenue. At the same time, a man on a motorcycle rode by. The driver of the car didn’t see the motorcycle rider and continued backing up. Unfortunately, the motorcycle hit the rear driver’s side of car and the rider was killed.

back up camera repair safety2018 – New Cars Required to Have Back-Up Cameras

Accidents like these happen all too often. It’s one reason why the National Highway Safety Transportation Agency and the U.S. Department of Transportation passed a law that requires all cars built after May 1, 2018, include a back-up camera.

Is There Anything Behind Me? Back-Up Cameras Save Lives

If you own a newer-model car, many car manufacturers are already making this a standard feature. It’s also a feature that can be added by to most cars with basic equipment, wiring, and electrical work. And it can save lives. According to the NHTSA, an estimated 210 people are killed every year in back-up related accidents, another 15,000 are injured, and property damage caused by backing up blind costs vehicle owners and insurance companies millions.

If you already have a back-up camera in your car, you’re already a safer driver than the woman who backed out of her driveway and hit the motorcycle driver. Based on the NHTSA regulations, a back-up camera should allow you to see 10 feet across and 20 back from the rear of your car. For the Des Moines woman, that may have been just enough to see the motorcycle rider and stop in time.

Back-Up Camera Service and Installation

If you don’t have a back-up camera, check with local car-audio shops or car-dealer to find out about having one installed. And there’s nothing wrong with being overly cautious, checking blind spots, and making sure nothing is behind you when you’re backing up. Cars with factory-installed back-up cameras generally function pretty well, but there’s always the chance that moisture, an accident, or unexpected electrical problems interfere with your camera working properly. And that’s something we can help you with.

Need your back-up camera or other car electronics serviced? If you’ve got questions about your car’s back up camera, we can help. Bring your car in for an inspection or give us a call at 515-423-8185 or click here schedule an appointment.

Auto Service in Des Moines – Greg Kenyon – VIDEO TESTIMONIAL

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Greg Kenyon brought his BMW to Beckley auto decades ago and has been a loyal customer ever since. He depends on Beckley’s attention to detail and the reliability of their service.

For over 3 decades, Beckley Automotive has been providing superior auto service, maintenance, and car care for the Des Moines area. We have some of the most loyal customers and best support a car repair shop could hope for, and when they step up and provide testimonials like this, we couldn’t be more proud.

If you’ve got questions about auto service or general car care, we can help. Bring your car in for an inspection or give us a call at 515-423-8185 or click here schedule an appointment.

Family Auto Service – Graham Cook – VIDEO TESTIMONIAL

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Graham Cook is a long-time Beckley Automotive service customer. Virtually since our doors opened, Graham and his family have used Beckley for all of their automotive service needs.

For over 3 decades, Beckley Automotive has been providing superior auto service, maintenance, and car care for the Des Moines area. We have some of the most loyal customers and best support a car repair shop could hope for, and when they step up and provide testimonials like this, we couldn’t be more proud.

If you’ve got questions about auto service or general car care, we can help. Bring your car in for an inspection or give us a call at 515-423-8185 or click here schedule an appointment.