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.

Paintless Dent Removal is Painless to Your Budget

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paintless dent removal, dent repair des moines, auto detailing and paintless dent removalFall in the Midwest can be temperate, hot and sweltering, cold and windy, or severely stormy – and usually in the same week. With volatile weather like Iowa can see during the spring and autumn, thunderstorms with damaging hail are not out of the question. But storms aren’t the only threat to your car’s body in the fall; the rising and setting sun seems to glare brighter during those crucial rush hour drive times. Being blinded by the sun happens far more often than we’d like to think about, and cars and shopping carts and even parking barriers seem to pop up out of nowhere.

Door dings and fender benders can happen at any time of year, but once that damage is done, your best bet is to get it fixed right away before deeper damage occurs. With winter bearing down on Des Moines drivers, now is the perfect time to take steps that will protect your investment and maintain your vehicle’s value. Paintless dent removal done by the experts at Beckley Automotive can save you time, money and worry.

Paintless Dent Removal is a method of dent repair that doesn’t alter your auto’s paint job. Not all dents qualify for this non-invasive treatment, but minor dings and dents can be removed from your car’s body with little drama.

Some other benefits of Paintless Dent Removal:

  • Saves you money. For smaller dents that are less than an inch, prices are usually exceptionally reasonable. Dents that are easy to reach, like hail damage on a car’s hood, are even easier on the checkbook.
  • Saves you time. No one likes to be without their car for long at all, and paintless dent removal can usually be done within a day. Even if there are multiple dents that are deeper or wider and require a little more time, this method will still take far less time than traditional repair.
  • Saves your insurance premium. Dent repair and removal can cost a pretty penny if done traditionally. You don’t want to pay your own cash for it, so you claim it on your auto insurance, which can cause premiums to go up. But with Paintless Dent Removal, the cost is often less than your insurance premium, which means you don’t have to claim it, which means you won’t be paying more for your insurance to fix a couple dings. Plus, these slight damages won’t show up on vehicle history reports, which will help you when it comes time to sell.
  • Saves the environment. Because there is almost no need to use paints or solvents, Paintless Dent Removal doesn’t release harmful toxins into the air. Some other auto repair methods rely on products that contain environmentally dangerous chemicals.
  • Saves your original paint and your car’s value. If you plan on selling your car – ever – the value of your vehicle can drop if you don’t have the original paint. If you can maintain your vehicle’s original exterior paint and finish, your resale value will get a tremendous boost. Paintless Dent Removal helps you get the most from your investment.

Beckley has a dedicated Detailing and Paintless Dent Removal department to meet your minor repair needs. Our experts have the knowledge, the training and the experience to remove those small dings and dents and even to refinish scratched wheels. Don’t trust your car’s exterior to anyone else!

Bring your car to our dent removal artists and learn for yourself why Beckley Automotive is the best in Des Moines! Schedule an appointment online HERE, call our service department at 515-243-8185, or stop by our convenient Downtown Des Moines location at 901 8th Street.

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.

Give Your Brakes a Little Love Before They Need It

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brake systems, disc brakes, anti-lock brakes, ABS, brake repair, car brakesThe brakes on your car serve one purpose – to stop your car from moving. Whether you’re stopping for a red light, a pedestrian in the road or to avoid a collision, you rely on your brake system to perform; to perform well, reliably, and immediately. Your safety and the safety of your passengers depend on the condition of your brake system, so make sure you pay them the attention they deserve BEFORE they are put to the test.

There are different braking systems with different needs and issues, and the expert technicians at Beckley Automotive are trained and certified to meet all of those needs.

  • Drum Brakes – A hydraulic wheel cylinder pushes a brake shoe onto the inside of a drum while it spins. This style wears down more quickly because the heat produced by the friction gets trapped inside the drum. while drum brakes are certainly sufficient, they can become less effective when heat is allowed to build up.
  • Disc Brakes – Uses a hydraulic caliper with brake pads that grab the rotor to slow or stop the car, similar to the brakes on a bicycle. Because the thin caliper and brake pads are exposed to the air, the heat dissipates quickly and causes less wear. In high-performance and racing vehicles, four-wheel disc systems have become the norm, despite the higher production costs and purchase pricing.
  • Anti-Lock Brake System – Used in conjunction with one of the above brake types; uses an electronic system of sensors and high-pressure pumps to measure variables like car speed, brake force and wheel slip before actually pumping your brakes for you during an emergency stop in certain conditions. ABS has contributed to shorter stopping distances and a general increase in vehicle safety, although the system is still controversial.

Drivers shouldn’t wait until there is a brake failure to look at their brakes. The safety of family, friends and the general public are at stake, so don’t put off regular maintenance or addressing issues. If you experience grinding, squeaking, or shaking when you brake, or if your brakes feel “spongy” and you need a football field distance to stop, bring your car to Beckley Automotive for diagnostic testing and repairs.

Our ASE-Certified expert technicians will examine your entire brake system from front to back and will let you know exactly what needs to be done to keep you and your passengers safe. Schedule your appointment online HERE, give us a call at 515-243-8185, or visit us at our convenient downtown Des Moines location at 901 8th Street today!

Let Climate Control Work for You

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automatic climate control, vehicle air conditioning, car climate controlThe saying goes something like, “If you don’t like the weather, wait 5 minutes.” Fall in Iowa is no exception. Last week was sweltering heat and humidity and this week is sweater weather. Many people find themselves in the bizarre position of needing to run the heat at night and then to switch to the air conditioning in the afternoon. It’s no different in your car – but can you rely on both to work at top performance at the drop of a hat?

Air conditioning and climate control in a car are not the same thing. When purchasing a new vehicle, there is a definite price difference between the two – air conditioning comes standard and costs less. What are some of the other differences between the two?

  • Air conditioning cools the air inside your car through manual adjustment of the temperature dial. If you want it colder, you turn it farther to the blue. If you want it less cold, turn it toward the red and warmer air will gradually mix in.
  • Automatic Climate Control lets you set the temperature you want inside your car and you don’t have to touch it again. Ever. On your home thermostat, you even have to switch between heat and cooling. But Automatic Climate Control will switch seamlessly from air to heat to keep the temperature constant.
  • With air conditioning, you will have to constantly adjust the dials as the temperature inside your car is affected by the sun, the speed you’re driving, outside weather. This can lead to battles with your passengers who are too hot or too cold and grumble about the constantly changing climate inside the car.
  • Climate control is much more advanced and most offer “dual zone” control. The driver can set their temperature and the passenger can select what is most comfortable for them. Everyone is happy!
  • Another benefit to Automatic Climate Control is that it can potentially save you money. We all know running the air at the lowest temperature and the highest fan speed will make your engine work harder and run through your gas much faster. Climate control only uses the air as needed instead of at a constant clip and works much more efficiently.

Whether you have standard air conditioning or the more luxurious automatic climate control, chances are you’re going to need some work on the system at some point to keep it running at optimal levels. Unfortunately, because climate control is advanced technology and possibly the most complicated system in your vehicle, a lot of shops won’t even touch it. But at Beckley Automotives we have the experience and technology to find any problems and provide solutions more quickly and efficiently than the other guys.

Don’t waste time and money while the other shops guess at what needs to be done to keep you and your passengers riding in comfort. Schedule your appointment online HERE, give Beckley Automotive a call at 515.243.8185 or simply stop by our convenient downtown Des Moines location.

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!

New Audi Brings Luxury and Fun Together

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Audi a4 Allroad, audi care des moines

Image courtesy of caranddriver.com

This fall, a new Audi beauty will roll out for all you car enthusiasts who appreciate functionality as well as comfort and luxury.

The 2017 Audi A4 Allroad wagon will become available in the fall of 2016 after a fantastic showing at the Detroit Auto Show earlier this year. With the A4 sedan’s redesigned 2.0-liter turbo-four engine and an impressive 252 hp, this upgrade of the 2016 Allroad will meet all expectations of Audi fans. Some of the best features of this gem include:

  • Standard quattro all-wheel drive and increased ground clearance
  • Redesigned five-link suspension for better maneuvering on curves and off-road
  • Seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission and five drive-select modes
  • Standard leather seating, panoramic sunroof, three-zone climate control

The 2017 Audi Allroad wagon will also provide more cargo room than the A4 sedan and offers options like Audi side assist and pre-sense rear in the Prestige models. If you’re thinking of picking up this new Audi this fall, you’re looking at a price tag of anywhere from $44,950 to over $52,000.

Whether you bring this baby home in the fall or if you have an older Audi, Beckley Automotive is your leading Audi care experts! From batteries and electrical systems to brakes and suspension to a simple oil change, Beckley is your one-stop shop for all things automotive repair and service!

Schedule your appointment online today, give us a call at 515-243-8185, or stop by our convenient downtown location at 901 8th Street!

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.

Make Selling Your Car More Profitable

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tips for selling your car, selling your carAt some point, you’re probably going to decide it’s time for a new car. Maybe you need more space for a growing family, or you’re downsizing to a smaller vehicle as an empty-nester. Or maybe you want to unload a gas-guzzler for a more fuel-efficient auto. When you look at selling your car, you can get more money by simply taking care of a few details.

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 the 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 look into 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’ve 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 light, a squeaky door hinge, 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 could 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.

We can help you get the most out of selling your car. If you’re looking for the best auto care and service in Des Moines call Beckley Automotive at 515-423-8185 or click here to schedule an appointment today!

Keep Your Car Cool in Iowa’s Extreme Heat

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overheated car, summer heat, extreme heat wave, Beckley AutomotiveThe recent heat wave here in Des Moines basically has us melting and remembering with fondness winter snow storms. While we rely on the air conditioning in our homes, offices and cars to save the day, we don’t usually think about other critical auto maintenance necessary in Iowa summer’s extreme heat.

  1. Stay on top of tire pressure. Weather plays a big role in your tire pressure: cold weather can cause your tires to be under-inflated while hot weather can cause them to be OVER inflated. When your tire pressure is off, it can lower your gas mileage and cause extra and uneven wear on the tread. Make sure you check your tire pressure during extreme heat and keep tires inflated to the number printed on the vehicle door placard or in the owner’s manual, not the number on the tire.
  2. Maintain your cooling system. Does it take forever for your auto air conditioner to actually get cold? If you haven’t flushed your cooling system in the last 5 years, that could be why. Engines these days have a lot of aluminum parts and require great corrosion protection to last longer. It’s also a good idea to park out of the sun whenever possible so your air conditioner doesn’t have to work so hard.
  3. Top off all fluids. Motor oil does so much more than keeping the moving parts moving – it also absorbs heat from all the friction. You’re aware that you need to keep coolant at the right levels, but there is a lot of evaporation going on under the hood that a lot of people forget about. You’ll burn through transmission fluid faster and battery fluids don’t always last through extended high temperatures, like we’ve seen recently.
  4. Plan for an emergency. Nobody wants to think they could get stranded out in the middle of nowhere during the summer, but planning ahead could save a life. Put together an emergency package with things like bottled water, a flashlight, a car charger for your cell phone, a first-aid kit, road flares, granola bars, instant cold packs that activate when needed, and anything else you think you might need in an emergency. It’s always better to have something and not need it than to need something and not have it.

This extreme heat will pass, but make sure you can get your car through it without any major breakdowns or problems. If you think ahead and stay prepared, you can save yourself a lot of trouble and a lot of money.

Need to make sure your car is ready for the current extreme heat and brutal summer months ahead? No matter the make or model, you can contact Beckley Imports today to schedule an appointment online, give us a call at 515-243-8185, or visit us downtown at 901 8th Street!