5 Tips For Buying a Used Car for Your Graduate

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buying a used car, pre-purchase inspectionBuying a used car is an excellent way to save money on a newer set of wheels, especially for a college student or a recent graduate staring down student loans. Vehicles depreciate in value faster than just about any other major purchase, so buying used can really slash the price. But buying used brings about a different set of risks. Is the seller being truthful about the car’s history? Will the engine fail as soon as you drive away? How can you be sure you’re buying a reliable vehicle for your son or daughter? If you are thinking of buying a used car for your new high school or college graduate, bring it to Beckley Automotive first for a Pre-Purchase Inspection. You can also save yourself some time and hassle by knowing what to look for in a used vehicle.

Here are 5 tips to keep in mind when buying a used car:

  1. Get the CarFax

    You’ve seen the commercials. A CarFax report is one of the most helpful documents you’ll obtain regarding a vehicle. The report details every kind of service performed over the life of the car. Whether it has been in an accident, had a new engine put in or the previous owner just put on new shocks, it is all listed here. Request a CarFax report whenever buying used.

  2. Beware of Leaking Fluids

    Any kind of leaking fluid is a sign to stay away. Naturally it’s not going to leak sitting in a lot or garage. Take the vehicle for a test drive, then let it idol for 30 seconds or a minute. From there get out, look under the vehicle and pop the hood. If you see any leaking you need to pass. A pre-purchase inspection can also identify possible leaks.

  3. Bring Your Kelley Blue Book

    Look up the vehicle on Kelley Blue Book. Make sure you have the exact trim model and mileage and any extra, third party features noted. Kelley Blue Book will then detail if the price is fair or not.

  4. Check the Windshield

    This is easy to miss, but look over the windshield carefully. It’s easy to miss little nicks and scratches when looking at everything else on the vehicle. However, even a small nick can end up costing you hundreds in glass repair later down the line.

  5. Get a Pre-Purchase Inspection

    If you’re buying the vehicle from an independent seller this is a must. Even with the CarFax, a professional inspection gives you a complete overview of the vehicle. Our trained technicians will point out any potential and upcoming problems.

Shopping for a used vehicle can be daunting. You don’t want to waste time and money on a possible lemon when you need a reliable car to get your student to and from college safely. Take some of the stress out of the process by getting a pre-purchase inspection from the experts at Beckley Automotive.

Whether you’re buying a Landrover to handle the Des Moines winters or a slightly used BMW convertible for the Iowa summers, Beckley’s can service everything. Give us a call at 515-243-8185, stop by our shop at 901 8th Street in Downtown Des Moines, or set up an appointment ONLINE today!

Why Factory Scheduled Maintenance is Important

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factory scheduled maintenanceWhen you purchase a vehicle, it will include a list of recommended mile markers for factory scheduled maintenance. The exact schedule varies slightly based on the make and model, but typically it starts around the 25,000 mark and continues on every 10,000-15,000 miles. Looking at the extended list of factory scheduled maintenance, you may not think it’s all necessary. After all, why should a perfectly functioning vehicle need to go in for maintenance every 10,000 miles? While it may take time out of your day, it is extremely important to follow through with the recommended maintenance. Beckley Automotive is here to show you why.

Replace Damaged Components

The main components of your vehicle are designed to work for a very long time. You likely will not need work done on your transmission or engine every 10,000 miles. However, other parts, such as belts, break down. Replacing these components is quick and easy, yet it safeguards your vehicle from more expensive repairs. Failure to replace a belt at the suggested time may result in it breaking while you’re driving, which in turn can cause other areas of the vehicle to sustain damage.

Identify Larger Issues Ahead of Time

Transmissions do not just suddenly give out and engines do not die out of nowhere. There are always signs pointing to the potential failure of these major parts of your vehicle. During basic car maintenance such as an oil change or coolant flush you might not receive an in-depth inspection of the vehicle, which means these warning signs may be missed. With the complete inspection thanks to the recommended factory scheduled maintenance, problem areas can be identified earlier and corrected quickly. Catching a problem early may end up saving you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in repair fees. Being proactive with vehicle maintenance is far more beneficial than waiting for something to happen.

Beckley Automotive is fully certified to work on any make and model vehicle. It doesn’t matter if you drive a Ford F-150 or a Mercedes C class, our mechanics can perform the recommended maintenance without voiding the warranty. So skip out on the long lines common with going to the dealership and come see us at Beckley Automotive.

Whether you have a question regarding your vehicle, have hit the factory scheduled maintenance mile mark or you have another issue all together with your car, contact us today by calling 515-243-8185. Or you can schedule an appointment online HERE and select the time that works best for you.

Check For These Common Vehicle Electrical Problems

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vehicle electrical problemsVehicle electrical problems today are more and more common. As cars utilize new, innovative electronic systems on a daily basis, your car is more likely than ever before to run into an electrical issue. If you are running into problems with your vehicle’s electrical system, it’s important to take care of it sooner rather than later, as even a minor electric issue can turn into a much more serious situation quickly.

While some of these issues can prove rather intricate and extensive, there are some electrical problems you can look for yourself and possibly correct. Should your own vehicle electrical problems prove to be much more problematic, Beckley Auto is here to assist every step of the way.

Check The Fuses

Before any other troubleshooting, always check the fuses. Burned out and damaged fuses can cause cars to malfunction. If your radio goes out when you open the car door (while the vehicle is still running) it likely is a dead fuse. Consult your owner’s manual for the fuses associated with each system in the vehicle. Additionally, make sure the vehicle is turned off before checking the fuse.

Battery or Electrical System?

If the car doesn’t turn on at all it likely means the battery is dead. Having a battery tester on hand is always a good idea. This way you can determine if all you need is a charge. A great investment for your vehicle is a self-charge system. Such a device does not require another vehicle to jump. You simply charge the device every 30 days, then if your car battery dies you connect the one sided jumper cables and run your vehicle as you would a standard jump.

The Spark is Gone

Do you lose power as you switch gears? Does it feel like the gears aren’t engaging, lurching forward? Your internal combustion might not be, well, combusting. The culprit in this case is usually loose or old spark plugs and their cables. If you have the proper tools such as a ratchet, a torque wrench and a spark plug socket and gap gauge, changing your own spark plugs should take roughly an hour. But if you’ve never done it before or you aren’t certain spark plugs are the true problem, give Beckley Automotive a call.

At Beckley Auto, it doesn’t matter if you drive an older Saab or a new Land Rover, your vehicle electrical problems will be addressed quickly by our expert technicians.  Call Beckley Auto at 243-8185 or schedule an appointment online today.

Diesel Engine Maintenance 101

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diesel engine maintenance, performance diesel engineDiesel engines come with an assortment of benefits – and issues – you don’t see with a traditional unleaded engine. When properly taken care of, diesel engines often last far longer, and diesel engines can produce more power, which helps trucks tow more. Vehicles with diesel engines also experience a greater fuel economy, but don’t do well in colder climates. Diesel engine maintenance does differ from your standard engine. So whether you recently purchased a BMW diesel or own a Ram 2500 diesel, make sure to follow these standard diesel engine maintenance tips.

  1. Change the Air Filter
    You need to keep your engine free of debris in any vehicle, but diesel engines need a new air filter at least once a year. Your air filter is one of the easiest tasks you can perform on the vehicle yourself. Simply pop the hood, pull out the current air filter and pop in a new one. If you have a performance air filter that is reusable you may want some help. These can prove a bit tricky to secure back into place after cleaning.
  2. Change the Oil Regularly
    If you change your own oil make sure to stay on top of this. Because diesel fuel isn’t as refined as gasoline, the oil gets dirtier faster. Stay on top of regular oil changes (don’t let it linger) and make sure to change the oil filter at the same time (the filter should be designed for diesel engines).
  3. Bleed the Fuel System
    Diesel engines run hotter. When changing the oil some air will likely find its way into the engine. This can prove especially damaging if left inside the engine. In order to remove the air from the diesel engine you need to bleed the fuel system using the air bleed plug on your engine. If you change your own oil you should have no problem releasing this plug, allowing the air to push out, and then tightening it up. If you don’t change your own oil, make sure to verify the service station bleeds the system.

No matter what make or model vehicle you own, if a diesel engine powers it, you need to practice proper diesel engine maintenance. Beyond what you can do on your own, make sure to bring your vehicle into Beckley Auto. With technicians trained and certified to work on diesel engines, all of your maintenance and larger repairs can be done here.

Whether you have a question about available services or you are ready to schedule an appointment, contact Beckley Auto and rest assured that you are receiving the best diesel engine maintenance service in Des Moines!

Car Battery Troubleshooting Tips

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car battery troubleshooting

Car battery problems can range from extremely simple to head-scratching confusing. In fact, some engine problems have nothing to do with the battery at all, but with the alternator or another part of the vehicle all together. No matter what make or model car you currently drive, it’s important to understand basic universal car battery troubleshooting.

Warning Signs You Need to Replace Your Battery Soon

It’s always better to fix an issue before it turns into a problem such as getting stranded with a dead battery. Thankfully, a dying battery typically puts out a host of different signs. How do you know it’s your battery? First, if you notice it takes your car a few revs before kicking to life, it is a clear sign you need a new battery. If you notice leaking from around the battery, see it is swelling or has a low power level when testing, these are all signs to replace your battery. At the very least, have your battery performance tested every three years which tends to be the typical life of a car battery.

Following are some car battery troubleshooting clues that may not be the battery at all:
  • Nothing Happens When You Turn the Key
    If you turn the key in the ignition and nothing happens at all, it means the battery is dead. If there are no lights, signs of the radio, buzzes or anything else, the vehicle is not receiving any power. Charge the battery if you can and bring it into Beckley Auto. Our experienced technicians will be able to tell if it’s the battery, the electrical system, or another component causing the problem.
  • Car Can’t Turn Over
    If you have some power – like dim and fading lights or a clicking noise – but the engine just doesn’t catch when turning the key, it probably isn’t a battery problem at all. Car batteries aren’t meant to provide long-term power. The alternator’s job is to keep replenishing the juice to the battery while the car is running. If you can jumpstart the car but it dies again shortly after removing the cables, a faulty alternator is most likely the culprit.
  • Car Battery Smells BAD
    If your vehicle smells like rotten eggs, it means the battery is leaking. Using an alkaline like baking soda, carefully clean off the battery engine and see if this does the trick. If it continues to leak, it is time to replace the battery.

Car battery troubleshooting is pretty simple, no matter what make and model. If you suspect you have a bad battery, schedule an appointment online HERE or call our service department at 515.243.8185 today. Our experienced and trained technicians will get your vehicle running as good as new!

Watch for These Signs of Heating System Issues

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heating system, beckley autoLiving in Iowa, you know the importance of having a vehicle with heat. Navigating the streets through fall, winter and spring without a heated vehicle is not only uncomfortable but potentially dangerous. This is why you need to stay on top of your car’s heating system. If you notice any of the following heating system issues make sure to bring it into Beckley Auto and get it taken care of right away.

  • Low Coolant Level

    Sufficient coolant is essential during Iowa winter months. Antifreeze serves several purposes such as protecting against corrosion and scale build-up as well as keeping water from freezing in winter and boiling in summer. You can check your own antifreeze level when the engine is cool and has been sitting overnight. If you end up adding coolant, check levels at least once a week to ensure there isn’t a leak somewhere.

  • Damaged Thermostat

    A damaged thermostat can lead to serious engine problems. This is a small, inexpensive part, yet it helps control the flow of coolant into the engine in order to keep it at an optimal running temperature. If your coolant level is fine yet your vehicle is cold, that could indicate a damaged thermostat.

  • Plugged Heater Core

    Over time, the vehicle’s heater core can collect debris. This will block the flow of coolant. When the heater core is plugged the only option you have is to replace it. Ideally, when replacing the heater core it is a good idea to flush the coolant system as well. This will push out any debris, bleed out any air pockets and help restore your vehicle’s ability to heat the interior of the cabin.

  • Heater Control Valve Gone Bad

    Most heater control valves use a vacuum system. If this system is damaged or remains on constantly it will prevent coolant from circulating through the heater core.

  • Electrical Issues

    From a blown motor to damaged wiring, an electrical system malfunction is another potential culprit behind your lack of heat.

You need a strong heating system to make it through the crazy Iowa weather from October through April. It is always a good idea to test out the heater before winter is in full force. This way, you have time to correct the problem before having proper heat is of the utmost importance.

Whether for your heating system or another issue, bring your BMW, Jaguar or any make to Beckley Auto. Our expert mechanics will have your vehicle working correctly in no time! Feel free to contact our service department at 515-243-8185 or schedule maintenance today.

Check These Signs Your Car is Out of Alignment

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out of alignment, wheel alignment serviceWhat you do in your vehicle, how you drive it and how you take care of it all plays a role in the long term performance of the car, truck or SUV. Proper tune ups and maintenance can correct slight issues every vehicle experiences. One such issue you’ll run into eventually includes an alignment. A car alignment doesn’t start off as a major problem. You may just notice a slight difference in how it handles. However, if not corrected early on, it can develop additional problems, costing you more money in repair services. That is why Beckley Auto wants you to know how to tell when your car is out of alignment.

Vehicle Pulling

Have you noticed your vehicle is pulling in one direction or the other? It likely means your vehicle is out of alignment. While this might mean you need to rotate your tires, you realistically should not have a substantial pull to one side because of tires. Not sure if your vehicle is pulling to one side? Look at how your steering wheel is positioned when driving straight. Is it tilted either to the right or left? If so, your may be out of alignment. Also, if you let go of the wheel, does it drift in a particular direction? Again, it probably means you need a car alignment service.

Tires are Not Wearing Evenly

On average, you turn your vehicle to the right slightly more than to the left. This is one reason to rotate your tires in order to ensure even wear. However, if one side of your vehicle is wearing significantly faster than the other side, it means more weight is being diverted to that side of the vehicle. Correcting the alignment will make your vehicle safer and extend tire life.

Squealing Tires

When you turn do you hear the tires squeal? You’re most likely not a speed demon, street racing in your gorgeous European import vehicle. If the tires squeal when performing a natural, standard turn that isn’t under duress, you may need an alignment.

From routine maintenance to larger repair needs, Beckley Auto is here for you and your vehicle. It doesn’t matter if you drive a Mercedes or a Buick, a Porsche or Mini Cooper, our repair technicians have the necessary knowledge and experience to service your vehicle.

If you believe your vehicle is out of alignment, needs an oil change or any kind of work done on your vehicle, schedule your appointment online today! In no time, your vehicle will respond just as it did when you first drove it off the lot.

Paintless Dent Removal Can Right These Wrongs

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paintless dent removalThere is nothing worse than walking up to your car and seeing a brand new ding in the bumper or quarter panel. It stands out like a sore thumb – even if other people can’t see it, YOU know it’s there! If you recently suffered a dent or are tired of looking at that rough patch in the middle of a smooth surface, Beckley’s is able to meet all of your paintless dent removal needs. While it may be too late to prevent the dents and dings already on your auto body, here are the most common ways that dent got there in the first place.

Free-Range Shopping Carts

Sadly, if people paid more attention to their surroundings, most dents could be avoided. When someone allows their shopping cart to roll into a parked car or they leave their cart in the middle of the parking lot, these dents caused by another person’s carelessness are more than annoying. While a shopping cart dent is usually minor, it’s still frustrating to walk back to after completing a shopping trip. When you can, it’s a good rule of thumb – and great karma – to corral those wayward carts when you see them roaming free.

Door Dings

Similar to the shopping cart problem, the second leading culprit behind vehicle dents stems from other car doors. Whether from overzealous children or adults just not paying attention, these dents can prove far more damaging than a shopping cart due to the increased level of force behind an opening door. Outside of not driving to a parking lot, this is a culprit you can’t completely avoid. While you can’t control how other people park, you can do your part by trying not to crowd either side of your own spot.

On Your Own

Not all dents come from other people. Sometimes backing up into a sign, nudging the curb or bumping something else happens. With so many distractions available in our cars these days, it can be easy to underestimate distances. As long as you stay aware of your surroundings you should be able to avoid most of dent-causing situations.

Mother Nature

Hail and sleet can cause all sorts of damage and sometimes there’s no way of avoiding it. High winds blow around trash cans or rain gutters that can land on your hood and leave their mark. These minor dents don’t always require insurance filing, but you sure don’t want to have to look at them every day.

No matter the make, model or value of your vehicle, a dent often detracts from its overall appearance. While a dent typically has no impact on how your vehicle runs, it’s most likely all you see whenever you approach your car. If you are ready to correct the dents and restore the pristine beauty of your vehicle, our Des Moines paintless dent removal experts are here to service you.

When you trust Beckley’s with your paintless dent removal needs, we can right these wrongs and return your prized vehicle to its original, showroom appearance. Schedule your appointment online HERE or call 515.243.8185 today!

Warning Signs of Failing Brakes

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failing brakes, brake maintenance, brake pads, new brakesKeeping you safe while out on the road is job number one at Beckley Auto. One of your first lines of defense is the vehicle’s brakes. Over time, the brakes will wear down, extending the time it takes for you to come to a complete stop. This happens gradually so it can be hard to notice. While quality brake pads can last you tens of thousands of miles, it’s important to know the warning signs of failing brakes. If you experience any of the following warning signs, bring your vehicle in for an inspection. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

  1. Brake Pads Are Looking Thin

    From time to time, check out how your brakes look. Since cars don’t use hubcaps any more, it’s easy to see the brake pad by peeking through the spokes of the wheel. You want to keep at least a quarter inch pad. If the pad is slightly under this, you should start planning for new brakes. If there is next to nothing, make your appointment as soon as possible. Failure to do so can put you in danger and potentially cause damage to the vehicle.

  2. Your Car is Trying to Tell You Something

    It’s nice to enjoy music while driving or take part in the local talk show host’s banter. However, from time to time turn the radio off and listen to your vehicle. You can learn a lot about the vehicle by paying attention the sounds it makes. many brake pads have a noise-making sensor embedded in them to alert the driver to worn pads. If your vehicle squeaks when braking, either this sensor is exposed or there could be metal grinding on metal. This points toward failing brakes and is a potentially dangerous condition.

  3. Need More Room to Break

    Your vehicle is exceptionally responsive when brakes are new, but as your brakes wear down, you’ll need more stopping time and distance. If you notice reduced responsiveness, it could mean your brakes are thin and about gone or you could have a brake fluid leak. Both need correcting.

These warning signs hold true for any make or model of vehicle. So whether you drive a Ram 1500 or an Acura XRS, if you notice any of these warning signs it is important to bring in your vehicle. Our expert technicians will inspect your brakes and tell you honestly what can wait and what needs immediate attention.

At Beckley Auto we can handle any of your brake needs. Whether you need car brakes or are just approaching your routine mileage inspection, book an appointment online HERE to have your vehicle serviced, or call 515.243-8185. We’ll keep you safe while you’re out on the road.

Beckley’s Offers the Best Authorized BMW Service

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authorized bmw serviceBeckley Automotive has had a stellar run providing the best care for BMW vehicles for over thirty years. This unique working relationship has given us a distinct insight into the inner workings of BMW engines that few companies can boast of today. There isn’t a single problem or malfunction in your BMW that will be alien to us. Our team of dedicated and experienced experts will quickly identify and correct any problems, meaning you will be well on your way in no time. As authorized Bosch specialists, you can feel assured that our authorized BMW service is of the highest quality.

  • High-quality maintenance

    Being the best automotive service provider in Des Moines, Iowa, we pride ourselves in going out of our way to not only correct any faults in your vehicle but to also prevent them. Part of our authorized BMW service care package involves using advanced technology to communicate with your vehicle’s computers to determine how to make it perform even better. As authorized BMW service experts, we can service your vehicle without jeopardizing the validity of your warranty.

  • Why Beckley’s is the best choice for you

    What sets us apart from our competitors is our attention to detail and our determination to offer our clients the very best service and products. An example of this can be seen in the substandard oil changes many automotive companies offer to their clients. With only profits in mind, many shops will use the cheapest oil rather than making sure your car gets the oil recommended by the manufacturer to extend the life of your engine. At Beckley Automotive, your BMW will receive the undivided attention of a master technician who will use quality oils that are suited to your car. These are the perks that come with having an authorized BMW service provider within reach. There isn’t another place in the Waukee, Johnston, Ankeny or Clive areas where you can find this level of automotive care.

  • Our inspection services

    The weather in Des Moines can fluctuate tremendously at different times during the year. This can range from extreme cold to snow accumulation and on to occasional flooding. Given your car will often be subjected to such conditions, it is important that you schedule regular inspections. Since there are few authorized BMW service providers in the area with the expertise we have, coming to Beckley’s will be well worth your time. We will focus our attention on assessing the spark plugs, air filters, brake and transmission fluid, and coolant. While checking all these components at the same time might seem unnecessary, it can save you plenty of hassle in the future.

  • Updating your computer software

    The software found in BMW vehicles, as with all high-quality cars, performs a variety of important functions in the car. This might include simple tasks like operating the radio and climate control to more important tasks like engine performance and braking. Our authorized BMW service package also includes software updates to keep your auto performance as efficient and comfortable as possible. We also provide consultation on the best updates available to meet your specific needs.

Most BMW car owners who get their cars regularly serviced by an authorized BMW service provider like Beckley’s have been found to be happiest with their performance on the road. Now is the perfect time to schedule your appointment online HERE, visit our shop at 901 8th Street in Downtown Des Moines, or give our service center a call at 515-243-8185.