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!

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!

How to Know if Your Car Needs an Oil Change

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no care is "maintenance free", needs an oil change

no care is "maintenance free", needs an oil changeOil is your engine’s life blood. Without clean oil flowing through the engine it may overheat, which can lead to all sorts of problems ranging from blown gaskets to the vehicle simply running rough. But how can you tell if your car needs an oil change? After all, you don’t want to spring for an oil change when it isn’t necessary. Here are a few signs your car, regardless of make or model, can tell you it needs an oil change.

  • Change Oil Light

    Alright, this one is a bit of a no brainer. If the “check oil” or “change oil” light comes on, it’s time to change your oil. However, this isn’t always the case. Perhaps you just had your oil changed a bit ago and the change oil light comes on. What does that mean? It may just mean the mechanic did not reset the change oil light during the last change, which can throw off the timer on some newer vehicles.

  • Oil Level and Color

    At Beckley Auto, we highly recommend checking your oil from time to time. It is easy to do and it can help avoid potential problems later on down the line. If you’ve never checked your oil before park your vehicle and kill the engine. Now, pull the dipstick out and wipe it off on a paper towel (a shop paper towel is great for this). Once clean, slide it back down all the way and pull it back out. If the oil level is near or under the minimum line it is time to get an oil change. Make sure to take notice of the oil color as well. The oil should have a golden brown tone to it. If the oil is dark black and gritty than it means it is dirty and needs an oil change.

  • Car is Louder Than Normal

    When driving, does your engine sound louder than normal? Of so, there are a few potential issues. First, if you have a special cold air intake filter, it may have slipped off. If you don’t have such a filter, it more than likely means you don’t have enough oil or it’s running hot. Time to change the oil.

At Beckley Auto, we can service both your domestic and import vehicles. From a routine oil change to transmission issues and everything in between, we’re your one -top shop for all things automotive. Schedule your appointment ONLINE or give us a call at 515.243.8185 today!

Vacuum Pump Oil Changes: Tips for Self Service

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vacuum pump oil changes at homeChanging your vehicle’s oil regularly is essential. It keeps your engine running smoothly – as the oil becomes dirty or runs low, your engine may begin to experience performance problems. Changing your own oil is a rite of passage. Many vehicle owners prefer to do this on their own as it is a great way to save money while feeling handy at the same time. However, unless you own a pickup or a large SUV, chances are you can’t slide under the vehicle without some sort of lift, and investing in proper lifts eliminates any monetary return. Instead, you may want to consider a vacuum pump oil change. This extracts oil from the top of the engine block instead of underneath. While not the conventional way to change oil, we at Beckley Auto have a few tips whenever using this kind of equipment.

  1. Check Your Dipstick Before Investing in a Vacuum Pump Oil Change Kit
    Before buying anything, check your oil’s dipstick. Does it have any circuitous elements to it? Does it twist a bit in parts around the oil line? If so, a vacuum pump generally will not work at all, so bypass this purchase as it won’t work.
  2. Don’t Use For Every Oil Change
    The vacuum pump oil change is fine to use on occasion, but not always. Why? Because while you’re changing the oil, you’re not changing the oil filter. You still need to be under the vehicle to remove the oil filter, which keeps the oil clean. In a pinch, a vacuum pump works, but it is always recommended to have the oil filter changed – or at least checked – at the same time as the oil.
  3. Check Capacity
    Before removing the oil, check how much oil your vehicle holds. The last thing you want is to begin the process, only to discover the vacuum oil tank does not have enough storage space. You can check how much oil your vehicle holds at maximum inside of the owner’s manual (this information is usually listed towards the rear of the book).

At Beckley Auto, we are here to ensure your vehicle is always properly taken care of. From oil changes to tire rotations, transmission work and exhaust problems, we are here for you.

If you are in need of any kind of automotive work, feel free to contact us by phone at 515.243.8185 or simply schedule your appointment online for your domestic or import vehicle.

New Year’s Resolutions to Keep Your Car in Top Shape

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new year's resolutions, new years resolutions, car care des moinesEvery January, Americans fall into the trap of setting – and setting aside – New Year’s Resolutions. How many barely used pairs of running shoes are taking up space in your closet? Could you open your own exercise facility with all the equipment gathering dust somewhere in your basement? We always start with the best of intentions and then old habits and real life get in the way and everything keeps rolling on the same as last year and the year before.

Resolutions You Can Keep: Maintain Your Car’s Top Fitness

Following are just a few things you can do to get your vehicle into its best shape since it rolled off the assembly line – and to keep it in fighting shape for years to come!

  1. Keep the interior clean: When many of us live in our cars, grabbing a quick bite to eat on the go between home and work, on the way to a meeting, between kids’ activities, it doesn’t take long to accumulate a bit of trash. Stop it before it gets out of control! At least quarterly, take your car somewhere that will clean out your interior for you. Vacuum the seats and floors, clean the inside of your windows and wipe down the dash. Then be strict with riders and yourself to grab any trash EVERY time you get out of the car. Your car will love you for it.
  2. Run through a car wash: Accumulated dirt and dust make your car look terrible, and the grime of winter roads treated with salt and sand can do a number on your finish. Don’t wait until someone scrawls “WASH ME” in the dirt on your auto; set a schedule to do a quick car wash drive-through at least every two weeks. Harsh winter weather in Iowa may dictate more frequent visits, but two weeks should be good on a regular basis. And don’t be stingy – splurge for the wax! It will make your finish look shiny and new as well as protect it from regular driving damage.
  3. Schedule quarterly checkups: A little maintenance can go a LONG way. Most vehicles need an oil change and a new filter every 3 months (more often if you’re particularly hard on your car). And just like staying hydrated might be a personal health resolution, these checkups are the perfect opportunity to have your car’s fluid levels topped off, too. If you are checking transmission, steering and brake fluids on a regular basis, a crack or leak is much easier to detect. Your service center can nip it in the bud well before it becomes a costly repair. And don’t forget to replace wiper blades and have your chassis lubrication looked at during every other service visit.
  4. Check tire pressure: Learn what your optimal tire pressure is for your vehicle and specific tires and then maintain it. Every driver should carry a tire gauge in their glove box and should check their tire pressure every other time they fill up the gas tank. Driving on properly inflated tires not only extends the life of the tires, but improves safety and gas mileage. There should be a sticker on the inside edge of your driver’s door that tells you what psi the tires on your car should be at for the best performance.

Keeping New Year’s Resolutions doesn’t have to be difficult. You are in your car nearly every day, so remembering to follow the above steps should be second nature in no time! When you take care of your car, it will give you years of life and a sense of reliability and security to make 2017 a great year on the road!

Let Beckley Automotive help keep your New Year’s Resolutions on track! Schedule an appointment online HERE, visit our convenient downtown Des Moines location at 901 8th Street, or call our outstanding service department at 515.243.8185.

Our 30-Point Oil Change Service is Far From Routine

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oil change service, beckley automotiveAn oil change service may seem like minor maintenance, but if the service isn’t up to par, you could be risking more serious engine issues down the road. You can get oil service pretty much anywhere – the chain repair shops, tire companies, car dealerships – but how do you know who you can really trust to do the best job?

When you bring your European or Domestic car to Beckley Automotive, you know the expert technicians are knowledgeable, trained and experienced. Through continuing education and certification from AAA, Bosch and ASE, our technicians are well-equipped to provide the best repair service as well as to advise you on the right oil to use for your particular car.

With the Beckley Oil Change Service, you won’t just get new oil in your car. Our 30-Point Inspection ensures that your minor routine maintenance will catch potential engine issues before they become larger problems. While inspecting seven different systems in your vehicle, each point gets a score on our report card, indicating whether the item in question is in good condition, could stand to be repaired or replaced, or needs attention immediately.

Some of the items covered in our 30-Point Inspection include:

  • Road Test: to gauge engine and transmission performance, braking and steering condition, and ride quality
  • Under Hood: checking belts, hoses, filters and fluid levels
  • Under Car: to look at exhaust system, shocks and struts, suspension and to look for any leaks
  • Tires & Wheels: adjust to proper air pressure and thoroughly examine tread
  • Chassis: examine windshield wipers and blades, headlights and exterior lights
  • Routine Service Needs: advise on any other routine maintenance recommended by the manufacturer

If you still aren’t convinced that Beckley Automotive is the best shop for all your oil change and maintenance needs, let us sweeten the deal a little farther:

Never been to Beckley Automotive? Mention this web offer and get $25 off your first visit! Or, if you’re already a regular Beckley customer, bring in a vehicle we haven’t seen before and you can also get $25 off your purchase!

Now is a great time to schedule your Beckley’s oil change appointment 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!