Automotive Innovations to Expect in the Near Future

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Innovations, Image Courtesy Acura

Image Courtesy Acura

The automotive world changes every year with new models, new technology, and new safety features to please the most dedicated car enthusiast. Innovations for luxury vehicle safety, military vehicles, high-performance hybrids, and “green” manufacturing topped the list for 2015, according to Popular Science Magazine. Here are some highlights of what’s new:

  • In May 2015, the first ever “supercar” was created using 3D-printed parts and cutting factory emissions by up to 90 percent. The Blade, a high-performance automobile that uses carbon-fiber shafts and 3D-printed joints for the chassis, weighs only 1,400 pounds and accelerates from 0-60 in only 2.5 seconds. Created by Divergent Microfactories as a sustainable manufacturing platform, this car is fast, strong and was assembled in around 30 minutes, greatly reducing resources used such as space, energy, materials and time.
  • Oshkosh Defence has created a light combat tactical all-terrain vehicle to withstand bomb blasts and to protect the soldiers inside. It uses similar ballistic protection to a light tank and is expected to replace the Humvee over the next few years with its off-road agility and bomb-resistant shaping.
  • Hybrids are gaining popularity for being eco-friendly, but haven’t taken over the industry due to lack of handling and responsiveness. The Acura NSX for 2017 may change that. While the price is still pretty astronomical, starting around $155,000, the NSX promises to be the first high-performance sports coupe hybrid. It combines an electric motor that offers zero-delay acceleration with a twin-turbo V-6 engine, a motor at each front wheel, and precision power through torque vectoring.
  • Volvo has long been thought of one of the safest cars on the road, and certainly raises the bar with the Volvo XC90. At a much-more affordable starting price of $43,950, the safety features developed for this vehicle may change auto technology for the future. The XC90 offers USB and auxiliary connectors, a built-in hotspot for constant connectivity, and Sensus navigation to get you to your destination with as few distractions as possible. But the safety features are what really set the XC90 apart; using cameras, radar and body sensors, this car will alert a distracted driver to impending crashes or drifting off the road, will engage the brakes if you turn into the path of an oncoming car in an intersection, and crumples the seat frames downward and tightens seatbelts if your car does leave the road.

The future of the automobile industry is already here and could be taking over the roads of Des Moines in the next few years. You can trust Beckley’s expert technicians to stay in front of the technology and to always be ready to take care of your import or domestic vehicle care and repair needs.

Until one of the above beauties is actually in your garage, Beckley’s is ready to help you maintain your current vehicle, whether foreign or domestic, innovative or old school. Click here to schedule an appointment, call us at 515-243-8185, or stop by at 901-8th Street in Des Moines.

Roadside Assistance Plans Keep You on the Go

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roadside assistance plan

roadside assistance planDuring the spring and summer months when more people are traveling, there’s bound to be more breakdowns. And that’s especially true for people who want to see the sights off the beaten path. If your car hasn’t had the best service history or a regular tune-up, there’s a chance you might encounter an engine problem, electrical failure, broken water pump, or something else to hit a travel dead end. And there’s no doubt that locking your keys in the car, getting a flat tire, leaving your lights on and running down the battery, or experiencing a breakdown can spoil your day and your plans for some summer fun.

So if you’re in the middle of Des Moines or on some dusty road outside of town and you’re stuck, what do you do? If you’ve got some mechanical skills, you might be able make a minor repair and get back on the road. But even that might require a trip and back to a parts store. If you’re not packing any tools, or don’t have the mechanical skills, then what? It’s the kind of situation no one wants to find themselves in. And that’s why we encourage people to carry a basic roadside assistance plan.

You can get a roadside assistance plan through organizations like AAA, the National Motor Club, and AARP. And most insurance companies offer various roadside assistance plans as an option when you buy a car insurance policy. Most basic plans only cost about $50 a year, and it pays for itself the first time you use it. Roadside assistance plans can save you a lot of money and typically include services at no additional cost like:

  • Free towing up to 50 miles
  • Dead battery services
  • Tire change service
  • Lock-out assistance
  • Gasoline delivery

Some plans even include a reimbursement for food and lodging if you have a breakdown that interrupts your travel plans. And if you slide off into a ditch or down an embankment, some plans even cover the cost of extrication and winching. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen.

At Beckley Imports and Beckley Automotive, we’ve been taking care of cars for nearly 40 years. And you’d be amazed at the calls we field to send out a tow truck to get people out of trouble. Even if you only use your roadside assistance plan once every couple of years, it’s worth every penny. Just to call for a tow truck can cost $50 or more. And paying out of pocket for some of the other services typically covered by a roadside assistance plan can cost hundreds of dollars.

If you already have a roadside assistance plan, keep it. You never know when you might need it. And if you don’t, check out your options before you’re stranded and need roadside assistance.

Remember, Beckley’s can get your car ready for any trip. From tuneups and oil changes to complete engine repair, we’re here to help get you on the road. Click here to schedule an appointment, call us at 515-243-8185, or stop by at 901-8th Street in Des Moines.

Will Your Car’s A/C Keep You Cool When It’s Hot?

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How hot will it get? You might think it’s too early to worry about blazing hot days in Des Moines, but it’s not. In fact, back in 1980 when you could by a new Ford Mustang convertible for about $5,000 or ride in style in a new Cadillac El-Dorado for $18,000, something else happened that year. Des Moines hit a blistering 93 degrees in mid-April. That’s hot.

car air conditioner service des moines iowaAnd when it’s that hot, you don’t want to suffer the consequences of a poorly working air conditioner in your car. Sure, you could roll down the windows, douse yourself with water, or mist your face with a spray bottle. But who wants to do that when you should be able to reach over, turn on the A/C, and feel a breeze of cool air blowing through the cabin of your car?

It’s not that hot…yet. If you want to stay cool when the temperatures start heating up, now is a good time to make sure your air conditioning system is working properly. Here’s what you can do:

Get an Inspection

Start by getting an inspection. A trained mechanic can identify cracks, leaks, and other potential problems that could cause you’re A/C system to fail or perform poorly on a hot day. You’ll want to do this before hot weather arrives, so you can be sure to enjoy driving in A/C-cooled comfort.

Replace worn or damaged parts

If an inspection does identify potential problems, get them taken care of as soon as possible. A full A/C replacement could be costly, but in most cases minor repairs are all that’s needed and cost a lot less. Replacing belts and hoses are easy and affordable fixes, that can often improve A/C performance. Or your A/C unit may need a new motor or a fix as simple as replacing a blown fuse. Replacing worn or damaged parts can usually save you time and money.

Recharge A/C system

Even if all the working parts of you’re A/C unit are in good condition, it’s a good idea to recharge the A/C system every season. It’s a process used to remove the old A/C coolant, and replace it with new refrigerant. You’re A/C system needs good refrigerant to blow cold air through your car.

Wondering if you’re A/C system is ready to keep you cool on a hot day? Don’t wait to find out. Bring your car in for an inspection, or schedule an A/C recharge. Click here to schedule an appointment, call us at 515-243-8185, or stop by at 901-8th Street in Des Moines.

How Much Does a Tesla Really Cost?

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Earlier this week an estimated 300,000 people forked over a $1,000 deposit to reserve a Tesla Model 3 electric car designed by entrepreneur Elon Musk. The car hasn’t even gone into production yet, and won’t be available for a couple years. When the Model 3 does begin rolling off the production line, buyers will pay an estimated $35,000 for this vehicle.

Some industry analysts said the recent Tesla launch created the kind of buzz similar to Apple releasing its latest iPhone. So what’s so great about this car?

tesla repair bills, electric car repairsThe driving force behind the popularity of Tesla’s latest announcement to create an electric car far below the $70,000-plus price tag of earlier models is its price point. But take closer look, and there’s more than one reason for its mass appeal. It can travel about 300 miles on a single charge. Step on the accelerator (not the gas pedal), and you can go from 0 to 60 mph in less than six seconds. And it’s got a 15-inch laptop or tablet-style display that gives you all the information you need while driving.

Pretty enticing if you’re in the market for an electric car, and have the cash or financing to pay for it, right? We hope to see Tesla make the Model 3 a success. But Tesla owners could be in for a surprise when their car needs to be repaired. Industry research on current Tesla models shows that repairing a minor scratch or dent can cost an estimated $7,000. Some repair costs to its aluminum body for bigger dents or damage can range from $11,000 to $30,000. And mechanical repairs are just as expensive.

In other words, minor repair work to a Tesla could cost as much as a used car. And major repairs could be as much as the price tag for a new gas-powered car. That’s certainly something to think about before dropping $1,000 to reserve a Model 3, and fork over the balance when the car comes off the production line.

Owning a Tesla or other electric car can likely save you money in the long run, and have less of an impact on the environment. But if you’re not in the market for one, or can’t afford one, keeping your gas-powered car well-maintained can still save you money. Simple repairs and regular maintenance can have a big impact on fuel economy, performance and longevity.

Until the Tesla Model 3 electric car comes out, keep your gas-powered car running smoothly with regular oil changes, maintenance, and any necessary repairs by coming in to see us. Click here to schedule an appointment, call us at 515-243-8185, or stop by at 901-8th Street in Des Moines.

Poor Wheel Alignment Can Displace Your Bottom Line

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Iowa winters can be pretty harsh. But the salt, sand, ice and melting snow can be even worse on the roads. In Des Moines, the roads this year are showing exceptional wear and tear with ruts and potholes big enough to swallow your Land Rover! The crews are out fixing them, but for many of us, the damage has already been done to the wheel alignment on our vehicles.

wheel alignment, winter drivingThe wheel alignment of your car may be compromised from driving on rough roads, hitting a curb or two, or getting into a minor finder bender. It may not seem like a big deal, but it is. Misalignment can cause some troublesome and expensive issues:

  • Less than ideal handling
  • Vibrating steering wheel
  • Lower fuel efficiency
  • Excess or uneven wear on tires
  • Possible damage to your suspension and other components

It used to be that mechanics took a best-guess approach to fine-tuning the wheel alignment of a car. But even a few millimeters can make a difference in steering performance and tire longevity. At Beckley Automotive Services, we stay up to date with the latest alignment equipment and software to ensure perfect results for each and every car we service. We use a computerized wheel alignment machine that produces precise measurements for the camber, toe and caster. Our experienced specialists are trained on specific makes of cars, foreign and domestic, so you know you’ll get the best service available for your vehicle.

Click here to schedule an appointment, call us at 515-243-8185, or stop by at 901- 8th Street in Des Moines.

Low on Oil? Aging Piston Rings May Be the Problem

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white exhaust smoke, aging piston rings, beckley automotive, beckley importsMost car manufacturers recommend changing the oil in your car every 3,000 miles. It’s a good practice to maintain your engine and keep clean oil running through all its moving parts.

But if you’re ultra-busy, changing the oil on your own or taking your car to a shop for an oil change doesn’t always happen. Sound familiar? We’ve seen cars that haven’t had an oil change in 5,000 and even 10,000 miles.

Check the Oil

You might be able to make it that long without an oil change, but it can have disastrous and expensive consequences. A simple solution: check your oil periodically. To get the most accurate reading, wait until your engine is cooled, like in the morning before you start the car. Pop open the hood, find the dipstick and pull it out. Using a paper towel, wipe the dipstick clean and then push it all the way back in. No when you pull it back out, you can get a true view of your oil level. If the dipstick has semi-clear oil up to the “full” mark, you’re in good shape.

Too Low, Too Often?

What if it’s low? For a short-term solution, add a quart of oil recommended for your car’s engine and check the level on the dip stick again. That’s better than driving around with a low oil level. However, if your car seems to be burning a lot of oil, faulty piston rings may be to blame. Other telltale signs of faulty piston rings include:

  • White or gray smoke coming from the exhaust
  • Slow response time for accelerating when you press the gas pedal
  • Noticeable decrease in power and overall performance

Compression Test Best Way to Check Piston Rings for Oil Leak

If your car seems to be perpetually low on oil, the pistons may be leaking oil. It happens, especially as you rack up the miles on your car. Moveable parts just don’t last forever. If your car exhibits any of the signs above, a compression test is the standard used to check for piston ring leaks. If the test reveals low pressure levels in the engine, aging piston rings are likely the cause.

Need an oil change for your car? Wondering if your car is burning an excessive amount of oil? We can help. Click here to schedule an appointment, call us at 515-243-8185, or stop by at 901- 8th Street in Des Moines.

Delaying Auto Repairs Can Cost You Big

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When your car stops running it’s easy to know that something major is wrong and you have no choice but to head to your mechanic immediately.

don't delay auto repairs, beckley automotive beckley importsBut what happens when there’s a minor noise, a slight firing delay, an occasional stutter? You can still drive the car so it must not be catastrophic, right? The demands of real life – work, family, friends, fun – certainly enable us to put off that visit to the auto shop as long as the car still gets us from point A to point B every day. Plus, who wants to spend the money if they don’t absolutely have to?

Putting off auto repairs is never a good idea. Let us explain:

  1. Your antifreeze is leaking, but it’s only a little bit. You can just add more every week, right? Unfortunately, that can only exacerbate the problem and you will still probably overheat your engine, causing a chain reaction to the tune of thousands of dollars. Ignoring a “little” problem can spread like a virus throughout your engine. Each system is connected to and relies on another, so if one isn’t working properly, it can cause the next system to fail, as well. Then you’re staring down the barrel of a multi-problem fix instead of just the original “little” one.
  2. That knocking in your engine has been there off and on for a couple weeks without any issues, so you’re cruising down the interstate on your way to the tournament or a hot date. Suddenly, the knock becomes more insistent, louder, the wheel begins to shake, smoke pours out from under the hood and with a last sputtering gasp, the engine quits completely while you limp to the side of the road. Now what? You’re late to your appointment plus you’re out the cost of a tow truck and a taxi (or a favor to a friend) as well as the parts and repairs. You have to sit on the side of the road alone, or with your family stuck in a dead car with nothing to keep them entertained, while other cars and semis zoom past at terrifying speeds within inches of you and what you hold most dear.
  3. A regularly scheduled oil change and routine inspection may feel inconvenient and, for many, falls under the category of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” But those inspections are imperative to keeping your car running and keeping you and your family safe. It’s more than just an oil change and a cursory glance under the hood. Routine inspections are where minor leaks, dirty filters, frayed wires and loose screws are found. If these things are skipped you are looking at the possibility of whole lot more than just inconvenience!

Are you sure you want to gamble with the life of your car’s engine and the safety and peace of mind of your family and passengers? No one wants to be stranded on the side of the road in the middle of the night, or worse, during rush hour!

Don’t wait until your engine figuratively – or literally! – falls out, dead, in the middle of the road. Bring your foreign or domestic auto into Beckley’s for minor repairs, a check-up and oil change! Click here to schedule an appointment, call us at 515-243-8185, or stop by at 901-8th Street in Des Moines.

 

Reboot: Quick Tip for Fixing Electrical Problems

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It wasn’t that long ago that cars were designed with a basic electrical system. Wiring, fuses, and relays helped power basic things light lights, dashboard messages, and the radio. And there are still a lot of older cars on the road that don’t have any more bells and whistles than this.

car electrical systems, auto electrical problemsBut the vast majority of cars on the road today have a much more complex electrical system to power things like DVD players, automatic controls for doors and windows, navigation systems, mobile devices, and satellite radio.

And dashboard messaging is no longer limited to letting you know the emergency brake is on or flashing you with the dreaded “Check Engine” light. Now many cars are designed to monitor tire pressure in all four tires, let you know if a door is open, track the temperature inside and out, and much more.

With a greater demand for features powered by electricity in your car, there’s a greater chance for something to go wrong. And it does from time to time. Ever get a dashboard message you don’t recognize, and have to break out the owner’s manual or look it up online? It happens.

Diagnostic Tools Can Help Identify Electrical Problems

Then what? When we service cars with electrical problems, one of the first things we do is connect the car’s computer to our diagnostic tools. In a few minutes, our tools can gather a lot of information about your car and help identify potential problems, both electrical and mechanical.

Sometimes the solution to an electrical problem is pretty straightforward. Replace a fuse or sensor. Change out a relay. Replace wiring damaged by corrosion or worn out over time.

How to Reboot Your Car’s Electrical System

But is it always that way? No. In fact, we sometimes resort to using a technique that’s a lot like hitting Ctrl+alt+delete when your computer starts acting up. Giving your car a reboot can sometimes correct electrical problems. And it’s easy. Disconnect the battery from both terminals, touch them together, wait five minutes, and then reconnect.

In many cases it helps get that electrical problem unstuck, a lot like rebooting your computer or resetting a wireless router to get your Internet signal working again.

Have an electrical problem that you don’t know how to fix? Try giving your car a reboot. Or bring your car in and we’ll take a look. Click here to schedule an appointment, call us at 515-243-8185, or stop by at 901-8th Street in Des Moines.

Spring Break Road Trip? Give Your Car a Check-Up Before You Go

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spring break, road trip, car inspection, beckley automotive, beckley importsWhat are your plans for spring break?

It’s that time of year when a lot of people take a road trip. Some will catch a plane and head to super-sunny places like Hawaii, Cancun, or the Bahamas. But for a lot of people with kids home from school, a week off work, or a spring-fever feeling for some much needed R&R, getting behind the wheel and driving to a spring break destination is the way to go.

Preventing Car Trouble Can Save Your Vacation

Sounds simple enough, right? Pick your destination. Pack up the car. And hit the road. But what happens when you’re in the middle of nowhere and your car has a problem. You can’t anticipate every car problem you might experience on a road trip. But you can take steps to prevent car trouble from spoiling your spring break.

Inspection Time – Before You Go…

Take a few minutes to inspect your car before you go. Check the following:

  • Tires – Check the tire pressure. Make sure it’s inflated to the manufacturer’s recommended PSI. Low tire pressure can reduce gas mileage and cause the tires to wear faster. Inspect the tread, too. Bald spots or bulges raise your risk for a flat or a blowout. And if you don’t have a decent amount of tread left, traction, regardless of the weather, will be compromised.
  • Belts and Hoses – Pop the hood and inspect the belts and hoses like the ones attached to the engine and radiator. These are usually made of rubber and can become loose or cracked over time. Taking care of any aging belts or hoses before your trip can save you a lot of headaches down the road.
  • Fluids and Filters – It’s also a good idea to check fluid levels for key operating systems (i.e. oil, brake fluid, power steering fluid, windshield wiper fluid, and antifreeze). A clean air filter will also help improve gas mileage for your road trip.
  • Lights and Wipers – Have someone step on the brakes, turn on the lights, and use the turn signals, while you walk around the car. It only takes a few minutes, but can alert you to any lights that need to be replaced before your road trip. Check the lights inside your car, too. And if it’s been a while since you replaced your wiper blades, before your trip would be a good time to replace them, especially if you know you’ll be traveling in rainy or snowing conditions.
  • Battery and Brakes – To give your battery a basic inspection, make sure it’s got a good connection, and the battery terminals are free of acid or corrosion. And if your brakes are squeaking or you feel a lot of vibrations when you slow down, it may be time for new pads and/or rotors. Or bring your car in for a battery and brake inspection.

When you make plans to take a road trip for spring break, you want to enjoy the experience. Making sure your car gets you there and back without any problems will help, regardless of your destination.

Ready for a pre-road-trip inspection? Click here to schedule an appointment, call us at 515-243-8185, or stop by at 901-8th Street in Des Moines.

The Four-Step, Go-Green Guide for Car Owners

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go green, eco-friendly car, beckley automotive, beckley imports, environmentally friendly autosEver heard of Elon Musk? He’s one of the masterminds behind a series of high-tech companies like SpaceX, SolarCity, and PayPal. But he’s not just a savvy businessman and entrepreneur. He’s also an engineer, inventor, investor and founder of Tesla Motors.
If you ever thought about driving a hybrid vehicle or all-electric car to save on gas money, reduce emissions, and protect the environment, driving a Tesla should be on your list. But there’s just one problem with this for most people. The typical price tag for a Tesla starts around $70,000 with luxury models priced at over $100,000.

Pretty expensive. Of course there are more affordable electric and hybrid cars to choose from, too. But what if you’re not in the market to buy a new car or don’t have the cash to drive a Tesla? Is there anything you can do to make your gas-powered vehicle more environmentally-friendly?

Yes! Follow these four steps to go green, save money, and keep your car running efficiently.

  1. Get regular maintenance. Ignoring the little things like regular oil changes, replacing the air filter, changing brake pads, and neglecting to flush the radiator can take a toll on vehicle performance. Taking care of your car can help reduce exhaust emissions, help you get better gas mileage, and save you money in the long run.
  2. Stick with your old car longer. A lot of factors go into buying a new car like a more luxurious interior, electronic upgrades, additional seating, or more storage capacity. But take a closer look at what you’re driving and you might find that your current car is running just fine. Take good care of it, and you’ll be able to drive it longer, save on car payments and insurance, and avoid adding another vehicle to the junkyard.
  3. Recycle car waste. There’s a right way and a wrong way to dispose of car waste. The wrong way: illegally dumping a pile of old tires in the woods, or pouring chemicals down the drain. But it happens, a lot more than you might think. If you want to go green, do your part to make sure car waste like old tires, oil, batteries, and other fluids are recycled or disposed of properly. If you’re not sure how, call us or check with Metro Waste Authority.
  4. Consider an engine replacement. Here’s another way you can go green and cut down on waste when it comes to cars. Instead of buying a new car when your current vehicle needs major engine work, consider getting a rebuilt engine. It will save you a lot of money, improve engine performance, fuel economy, and emissions output.

If you’re not in the market for an electric or hybrid car, or can’t afford one, that doesn’t mean you can’t do your part to help the environment. Smart car care, regular maintenance, and other environmentally-friendly practices can make a difference.

Click here to schedule an appointment, call us at 515-243-8185, or stop by at 901-8th Street in Des Moines.