Car Manufacturers Score with Super Bowl Commercials

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Even if you’re not in the market for a new car, you can’t escape the efforts of car manufacturers to peak your interest. After all, more than 100 million people watched Super Bowl XLIX to see the New England Patriots take the lead from the Seattle Seahawks in the last few minutes of the game to win the championship.

Car Commercials for the Super BowlBut that’s not the only thing that captivated Super Bowl fans on Sunday. The highly-anticipated Super Bowl commercials included 11 spots for cars by Nissan, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Kia, Toyota, Lexus, Jeep, Fiat Chrysler, Dodge, and Chevrolet.

It’s a mix of nostalgic, funny, serious, and adventurous commercials designed to strike a chord with a wide range of drivers like young families with kids, off-road adventure seekers, the fuel-efficient and environmentally-friendly crowd, tech-equipped car aficionados, and those in the market for a luxury driving experience.

Buy New or Used? – That is the Question

If you are in the market for a new car, manufacturers look for every opportunity to entice you by rolling out the red carpet with things like special interest rates, leasing options, cash-back incentives, and extended warranties.

But buying new isn’t for everyone. You can often save a lot of money and still enjoy a nice ride if you opt for buying a late model car and keep up on maintenance. At Beckley Imports, we service import and domestic vehicles from manufacturers featured in the Super Bowl and many others.

Inspection Services for Used Cars

If you’re thinking of buying used, we can even give the car a full inspection before you sign on the dotted line to let you know how the car has held up against the usual wear and tear on brakes, belts, tires, and other wearable parts.

Using state-of-the-art diagnostic tools, we’ll also inspect the engine, transmission, and other systems that can be a lot more expensive to repair. Armed with this kind of information, can help you make an informed decision when you buy used, or decide to avoid any headaches left behind by the previous owners and buy new.

For more information, contact us at 515-243-8185, send us an email at service@beckleyimports.com, or stop by at 901-8th Street in Downtown Des Moines.

Car Care Tips to Make Life a Little Easier

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Car care isn’t always about oil changes and performance. That just seems to be what we like to talk about most. Sometimes the rewards of car ownership are about simple car care tips for the ease of ownership. With the number of years we’ve been handling car maintenance and services for European cars like BMWs, Mercedes, Volvos and domestics like Chevy, Fords, and Buicks, we’ve picked up a couple handy tricks along the way.

iParkedHere app - easy car ownership tips

The iParkedHere app will help you find your car in the craziest of parking lots!

Add these three simple car care tips to your “did-you-know” list and it will make ownership of that Honda or even that special summer Mazda all the more fun:

1. Clear faded headlights with toothpaste
If your headlights appear faded or don’t seem to illuminate the road as well as they once did, you can spend a chunk of money to replace the headlight assembly. But you might not have to. Try rubbing some whitening toothpaste on to the headlights, apply a little elbow grease, and rinse off. For many cars, this hack does the trick. If it doesn’t, ask us about headlight resurfacing.

2. Use wet newspaper to remove expired registration tag
When it’s time to renew your vehicle tags, the Iowa Department of Transportation gives you those ultra-sticky tags to put on your license plate. But removing the old one can be a problem. Do you chisel it off with a screwdriver or place the new sticker over the old one? You could. But wet newspaper can work wonders. Simply get some newspaper wet with warm water, press it against the sticker, and leave it there for about 10 minutes. It helps soften the sticker glue and makes removing it easy.

3. Use the iParkedHere app to find your car
If you’re shopping at the Des Moines Costco, picking up groceries at Wal-Mart, or enjoying some me-time at Valley West Mall or the Jordan Creek Town Center, you’re going to park your car in a massive parking lot. So when you’re done shopping and step outside, where’s your car?

If you’re not sure where you parked, you’re not the only one. And it can be frustrating if you’re in a hurry, you’re hauling a ton of packages, or trying to rustle kids back to the car like you’re herding sheep. But it doesn’t have to be. The iParkedHere app can keep track of where you parked your car and guide you back to it with a click and a swipe on your smartphone.

These simple car care tips can make driving, owning, and maintaining a car a little less of a headache at times. For everything else, bring your car in to Beckley’s for a free inspection, quote, and affordable service.  Schedule today by simply clicking here.

Yes, Cold Weather Can Damage Your Performance Tires

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Some performance tires can crack in the cold!

We all know those cool summer tires not only lack grip in cold weather, but did you know they can also be damaged in these freezing temperatures?

cold weather damage performance tiresRubber products, including tires, become more rigid as temperatures get this low. We’ve even seen performance tires not only lose traction and grip, but crack and damage beyond repair due to our Iowa blow freezing wind-chills.

General Motors notably advises against such driving during colder chills, at the risk of developing damaging cracks in their tires. Also, important to owners looking forward to those zippy spring drives, it’s imperative to have their tires thoroughly inspected by a professional.

GM went as far as to publish a notice in January of 2014 saying:

“…avoid driving, moving, or test-driving vehicles equipped with high-performance summer-only tires below 20º F as operating at these temperatures can cause damage to the tires.”

In many manufacturers’ quest to deliver “the ultimate handling” in their higher-end cars, they’ve built performance tires with essentially a racing compound to deliver the goods. These tires are great for driving in temperate areas and are ideally suited for track use, but the practicality of the tires stops there.  And while Iowa does have it’s own NASCAR track, it certainly isn’t running with temperatures as low as we see them today (-30 windchill projected!).

Pirelli, the king of performance tires, explains that in colder temperatures, the performance tread compound becomes so stiff on such tires that it can lead to cracking when deformed. In measuring the hardness of numerous brands of summer tires at 0º F, {they’ve} found the tread becomes almost inflexible and the tires lose their bounce when dropped. The cracking is characterized as cosmetic, but in {their} experience any cracking shouldn’t be taken lightly as it can evolve over time. If there is crack, you should replace the tire.

Here is what you need to do if you own or are considering purchasing performance tires for your car (tips from Consumer Reports).

  1. If you’re considering buying a new car with performance tires:  check the tires on the car for cracking in the tread area. The car may have only a few miles on the odometer, but if it has been parked in the cold and moved around during transport or by the dealer, the tires could have cracked. This is the time to have the dealer change the effected tires, because once you make the deal and drive off, it’s your headache.
  2. If you own a car with summer tires: refrain from using it at all in cold temperatures as the tires may crack. Leave it parked. Beyond cracking concerns, summer tires have diminished grip below 40º F on dry and wet roads and virtually little to no grip on snow and ice.
  3. If you bought your dream car with summer tires on it and live in an area that does have winter: consider using performance all-season tires or dedicated winter tires. These will provide better cold-weather grip and preserve the pricey summer times for the other seasons.

There are a number of all-season tires that also offer higher performance and grip in the warmer months. But for your safety and the benefit to your car’s wheels and general health, make sure you’re driving on the tires best suited for the weather dominant to your area.

Beckley Auto offers a 30-point inspection for all makes and models of cars. Tire inspection is part of that package, and before you drive through this winter, risking potentially expensive repairs or dangerous conditions, have one of our technicians offer the best solutions for your Winter driving.

Click here to schedule an appointment to have your car’s tires inspected today.

 

Timing Belt Replacement Can Save You Money

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If you’ve driven your car more than 70,000 miles, there’s a good chance a the timing belt is over-worn and a breakdown is imminent. If it breaks before being replaced, your engine could be lost and repair costs could be staggering, but if the timing belt is replaced in your vehicle before it breaks, it’s a relatively low-cost repair.

replace your timing belt des moinesJust about anyone can inspect a timing belt. It’s the thick-toothed rubber belt that helps power the engine and control the camshaft, crankshaft, valves, and pistons. Periodically checking the belt for wear can reveal small cracks in the rubber or missing teeth that can hinder engine performance.

Unfortunately, too many drivers fail to inspect the timing belt or have it replaced before it’s too late. If it snaps while you’re driving, you’ll be stranded and your car will need to be towed. If you’re lucky, replacing the timing belt will get you back on the road. But in many cases, a broken timing belt damages the engine too. And that can be expensive to repair.

Timing Belt Replacement Recommendation
Most car manufacturers recommend replacing the timing belt every 70,000 to 110,000 miles. Remember, in most cars the timing belt is a wearable part made of rubber. It won’t last forever with all the friction it endures along with hot and cold temperatures. Inspecting your timing belt and having replaced before it breaks can save you thousands of dollars. When your timing belt is replaced as recommended, it typically only costs a few hundred dollars.

Warning Signs of a Bad Timing Belt
Sometimes a timing belt can reach the end of its life without warning. One minute you’re driving down the road, the next minute your engine is running but you’re not going anywhere. It’s a good reasons to have the timing belt replaced based on the recommended guidelines before it’s too late. However, there are a few warning signs to be aware of that are telltale signs of a timing belt about to break:

  • Trouble starting the car. If you can rule out the battery, starter, or lack of fuel, a bad timing belt may be the problem. A poorly functioning timing belt can interfere with the car’s ignition timing.
  • Thick smoke from the exhaust. If your car begins emitting thick smoke from the tail pipe and it progressively gets worse, it’s an indicator that fuel in the engine isn’t being used efficiently. Poorly functioning valves linked to a bad timing belt may be to blame.
  • Shaking or vibrating engine. When the timing belt in a car begins to age, gets stretched out over time, or has missing teeth, you may notice more shaking or vibrating from the engine.
  • Hot engine, leaking fluids. If you’re not taking care of your car, the engine could be running hotter than it should be or it could be leaking fluids. These conditions can further weaken and damage the timing belt.

Taking care of your car and avoiding costly repairs with routine maintenance can save you time and money in the long run. If your car is due for a timing belt replacement, or you just want to have it inspected, give us a call or click here to schedule service on your car today!

Your Car’s Cabin Filter May Need to be Changed

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It’s a cool fall day. It’s been raining off and on. You walk out to your car, open the door and get in. As soon as you sit down and shut the door, you notice a musty smell inside your car. You chalk it up to the changing seasons, start your car and drive off. Sound familiar?

cabin filter bmw des moinesThat musty smell may be more than just the changing seasons. In fact, if could be an indicator that it’s time to change the cabin air filter in your car. This air filter protects the interior of your car from dust, pollen, and gases from your exhaust and other vehicles on the road. It even blocks small debris like bugs and leaves from getting sucked through your car’s ventilating system and floating around inside the vehicle.

Car manufacturers recommend changing the cabin air filter about every 12,000 to 15,000 miles. Over time, the cabin air filter can become dirty or clogged and it can leave your car smelling musty. Left unchecked, a dirty cabin air filter can’t remove harmful fumes and particles as effectively as a new one. It can also make it more difficult for your car’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system to circulate air through the cabin.

If you haven’t changed your cabin air filter, fall is a good time to do this. For most vehicles, this is likely something you can do yourself. The cabin air filter may be located inside your vehicle, or under the hood near the HVAC system. One you locate it, you should be able to remove it with your hands or a few basic tools.

Then all you need is a new cabin air filter from a car parts store. Install it, and there’s a good chance that if your car had a musty smell this will solve the problem. You’ll also be breathing cleaner air once you replace the cabin air filter.

If you’re not sure where your cabin air filter is located, need to buy one, or want help replacing your old one, stop by and we’ll be glad to help.

Has a Recall Been Issued for Your Vehicle?

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what to do in case of a recallGeneral Motors has made headlines in recent months for an ignition switch problem that can deactivate the airbag system in the car. GM officials believe the design flaw impacts an estimated 8.23 million cars, and the problem has been linked to 61 accidents and 16 deaths, according to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration.

While this particular recall has garnered significant media attention for exposing GM’s negligence in correcting a known problem, it’s hardly the only motor vehicle recall creating safety issues for drivers.

BMW recently issued a recall for a series of vehicles because the air bag inflator may rupture when it is deployed in a crash. Cadillac issued a recall for an ignition switch in some vehicles because drivers reported the ignition switch moved to the “off position,” turning the engine off while driving. And Chrysler issued a recall for certain vehicles with a lamp that can short circuit and potentially cause a fire.

The list of recalls keeps growing, particularly in the wake of scrutiny GM has faced for ignoring the problem with faulty ignition switches. And it serves a good reminder to find out if a recall has been issued on your vehicle. The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration is a good place to check for recall information. You can also search a database of recalls by auto manufacturers at Cars.com.

In addition, the NHTSA recently launched the SafeCar mobile app (Apple, Android) that can alert you to potential safety issues or recalls for your vehicle. The app also allows you to submit vehicle complaints, and access a wide range of safety-related information.

In most cases, when an auto manufacturer issues a recall, free repairs are available at authorized service centers. If you’re not sure if a recall has been issued for your vehicle, take a minute to find out. It could save you money, and it could save your life.

New Auto Repair Customer Testimonial – AmyJo Reimer-Myers

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We love when our customers brag on us. It’s a great feeling knowing we serve our customers with the best and most professional auto repair and services possible. And when they come back and thank us, or even (willingly) give us a testimonial, it makes it that much better. 🙂

Below is a great new testimonial from a brand new customer of ours.

Say Hello to AmyJo Reimer-Myers!

For more information on how Beckley’s can help serve your auto repair and service needs, please reach out to us through the contact page or simply call us at 515-243-8185!

Studded or Studless: Choosing Winter Tires for Your Vehicle

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When you wake up in the morning, temperatures are already dipping into the 30s around in the Des Moines area. And it won’t be long before those temperatures drop even lower and turn passing weather systems into snow and ice storms.

When winter weather does arrive, the best place to be is indoors where it’s warm and safe. But if you’ve got to be on the road, studded or studless tires for your car will help you handle driving conditions that may include, snow, ice, slush, and excess water. But is there a difference between studded tires and studless tires?

winter driving tires des moines iowaStudded Tires
They’re legal to drive with on Iowa roads from November 1 through April 1. But they’re illegal in some states, and states that do allow studded tires have set their own dates for when they can be used on the roads.

Studded tires have tiny metal studs in the tread of the tire that help grip the road and provide traction, even when it’s icy or you’re driving on snow-packed roads. Instead of struggling to chain-up on a wintery day, studded tires make it easier to get in your car and drive in winter weather.

However, the studs are strong enough to damage pavement when the roads are clear, and that’s a major reason some states have banned studded tires. Studded tires are allowed in Iowa. But surrounding states including Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Illinois have all banned the use of studded tires. If you’re from Iowa and just passing through, you can still drive your car with studded tires in these states during the winter season. Iowa’s other border states, Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas, and South Dakota allow studded tires for winter driving.

While studded tires are highly effective for winter driving, they’re also criticized for being too noise when used on dry roads.

Studless Tires
In Iowa where studded tires are legal, some people still opt for studless tires because they’re more environmentally friendly and aren’t as noisy. But in terms of performance, studless tires may perform as well as studded tires based on rubber compounds and engineering practices used to design them.

Studless tires are made with a type of rubber that doesn’t become brittle or hard when temperatures reach the freezing point or colder. This helps the tire remain flexible and improves traction on snow, ice, and wet roadways. Most studless tires also have deeper tread, compared to typical all-season tires, which helps improve traction.

Because studded tires are legal in Iowa, you’ve got the option of going with studded or studless tires on your car. Both will help your car handle better during winter driving conditions. But it’s better to get snow tires on your car early in the season, before the first big winter storm arrives.

Check Your Brake Fluid Level

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check brake fluid des moines iowa

check brake fluid des moines iowa If you don’t consider yourself a mechanic or have an aversion to working on cars, it makes sense that you prefer to let the professionals deal with any issues. But in reality, there are many things the average driver and non-mechanic can do to keep a car running properly. Some of those things include checking oil levels, tire pressure, lights, etc. Here’s one more thing you can do. Check your brake fluid level.

Watch for the Warning Signs
Your anti-lock brake system requires brake fluid running through the lines from under the hood of your car to the brakes on your wheels. Newer cars have electronic sensors that light up your dash when your car is running low on brake fluid. If the brake pedal feels like you’re pressing on a sponge or it’s extra hard to press down, your car may be low on brake fluid.

There are other reasons your brakes might not be working properly, like won brake pads and rotors, pulling to one side when you step on the brakes, or excessive vibrations, particularly at slower speeds. But checking your brake fluid is a good way to eliminate other problems. And it’s easy.

1. Open the hood of your car with the engine cooled off.

2. Locate the Master Cylinder, and you’ll find the reservoir that contains the brake fluid. It’s usually towards the back of the car behind the engine. If you’re not sure where the brake fluid reservoir is, check the owner’s manual for your car, or consult Dr. Google.

3. After you find the brake fluid reservoir, check the fluid levels based on the markers for   “min” and “max” If it’s low and below the “min” mark, add some brake fluid. Make sure you only add the kind of brake fluid your car requires (DOT 3, DOT 4, DOT 5). Be sure to clean the exterior of the reservoir before you remove the cap to prevent any dirt or debris from contaminating the brake lines. And make sure you don’t spill any. Brake fluid is toxic and corrosive.

4. Once you’ve added brake fluid, replace the cap and close the hood.

5. In some cases, simply topping off the brake fluid reservoir can improve the performance of your brakes. But if you experience further problems with your brakes, bring in your car and we’ll take a look at what’s going on. Your pads and rotors might need to be replaced, you could have a leak in your brake line, or the brake lines could be contaminated with copper which can happen over a long period of time.

Car-Trouble Clues Can Help With Diagnosis & Repair

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car repiar clues des moines iowa

Just because you’re not a mechanic doesn’t mean you can’t sleuth out some car-trouble clues. When you notice a problem with your vehicle, put your detective skills to work to find out more about what’s happening. When you bring your car into Beckley’s for service, let us know why you think your car needs repairs. Even the smallest detail can help us get your car back on the road faster.

car trouble repiar clues des moines iowaHere are a few things you can do before you bring your car in:

Read the Owner’s Manual for your vehicle
You might be surprised what kind of information the vehicle owner’s manual includes. In addition to basic maintenance recommendations, the owner’s manual includes information your car’s operating systems along with instructions on how to use all controls in your car. Most manual even include some basic trouble-shooting tips to solve simple problems.

Put Your Senses to Work
Your observational skills can identify important details that could be linked to the reason your car needs to be serviced. Put your senses to work and pay attention to things like:

  • Strange sounds from the engine, under the hood or inside the cabin
  • Trouble with acceleration, engine problems, changes in gas mileage or fluid levels
  • Poor tire tread, cracked or worn belts and hoses
  • Changes in steering performance and braking
  • In-dash warning lights and indicators

If you think your car has a problem, try to answer the following questions:

  • When did the problem first start?
  • Is the problem constant or intermittent?
  • Does the problem occur when the engine is cold, warm, or both?
  • Does the problem occur during acceleration, shifting, braking, driving slow, etc?

When You Bring Your Car in for Service
Do your best to describe the problem with your vehicle. Your observations will help our team of mechanics look for system failures that could be part of the problem.

If you’ve got a written record of when the problem started, along with notes about what you’ve observed, bring that along. Some people even provide an audio or video recording to demonstrate the problem with their vehicle.

Then let us do the rest. We’ll collect your information like evidence at a crime scene and use it to solve the problem. Our decades of experience and diagnostic tools will help us figure out what’s wrong and let you know what it will take to repair.

Please give Beckley Imports a call or visit our website to schedule your import or domestic car service appointment today.