Safe Driving Tips for Halloween

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safe driving downtown des moines iowa

In just a few short days, ghouls, goblins, and ghosts will roam the streets after dark to trick-or-treat on Halloween night. If you’ve got to make a trip the store for more candy, or drive your car for some other reason, there are a few things to keep in mind before you get behind the wheel on a night like this.

safe driving downtown des moines iowa1. Check your brakes. If your brakes squeal or you experience a lot of vibration when slowing down, your brakes may need to be replaced. And waiting until Halloween night isn’t a good idea. If you need to drive your car when trick-or-treaters are out and about, you need to be sure you can brake quickly and safely just in case a costumed-creature runs out in front of you.

2. Refill wiper fluid. If your windshield is dirty, it’s going to be harder to see what’s in front of you, especially if you’re staring into the glare of a streetlight, oncoming car, or the glowing flashlight of a trick-or-treater. Wash your windshield and top off your wiper fluid reservoir. And if your wipers don’t clear your windshield well during rain, take care of those now before you’re on the road Halloween night.

3. Check your vehicle lights. Headlights, brake lights, and turn signals. Have someone help you make sure all the lights on your vehicle are working properly. If you plan to drive at dusk or just after dark on Halloween night, properly working vehicle lights will make things safer for you and trick-or-treaters.

4. Watch for pedestrians. In many neighborhoods, there isn’t a lot of pedestrian traffic after dark. But an estimated 97 percent of all children in the United States are expected to trick-or-treat on Halloween night. You’ll want to pay particular attention to parked cars and curbs where little trick-or-treaters could be hiding. And stop at all corners and intersections to make sure it’s clear to go. With all the excitement of filling their bags with candy, kids don’t always follow the look-both-ways rule on Halloween night.

5. If you’re out-trick-or treating…If you don’t have plans to drive anywhere on Halloween night, maybe you’ll be escorting trick-or-treaters through your neighborhood. If that’s the case, make sure everyone wears reflective clothing along with their costume. Carry a flashlight. Use the sidewalk and walk in lighted areas whenever possible.

If you’ll be driving your car on Halloween night, it doesn’t have to be scary. Just make sure your car is working properly, drive cautiously, and watch out for ghosts and goblins. Happy Halloween!

Flush Your Transmission Now, Before It’s Too Late

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Bring up the topic at a dinner party, and someone is bound to have their own tale of woe, costly repairs, or even the ultimate demise of a car caused by a failing transmission. Aside from engine damage, a failed transmission is one of the more expensive repairs that can put a real dent in your pocket. So it makes sense that you do everything you can to protect your transmission from going bad in the first place.

transmission flush des moines iowa.jpgMost car manufacturers recommend getting the transmission fluid in your car flushed about once every two years, or every 30,000 miles. But that may not be soon enough if your car is already showing signs of transmission issues. You should get your transmission inspected or flushed as soon as possible if you notice any of these five warning signs of transmission problems. Doing so could protect your transmission from failing, or at least prolong its life, and save you some money.

Gear Grinding or Unexplained Noises
Over time, your transmission can get dirty, absorb grease, and even develop sludge that slows its ability to help your car cycle through changing gears. If you hear grinding sounds or unexplained noises from under the hood while driving, check your transmission fluid. It should be a brightly-colored red. Black or brown-colored transmission fluid means your transmission is dirty or is being compromised by sludge, and obviously warrants a transmission flush.

Getting Into Gear
It’s a telltale sign of transmission problems. If you find it hard to get your car with an automatic or manual transmission into gear, it’s a warning sign of transmission problems. But it could just be caused by dirt or sludge build-up in your transmission. Getting your transmission flushed at the first onset of this problem and replaced with clean transmission fluid can often improve gear shifting and prevent transmission damage.

Popping Out of Gear
If you find yourself driving down the road, only to have your car pop out of gear, your transmission may be to blame. If your transmission is too dirty, it won’t have enough power to keep your car into gear at times. And that can cause your vehicle to pop out of gear, and it undoubtedly happens at an inconvenient moment while on the road. Flushing your transmission at the first signs of this problem can power up the hydraulic pressure in your transmission to keep your car in gear.

Unexplained Surges in Power
If you notice unexplained surges in power while you’re driving, it’s often an indicator that your transmission is dirty. When dirt, grease, and sludge interfere with transmission operation, it’s hard for your transmission to provide a continuous and steady flow of power to keep your gears moving smoothly from one to the next. Notice this problem, and it’s a good time to flush the transmission before it’s too late.

Slow to Go After Getting Into Gear
You’ll notice right away if this is a problem. You put your car into gear, and for just a second or two nothing happens. You might not think anything of it at first, but it’s a warning sign of transmission trouble. The first time you noticed this is a good time to take your car in for a transmission flush.

Getting your transmission flushed every two years or every 30,000 miles is a good maintenance plan to follow. But if you noticed any of these warning signs, bring your car in as soon as possible for a transmission inspection. Simply flushing your transmission and replacing it with clean, dirt-free transmission fluid could save you a lot of money. 

6 Ways to Improve Gas Mileage

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improving gas mileage des moines

Ways to improve Gas Mileage is on the top of all of our minds…  and wallets!

improve gas mileage des moinesIf you commute to work, do a lot of driving around town, or you’re planning a vacation, you’re probably keenly aware of gas prices at the pump. (If you’re driving an electric car or hybrid, battery life or the nearest charging station might be on your mind more than the price of gas.) The current national average is $3.676 per gallon, but in some areas, gas costs more than $4 a gallon.

If you’re wondering why gas prices are going up, media reports suggest concerns with oil production in the Middle East, as well as increased demand during peak travel season. But regardless of the reason, higher gas prices have an impact on your budget. Fortunately, there are simple things you can do to improve the gas mileage of your vehicle.

1. Get a Tune-Up – Your car needs regular maintenance to deliver peak performance and optimal gas mileage. Changing the oil and filter, installing a new air filter, inspecting and changing belts, and replacing spark plugs are all common repairs that can improve gas mileage. A regular tune-up can identify these problems and save you money in the long run.

2. Check Your Tire Pressure – Many newer model cars are designed to tell you if your tire pressure is low. It might be annoying to see a low-tire pressure light in the dash, but properly inflated tires help improve gas mileage. Use a tire gauge to measure air pressure and inflate your tires to the recommended PSI for your vehicle.

3. Change the Oil and Air Filter – You’ve heard the recommendation to get your oil and air filter changed every 3,000 miles. It’s one of the best things you can do to prolong the life of your car and maximize gas mileage. Your engine operates more efficiently with clean oil and a new filter. Replacing the air filter on a regular basis also improves fuel economy, acceleration, and engine performance.

4. Check Your Gas Cap – If you haven’t thought about your gas cap as a potential source for poor gas mileage, you’re not alone. But the truth is a faulty gas cap that’s loose or has a missing or damaged seal allows gas to vaporize. This can force you to spend more money at the pump, but it’s an easy fix that typically only costs a few dollars.

5. Take Care of Major Maintenance Issues – As you put more miles on your car, there’s always the chance for wear and tear that needs special attention. Taking care of maintenance issues like cleaning or replacing fuel injectors or replacing a faulty oxygen sensor can significantly improve gas mileage.

6. Improve Your Driving Habits – Your driving habits may also be a factor that determines the gas mileage your car gets. Here are some things you can do: Follow speed limits. Avoid rapid acceleration, quick stops, and excessive idling. Remove any heavy items from your trunk. These simple changes can also help improve fuel economy.

Run through the list of these six tips to improve gas mileage and put them into practice. You should see an improvement in gas mileage the next time you fuel up at the pump.

Take the Spare Tire Challenge

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spare tire for cars iowa

spare tire for cars iowaWhen Red Bull driver Mark Webber rolled into the pit stop during the Malaysian Grand Prix, his pit crew had one goal on their mind: Change the tires and get him back on the course as fast as possible. Armed with pneumatic impact wrenches, his pit crew surrounded the car in a flurry of activity. In 2.05 seconds he roared out of the pit stop and back into the race. And what was for all four tires on the car.

No one wants to get a flat tire. But it’s bound to happen at some point in time. Walk into any tire store, and you’ll probably see a jar full of nails, bolts, pieces of metal, and other objects that punctured a tire and caused a slow hard-to-find leak or a full-on blowout. When that happens, your first order of business is to pull the car over to the side of the road to a safe location. After that, your best bet for getting back on the road the fastest is to change your tire.

You’re probably not going to break the 2.05-second record to even change one tire. But if you’re prepared, you’ll be back on the road in no time. So before you end up with a flat tire, Take the Spare Tire Challenge to get ready for the day you hear that unmistakable hissing noise or the thump-thump-thump of a flattened tire. Here’s all you need to do:

1. Take a minute to locate the spare tire in your car. In many cars, it’s a small tire affectionately known as the “donut.” It might be under a layering of flooring in the trunk of your car or bolted to the bottom of your car on the outside. Some trucks and SUVs provide easier access to the spare tire with it mounted on the back.

2. Locate the jack and tire iron. Most cars have some kind of brackets, casing, fabric bag, or both to keep these items together. And they’re usually located near the spare tire. Remove these tools and retrieve the spare tire.

3. Practice changing your tire. There’s no better way to prepare for changing a flat tire than learning how to do it before it happens.

  • Make sure your car is in a flat location away from traffic and set the parking brake.
  • Use the tire iron to loosen the lug nuts on one tire on your car.
  • Place the jack under the frame of your car, and jack it up until the tire clears the ground.
  • Remove the lug nuts and the tire.
  • Put your spare tire on and replace the lug nuts with your fingers.
  • Use the jack to lower the car back to the ground, and then tighten the lug nuts with the tire iron.

Doing this ahead of time, forces you to get familiar with where your spare tire is located, along with the tools you need to change a flat. You might find out that the tools you need are missing, your spare is flat, or worse, you don’t even have a spare. But it’s better to find that out during a planned exercise than when you’re on the road. You can bet that the Red Bull pit crew practiced changing tires hundreds of times to get the process down to 2.05 seconds. Take the Spare Tire Challenge, and you’ll be well-prepared to deal with a flat when it happens. You can even use a timer to see how long it takes.

5 Reasons Your Check Engine Light is On

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check engine light is on des moines

Your Check Engine Light is On. Now what?

Murphy’s law – If anything can go wrong it probably will. So you’re on your way to an important job interview or sales call. You’ve just packed up the family car and left town on a road trip you’ve been planning for months. Or you’re just feeling a little stressed out and think the last thing you want is car trouble. Then a red light blinks on in your dash. It’s the Check Engine light, and you immediately envision worst-case scenarios like expensive car repairs or the ultimate demise of your car.

check engine light is on des moinesIf your Check Engine light comes on, chances are pretty good that your car isn’t going to stall out and leave you stranded right away. But it’s not something you want to ignore.

As soon as you’re able to, take your car to an auto parts store and ask them to run a diagnostic test on your vehicle. They’ll hook up a computer to your dash that can identify the reason your Check Engine light is on. In some cases, it’s a simple fix. You may also need the help of an experienced mechanic, but at least you’ll get an idea of what the problem is.

Here are the five most common reasons the Check Engine Light gets activated:

1. Defective Oxygen Sensor. Most cars have two to four oxygen sensors which essentially help regulate oxygen and fuel to help your car get the best gas mileage possible. When a sensor fails, gas mileage declines, and more emissions will be present in your car’s exhaust. It’s a relatively easy and low-cost repair to make. But if you ignore it for too long, a faulty oxygen sensor could damage your car’s catalytic converter, and that can be an expensive repair.

2. Check the Gas Cap. Most cars on the road today have engine sensors linked to your car’s fuel system. If your gas cap isn’t on properly or tightened down enough, or it has a crack, your car’s fuel efficiency will be off. If this is the source of your problem, you can fix it for free or less than the cost of a Starbucks coffee. Check your gas cap and make sure it’s tightened down. And if your gas cap has a crack or faulty seal, buy a new gas cap at and auto parts store to replace the old one on your car. It’s one of the easiest fixes associated with the Check Engine Light.

3. The Catalytic Converter Needs to be Replaced. This isn’t the news you want to hear if you remember reading about this in connection with a defective oxygen sensor. It’s an expensive repair that can cost an estimated $2,000. If your catalytic converter is failing, eventually it will quit working completely and you’ll be calling a tow truck. Give us a call and we’ll get your car back up and running.

4. Mass Airflow Sensor is Failing. When your car’s mass airflow sensor begins to fail, your car can’t get the right amount of air and fuel mixture to power your engine. Your gas mileage will start to decline, and your car will stall more and more frequently. Like the oxygen sensors, it’s a relatively easy repair to do on your own if you’re willing. And most mechanics will install a new airflow sensor for under $300.

5. Spark Plugs Need More Spark. When the spark plugs in your engine start to fail, you’ll notice periodic jolts or fluctuations in your engine’s power when you’re driving. Sparks plugs are like a lot of car parts that just don’t last forever. Older cars may need the spark plugs replaced every 30,000 miles, while the spark plugs in newer cars should last 100,000 miles or more. If you have the time and patience, you can replace the sparks plugs on your car with a few basic tools. And it’s generally a low-cost repair if you bring it in to the shop.

If your Check Engine Light comes on, don’t panic. It’s your car’s warning system giving you an indicator to get your car checked out. But just don’t ignore it. Schedule an appointment with Beckley Auto immediately to find out the issue and fix it as soon as possible!

Check Your Tire Pressure to Keep on Rolling

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tire pressure des moines iowa

Whether it’s the open road and summer vacation calling your name, the usual around-town trips, or business appointments that have you spending a lot of time on the road, your car is the key to getting you to your destination. Unless you’re really driving a vehicle in rough shape, most people expect to get in the car, turn on the key, and get to their destination without incident.

tire pressure des moines iowaBut how many times have you seen someone with a flat tire stranded on the side of the road trying to dig out their tire iron or wait for roadside assistance? Nearly 250,000 car accidents occur each year because of low tire pressure, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. And an estimated 75 percent of those accidents could have been prevented if the driver took the time have a slow leak repaired or inflate their tires properly.

While some aspects of vehicle maintenance should be handled by an experienced mechanic, checking your tire pressure is something everyone can do. This simple test can save you a lot of money, prolong the life of your tires, improve gas mileage, and ultimately save your life

What Should Your Tire Pressure Be?

To find out what your tire pressure should be:

  • Check the owner’s manual of your vehicle for recommended tire pressure.
  • Look for a tire pressure guide in the doorjamb of your car.
  • Or look closely at the sidewall of your tire for the recommended tire pressure.

Measure Your Tire Pressure

Once you know what the tire pressure should be for the tires on your vehicle, use a tire pressure gauge to see if your tires are inflated properly, underinflated, or overinflated. You can buy a tire gauge for just a few dollars, and most tire inflation kiosks include a build in tire gauge on the air hose. Here’s how to measure your tire pressure:

  • Unscrew the cover or cap on the valve stem on your tire.
  • Position the tire gauge over the valve stem, and press down for just a second. You’ll hear a short hissing sound as the tire gauge gets a reading of your tire pressure.
  • Check the results. The tire gauge will tell you what your tire pressure is in PSI (Pounds per Square Inch).

Increase/Decrease Tire Pressure

If your tire pressure meets the guidelines recommended for the tires on your vehicle you won’t need to increase or decrease tire pressure.

If it’s higher than it should be, use the tire gauge to press down on the valve stem and remove some air. Then check the tire pressure again until you’re tire pressure is where it should be.

If your tire pressure is lower than it should be, attach an air hose or pump to the valve stem and briefly add some air. Then use your tire gauge to check the tire pressure again, and do this until you’ve inflated your tires to the recommended PSI.

It only takes a few minutes. Keeping your tires properly inflated will help your car perform better when you get behind the wheel.

Don’t Leave Home Without a Roadside Assistance Plan

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roadside assistance plan

What Would You Do Without A Good Roadside Assistance Plan?

During the 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 simply run out of gas. 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.

roadside assistance planSo 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’s worth every penny. 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.

We’ve been taking 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 send out a tow truck can cost $50 or more. And paying out of pocket for some of the other services 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.

 

Des Moines Auto Repair – Service to the Core

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Aaron Lukacs - Beckley Auto

Auto repair gets a bad rap. In Des Moines, there are in the hundreds of service shops you can go to, but which one can you trust? Which can you guarantee service and support after the sale?

Our service writer, Aaron, talks a bit about the job he provides at Beckley Auto. With his focus on the customer, honesty and drive, where else would you want to take your car to get serviced?

If you’re looking for a great auto repair shop with the staff and support that will exceed your expectations, bring it down to Beckley’s. Aaron and the others are ready to help you out.

To schedule an appointment online to have your car serviced, just click on the “Schedule Service” button to the right.

We look forward to seeing you!

The Importance of a Pre-Purchase Inspection

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pre-purchase inspection for bmw mercedes audi land rover des moines iowa

Purchasing a new car is an exciting event, and we want to keep it that way. By scheduling a pre-purchase inspection with Beckley, you can save yourself from inheriting someone else’s problems, not to mention potentially hundreds of dollars. Our specialists have years of experience with specific cars, so you know you’ll be getting the best service around. We’ll check your brakes, steering, tires, and more, and give you a clear, written explanation of results when it’s all said and done.

Don’t go into a big purchase like this uninformed; inspect before you buy. Call us today to schedule an appointment: (515) 243-8185.

Rock Salt & Proper Winter Maintenance

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bmw rock salt damage winter

While we’re in the time of year when warm temperatures and “car wash” days are few and far between, you have to understand how Rock Salt and Winter damage the exterior (and interior) of your car. Opportunities for winter car washes need to be capitalized upon, and Beckley’s helps you do that!

bmw rock salt damage winterBeckley’s oil change service includes an oil change specialized to your vehicle, a 30 point written safety inspection by an ASE certified technician, and a hand wash (weather permitting) and vacuum.

The hand wash is our way of adding a special touch, because not only is it important to take care of the mechanical parts of your car; if you want to keep it looking great, and have the maximum resale value when you’re ready to sell, you need to take care of the exterior as well.

Rock salt used to melt snow and ice in the winter is great for what it’s used for, but can do a number on the interior and exterior of your vehicle. Rock salt can lead to rust and corrosion in the undercarriage of the vehicle, which can be costly and difficult to repair. It also can cause rust around your tires, fenders, and doors, causing paint to chip and your resale value to diminish. If possible, you should rinse your car every 10 days; bringing it in for an oil service and tune up on one of our nice days ahead will really take care of any built up salt on your car.

Rock salt can also cause damage to the inside of your car; it stains if left to sit, diminishing the attractiveness and resale value of your vehicle. Loose rock salt can also be dangerous to any children or pets that ride in your car. Our service technicians will completely vacuum the inside of your car to prevent staining or other damage from salt.

We want to do everything we can to help you keep your European car in great shape in the coming months. If you have any questions, or if you want to schedule a service, don’t hesitate to call us at (515) 243-8185.

We look forward to hearing from you soon!