Knock, Knock… Is It Your Engine Knocking?

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If everyone could afford to drive a new car, most probably would. Hearing a brand new, perfectly-tuned engine is almost a magical sound (even if you’re not a mechanic). But the reality is that you’re not going to be able to replace your car as often as you wish. That means your car is bound to tally up some miles, experience some wear and tear, and need regular maintenance.

engine knock service des moines iowaSo what happens when you start up your car and hear a knocking sound coming from under the hood? Do you ignore it and keep on driving, hoping it will go away? Do you pop the hood and try to identify where the knocking is coming from? Or do you take your car to the shop right away?

While we prefer the latter, some times the simplicity of changing the way you drive and maintain your car can help.

3 Ways to Fix Engine Knocking

Engine knocking is nothing to ignore. It’s typically caused by a bad mix of fuel and air needed to power the engine. When the gasoline in your engine burns unevenly, it creates a kind of “POP” shock-wave that makes the knocking sound. Run your car for very long with this kind of problem, and it can cause serious engine damage.

The good news is that, in some cases, there’s a simple fix to the problem. Here’s the three things we recommend when you hear your engine making knocking sounds.

  1. Fill up with premium unleaded. The typical low-grade and least expensive gasoline at the pump may be the problem. If you normally use this type of gas, fill up with premium unleaded next time. Higher-octane fuel can often help correct a knocking engine.
  1. Add fuel detergent. Pour in detergent in your dishwasher or washing machine, and it helps clean the dishes and clothes. Fuel detergent works the same way. Most gasolines include some fuel detergent, but if your engine is knocking, you may need something a little stronger. Kind of like using the stain-buster detergent when you want to get some grass or grease stains out of clothes. Adding the right fuel detergent can help remove carbon build-up that could be part of the knocking problem.
  1. Replace spark plugs. If your car has ever been serviced, it’s possible the original spark plugs were replaced with the wrong ones. They may still fire, but not the way they should. Making sure the right spark plugs are installed for your car can often help silence the knocking.

These are a few basic do-it-yourself strategies to consider if you hear knocking sounds coming from your engine. Troubleshoot it yourself or bring it in for an inspection. Fixing the source of a knocking engine sound sooner than later can save you time and money.

Beckley Imports works on all make and models of cars. From BMW to Ford and everything in-between. If a knock or other strange sounds are starting to concern you, call our team of professional technicians at 515-243-8185 or click here to schedule your car for service.  After over 30 years in the industry, we’re darn certain we’ll be able to clear it up and get you back on the road quickly.

Road Salt Damage… Not So Savory for Our Cars

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It may already be March, but that doesn’t mean Mother Nature is done sending snow through Des Moines anytime soon. We’ve had some mega-snow storms this winter, and that’s had the Iowa Department of Transportation and local municipality road crews laying down deicer and road salt to keep the highways and by-ways clear.

road salt damageHow much? An estimated 200,000 tons of road salt is used by the Iowa Department of Transportation every winter and laid down through Des Moines and across the state to try and keep the roads clear. It’s a strategy that’s been used for decades to help prevent snow and ice from freezing to the road. It works, but it’s not all that savory for your car.

Road salt damage = corrosive. And the place it most likely accumulates after driving in winter weather is underneath your car. Unless you have the underside of your car treated with a oil-spray solution before the first snow fall, or have the underside of your car washed regularly throughout the winter, there’s a good chance salt is eating away at your car.

Road Salt left to corrode the underside of your car can damage the muffler and exhaust system. Left unchecked, salt can even make its way through coil springs and the steel frame of your car. It’s even been known to penetrate a car’s subframe.

If you didn’t do any pre-winter maintenance on your car to prevent corrosion from salt, it’s never too late to get an inspection, remove any remaining salt, and make repairs if necessary. In some cases, a late-season cleaning of your car’s underside may be enough to prevent extensive corrosion damage.

If corrosion is excessive, rust repair and replacement parts may be necessary. Either way, the sooner you get any salt off your vehicle that’s accumulated from driving in winter weather, the better.

With a simple Oil Change, you also get a free wash and cleaning of your car’s exterior and light interior. This time of year, that alone is worth the price of an oil change.

Schedule your service now and get that salt and road grime off, and help save the beauty that is your car!

Steering Problems? Wheel Alignment May Straighten Things Up

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wheel alignment des moinesWhen you turn the steering wheel on your car, it’s supposed be responsive and easy to handle. And with power steering, it should be. But if you struggle to keep your car from “wandering lanes,” or feel like you have to man-handle the steering wheel to simply control the car, you might have a wheel alignment problem.

After a long, cold Iowa winter, it’s not uncommon. There’s a good chance you slid on the ice while parking your car and bumped a few curbs, drove over a couple of potholes, rumbled your way across a bumpy stretch of road covered in patches of ice, or braked too hard after sliding into an intersection. All that wear and tear can take a toll on your tires and wheel alignment.

If your car steering seems to be “uneven,” pulling to one side, or handling poorly, here’s what you can do:

  1. Check your tires. Use a tire gauge to check the air pressure in each tire and make sure they’re inflated with the right amount of pressure. If you find a problem, add some air to the low tire.
  1. Inspect the tread on all four tires. Severely worn tires, or a mix-and-match or snow tires and all-season tires can effect steering. Replace your tires if you notice excessive wear, and use the same tire for all four wheels.
  1. Get your wheel alignment inspected. If checking your tire pressure and inspecting the tread don’t reveal any major problems, bring your car in for a wheel alignment and inspection. Fixing a wheel alignment-issue early on can often keep your tires from wearing down prematurely.

To find out if you need a wheel alignment, we’ll also measure tire pressure and inspect your tires. Then we’ll use diagnostic automotive tools to examine the toe-in, castor, and camber of each tire. Many times a wheel alignment is all you need to correct a steering-related problem to straighten things up.

In some cases, poor steering performance isn’t entirely caused by wheel alignment. Steering problems may also be linked to worn out struts or shocks, loose bearings, or damage to other steering components. If that’s the case, we can fix those problems too so you can drive with confidence and safety.

Reach out to Beckley’s today to schedule an appointment.  Call 515-243-8185 or simply click on the “Schedule Service” button to the right to get your car running right for spring!

 

Making Minor Car Repairs Can Save You In the Long Run

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There’s a minor car repair needed on your car, but it doesn’t interfere with driving, and seems more of a nuisance to fix than the time and cost involved. So you keep putting it off.

minor car repairSound familiar?

Maybe you’ve got a brake light out. One of the lights that illuminate your license place is burnt out. Or a turn signal works intermittently. So when it’s not working, you roll down your window and use hand signals when you’re making a turn. If you haven’t been that driver, you’ve probably seen someone on the road needing a minor car repair like this.

If Your Vehicle Isn’t Working Properly…

These kinds of minor car repairs are easy to fix and usually don’t cost a lot of money. But if you ignore the problem, it can cost you a lot more than you think. The Central Iowa Traffic Safety Task Force, Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau, and Polk County law enforcement teams regularly organize extra patrols to enforce the law.  Something as simple as a broken taillight could turn into a hefty fine if stopped.

If you have one of those nagging car repairs you keep putting off, you might avoid detection for a while, but there’s always the chance that an officer might roll up behind you or spot you making a turn and discover a problem with your vehicle that you can be cited for. The more likely scenario is that you get pulled over for speeding, but instead of just getting a ticket for going over the speed limit, the fine gets a lot bigger for the broken tail light or faulty turn signal. It’s not a situation you want to find yourself in.

Increased Patrols Improve Public Safety

The periodic increase in patrols is an excellent public safety effort by law enforcement officers. It’s a great reminder to drive the speed limit, avoid texting while driving, and follow the rules of the road, which includes keeping your car in working order.

If you’ve got one of those minor problems that can be considered a violation, don’t wait for a citation to fix it. Bring your car in, or schedule an appointment through our Web site, and we’ll get you back on the road as soon as possible.

Think Beckley’s to Save On Car Repair Costs

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Everyone wants to save on car repair costs.  Dealerships are notorious for overpricing and under servicing the same cars they’re selling.  If you don’t have the skills or the time to repair a car problem on your own, what do you do? If it’s not a complicated problem, maybe a friend of yours knows how to make the repair. But after that, you’re probably going to need to find a good mechanic in Des Moines to fix the problem.

save-on-car-repair-costsDo you go to a dealership’s service center to get your car fixed, or do you find an independent auto repair shop with a highly-trained staff that can take care of the problem?

If you drive a newer car and it develops a problem covered by the manufacturer’s warranty, you certianly can head to the dealer. Although, Beckley’s handles most warranty repairs and we work well with the manufacturers to get you the best service at the best price.  The warranty will likely cover the cost of the repair, and maybe only require a small service payment. On the other hand, if you drive an older car or the problem isn’t covered by a warranty, steer clear of going to a dealership.

Here’s why:

Study: Dealers Charge More for Repairs Than Independent Shops

Getting your car repaired at a dealer will cost you more. And in some cases, a lot more. In a recent study using data from the Bureau of Transportation and Statistics, the Federal Highway Administration, and the automotive Aftermarket Industry Association, researchers found that some repairs (like transmission work) made by a dealer may cost as much as $800 more than getting the work done by an independent repair shop.

At Beckley’s, we’ve grown our business by providing high-quality automotive repair services at affordable prices. Our team of certified automotive technicians represent decades of collective experience working on European, domestic, and foreign cars, trouble-shooting problems, performing routine maintenance, and using the latest state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment in the automotive industry.

Expert Mechanics at an Affordable Price

If you need your oil and air filters changed, or have bigger problems like engine trouble or a bad transmission, instead of going to a dealer, bring your car in and we’ll take a look with our 30-point inspection. Beckley’s has been helping drivers keep their cars on the road and money in their pocket for nearly 40 years.

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.

Water Pump is Critical to Protecting Your Engine

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When former race car driver Dick Trickle blew a water pump in a short-track race in Wisconsin, he wasn’t about to throw in the towel and concede to losing. Instead, he jumped out of his car, grabbed the announcer’s microphone and yelled into the crowd, “Does anybody have a Ford?”

race car driver Dick Trickle blew a water pumpAmong the fans there to see the race, a guy emerged from the crowd and proceeded to drive his Ford down to the track. While other races still circled the track, Trickle went to work. He dismantled his car to remove the water pump. Then he pulled the water pump off the Ford and put it in his race car. Seconds later, he was back in the race, caught up with the other drivers, took the lead and won.

Water Pump Helps Keep Engine Cool
Driving around the Des Moines-area can sometimes feel like you’re in a NASCAR race. And even the day-to-day stuff like commuting to work and going to the grocery store can take a toll on your car. Drive your car long enough, and eventually your water pump might could begin to fail. If it does, you’ve should stop your car immediately, or risk overheating the engine and doing permanent damage that’s expensive to repair.

Warning Signs of a Bad Water Pump
The water pump in your car helps keep your engine cool. That’s important when you’re on a road trip, cruising down the Interstate, or just driving around town. If your water pump is going bad, taking action if you see any of these early warning signs can save you from a car breakdown and more expensive repairs. Your water pump may be going bad if:

  • You notice water or coolant leaking from the engine when you park your car.
  • The belt that helps drive the water pump is cracked or loose.
  • You noticed a low-pitched grinding noise when your engine is running.
  • Water leaks or even a small spray is coming from the water pump gasket.
  • The engine temperature warning light comes on in your car.
  • Your car’s air conditioning doesn’t seem to cool things off.

You can’t always predict when a water pump will go bad. Trickle certainly didn’t expect that to happen in the middle of a race. But paying attention to the warning signs, and bringing your car in for an inspection if you do, will keep you in the race.

Click here to schedule an appointment and make sure your water pump is “race ready.”

Stop In Time with Brake & Rotor Maintenance

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Not too long ago, a driver in a white sedan was following a DART bus in Des Moines during Friday morning traffic. When the bus slowed near the intersection of 30th Street and Hickman Road, the driver in the sedan stepped on the brakes to slow down, but nothing happened. Her brakes failed, and she slammed into the back of the bus.

In troubles - unhappy woman in carFortunately no one on the bus was injured. The woman driving the car was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries, but her car was totaled. Investigators believe the woman tried to stop or slow down for the bus, but faulty brakes prevented her from doing so.

Unfortunately, accidents like this happen all the time, but sometimes they’re fatal. Driving your car with faulty, worn out, or poorly-working brakes is a bad idea. The brakes and rotors that help your car slow down and come to a spot are wearable parts. Over time, the rotors can become thin or warped and metal or ceramic brake pads can wear out. In extreme cases, poorly working brakes can cause the brake fluid to boil and prevent you from stopping your car safely.

If you step on the brakes and you don’t slow down, experience significant vibrations, or have to press hard to get the brakes to respond, get your brakes checked out immediately.

In most cases, a simple and low-cost brake repair will get you back on the road knowing your brakes are working properly. However, if you continue to drive your car for miles after the early warning signs of failing brakes, you could be in trouble. You could cause an accident. And ignoring brake problems can make repairs more expensive.

If your rotors are in decent shape, we can resurface them to make them smooth again, and save you some money. But extended driving with faulty brakes can damage the rotors with excessive heat, warping, and deep scores that interfere with proper braking.

If you’re wondering if your brakes are going bad, don’t wait to find out. Bring your car in for an inspection and we can help you come to a stop before it’s too late.

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.