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.

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.