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How Many Mechanics Does it Take To Replace a Car Headlight Bulb?

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You’d think that would be the beginning of a bad joke, but it seems car manufacturers are increasingly engineering headlight assemblies that are making the once-simple task of replacing a headlight bulb much more difficult.

replace car headlight bulbFor example, in the Saturn Aura and some Cadillac models, the only way to get to the headlight assembly is by removing the entire front bumper. In the Chevy Traverse, the inner fender has to be removed to gain access to the headlight assembly. And it can be incredibly frustrating if you’re trying to figure out how to change a headlight on a car like this on your own.

Fortunately, enough hands-one mechanics and consumers have complained about this design, that some manufacturers have tasked their engineering team with making it easier to change a headlight. GMC added an easy-to-remove access panel under the fender of the Sierra. Chrysler did something similar to the PT Cruiser. And for those who drive the latest VW Beetle models, Volkswagen was kind enough to add an access panel too.

If you’ve got a burned out headlight, and you’re scratching your head about how to replace it, we can help. We’ve been servicing foreign and domestic cars for over 35 years, and seen just about every headlight assembly out there.

Got a headlight that needs to be replaced? Let us brighten your day. Give us a call at 515-423-8185 or click here to schedule an appointment.

Stop Your Car From Overheating

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If you’ve ever driven a car prone to overheating, constantly seems to be low on coolant, or has an unknown problem with the radiator, hoses, thermostat, or other components that help keep your engine cool, there’s rarely a happy ending. All too often, overheating happens when you’re on a road trip, a long way from a service station, or out of cell phone range. But with the right maintenance and a little diligence, keeping your car from overheating is easier than you think.

car overheating des moines iowaKeeping your car from overheating by keeping its radiator and cooling system in working order is important for engine performance and reliability. When your car’s cooling system is working properly, the thermostat gauge in your car should be about in the middle between hot and cold. Your car’s engine performs best when it runs at a moderate temperature. An engine that runs too hot or cold causes more wear and tear on plastic parts, decreases efficiency, and spits out more pollution in the exhaust.

Simple inspection and maintenance practices can keep your radiator and cooling system working properly and stop your car from overheating. Here are some things you can do to check on your cooling system:

  • Examine rubber hoses for cracks or missing rings where the hoses attach to the radiator or engine.
  • Make sure the rubber gasket on the radiator cap is creating a proper seal.
  • Monitor your thermostat while driving to make sure your engine is running at a moderate heat.
  • Inspect the coolant level in the reservoir.
  • Look for coolant leaks where you park your car.

If you take these preventive measures to monitor your car’s radiator and cooling system, you’ll be more likely to identify warning signs of a problem. Cracked hoses or a failed gasket need to be replaced. An engine running too hot or too cold, is an indicator of a radiator problem. And if coolant seems to be evaporating, you may have a leak or poorly performing radiator. Taking care of these kinds of problems you can identify on your own, can keep you from getting stranded and prevent your car from overheating.

Need help giving your radiator and cooling system a checkup? Give us a call at 515-423-8185 or click here to schedule an appointment.

Improve Fuel Economy With Proper Engine Maintenance

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improve fuel economy des moines iowaHow much highway driving do you do? Whether you’re planning to take a summer vacation, travel for work, or just have to get on the interstate to head across town, your engine performs best and achieves peak fuel economy during ideal highway driving conditions. In Iowa, that means traveling at 65 miles an hour or better. Cross state lines and the speed limit goes up. That can be good for getting to your destination faster, and it can improve fuel economy, but only if your car’s engine and supporting systems are working properly.

That’s where Beckley’s comes in. Through proper maintenance of your car’s engine, you can get the best fuel economy, drive safe and secure, as well as save a little money in the long run. Proper engine maintenance is simply a matter of discipline.  Some of the issues you need to pay attention to for the best fuel economy include:

  • intake and exhaust restrictions
  • timing and gearing,
  • mechanical resistance, and
  • tire performance

These can have a substantial impact on fuel economy and how well your car runs. Even driving conditions like temperature and wind resistance can have an impact.

Get the most out of every dollar you spend at the pump. Our team of expert technicians can give your can an inspection and recommend needed services to help your vehicle achieve optimal fuel economy for driving around town or when you’re cruising down the interstate. In many cases, a simple tune-up can make a big difference.

Have you been wondering how to go a little farther on a tank of gas, especially as prices at the pump begin to rise with peak travel season approaching? Bring your car in for an inspection and tune-up. We’ll get your engine ready for summer travel. Give us a call at 515-423-8185 or click here schedule an appointment.

Tailpipe Exhaust Color, Is It Bad?

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One of the telltale signs that a car has a problem is colored exhaust or smoke coming from the tailpipe. If there is smoke coming from the tailpipe, its color can often provide clues to help identify the problem.

exhaust smoke color repair des moines iowaOf course, we use high-tech diagnostic tools to troubleshoot all of your car problems, but any information you can provide (like the color of exhaust coming from the tailpipe) can help us identify the problem and get you back on the road faster. Here’s what some exhaust colors can indicate:

White: Your engine may put out white smoke if the fuel mixture has been compromised by water or antifreeze. It’s often caused by a faulty or failed rubber gasket designed to maintain a tight seal to keep antifreeze out. Sometimes a leak can develop if your car overheats and damages a head gasket.

Blue: All it takes to spew blue smoke from your exhaust is a tiny drop of oil leaking on to the engine’s cylinder. Only a mixture of gasoline and oxygen are meant to power your engine. If a gasket or seal has failed, there’s a chance that a small amount of oil may reach the engine’s cylinder and could potentially damage spark plugs. In addition to making any necessary repairs to prevent this, some older cars may also benefit from using thicker engine oil or an additive that can minimize the potential for an oil leak.

Black smoke: If too much fuel gets into the engine’s cylinder and you try to start your car, you may see black smoke coming from your exhaust. In many cases, a poorly-working carburetor is to blame. Black smoke may also be linked to a failing fuel pump, a fuel injector that needs to be cleaned or replaced, or a computer-related problem connected to your engine.

If you see odd colored smoke coming from your tailpipe, getting it checked out before other problems develop is the best idea.

Concerned about smoke coming from your car’s tailpipe? We can help. Give us a call at 515-423-8185 or click here schedule an appointment.

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.

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!