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It’s Not Too Early to Get Your Car Ready for Winter Driving

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car battery, winter driving bmw des moines iowa

It’s hard to imagine prepping your car for fall and winter driving with the 80+ degree temps we’re currently enjoying.  But reality is that fall is practically here and that means football, turkey, presents and HARSH WINTER DRIVING are just around the corner.

TIP:  When you see the garden centers closing up and the patio furniture on clearance at the stores – it’s time to winterize.

winter driving bmw des moines iowaWinter puts an amazing strain on your car’s systems and fluids.  And if you leave your car outdoors overnight, it endures even more punishment.  Here’s what you should do now to avoid shivering on the roadside waiting for a tow.

Get caught up on recommended maintenance

If the summer was just too busy, it’s a good idea to get caught up on the simple things.  We’re sure that with other shops you’ve visited, you might have felt “taken” a bit with add-ons and extras that didn’t seem necessary.  We guarantee that our technicians will recommend only what’s necessary for your vehicle and give you clear guidance on additional maintenance items that you should consider.

TIP:  Sometimes you just feel like asking, “Is it OK if I wait on servicing say…my water pump…until the next time I visit?”  Don’t feel awkward about it! At Beckley, you’ll get an honest answer that does not contain a hidden agenda or innuendo.  We’ve built our business on honesty and good value…so ask any question you’d like and we’ll give you a straightforward answer.

Kick the tires

Possibly the most essential element in the winter equation is tires.  If you don’t do a summer/winter tire switch, make sure you have tread – and lots of it.  Sometimes when you’re at that “in between” stage where there’s probably just enough tread to get by until Spring, this is a tough decision.  Safety should be your first consideration here.  Stopping distances go through the roof on snow and ice and tread is your friend.

Get the cooling system ready to be REALLY cool

It might seem like “cooling” systems are less relevant in the winter.  It’s true you’re less likely to have overheating issues from a 10-minute drive when it’s 20 degrees outside.  But a properly operating cooling system is essential to your engine’s life at ALL temperatures.  Freezing temps can really push an old water pump to the limit, so if you’re approaching or are over the max life for that part – consider a proactive replacement.

Put the scraper and winter emergency kit back in the vehicle

It’s a great idea to keep a plastic bin containing simple roadside survival items in your trunk.  Be sure to check your items each year for expiration dates and put in fresh batteries. Some things to include are:

  • spare gloves/hats
  • jackets
  • flashlights
  • first aid kit
  • blankets
  • small shovel
  • food
  • knife
  • chains
  • jumper cables

TIP:  Consider putting one or more 40 pound sandbags in the rear of your car.  This will help with traction in a rear wheel drive car of course.  But a side benefit is that if you get stuck, you can grab the knife from your winter safety kit, cut open the bag, and lay the sand down under and around your tires for extra traction.  You’d be surprised how much this helps when things get slick and you’re spinning those gorgeous wheels.

Now is the perfect time to schedule an appointment online to get your car ready for the harsh Iowa winter. Our convenient shuttle can get you to work or home and our service advisers can help you with further transportation arrangements. Call Beckley Automotive today!

Oil Changes Every 3,000 Miles? Not So Fast…

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des moines oil change, european car service tips

Did you know automobile oil never wears out? It’s the additives in oil that help keep your engine clean and protected that cause the problems. Plus, oil gets dirty and abrasive from combustion contaminants which leads to sludge* and premature wear.

*We see more engine failures from sludge than old age. Sludge occurs from using the wrong oil or not changing oil frequently enough. It becomes thick like tar then clogs the oil passages. Not unlike what happens to us with a bad diet.

des moines oil change, european car service tipsConventional wisdom was “change your oil every 3,000 miles. Today, some new car manufacturers are recommending 10-15,000 miles between oil changes. How do you know what’s right for your car without spending TOO much? The answer depends on two considerations:

1.Conventional or Synthetic Oil?

Conventional petroleum based oils offer excellent protection for most circumstances and are recommended by many automobile manufacturers. They are also less expensive than synthetic oil.

Synthetic oils hold up better under extremes of temperature and extended drain intervals of 10,000 miles or more*. The only drawback is they can cost twice as much as conventional – about $8-$10 per quart.

*If you go an extended drain interval you need a premium oil filter to last as long as your oil, not the discount filters sometimes used to keep the price down.

At Beckley Automotive, we always advise using the type of oil the manufacturer recommends. Failure to do so can jeopardize any warranties and, as we’ve experienced, will hurt your engine if it’s not up to specification. We can tell you what your car’s manufacturer recommends.

2.How Do You Drive Your Car?

Your owners manual typically has two maintenance schedules. One for “Ideal” driving conditions, one for “Severe” conditions. How do your driving habits stack up? Unless you primarily drive long distances, most of us operate our cars under “severe” conditions. Here, your manual says to cut the “ideal” service intervals in half.

[one_third]

Ideal Driving Conditions

  • Mostly highway miles
  • Moderate temperatures
  • Moderate loads
  • Dust free environment[/one_third]

Severe Driving Conditions

  • Frequent trips under 10 miles or stop & go (city) driving
  • Very hot or cold temps (below freezing)
  • Towing or heavy loads
  • Dusty, unpaved roads

 

And The Answer Is…

Based on the car and oil manufacturers recommendations and our long experience with all European car engines we recommend to change conventional oil every 5000 miles and synthetic oil every 7500 miles. This is based on the typical mix of temperatures and driving styles we experience in Central Iowa.

One Final Consideration

If you drive a particular car infrequently, say under 7500 annually, change your oil once a year. Just because your oil lasts 15,000 miles doesn’t mean everything else will. Our experts will report on your tires, brakes, steering, etc. so you know your car is safe for you and your family. Do this in the fall if you’re going to store it. It will last longer with clean fluids.

When we change your oil at Beckley Automotive, your car gets a 30 point written safety inspection performed by a certified technician with years of training and experience on European cars just like yours. They know what to look for and how to respond to prevent any problems while you’re on the road. We use Mobil oil and original equipment (or better!) filters to ensure the longest life for your car and protect any warranties you might have. Plus we have the proper equipment to reset your service lights. Don’t forget – you also get a free car wash with every service.

So be sure to call us the next time you need service. We’ll be glad to give you a price and explain all the benefits our car care specialists will provide. Or you can go online and Schedule your service appointment today.

Keep Your Car Cool in Iowa’s Extreme Heat

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overheated car, summer heat, extreme heat wave, Beckley AutomotiveThe recent heat wave here in Des Moines basically has us melting and remembering with fondness winter snow storms. While we rely on the air conditioning in our homes, offices and cars to save the day, we don’t usually think about other critical auto maintenance necessary in Iowa summer’s extreme heat.

  1. Stay on top of tire pressure. Weather plays a big role in your tire pressure: cold weather can cause your tires to be under-inflated while hot weather can cause them to be OVER inflated. When your tire pressure is off, it can lower your gas mileage and cause extra and uneven wear on the tread. Make sure you check your tire pressure during extreme heat and keep tires inflated to the number printed on the vehicle door placard or in the owner’s manual, not the number on the tire.
  2. Maintain your cooling system. Does it take forever for your auto air conditioner to actually get cold? If you haven’t flushed your cooling system in the last 5 years, that could be why. Engines these days have a lot of aluminum parts and require great corrosion protection to last longer. It’s also a good idea to park out of the sun whenever possible so your air conditioner doesn’t have to work so hard.
  3. Top off all fluids. Motor oil does so much more than keeping the moving parts moving – it also absorbs heat from all the friction. You’re aware that you need to keep coolant at the right levels, but there is a lot of evaporation going on under the hood that a lot of people forget about. You’ll burn through transmission fluid faster and battery fluids don’t always last through extended high temperatures, like we’ve seen recently.
  4. Plan for an emergency. Nobody wants to think they could get stranded out in the middle of nowhere during the summer, but planning ahead could save a life. Put together an emergency package with things like bottled water, a flashlight, a car charger for your cell phone, a first-aid kit, road flares, granola bars, instant cold packs that activate when needed, and anything else you think you might need in an emergency. It’s always better to have something and not need it than to need something and not have it.

This extreme heat will pass, but make sure you can get your car through it without any major breakdowns or problems. If you think ahead and stay prepared, you can save yourself a lot of trouble and a lot of money.

Need to make sure your car is ready for the current extreme heat and brutal summer months ahead? No matter the make or model, you can contact Beckley Imports today to schedule an appointment online, give us a call at 515-243-8185, or visit us downtown at 901 8th Street!

Specialized B Service for Your Mercedes-Benz

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Mercedes B service and maintenance in Des Moines, Iowa
Mercedes B service and maintenance in Des Moines, Iowa

The 2012-Mercedes-SLK-AMG-V8-Engine, A thing of beauty!

The servicing of European vehicles is a delicate process and needs just the right touch from an experienced professional. Precision automobiles like the Mercedes-Benz require specific maintenance and check ups at different mileage thresholds. The Mercedes-Benz B Service, for instance, should take place at approximately 20,000 miles or one year after the previous A service. Beckley Automotive’s expert technicians are certified and ready to service your Mercedes-Benz to keep it running at top performance.

The Mercedes-Benz B Service Includes:

Interior
· Function check
· Check warning and indicator lamps, illumination and interior lighting
· Check windshield wiper, windshield washer system, headlamp cleaning system
· Reset maintenance service counter in instrument cluster
· Replace dust filter (not applicable to SL-Class)
· Replace combination filter (SL-Class)
· Check parking brake (function test only)

Wheels, Brakes
· Check condition/thickness of front and rear brake discs
· Check front and rear brake pads for lining thickness
· Check tires for damage and condition
· Measure tread depth, record in mm
· Correct tire inflation pressure

Underside of Vehicle
· Check for major components leakage
· Check for chafe marks, line routing, damaged components
· Check condition of front axle ball joints and rubber boots
· Check condition of mechanical steering components and rubber boots

Engine Compartment
· Check for major components leakage
· Check for chafe marks, line routing, damaged components
· Check and replenish all fluid levels
· Change engine oil and filter
· Check engine cooling system, antifreeze and corrosion protection
· Check brake system
· Check power steering
· Check Active Body Control
· Check windshield washer system
· Check and correct battery fluid level
· Check battery condition
· Check catch, safety catch and hinges on engine hood for proper operation
· Check condition of poly V-belt

Trunk
· Check battery condition
· Correct tire inflation pressure in spare tire

The Mercedes-Benz is a high performance, precision vehicle and it requires very specific timing for service to keep it running like new. The Mercedes-Benz Flex Schedule maintenance program reminds the driver when certain services are due. The very first service, an inspection and tire rotation, should occur at between 5,00 and 6,000 miles. The A Service occurs at 10,000 miles or one year after the initial service, whichever comes first. The B Service is then due after the next 10,000 miles or one year after the A Service. If this schedule is followed and maintenance is performed by certified, expert technicians like the ones at Beckley Automotive, you can expect a long life and high performance from your Mercedes-Benz.

Schedule your auto service or repair online HERE,  give us a call at 515-243-8185, or visit our shop at 901 8th Street in Downtown Des Moines.

Automotive Innovations to Expect in the Near Future

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Innovations, Image Courtesy Acura

Image Courtesy Acura

The automotive world changes every year with new models, new technology, and new safety features to please the most dedicated car enthusiast. Innovations for luxury vehicle safety, military vehicles, high-performance hybrids, and “green” manufacturing topped the list for 2015, according to Popular Science Magazine. Here are some highlights of what’s new:

  • In May 2015, the first ever “supercar” was created using 3D-printed parts and cutting factory emissions by up to 90 percent. The Blade, a high-performance automobile that uses carbon-fiber shafts and 3D-printed joints for the chassis, weighs only 1,400 pounds and accelerates from 0-60 in only 2.5 seconds. Created by Divergent Microfactories as a sustainable manufacturing platform, this car is fast, strong and was assembled in around 30 minutes, greatly reducing resources used such as space, energy, materials and time.
  • Oshkosh Defence has created a light combat tactical all-terrain vehicle to withstand bomb blasts and to protect the soldiers inside. It uses similar ballistic protection to a light tank and is expected to replace the Humvee over the next few years with its off-road agility and bomb-resistant shaping.
  • Hybrids are gaining popularity for being eco-friendly, but haven’t taken over the industry due to lack of handling and responsiveness. The Acura NSX for 2017 may change that. While the price is still pretty astronomical, starting around $155,000, the NSX promises to be the first high-performance sports coupe hybrid. It combines an electric motor that offers zero-delay acceleration with a twin-turbo V-6 engine, a motor at each front wheel, and precision power through torque vectoring.
  • Volvo has long been thought of one of the safest cars on the road, and certainly raises the bar with the Volvo XC90. At a much-more affordable starting price of $43,950, the safety features developed for this vehicle may change auto technology for the future. The XC90 offers USB and auxiliary connectors, a built-in hotspot for constant connectivity, and Sensus navigation to get you to your destination with as few distractions as possible. But the safety features are what really set the XC90 apart; using cameras, radar and body sensors, this car will alert a distracted driver to impending crashes or drifting off the road, will engage the brakes if you turn into the path of an oncoming car in an intersection, and crumples the seat frames downward and tightens seatbelts if your car does leave the road.

The future of the automobile industry is already here and could be taking over the roads of Des Moines in the next few years. You can trust Beckley’s expert technicians to stay in front of the technology and to always be ready to take care of your import or domestic vehicle care and repair needs.

Until one of the above beauties is actually in your garage, Beckley’s is ready to help you maintain your current vehicle, whether foreign or domestic, innovative or old school. Click here to schedule an appointment, call us at 515-243-8185, or stop by at 901-8th Street in Des Moines.

Roadside Assistance Plans Keep You on the Go

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roadside assistance plan

roadside assistance planDuring the spring and 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 something else to hit a travel dead end. 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.

So 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 pays for itself the first time you use it. 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.

At Beckley Imports and Beckley Automotive, we’ve been taking care of 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 call for a tow truck can cost $50 or more. And paying out of pocket for some of the other services typically 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. Click here to schedule an appointment, call us at 515-243-8185, or stop by at 901-8th Street in Des Moines.

How Much Does a Tesla Really Cost?

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Earlier this week an estimated 300,000 people forked over a $1,000 deposit to reserve a Tesla Model 3 electric car designed by entrepreneur Elon Musk. The car hasn’t even gone into production yet, and won’t be available for a couple years. When the Model 3 does begin rolling off the production line, buyers will pay an estimated $35,000 for this vehicle.

Some industry analysts said the recent Tesla launch created the kind of buzz similar to Apple releasing its latest iPhone. So what’s so great about this car?

tesla repair bills, electric car repairsThe driving force behind the popularity of Tesla’s latest announcement to create an electric car far below the $70,000-plus price tag of earlier models is its price point. But take closer look, and there’s more than one reason for its mass appeal. It can travel about 300 miles on a single charge. Step on the accelerator (not the gas pedal), and you can go from 0 to 60 mph in less than six seconds. And it’s got a 15-inch laptop or tablet-style display that gives you all the information you need while driving.

Pretty enticing if you’re in the market for an electric car, and have the cash or financing to pay for it, right? We hope to see Tesla make the Model 3 a success. But Tesla owners could be in for a surprise when their car needs to be repaired. Industry research on current Tesla models shows that repairing a minor scratch or dent can cost an estimated $7,000. Some repair costs to its aluminum body for bigger dents or damage can range from $11,000 to $30,000. And mechanical repairs are just as expensive.

In other words, minor repair work to a Tesla could cost as much as a used car. And major repairs could be as much as the price tag for a new gas-powered car. That’s certainly something to think about before dropping $1,000 to reserve a Model 3, and fork over the balance when the car comes off the production line.

Owning a Tesla or other electric car can likely save you money in the long run, and have less of an impact on the environment. But if you’re not in the market for one, or can’t afford one, keeping your gas-powered car well-maintained can still save you money. Simple repairs and regular maintenance can have a big impact on fuel economy, performance and longevity.

Until the Tesla Model 3 electric car comes out, keep your gas-powered car running smoothly with regular oil changes, maintenance, and any necessary repairs by coming in to see us. Click here to schedule an appointment, call us at 515-243-8185, or stop by at 901-8th Street in Des Moines.

Low on Oil? Aging Piston Rings May Be the Problem

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white exhaust smoke, aging piston rings, beckley automotive, beckley importsMost car manufacturers recommend changing the oil in your car every 3,000 miles. It’s a good practice to maintain your engine and keep clean oil running through all its moving parts.

But if you’re ultra-busy, changing the oil on your own or taking your car to a shop for an oil change doesn’t always happen. Sound familiar? We’ve seen cars that haven’t had an oil change in 5,000 and even 10,000 miles.

Check the Oil

You might be able to make it that long without an oil change, but it can have disastrous and expensive consequences. A simple solution: check your oil periodically. To get the most accurate reading, wait until your engine is cooled, like in the morning before you start the car. Pop open the hood, find the dipstick and pull it out. Using a paper towel, wipe the dipstick clean and then push it all the way back in. No when you pull it back out, you can get a true view of your oil level. If the dipstick has semi-clear oil up to the “full” mark, you’re in good shape.

Too Low, Too Often?

What if it’s low? For a short-term solution, add a quart of oil recommended for your car’s engine and check the level on the dip stick again. That’s better than driving around with a low oil level. However, if your car seems to be burning a lot of oil, faulty piston rings may be to blame. Other telltale signs of faulty piston rings include:

  • White or gray smoke coming from the exhaust
  • Slow response time for accelerating when you press the gas pedal
  • Noticeable decrease in power and overall performance

Compression Test Best Way to Check Piston Rings for Oil Leak

If your car seems to be perpetually low on oil, the pistons may be leaking oil. It happens, especially as you rack up the miles on your car. Moveable parts just don’t last forever. If your car exhibits any of the signs above, a compression test is the standard used to check for piston ring leaks. If the test reveals low pressure levels in the engine, aging piston rings are likely the cause.

Need an oil change for your car? Wondering if your car is burning an excessive amount of oil? We can help. Click here to schedule an appointment, call us at 515-243-8185, or stop by at 901- 8th Street in Des Moines.

Delaying Auto Repairs Can Cost You Big

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When your car stops running it’s easy to know that something major is wrong and you have no choice but to head to your mechanic immediately.

don't delay auto repairs, beckley automotive beckley importsBut what happens when there’s a minor noise, a slight firing delay, an occasional stutter? You can still drive the car so it must not be catastrophic, right? The demands of real life – work, family, friends, fun – certainly enable us to put off that visit to the auto shop as long as the car still gets us from point A to point B every day. Plus, who wants to spend the money if they don’t absolutely have to?

Putting off auto repairs is never a good idea. Let us explain:

  1. Your antifreeze is leaking, but it’s only a little bit. You can just add more every week, right? Unfortunately, that can only exacerbate the problem and you will still probably overheat your engine, causing a chain reaction to the tune of thousands of dollars. Ignoring a “little” problem can spread like a virus throughout your engine. Each system is connected to and relies on another, so if one isn’t working properly, it can cause the next system to fail, as well. Then you’re staring down the barrel of a multi-problem fix instead of just the original “little” one.
  2. That knocking in your engine has been there off and on for a couple weeks without any issues, so you’re cruising down the interstate on your way to the tournament or a hot date. Suddenly, the knock becomes more insistent, louder, the wheel begins to shake, smoke pours out from under the hood and with a last sputtering gasp, the engine quits completely while you limp to the side of the road. Now what? You’re late to your appointment plus you’re out the cost of a tow truck and a taxi (or a favor to a friend) as well as the parts and repairs. You have to sit on the side of the road alone, or with your family stuck in a dead car with nothing to keep them entertained, while other cars and semis zoom past at terrifying speeds within inches of you and what you hold most dear.
  3. A regularly scheduled oil change and routine inspection may feel inconvenient and, for many, falls under the category of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” But those inspections are imperative to keeping your car running and keeping you and your family safe. It’s more than just an oil change and a cursory glance under the hood. Routine inspections are where minor leaks, dirty filters, frayed wires and loose screws are found. If these things are skipped you are looking at the possibility of whole lot more than just inconvenience!

Are you sure you want to gamble with the life of your car’s engine and the safety and peace of mind of your family and passengers? No one wants to be stranded on the side of the road in the middle of the night, or worse, during rush hour!

Don’t wait until your engine figuratively – or literally! – falls out, dead, in the middle of the road. Bring your foreign or domestic auto into Beckley’s for minor repairs, a check-up and oil change! Click here to schedule an appointment, call us at 515-243-8185, or stop by at 901-8th Street in Des Moines.

 

Spring Break Road Trip? Give Your Car a Check-Up Before You Go

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spring break, road trip, car inspection, beckley automotive, beckley importsWhat are your plans for spring break?

It’s that time of year when a lot of people take a road trip. Some will catch a plane and head to super-sunny places like Hawaii, Cancun, or the Bahamas. But for a lot of people with kids home from school, a week off work, or a spring-fever feeling for some much needed R&R, getting behind the wheel and driving to a spring break destination is the way to go.

Preventing Car Trouble Can Save Your Vacation

Sounds simple enough, right? Pick your destination. Pack up the car. And hit the road. But what happens when you’re in the middle of nowhere and your car has a problem. You can’t anticipate every car problem you might experience on a road trip. But you can take steps to prevent car trouble from spoiling your spring break.

Inspection Time – Before You Go…

Take a few minutes to inspect your car before you go. Check the following:

  • Tires – Check the tire pressure. Make sure it’s inflated to the manufacturer’s recommended PSI. Low tire pressure can reduce gas mileage and cause the tires to wear faster. Inspect the tread, too. Bald spots or bulges raise your risk for a flat or a blowout. And if you don’t have a decent amount of tread left, traction, regardless of the weather, will be compromised.
  • Belts and Hoses – Pop the hood and inspect the belts and hoses like the ones attached to the engine and radiator. These are usually made of rubber and can become loose or cracked over time. Taking care of any aging belts or hoses before your trip can save you a lot of headaches down the road.
  • Fluids and Filters – It’s also a good idea to check fluid levels for key operating systems (i.e. oil, brake fluid, power steering fluid, windshield wiper fluid, and antifreeze). A clean air filter will also help improve gas mileage for your road trip.
  • Lights and Wipers – Have someone step on the brakes, turn on the lights, and use the turn signals, while you walk around the car. It only takes a few minutes, but can alert you to any lights that need to be replaced before your road trip. Check the lights inside your car, too. And if it’s been a while since you replaced your wiper blades, before your trip would be a good time to replace them, especially if you know you’ll be traveling in rainy or snowing conditions.
  • Battery and Brakes – To give your battery a basic inspection, make sure it’s got a good connection, and the battery terminals are free of acid or corrosion. And if your brakes are squeaking or you feel a lot of vibrations when you slow down, it may be time for new pads and/or rotors. Or bring your car in for a battery and brake inspection.

When you make plans to take a road trip for spring break, you want to enjoy the experience. Making sure your car gets you there and back without any problems will help, regardless of your destination.

Ready for a pre-road-trip inspection? Click here to schedule an appointment, call us at 515-243-8185, or stop by at 901-8th Street in Des Moines.