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The Four-Step, Go-Green Guide for Car Owners

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go green, eco-friendly car, beckley automotive, beckley imports, environmentally friendly autosEver heard of Elon Musk? He’s one of the masterminds behind a series of high-tech companies like SpaceX, SolarCity, and PayPal. But he’s not just a savvy businessman and entrepreneur. He’s also an engineer, inventor, investor and founder of Tesla Motors.
If you ever thought about driving a hybrid vehicle or all-electric car to save on gas money, reduce emissions, and protect the environment, driving a Tesla should be on your list. But there’s just one problem with this for most people. The typical price tag for a Tesla starts around $70,000 with luxury models priced at over $100,000.

Pretty expensive. Of course there are more affordable electric and hybrid cars to choose from, too. But what if you’re not in the market to buy a new car or don’t have the cash to drive a Tesla? Is there anything you can do to make your gas-powered vehicle more environmentally-friendly?

Yes! Follow these four steps to go green, save money, and keep your car running efficiently.

  1. Get regular maintenance. Ignoring the little things like regular oil changes, replacing the air filter, changing brake pads, and neglecting to flush the radiator can take a toll on vehicle performance. Taking care of your car can help reduce exhaust emissions, help you get better gas mileage, and save you money in the long run.
  2. Stick with your old car longer. A lot of factors go into buying a new car like a more luxurious interior, electronic upgrades, additional seating, or more storage capacity. But take a closer look at what you’re driving and you might find that your current car is running just fine. Take good care of it, and you’ll be able to drive it longer, save on car payments and insurance, and avoid adding another vehicle to the junkyard.
  3. Recycle car waste. There’s a right way and a wrong way to dispose of car waste. The wrong way: illegally dumping a pile of old tires in the woods, or pouring chemicals down the drain. But it happens, a lot more than you might think. If you want to go green, do your part to make sure car waste like old tires, oil, batteries, and other fluids are recycled or disposed of properly. If you’re not sure how, call us or check with Metro Waste Authority.
  4. Consider an engine replacement. Here’s another way you can go green and cut down on waste when it comes to cars. Instead of buying a new car when your current vehicle needs major engine work, consider getting a rebuilt engine. It will save you a lot of money, improve engine performance, fuel economy, and emissions output.

If you’re not in the market for an electric or hybrid car, or can’t afford one, that doesn’t mean you can’t do your part to help the environment. Smart car care, regular maintenance, and other environmentally-friendly practices can make a difference.

Click here to schedule an appointment, call us at 515-243-8185, or stop by at 901-8th Street in Des Moines.

Dent or Ding? Paintless Dent Removal Can Fix It

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You get in a minor fender bender. Your car door gets dinged with a dent in a parking lot by a mysterious driver who doesn’t stick around or leave a note. Your kid tries some don’t-try-this-at-home stunt on the hood of the car and leaves a dent.

car dent, car ding, minor dent, paintless dent repair, beckley imports, beckley automotive, european car repairStuff happens.

If a dent is big enough, your car will probably need traditional body work that could cost you and your insurance carrier big bucks. But not all dents and dings have to be repaired with new parts, paint, and high labor costs. In many cases, minor fender benders and door dings can be repaired with a process called paintless dent removal.

About 80 to 90 percent of dents can be removed with paintless dent removal. If the dent in your car can be accessed from behind, there’s a good chance it can be removed without the hassle of traditional autobody work that can take a lot more time and money.

Here’s how it works:

  1. You bring your car in to our shop.
  2. We assess the damage. We look at the dent, location, size, and ways to access it from behind by removing lights, panels, etc. If we can fix it, we’ll get out the tools and equipment to get the job done.
  3. We’ll remove all the pieces on your car necessary to access the dent from behind. Then using special tools and measurements, we’ll massage the dent back into place. And voila.
  4. Then we’ll put all the pieces back and call you.
  5. You’ll drive away happy with a dent-free car, and money left in your pocket.

Have you been driving around with a dent or ding that bugs you every time you see it? Kind of takes the fun out of driving sometimes. But it doesn’t have to. Bring your car in for an inspection, and we’ll let you know if that dent or ding can be fixed with paintless dent removal.

Click here to schedule an appointment, call us at 515-243-8185, or stop by at 901-8th Street in Des Moines.

Has Your Car Been Recalled?

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If you’re the owner of a new car and it’s been recalled for some reason, you’ll get a notice directly from the manufacturer. And even though we live in a high-tech world where the car design and manufacturing process gets heavily scrutinized before production begins, recalls do happen.

30-Plus Recalls in a Month. That’s Normal.

automobile recall, vehicle recall, car recall, recall repair, recall serviceFor example, in December alone there were more than 28 recalls from major manufacturers for things like faulty locks, defective fuel pressure, ignition fuel leaks, wiring problems, defective air bag deployment, drive axel issues, and other problems that could potentially lead to a fire or accident.

Recall Notification for Original Owners

If you find out that your car is on the recall list, you also receive instructions on how to get the problem taken care of (usually at an authorized dealer/repair shop specified by the manufacturer).

Sure, it’s a hassle, but it’s better than the alternative that can occur if you choose to do nothing about a known problem. And if you do find out your car has been recalled, take care of it as soon as possible. Sometimes manufacturers end up putting customers on a waiting list because they run out of parts needed to complete the recall repair.

If You’re Not the Original Owner…

So what happens if you’re not the original owner of a car when a recall is issued? Nothing. You won’t get a visit from the Car Recall Response Team, letter in the mail, or even a phone call from a spammy-looking number.

Want to find out if your car has been recalled? Check with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Visit the site and check Recalls & Defects to see if your car has been recalled for a problem. You can also find recall info on tires, motorcycles, and travel trailers.

Deadline for Recall Repairs

Car recalls happen pretty frequently. But there’s one detail you don’t hear very often from car manufacturers when a recall occurs. You have up to 10 years from the original sale date of the car to get a no-cost repair for a recall.

If your car doesn’t seem to be running right, or you’re concerned it may have been issued a recall, do something about it. Check with the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, or bring your car in for an inspection. Our team of certified and experienced mechanics stay up to date on the latest recalls, and can let you know if your car is on the list.

Click here to schedule an appointment, call us at 515-243-8185, or stop by at 901-8th Street in Des Moines.

Not your Typical Repair Shop

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You’re in a rush to pick up your kids from school. But with afternoon traffic and hundreds of other parents trying to do the same thing, you’re running behind. And if it’s not picking up kids, you probably know what it’s like to fight traffic when you’re trying to get to work, go on vacation, make a delivery, or get to an important appointment.

car repair, beckley automotive, beckley imports, great customer service, auto repair des moinesSo what do you do? You deal with it. You listen to the radio, talk to others in the car, check your phone messages (But no texting while driving. It’s against the law in Iowa), or people-watch as drivers and other cars go by. All the while, you’re counting on your car to get you from here to there.

But what happens when your car has a problem?

All hell breaks loose. Right? Or at least that’s what it can feel like.

It happened to an Altoona mom recently. Her car overheated. Quick thinking and a Google search pointed her to our shop, and she rolled in with smoke and steam billowing from under the hood. Fortunately, it wasn’t a major problem, but it was going to take the rest of the afternoon to repair. And that had this mom a little worried.

“I just picked up my daughter from school,” she said. “And I took the afternoon off to take her shopping, and spend some time together.” She was worried their plans were going to be canceled because of car trouble.

Our waiting area is nice and comfortable, but there’s probably other places you’d like to be with some free time on your hands. We like taking care of our customers, so we worked out an arrangement that let this mom keep the shopping date with her daughter (check it out, here). A couple hours later, and we had her car fixed and ready to roll.

“We had a wonderful afternoon,” she said. That’s not the typical response you expect to hear when you ask someone about getting their car repaired. But then again, we’re not your typical auto shop.

We’re the best automotive repair shop serving the Des Moines area since 1979.

Got car trouble? Need repair work done, or just routine maintenance? We can help. Click here to schedule a service appointment, contact us at 515-243-8185, or stop by at 901-8th Street in Des Moines.

Cold-Weather Tips to Improve Gas Mileage

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If you’re planning a road trip during the holidays, travel for work, or still have a lot of present shopping to do, you’re probably going to put a fair amount of miles on your car.

All the usual routine maintenance is important. But a more immediate cost you’re probably keenly aware of is the price of gas.

cold weather gas mileage, winter gas mileage, tips for winter fuel economyRight now gas prices are better than they have been for a while. In Des Moines, gas prices for regular unleaded range from $2.19 a gallon to $2.59 a gallon. But even with lower gas prices making things a little easier on your budget, it still makes sense to get the best fuel economy possible. Cold weather can interfere with fuel economy. But it doesn’t have to. Follow these five tips to improve gas mileage during the winter months.

  1. Park Inside. Whenever possible park your car in a place that’s out of the elements. A warm garage is best. Start your car when it’s already a little warm, and fuel economy will be better than trying to warm up a cold engine.
  1. Evaluate Your Travel Plans. Before you hop in the car and drive to work, the store, drop kids off at school, or go do something else, take a little time to evaluate your plans for the day. Look for ways you can combine trips. You’ll drive less, and you won’t be starting up a cold engine over and over.
  1. Don’t Idle Your Engine. If you’re serious about getting better gas mileage during the winter, don’t idle your engine. A lot of people do this to warm up their vehicle, but it’s wastes fuel, costing you more at the pump. If you really feel the need to warm up your engine, give it 30 to 60 seconds, and then be on your way.
  1. Check Tire Pressure. If you drive a newer car, it may be equipped with a Tire Pressure Monitoring Sensor. If you get a warning about low tire pressure, add some air. Driving around with low tire pressure, can wear out your tires faster, can be dangerous in bad weather, and reduces fuel economy. If you don’t have a TPMS system in your car, get out a tire gauge to check tire pressure, or bring it in for an inspection.
  1. Limit the Use of the Defroster and Heated Seats. Driving with a clear windshield is important. But you probably don’t need to run your defroster non-stop. And heated seats are really just a luxury some cars have. Both of these features take a toll on fuel economy, so only used them as necessary.

Get better gas mileage during the winter months by following these tips. Routine maintenance can make a big difference in fuel economy, too. And we can help. Click here to schedule a service appointment, contact us at 515-243-8185, or stop by at 901-8th Street in Des Moines.

Are your Anti-Lock Brakes Working?

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Good Vibrations: Your Anti-Lock Brakes Are Working

With snow already in the upcoming forecast, there’s a good chance that sometime during the Iowa winter you’re going to need to step on the brakes, hard. The person in front of you suddenly brakes during rush-hour traffic. A car slides out in front of you on an icy or snowy patch of road. You’re cruising down the Interstate when you roll up to a multi-car pile-up (yes, it happens in Des Moines at least once a year), and need to slow down fast.

Anti-Lock Brakes, ABS, winter driving, driving on snow, brake checkup

Step on the brakes, and you’re counting on the brake pads or drum, and rotors to evenly slow you down and bring your car to a stop. And on most cars, there’s one more built-in safety feature designed to help you handle your car better when you have to stop in a hurry…anti-lock brakes.

Anti-Lock Brakes Improve Driving Safety

Anti-lock brakes are meant to prevent you from stuff like skidding into an accident and laying a ton of rubber on the road in the process. And it works. Step on the brakes hard, and you’ll experience rapid vibrations designed to keep you from going into a full-on skid. It’s actually a good idea to try braking hard when no one is around, just to get a feel for what engaging anti-lock brakes feel like.

Most Cars Are Made with Anti-Lock Brakes

So who gets the credit for inventing anti-lock brakes? This braking safety feature has actually been around a lot longer than you might think. It was the brainchild of the now-defunct Jensen Motors, a British auto maker. The company designed the first anti-skid braking system in 1958, and then used it on the production line to make the Jensen FF Sports Sedan in 1966.

At first anti-lock brakes were too expensive, and only appeared on high-end sport and luxury cars. But with changes in technology, manufacturing and production, the price for anti-lock brakes dropped. Now most cars are equipped with anti-lock brakes to make driving safer for everyone.

Need your brakes checked before the first big winter storm arrives? Don’t wait to find out. Let us inspect your brake pads, rotors, drums, and anti-lock braking system.

Click here to schedule a service appointment, contact us at 515-243-8185, send us an email at service@beckleyimports.com, or stop by at 901-8th Street in Des Moines.

Find a Good Auto Repair Shop Before You Need One

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If you drive an older car, the chances of something going wrong are probably going to be higher than driving a car home from a dealership. But that doesn’t mean new cars won’t have problems. While you might not want to think about it, do you know where you’ll take your car if it does need a repair?

You should. You don’t have to look far to know that prices among auto mechanics can vary widely on parts and service. And unless you’ve done your homework, you might not know anything about a shop’s customer service, track record, and warranties before someone has your car up on a hydraulic lift.

auto repair shop downtown des moines iowaYou’ll save yourself time, money, and worry, if you know where to take your car when it needs to be fixed, instead of scrambling to find a good mechanic. Here’s how to find one:

Ask Your Friends for a Referral

While Google may help you find a long list of auto shops in Des Moines, you still won’t know a lot about them. Ask your friends for a referral. It’s a good place to start your own research to find a place to take care of your car.

Check Qualifications

Online reviews can tell you a lot about a business, customer service, and quality of work. But don’t base you decision on choosing a mechanic entirely on word-of-mouth. You can also check to see if the business is registered with the state of Iowa, the city of Des Moines, the local Chamber of Commerce, and the Better Business Bureau. You can also check to see if the shop has mechanics on staff with an Automotive Service Excellence certification.

Ask about Warranty Work

If your car is still covered under warranty and need repairs, read the fine print. You may need to take your car to an authorized dealer, but in some cases an approved shop may be able to do the work covered by your warranty, too. You’ll also want to ask the manage about what type of work they warranty, and what type of work or repairs it covers.

Get Details about Diagnostic Testing

In most cases, before any kind of repair is made to your car, a mechanic starts with diagnostic testing to determine, identify, or confirm the problem that needs to be repaired. When you’re looking for a shop, ask if they charge for diagnostic testing. In many cases, basic diagnostic tests are free, while more labor-intensive testing to identify a problem may come with a fee. Some shops will waive the fee if you have them perform the needed repair.

Get a Second Opinion

Even after you’ve found a shop you trust, it’s always a good idea to get a second opinion, especially with an expensive repair. You could take your car to a second shop and have their team give you a quote. Or you could ask your mechanic for the details, and simply call another shop and see what they would do the work for. Either way, getting a second opinion for expensive car repairs can save you time, money, and anxiety in the long run.

Get It In Writing

Reputable shops will gladly give you a quote for work that needs to be performed. It’s important to get this in writing, before you agree to any repairs. That way when it comes time to settle your bill there are no surprises.

If your car needs routine maintenance or a major repair, we can help. We’ve been keeping cars on the roads for Des Moines drivers for more than 30 years. And we’re proud of our reputation for friendly customer service and outstanding work on thousands of cars.

Need a good mechanic? Do your homework, and then click here to schedule a service appointment, contact us at 515-243-8185, send us an email at service@beckleyimports.com, or stop by at 901-8th Street in Des Moines.

If You Don’t Replace Your Car’s Air Filter…

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Anytime you get some basic service done on your car, a good mechanic will check a number of important things that can have a major impact on engine performance. One of those things happens to be your car’s air filter.

car air filter replacementCar Air Filter Inspection: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Many technicians like to pull out the air filter under the hood and show you what it looks like. If it’s new and relatively clean, the filter will be a nice, bright white. With a little age, it might have a dull-gray color. And if it’s been trying to protect your engine for far too long, it might be borderline black and filled with tiny dust-like particles. We’ve even seen air filters neglected for so long that they’re even packed with bigger debris like leaves and small twigs.

How Much Does a New Car Air Filter Cost?
Replacing an air filter is a relatively easy thing to do. It’s something most people can do on their own, once they know where to find the air filter and how to remove/replace the old one. A new air filter at an auto parts store typically $10 to $25.

But a lot of people neglect to replace the air filter. Sometimes it’s just because they don’t want the cost of a typical oil change to double in price. And sometimes, it’s just something people forget to do. Unfortunately, neglecting to replace your air filter on a regular basis could cost you a lot more than a bag of groceries.

A Bad Car Air Filter Damage the Mass Air Flow Sensor

Your engine is powered by a mixture of air and fuel. The amount of air your engine gets is regulated by a part called a mass air flow sensor. For the most part, the mass air flow sensor isn’t one of those parts that needs to be replaced on a regular basis like brakes and belts. However, running your car for mile after mile with a dirty air filter will take a toll on the mass air flow sensor. If it fails, industry estimates show the average repair cost to replace the mass air flow sensor runs about $400.

Need your air filter changed or routine maintenance to help prevent costly repairs? We can help. 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.