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Yes, Cold Weather Can Damage Your Performance Tires

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Some performance tires can crack in the cold!

We all know those cool summer tires not only lack grip in cold weather, but did you know they can also be damaged in these freezing temperatures?

cold weather damage performance tiresRubber products, including tires, become more rigid as temperatures get this low. We’ve even seen performance tires not only lose traction and grip, but crack and damage beyond repair due to our Iowa blow freezing wind-chills.

General Motors notably advises against such driving during colder chills, at the risk of developing damaging cracks in their tires. Also, important to owners looking forward to those zippy spring drives, it’s imperative to have their tires thoroughly inspected by a professional.

GM went as far as to publish a notice in January of 2014 saying:

“…avoid driving, moving, or test-driving vehicles equipped with high-performance summer-only tires below 20º F as operating at these temperatures can cause damage to the tires.”

In many manufacturers’ quest to deliver “the ultimate handling” in their higher-end cars, they’ve built performance tires with essentially a racing compound to deliver the goods. These tires are great for driving in temperate areas and are ideally suited for track use, but the practicality of the tires stops there.  And while Iowa does have it’s own NASCAR track, it certainly isn’t running with temperatures as low as we see them today (-30 windchill projected!).

Pirelli, the king of performance tires, explains that in colder temperatures, the performance tread compound becomes so stiff on such tires that it can lead to cracking when deformed. In measuring the hardness of numerous brands of summer tires at 0º F, {they’ve} found the tread becomes almost inflexible and the tires lose their bounce when dropped. The cracking is characterized as cosmetic, but in {their} experience any cracking shouldn’t be taken lightly as it can evolve over time. If there is crack, you should replace the tire.

Here is what you need to do if you own or are considering purchasing performance tires for your car (tips from Consumer Reports).

  1. If you’re considering buying a new car with performance tires:  check the tires on the car for cracking in the tread area. The car may have only a few miles on the odometer, but if it has been parked in the cold and moved around during transport or by the dealer, the tires could have cracked. This is the time to have the dealer change the effected tires, because once you make the deal and drive off, it’s your headache.
  2. If you own a car with summer tires: refrain from using it at all in cold temperatures as the tires may crack. Leave it parked. Beyond cracking concerns, summer tires have diminished grip below 40º F on dry and wet roads and virtually little to no grip on snow and ice.
  3. If you bought your dream car with summer tires on it and live in an area that does have winter: consider using performance all-season tires or dedicated winter tires. These will provide better cold-weather grip and preserve the pricey summer times for the other seasons.

There are a number of all-season tires that also offer higher performance and grip in the warmer months. But for your safety and the benefit to your car’s wheels and general health, make sure you’re driving on the tires best suited for the weather dominant to your area.

Beckley Auto offers a 30-point inspection for all makes and models of cars. Tire inspection is part of that package, and before you drive through this winter, risking potentially expensive repairs or dangerous conditions, have one of our technicians offer the best solutions for your Winter driving.

Click here to schedule an appointment to have your car’s tires inspected today.

 

Winter Weather Driving Caused Most Accidents in Iowa History

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It’s that time of year when Mother Nature gives the Des Moines area the old one-two punch with bouts of bad weather and then tries to fake us out with sunshine and clear skies. Some winters are no doubt milder than others, but it doesn’t take much to turn winter weather driving conditions into a white-knuckled experience.

safe driving and car repairs in des moinesFor example, last winter snow storms began making their way across Iowa, turning highways, key arterials, and roadways into a wintery slip-and-slide. From Dec. 1, 2013 to Feb. 1, 2014, four major accidents blocked Iowa highways for hours, caused thousands of dollars in damage, and sent dozens of people to the hospital. In one of the biggest crashes in Iowa history, a single collision on icy roads on Interstate 80 during rush hour created a chain reaction that caused a 40-car pile-up and closed the freeway from more than three hours.

Spending the holidays in the hospital, hustling insurance quotes, getting car repairs, and wondering how you’re going to pay for it all isn’t exactly the definition of joy and cheer. And while you can’t control Mother Nature or other drivers, a few simple practices can keep your car running properly and help you avoid getting into an accident.

Slow down in bad weather
Investigators who questioned the drivers and passengers in the 40 car pile-up believe the weather and excessive speed were the major factors that led to the multi-car accident. If the roads are icy or wet, you’re driving in a blizzard or windy conditions, or fog impairs your view, slow down. You’ll be more likely to avoid an accident at a lower rate of speed with more distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you.

Let Beckley’s help you prepare for winter weather driving conditions
Defensive driving practices can help you avoid an accident, but it’s only part of the solution. Your car needs to be working properly to help you steer clear of an accident. Inspect your tires, make sure you’ve got plenty of windshield washer fluid, and have your brakes tested and repaired if necessary. Regular maintenance can help you avoid costly repairs and keep you safer when you’re on the road this winter. If your car does need service, we can help.

Go to our Schedule Service page today and schedule time for us to look at your car to see if your winter driving ready.

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.

Stock Your Car with These Essentials

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A few years ago Honda aired a commercial for the Accord that showed a guy welding the hood of the car shut. It was a clever marketing idea that did a good job promoting the longevity of this car. You don’t have to look far to find one of these cars running problem-free with 250,000 miles or more. And of course there are many other reliable cars on the road besides Hondas, especially when they get they serviced on a regular basis.

In the perfect world, your car operates without any issues for thousands of miles. But if you’ve been a vehicle owner for any amount of time, you know that’s probably an unrealistic expectation. Drive your car long enough, and sooner or later there’s going to be a problem that needs your attention of the expertise of an experienced mechanic. When the day comes that your car won’t start, you’ve got a flat, or you’ve locked out of your car, keeping these essentials in your vehicle will save the day.

Tire Sealant
If you get a flat, pulling over to change the tire is always a good option. But if you’re in a hurry, there isn’t a safe place to pull over, or you’re not too confident about your tire-changing skills, tire sealant can help. It comes in a large aerosol-style can with a screw-type valve that connects to the valve stem of your tire. It works well for repairing simple tire punctures and can get you back on the road in a jiffy.

spare car keysSpare Key
Just about every driver since the beginning of time has locked their keys in the car at least once. It happens. But you can prevent that from ruining your day by putting a spare key in one of those magnetic key boxes and attaching it in an obscure place under your car.

Jumper Cables
If you find yourself stranded with a dead battery, a friendly driver willing to help isn’t going to do you any good without jumper cables. Keep a set of long, high-capacity jumper cables in your car. They may be just the thing to get your car running again or come in handy to help another driver.

Flashlight
If your car breaks down at night, the last thing you want to do is start walking along the road in total darkness. A flashlight will help cars see you at night if you’re stranded. It can also come in handy for making repairs and looking for lost objects under the seat.

Tire Gauge
We’ve talked about the importance of checking your tire pressure on a regular basis in previous posts. The easiest way to do that is with a tire gauge. It’s a good thing to keep in your car, and makes it easy to check the air pressure in your tires.

auto-first-aid-kitFirst Aid Kit
If you’re working on cars all the time, you’re bound to get a few cuts and scratches. Keeping a first aid kit in your car is good for that. But you’re more likely to find it useful when you need.

No matter the emergency, don’t find yourself left out in the cold this winter.  Call Beckley Imports at (515) 243-8185 and schedule your appointment to make sure your car is winter ready!

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.

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.

Take the Spare Tire Challenge

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spare tire for cars iowa

spare tire for cars iowaWhen Red Bull driver Mark Webber rolled into the pit stop during the Malaysian Grand Prix, his pit crew had one goal on their mind: Change the tires and get him back on the course as fast as possible. Armed with pneumatic impact wrenches, his pit crew surrounded the car in a flurry of activity. In 2.05 seconds he roared out of the pit stop and back into the race. And what was for all four tires on the car.

No one wants to get a flat tire. But it’s bound to happen at some point in time. Walk into any tire store, and you’ll probably see a jar full of nails, bolts, pieces of metal, and other objects that punctured a tire and caused a slow hard-to-find leak or a full-on blowout. When that happens, your first order of business is to pull the car over to the side of the road to a safe location. After that, your best bet for getting back on the road the fastest is to change your tire.

You’re probably not going to break the 2.05-second record to even change one tire. But if you’re prepared, you’ll be back on the road in no time. So before you end up with a flat tire, Take the Spare Tire Challenge to get ready for the day you hear that unmistakable hissing noise or the thump-thump-thump of a flattened tire. Here’s all you need to do:

1. Take a minute to locate the spare tire in your car. In many cars, it’s a small tire affectionately known as the “donut.” It might be under a layering of flooring in the trunk of your car or bolted to the bottom of your car on the outside. Some trucks and SUVs provide easier access to the spare tire with it mounted on the back.

2. Locate the jack and tire iron. Most cars have some kind of brackets, casing, fabric bag, or both to keep these items together. And they’re usually located near the spare tire. Remove these tools and retrieve the spare tire.

3. Practice changing your tire. There’s no better way to prepare for changing a flat tire than learning how to do it before it happens.

  • Make sure your car is in a flat location away from traffic and set the parking brake.
  • Use the tire iron to loosen the lug nuts on one tire on your car.
  • Place the jack under the frame of your car, and jack it up until the tire clears the ground.
  • Remove the lug nuts and the tire.
  • Put your spare tire on and replace the lug nuts with your fingers.
  • Use the jack to lower the car back to the ground, and then tighten the lug nuts with the tire iron.

Doing this ahead of time, forces you to get familiar with where your spare tire is located, along with the tools you need to change a flat. You might find out that the tools you need are missing, your spare is flat, or worse, you don’t even have a spare. But it’s better to find that out during a planned exercise than when you’re on the road. You can bet that the Red Bull pit crew practiced changing tires hundreds of times to get the process down to 2.05 seconds. Take the Spare Tire Challenge, and you’ll be well-prepared to deal with a flat when it happens. You can even use a timer to see how long it takes.