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Know Your Car’s Electrical System Warning Signs

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electrical system, car starter, car battery, car alternatorYour vehicle’s electrical system is an involved arrangement made up of three main components: the alternator, the starter and the battery. When you start having trouble with your car’s electrical system, it’s apparent – but how do you know which part needs the attention? We’ll outline the most common warning signs for each part to help you pinpoint the issue to be addressed.

Your battery provides the juice to the entire electrical system. When your battery is giving out, it affects the rest of the system. Watch for:

  • Sluggish engine cranking when you try to start the car; the battery alone starts the car, so if you have trouble at the get-go you know what’s causing it.
  • Excessive corrosion around the positive/negative cable connection posts; this indicates a battery leak and the “gunk” needs to be removed or the connectors won’t get the power
  • Swollen battery case; this means the battery has been exposed to excessive heat and/or cold and has been damaged
  • Smell of rotten eggs under your hood; a shorted battery causes a chemical reaction, releasing sulfuric acid that can damage other engine components

If your starter malfunctions, the pistons don’t rotate and won’t pull in air/gas mixture needed to fuel the engine. Watch for:

  • Grinding noise; if the drive gear isn’t engaging or is worn, you’ll hear a sound like when you start your car and then try to start it again. Ignoring this noise can cause irreparable damage tot he engine flywheel.
  • Freewheeling; if you only hear a whining noise and the engine isn’t cranking, the starter gear isn’t engaging with the flywheel and this is called freewheeling.
  • Single loud “click”; you may have a bad starting motor, bad solenoid, or even a bigger mechanical problem in the engine.

The alternator is exceptionally important as it recharges your battery and turns energy from the crankshaft into useable electricity. Watch for:

  • Flickering or dim headlights; this means the alternator is struggling to get the necessary power to the headlights.
  • Car stalls; since the alternator powers the spark plugs that keep the engine alive, if your car stalls for no reason while running you should have the alternator looked at.
  • Other electrical failures; if your power windows and locks, air conditioning or dashboard lights aren’t working correctly or working at all, the alternator could be the culprit because it supplies all of these electrical parts with power.

Your car has literally dozens of electrical components that send power throughout your auto to keep everything going. When one part fails, it causes a chain reaction and ultimately keeps your car from running. Come see the expert technicians at Beckley Automotive who have the training, the tools and the experience to diagnose and correct any and all problems you might be having with your electrical system.

Don’t wait until your car leaves you stranded! Schedule your appointment online today, call our service department at 515-243-8185 or stop by our shop in downtown Des Moines at 901 8th Street.

Beckley Automotive Meets Growing Need for Diesel Service

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As people become more concerned about the environment and auto emissions, the call for diesel service shops grows. If you’re in the market for a diesel vehicle, you won’t be disappointed in your selection. Auto makers from Jeep to Chevrolet to BMW to Volkswagen offer great diesel options. You can choose from pickup trucks, crossovers, SUVs and luxury models.

Now that you know where to go for trustworthy diesel service, why should you look at purchasing a diesel vehicle?

  1. diesel service, diesel engine maintenanceMileage. Diesel engines are well-known for being cost effective. Diesel fuel generates more power from less fuel, so you can easily get more bang for your buck and stretch that tank of gas farther with diesel over gasoline.
  2. Safety. Your standard gasoline engine relies on ignition from a spark plug, diesel engines use compressed hot air to ignite the fuel. Diesel fuel has a higher flashpoint than gasoline, so it takes much more than a spark to set it on fire. There is a much lower chance of the fuel igniting in the case of an accident.
  3. Maintenance. Diesel engines are built ruggedly to combat the rigors of higher compression. Also, because they don’t rely on electrical ignition parts like spark plugs and a moving distributor rotor, you don’t have to change out as many engine parts on a regular basis.
  4. Power. You get far more torque from a diesel engine. Because of its slow burn, high compression design, the driveshaft receives much more powerful torque to assist in acceleration and towing capabilities.
  5.  Longevity. Mercedes-Benz currently holds the record for longevity, having multiple vehicles that have racked up more than 900,000 miles on their original engines. Gas-powered cars start needing more love and money poured into them around the 100,000 mile marker. If you are looking to purchase a vehicle for the very long haul, diesel can stick by your side for at least a couple generations.

Of course, there are cons to balance out the pros of diesel engines: While you have less frequent maintenance demands, it can cost you more when you do need major diesel service. The initial purchase price can be about 10% more than the gasoline counterpart. Diesel fuel doesn’t perform well in frigid temperatures, so you may need to install an engine block heater to insure that your car will start on cold winter mornings.

Whether you’re looking at purchasing a diesel vehicle or you already own one, rest assured that Beckley Automotive has the knowledge, the tools and the experience to provide outstanding diesel service. Schedule your appointment online HERE or call our expert service department at 515-243-8185 today!

Paintless Dent Removal is Painless to Your Budget

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paintless dent removal, dent repair des moines, auto detailing and paintless dent removalFall in the Midwest can be temperate, hot and sweltering, cold and windy, or severely stormy – and usually in the same week. With volatile weather like Iowa can see during the spring and autumn, thunderstorms with damaging hail are not out of the question. But storms aren’t the only threat to your car’s body in the fall; the rising and setting sun seems to glare brighter during those crucial rush hour drive times. Being blinded by the sun happens far more often than we’d like to think about, and cars and shopping carts and even parking barriers seem to pop up out of nowhere.

Door dings and fender benders can happen at any time of year, but once that damage is done, your best bet is to get it fixed right away before deeper damage occurs. With winter bearing down on Des Moines drivers, now is the perfect time to take steps that will protect your investment and maintain your vehicle’s value. Paintless dent removal done by the experts at Beckley Automotive can save you time, money and worry.

Paintless Dent Removal is a method of dent repair that doesn’t alter your auto’s paint job. Not all dents qualify for this non-invasive treatment, but minor dings and dents can be removed from your car’s body with little drama.

Some other benefits of Paintless Dent Removal:

  • Saves you money. For smaller dents that are less than an inch, prices are usually exceptionally reasonable. Dents that are easy to reach, like hail damage on a car’s hood, are even easier on the checkbook.
  • Saves you time. No one likes to be without their car for long at all, and paintless dent removal can usually be done within a day. Even if there are multiple dents that are deeper or wider and require a little more time, this method will still take far less time than traditional repair.
  • Saves your insurance premium. Dent repair and removal can cost a pretty penny if done traditionally. You don’t want to pay your own cash for it, so you claim it on your auto insurance, which can cause premiums to go up. But with Paintless Dent Removal, the cost is often less than your insurance premium, which means you don’t have to claim it, which means you won’t be paying more for your insurance to fix a couple dings. Plus, these slight damages won’t show up on vehicle history reports, which will help you when it comes time to sell.
  • Saves the environment. Because there is almost no need to use paints or solvents, Paintless Dent Removal doesn’t release harmful toxins into the air. Some other auto repair methods rely on products that contain environmentally dangerous chemicals.
  • Saves your original paint and your car’s value. If you plan on selling your car – ever – the value of your vehicle can drop if you don’t have the original paint. If you can maintain your vehicle’s original exterior paint and finish, your resale value will get a tremendous boost. Paintless Dent Removal helps you get the most from your investment.

Beckley has a dedicated Detailing and Paintless Dent Removal department to meet your minor repair needs. Our experts have the knowledge, the training and the experience to remove those small dings and dents and even to refinish scratched wheels. Don’t trust your car’s exterior to anyone else!

Bring your car to our dent removal artists and learn for yourself why Beckley Automotive is the best in Des Moines! Schedule an appointment online HERE, call our service department at 515-243-8185, or stop by our convenient Downtown Des Moines location at 901 8th Street.

Give Your Brakes a Little Love Before They Need It

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brake systems, disc brakes, anti-lock brakes, ABS, brake repair, car brakesThe brakes on your car serve one purpose – to stop your car from moving. Whether you’re stopping for a red light, a pedestrian in the road or to avoid a collision, you rely on your brake system to perform; to perform well, reliably, and immediately. Your safety and the safety of your passengers depend on the condition of your brake system, so make sure you pay them the attention they deserve BEFORE they are put to the test.

There are different braking systems with different needs and issues, and the expert technicians at Beckley Automotive are trained and certified to meet all of those needs.

  • Drum Brakes – A hydraulic wheel cylinder pushes a brake shoe onto the inside of a drum while it spins. This style wears down more quickly because the heat produced by the friction gets trapped inside the drum. while drum brakes are certainly sufficient, they can become less effective when heat is allowed to build up.
  • Disc Brakes – Uses a hydraulic caliper with brake pads that grab the rotor to slow or stop the car, similar to the brakes on a bicycle. Because the thin caliper and brake pads are exposed to the air, the heat dissipates quickly and causes less wear. In high-performance and racing vehicles, four-wheel disc systems have become the norm, despite the higher production costs and purchase pricing.
  • Anti-Lock Brake System – Used in conjunction with one of the above brake types; uses an electronic system of sensors and high-pressure pumps to measure variables like car speed, brake force and wheel slip before actually pumping your brakes for you during an emergency stop in certain conditions. ABS has contributed to shorter stopping distances and a general increase in vehicle safety, although the system is still controversial.

Drivers shouldn’t wait until there is a brake failure to look at their brakes. The safety of family, friends and the general public are at stake, so don’t put off regular maintenance or addressing issues. If you experience grinding, squeaking, or shaking when you brake, or if your brakes feel “spongy” and you need a football field distance to stop, bring your car to Beckley Automotive for diagnostic testing and repairs.

Our ASE-Certified expert technicians will examine your entire brake system from front to back and will let you know exactly what needs to be done to keep you and your passengers safe. Schedule your appointment online HERE, give us a call at 515-243-8185, or visit us at our convenient downtown Des Moines location at 901 8th Street today!

Let Climate Control Work for You

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automatic climate control, vehicle air conditioning, car climate controlThe saying goes something like, “If you don’t like the weather, wait 5 minutes.” Fall in Iowa is no exception. Last week was sweltering heat and humidity and this week is sweater weather. Many people find themselves in the bizarre position of needing to run the heat at night and then to switch to the air conditioning in the afternoon. It’s no different in your car – but can you rely on both to work at top performance at the drop of a hat?

Air conditioning and climate control in a car are not the same thing. When purchasing a new vehicle, there is a definite price difference between the two – air conditioning comes standard and costs less. What are some of the other differences between the two?

  • Air conditioning cools the air inside your car through manual adjustment of the temperature dial. If you want it colder, you turn it farther to the blue. If you want it less cold, turn it toward the red and warmer air will gradually mix in.
  • Automatic Climate Control lets you set the temperature you want inside your car and you don’t have to touch it again. Ever. On your home thermostat, you even have to switch between heat and cooling. But Automatic Climate Control will switch seamlessly from air to heat to keep the temperature constant.
  • With air conditioning, you will have to constantly adjust the dials as the temperature inside your car is affected by the sun, the speed you’re driving, outside weather. This can lead to battles with your passengers who are too hot or too cold and grumble about the constantly changing climate inside the car.
  • Climate control is much more advanced and most offer “dual zone” control. The driver can set their temperature and the passenger can select what is most comfortable for them. Everyone is happy!
  • Another benefit to Automatic Climate Control is that it can potentially save you money. We all know running the air at the lowest temperature and the highest fan speed will make your engine work harder and run through your gas much faster. Climate control only uses the air as needed instead of at a constant clip and works much more efficiently.

Whether you have standard air conditioning or the more luxurious automatic climate control, chances are you’re going to need some work on the system at some point to keep it running at optimal levels. Unfortunately, because climate control is advanced technology and possibly the most complicated system in your vehicle, a lot of shops won’t even touch it. But at Beckley Automotives we have the experience and technology to find any problems and provide solutions more quickly and efficiently than the other guys.

Don’t waste time and money while the other shops guess at what needs to be done to keep you and your passengers riding in comfort. Schedule your appointment online HERE, give Beckley Automotive a call at 515.243.8185 or simply stop by our convenient downtown Des Moines location.

Is It Time to Replace Your Shocks and Struts?

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shocks and struts, beckley automotive suspension repairsDes Moines roads are generally less than smooth-riding, and are definitely inconsistent. Have you ever found yourself cruising down a straight-away at a good clip when you suddenly realize the road ahead is torn up and full of potholes? Rough roads can do a number on your car – especially your shocks and struts. While most manufacturers recommend replacing them every 15,000-30,000 miles, that estimate changes if you haul heavy loads or regularly drive on rough roads with potholes, bumps or washboard ridges. So how do you know when you really need to get new shocks and struts?

There are a few clues to let you know when you need to bring your vehicle into Beckley Automotive for a suspension system check. These are just a few:

  • Nose Dive  Does the front end of your car dip down when you stop? Although it can feel like your car is going to flip end-over-end, it really won’t. But there can be associated safety issues like longer stopping distance or steering issues that need to be considered.
  • Squatting  On the other end of the car you may notice something called “squatting”. This is when you accelerate from a stop and your front end rises slightly off the ground. It looks cool in car racing movies, but it’s a bad thing in real life.
  • Excessive Bounce Do you bottom out on railroad tracks or speed bumps – and then continue bouncing your way down the road? Here’s a test: Push down on each corner of your vehicle (SUVs can be tricky). Does it continue bouncing after you let go? Get your shocks and struts checked.
  • Sways and Leans  If you fear tipping sideways when you turn a corner or change lanes, you may need look at your suspension. Other things you might notice that should give you pause include poor steering, steering wheel stiffness or noise when turning the steering wheel.
  • Visible Wear  Check your tires for unusual wear patterns like “cupping” which is when a tire shows scalloped dips around one side of the tread. You can always get under your car and find your struts and shocks – are there dents, cuts or leaks?

Shocks and struts wear out gradually, so you may not really notice any of the above issues. There won’t be a particular moment that your vehicle’s ride gets bouncy or “loose.” You just get used to the changes little by little until they’re part of your driving experience. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

If you suspect you need your shocks and struts looked at by an expert, bring your auto into Beckley Automotive. You can make an appointment online HERE, give us a call at 515.243.8185, or stop by our convenient downtown Des Moines location at 901 8th Street.

Pre-Purchase Inspection Takes the Fear Out of Car Buying

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bmw pre-purchase european luxury vehicles

bmw pre-purchase european luxury vehicles, pre-purchase inspectionPurchasing a new car is an exciting event, and at Beckley Automotive, we want to keep it that way! When you’re looking to spend a substantial amount of money on a pre-owned vehicle like BMW, Mercedes, Audi, Volvo or any number of domestic beauties, you want to know that you’re getting the value you expect – style, performance, reliability, and economical value! That’s why Beckley’s offers a pre-purchase inspection to set your mind at ease and ensure you’re getting what you pay for.

By scheduling a pre-purchase inspection with Beckley, you can save yourself from inheriting someone else’s problems, not to mention saving potentially hundreds of dollars. Our specialists have years of experience with most makes and models – domestic, Asian and European – so you know you’ll be getting the best service around. We’ll check the brakes, steering, tires, and more, giving you a clear, written explanation of results when it’s all said and done.

Having your future vehicle inspected by someone you trust is also important. At Beckley Automotive, our certified experts give you the facts and verify the listing against the potential issues you may have after the vehicle purchase.

The Beckley Imports pre-purchase inspection includes:

  • An under the hood inspection, where we check the engine for any signs of leaks.
  • A thorough body inspection, where we check out all the body panels to look for any signs of previous accidents or any damage the seller may have not reported.
  • A comprehensive road test to see if the transmission is working properly, as well as the rest of the car.

As soon as you drive the car off the lot, the liability is all on you. Whether buying from an established used car lot or an individual in the paper or online, the seller may not be truly forthcoming with all the details. Even the fear that the seller isn’t telling you everything can make the car-buying process far more stressful than it needs to be.

Make sure you have your vehicle inspected before you purchase to avoid unexpected and expensive repairs down the road. Let Beckley Automotive help you make a good decision in your luxury ride – schedule an appointment online HERE or give us a call at 515.243.8185 today!

Protect Your Warranty With Beckley Automotive

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scheduled maintenance, protect your warranty, car warranty, auto warrantyOne of the great things about buying a new car is the warranty. Knowing that the manufacturer will stand behind the quality of the products they make helps take some of the stress out of the purchase. But there is some confusion about how, exactly, to use the warranty and what will truly negate it. How can you protect your warranty?

If the dealership tries to tell you that you have to bring the vehicle to them for maintenance and repairs, they may be committing a crime. The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act established in 1975 makes it illegal for dealers or manufacturers to say that the warranty will be voided or denied if anyone but the dealer does the work. You can take your vehicle to any independent mechanic, retail chain shop or do the work yourself without negating the warranty. Of course, the manufacturer or dealer can require the use of specific facilities if the services are to be done without a charge to the consumer under the warranty.

How can you avoid problems with the warranty? According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, there are a few steps you can follow to avoid issues:

  • Read Your Warranty: It’s important to know what it covered and what isn’t before repairs are needed. The warranty is usually in with the owner’s manual and will provide specific details of the warranty so there aren’t any surprises down the road. Most manufacturer websites will have an owner’s manual available online if you happen to misplace the one that came with your car.
  • Know Your Warranty Period: Warranties DO have an expiration – either a number of years or a number of miles. It’s important to know the time limits of your warranty so you can be certain to get problems corrected in plenty of time.
  • Service Regularly: While regular service is a good idea in any case, it’s essential to follow the manufacturer’s recommended service schedule to be certain you are following the parameters of the warranty.
  • Keep All Service Records and Receipts: Whether it’s an oil change, new brake pads, tire rotations or a major repair, create a file to track all repairs and maintenance. If you have to take advantage of your warranty, it will be in your favor to be able to prove that you took care of the vehicle.
  • Fight For Your Warranty: In some cases, a warranty claim may be denied unfairly. If you feel this is the case, ask to speak with a supervisor or go to the manufacturer or another dealer. You can also file a complaint with your state Attorney General or the FTC if service is denied arbitrarily.

Beckley Automotive has been servicing domestic and European vehicles for over 30 years. Our technicians are ASE and Bosch certified and are well-trained in all the latest diagnostic and service tools. You can rest assured that our team will protect your warranty and your investment with integrity.

Do you have a question or concern about your car’s maintenance? Are you needing a repair estimate or a pre-purchase inspection? Contact Beckley Automotive today at 515-243-8185 or conveniently schedule an appointment online!

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!

How to Choose the Best Auto Repair Shop in Des Moines

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best auto repair shop des moinesWhen car troubles show up out of nowhere, it can be stressful figuring out who to call. Most people don’t have a mechanic or repair shop on speed-dial, and it’s easy to panic when faced with the prospect of going without a car for an undetermined period of time. How do you select the best auto repair shop? Do you rely on Google or Yelp reviews? Do you talk to friends and coworkers? Or do you choose based on location or because your dad used that facility?

Tips for Choosing the Best Auto Repair Shop for You

  • Be sure to research and find a repair shop BEFORE you need one. The first shop on the Google list isn’t necessarily the best for your car or your repair needs.
  • Have a plan for alternate transportation already in place. It’s easy to choose a repair shop closest to home or work without knowing their reputation or skill set. Some roadside assistance plans like AAA offer car rental coverage in the case of mechanical repairs.
  • Ask your friends and family where they go, who they would recommend and who they would recommend to stay away from. Find out their reasons for a positive or negative review so you know it’s about the shop and not just a bad day.
  • When you call the facility, ask if they specialize in only certain types of repair or certain vehicle makes and models. Ask specific questions about the qualifications of the technicians and what types of certifications they hold. Are they ASE certified? Is there a requirement for ongoing education to keep up with technology?
  • Put in the legwork and visit potential shops. You should be looking for cars in the parking lot or service bays that are comparable to yours in age and technology. Are there awards in the lobby regarding outstanding customer service or community involvement? Is the reception area neat, clean and professional?
  • Are diagnostic fees, acceptable payment types and guarantees posted? Is the staff courteous and willing to answer your questions and explain charges, services and procedures?
  • Be sure to reward outstanding customer service and repair work with repeat business. Show customer loyalty and make referrals through positive word-of-mouth. When you find the best auto repair facility, you’ll want to support the business and spread the word!

You never want to get stuck picking a service shop out of hat without knowing anything about their certifications, pricing or reputation. It’s important now more than ever to do your own research and form your own opinions. Take the time to look for professionalism, great customer service, current certifications or advanced course work and pricing transparency. If you put in the work, you will be rewarded with the best auto repair shop and peace of mind.

Are you in need of auto repair or routine maintenance? Beckley Automotive may just be the best auto repair shop for you! Give us a call at 515-243-8185, stop by our convenient downtown Des Moines location at 901 8th Street, or schedule a service appointment online today!