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Tired of a Rough Ride?

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It May Be Time for Strut Replacement…

Clunk, clunk. Rattle, rattle. It’s a sound you might hear every time you turn the wheel left or right, especially if you’re driving a car that’s seen its share of miles. To the untrained ear, the sound could be confused with a failing transmission. But if the problem only appears when turning, it’s probably not.rough ride change struts

Fortunately, a clunk or rattle that’s noticeable, particularly when turning, is often a sign the struts on your vehicle are worn out. It’s one of those parts on a car that holds up well to wear and tear, pot holes, gravel roads, bumps, and those times you accidentally drive over the curb. But eventually the struts will need to be replaced. Car manufacturers recommend inspecting and/or replacing the struts after about 50,000 miles.

Worn Out Struts Compromise Performance

When struts wear out, it doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it’s a gradual process that happens so slowly, you don’t always notice it. But as struts wear out, they can start to leak fluid. They’re not as effective at controlling your tires. And that can have an impact on the way your car handles, steers, and brakes. As the struts wear out, your car takes on more of a rough ride than that smooth feel it had when it was newer. Struts that have seen their share of miles can also wear down tires faster, too.

Enjoy the Ride with New Struts

Getting the struts replaced on your vehicle when they’ve soldiered a lot of miles can make a big difference. You’ll notice a big change in the way the car handles, the clunk-and-rattle sound when you turn will be gone, and your tires will last longer. New struts can also help prevent wear and tear on other parts that help with steering and suspension.

Want to improve the way your car handles? Bring it in for an inspection, and we can let you know how the struts are holding up. 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.

7 tips to prepare for driving in winter weather

Are you ready for driving in Winter weather?

Farmer’s Almanac Predicts Colder Winter than Normal

prepare for winter driving iowaEven if you don’t read The Old Farmer’s Almanac, a lot of people do, especially if you have ties to farming in Iowa. And let’s face it, most of us do. Whether you’re a farmer or a city dweller, there’s at least one thing you have in common…driving in the winter weather.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac, predicts a harsh winter with more snow complicated by longer periods of freezing temperatures. And if you’ll be trying to get in and around Des Moines this winter, you need to be prepared. Here are seven things you can do to be prepared for driving in winter weather:

  1. Flush the radiator. Eliminating any building up and replacing old antifreeze with a proper mixture of coolant and water will improve engine performance and help your heater work better.
  1. Replace wiper blades. When it’s dry, you might not think about this. But turn on your wipers when rain or snow are really coming down, and you’ll want fresh wiper blades that work to help you see the road. Keep your windshield washer fluid reservoir topped off too.
  1. Check your car battery. Now is a good time to get your battery tested. If it’s old, or not performing properly, getting the battery replaced will reduce your risk of being stranded on cold Iowa morning with a car that won’t start.
  1. Measure tire pressure and tread. Cold air causes tires to lose pressure. Get in the habit of checking your tire pressure at least once a week (when you gas up). Add air if you need to. Proper tire pressure improves fuel efficiency and helps your car handle better on wet and icy roads. Check the tread on your tires too. Worn or slick tires can be very dangerous, even on dry roads.
  1. Keep your tank full. There’s been more than one section of freeway closed in the Des Moines area during the winter because of a major accident and pile up or severe conditions. Keep your tank full. You’ll be able to stay warm if you get stranded. It’s also a good way to help keep moisture from freezing in the fuel lines.
  1. Get a tune up. Going by manufacturer recommendations is a good plan for getting regular tune-ups to keep your car running smoothly. If you haven’t been vigilant about routine maintenance, now is an even better time to get an inspection and take care of any problems before a winter storm arrives.
  1. Carry a safety kit. It doesn’t have to be complicated. A few simple things like a flashlight, flares, first aid kit, jump cables and basic tools, a blanket, and some extra food and water, can be helpful in an emergency. An ice scraper, extra washer fluid, and salt or kitty litter to help with traction in icy conditions can help too.

If you need help with any of these things to winterize your car, 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. You’ll be glad you did.

3 Common Causes for Poor Emissions

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Even if you don’t drive a diesel-powered Volkswagen, you’ve probably heard about the car maker’s deceptive software designed to manipulate emission testing results. Volkswagen engineers said the cars were designed to meet environmental standards, but when millions of VWs failed state emissions tests, local shops like ours performed the same tests and found emissions much higher than legally allowed.

diesel emissions testing des moines iowaIowa may be one of just 12 states that still don’t require emissions testing for vehicles, but that doesn’t mean driving a car spewing toxic fumes is a non-issue. VW is in the process of working out a plan to correct the emissions problem for 11 million vehicles at a cost of an estimated $7.3 billion. If you own a newer diesel-powered VW, you’ll soon be able to get the emissions problem fixed by an authorized dealer.

And even if you don’t drive a VW, being mindful of your car’s emissions can save you in the long run. Here are three common factors that can have an effect on vehicle emissions:

1. Engine Problems
If the Check Engine Light is on your car, your vehicle won’t pass an emissions test in any state. Mechanical problems can have an impact on engine performance and interfere with emissions. In many cases, we can diagnose the source of a Check Engine Light error by connecting your car to our computer.

2. Low/High Tire Pressure
You might not think about your tires much when you’re headed to the grocery store or cruising through Des Moines on I-35, but your tire pressure can have an impact on emissions. Check your owner’s manual or look on the sidewall of the tire to see how much your tire should be inflated (30 to 40 psi is typical for most cars and light trucks). Use a tire gauge to see if the tires need more/less air. If you’re not sure how to do this, stop by and we’ll check out your tire pressure for you.

3. Failure to Change the Oil
It’s a simple form of preventive maintenance that gets neglected far too often. Going too long without an oil change (5,000 miles or more), can raise the level of hydrocarbons released from the exhaust and negatively impact emissions. Has it been a while since you had the oil changed on your car? We can help, and we’ll do more than just change the oil and filter. Our trained technicians will also perform a 30-point inspection to identify any other safety or maintenance issues your car may have.

Just because Iowa doesn’t require emissions testing, doesn’t mean you should ignore warning signs and maintenance recommendations for your car. You may not have an on-board computer designed to cheat environmental regulations, but your car still needs regular maintenance and upkeep to perform its best.

How does your car measure up to typical emissions standards? Is your car operating at peak performance? Click here to schedule service today. We can help. Check out our 30-point inspection and contact us at 515-243-8185, send us an email at service@beckleyimports.com, or stop by at 901-8th Street in Des Moines, to schedule an appointment.

Pushing Limits Can Damage a Car’s Fuel Pump

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When it comes to performance vehicles like BMW and Mercedes, drivers often push the limits, racing RPM, red-lining, and testing suspension and speeds. But there are some limits set for your car you shouldn’t test. If you’re the kind of driver that pushes the limit on all of your vehicle’s systems, like your fuel pump, you may be in for trouble.

fuel pump replacement des moines iowaAlthough it’s exhilarating to drive withe the fuel gauge on “E” with ten miles to go as your spouse stresses out in the passenger seat, it takes a toll on your car’s fuel system. Save yourself from future problems and visits to the shop by knowing when to draw the line on your gas tank.

Vehicles have fuel level warning lights to give you a warning before your car runs out of gas. It’s simply a buffer to remind you of how far you have until you have no other option but to fill up or walk home.

The gas light also serves as a red flag. It’s telling you you’ve crossed the line. According to most driver manuals, 1/2 tank should be considered low and 1/4 full is the time to consider getting it topped off again. Not only will it prevent you from experiencing that small panic of not making it to the next stop, but your car’s fuel system will also see better life.

By letting your gas tank go lower than suggested, you are in more likely to burn your fuel pump. It’s an expensive price to pay and an inconvenience when you take it into the shop.

The mechanical parts of a fuel pump are lubricated by fuel which travel through the pump. When the fuel level is low, air is drawn into the pump. Similar to running an engine without oil, too much air can damage the fuel pump if it isn’t properly lubricated.

Debris is likely to sit at the bottom of a fuel tank but when the fuel level is low, the debris has a better chance of entering the pump and plugging the fuel filters, which in turn, damages the pump.

The flashing and dinging of the gas light should be your ultimate last warning, however it is better to take precautions and fill up sooner rather than later. Pull over when you can and make it a priority to save you time and money by filling up.

For more information on how you can get the performance you need from your car while protecting your finely tuned systems, contact us at 515-243-8185, send us an email at service@beckleyimports.com, or stop by at 901-8th Street in Des Moines.

 

 

Radiator Cap Check Can Save You Time & Money

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It’s a hot summer day. You’ve packed up your car with everything you need for a week-long vacation and take I-35 out of town. Everything seems to be going as planned on your road trip, until you notice the needle of the thermostat gauge start creeping towards H-O-T.

radiator cap checkIf your car overheats, it’s possible to let the engine cool, refill the coolant reservoir, and keep on going. But driving your car when it’s overheating, can lead to serious engine damage. And if there’s any truth to Murphy’s Law (anything that can go wrong, will go wrong), your car could overheat in the middle of nowhere during the hottest time of day where cell service is poor.

While car trouble on a summer vacation road trip might be funny in the movies, it’s not when you’re the one stuck on the side of the road. There are a variety of reasons your car could overheat. But sometimes, it’s as simple as a faulty radiator cap.

How the Radiator Cap Works

The radiator cap on the coolant reservoir is made of metal. There’s a spring inside that helps regulate pressure inside the radiator. The cap also has a rubber gasket designed to create a proper seal with the coolant reservoir. Both the spring inside the radiator cap and the rubber seal are wearable parts and should be inspected periodically.

How to Inspect Radiator Cap

A quick inspection of the radiator cap can save you time and money. But you’ll want to do this before your next road trip. Here’s how:

  1. When your car engine is cool, open the hood and locate the radiator cap. (It’s typically a silver-colored cap on the reservoir that contains coolant or antifreeze.)
  1. Push down, twist, and pull up on the radiator cap. It requires a little effort because it’s spring loaded and should have a solid seal if the rubber gasket is good.

Here’s what to look for:

  • If you don’t feel any resistance or pressure when you push down on the radiator cap, the spring inside may no longer be working properly.
  • Once the cap is off, take a closer look at the rubber gasket. If it’s cracked or brittle in any places, it’s not creating a proper seal.

If you find either of these problems, replace the radiator cap. It’s a good time to check the coolant level and top off the reservoir, too.

If you need help with a failing radiator cap, or your car is still prone to overheating after replacing it, we can help. Give us a call at 515-423-8185 or click here to schedule an appointment.

 

Listen… 5 Warning Sounds Your Car May Be Making

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When you start up your car, you want to hear your engine running smoothly and quietly. And when you leave the house in a rush to get to work or head out of town on vacation, the last thing you want to hear some unfamiliar sound coming from your car.

engine noise warningsTo the untrained ear, any unfamiliar or new sound coming from under the hood can seem like impending doom for your vehicle. While some sounds may indeed be a telltale sign of a serious problem, some sounds are early warning signs that are inexpensive to fix. Here are five common sounds you might hear coming from your car, along with what to do about it.

1. Clicking and Tapping
It’s a warning sound you’ll notice right away, especially when your car has been running smoothly. Hear clicking or tapping, and you’ll probably roll down your window while driving to get a closer listen to the sound. Chances are pretty good it’s either a valve problem related to a worn part, or low oil pressure. Make sure the engine has enough oil, and if you can’t find the source of the sound, schedule an inspection.

2. Loud Knocking Noises
If you hear this warning sound, stop driving as soon as possible. Loud knocking sounds usually indicate a major issue with a part inside the engine. Continue driving, and the problem can lead to serious engine damage that might only be repairable by replacing the engine.

3. Rattling and Whining
If your car has a cam shaft belt problem, you might notice a rattling or whining sound when you step on the gas. The camshaft helps open and close valves in the engine, and it’s a critical component for engine performance. If the cam shaft belt is loose, poorly aligned, or slips, it can cause a rattling or whining noise, particularly when you accelerate. A problem with the cam shaft is best handled by a trained mechanic.

4. Squealing During Acceleration
When an engine fan belt is loose or slips, it can make a terrible squealing sound. It’s most often caused by an aging belt that has developed cracks and is beginning to loosen. The engine fan belt is also called a serpentine belt. When the rubber teeth of the belt no longer grip the pulley tightly, they can drag across the pulley and make the telltale squealing sound. The belt either needs to be tightened to eliminate the squealing, and in most cases usually needs to be replaced.

5. Grinding Sounds
If you hear grinding sounds, it may not be coming from the engine. Let’s hope not (grinding sounds coming from the engine usually indicate a very serious problem). Roll down your window and listen carefully. The grinding sound may be coming from your brakes. Worn out brake pads and rotors can make a grinding sound. Hear this warning sound, and it’s a good time to get a brake inspection.

Got a car sound that’s driving you crazy? We can help. Give us a call at 515-423-8185 or click here to schedule an appointment.

Muffler Repairs & Preventing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

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Earlier this year one Iowa teen died and a second was hospitalized after an exhaust leak filled their car with poisonous carbon monoxide gas, according to KCCI-8 News. Investigators believe the teens were hanging out with the car running at the close of a Saturday night date and were unaware that the vehicle’s exhaust pipe was broken.

muffler repair downtown des moines iowaCarbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas your car engine releases when running. But it normally travels through the muffler and out the exhaust into open air where it doesn’t pose a serious health risk. In the recent Iowa case, the exhaust pipe was broken directly under the passenger side of the car and toxic fumes filled the interior of the vehicle in a short amount of time.

Accidental carbon monoxide poisoning from a faulty muffler or exhaust system is largely preventable. If you notice changes in the sound of your muffler, a different smell coming from your exhaust, or can visibly see holes in the muffler or exhaust, take action.

Here’s what you can do:

Listen up. You drive your car every day. You should be the first to notice a change in the sound your engine makes as you cruise down the road. If it sounds rougher or louder than normal, your muffler or exhaust system may have a problem, and you should schedule an inspection.

Use your sniffer: You’ve probably been walking or driving down the road when a car passes you spewing nasty-smelling exhaust fumes. No one likes that smell. If you start to notice a similar smell in the cab of your car, don’t ignore this. It’s often a sign of holes or perforations in the muffler or exhaust system allowing carbon monoxide into the cab of the car instead of exiting the tailpipe. If your car starts smelling like exhaust fumes, get it checked out.

Take a look: If you think your muffler or exhaust system might have a problem, take a look. Be sure the muffler is cold before you try this. Look under the car at the muffler and exhaust pipe. You might see obvious holes, rust spots, or splits that could be the source of the problem. Even a problem as small as a pinhole could leak carbon monoxide into your car, and getting it repaired is important.

Muffler and Exhaust Repairs

If your car does have a muffler or exhaust issue, pinhole-sized problems can often be welded closed. For bigger problems, the muffler and all or part of the exhaust system may need to be replaced, which may include the resonator, catalytic converter, and the pipes that carry exhaust to the tailpipe exit.

Need your muffler and exhaust system inspected? We can help. Give us a call at 515-423-8185 or click here to schedule an appointment.

5 Essentials for Planning Your Next Road Trip

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It’s been a week since kiddos in the Des Moines area said goodbye to another school year. That means it’s officially summer vacation. More people hit the road in cars, trucks, and motor-homes during the summer season than any other time of the year.summer road trip tips iowa

In fact, Americans take an estimated 657 million road trips during the summer months from Memorial Day to Labor Day, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. The typical vacationer drives their own car to a destination about 284 miles away for a little R&R. The survey results showed that 9 out of 10 vacation road trips are taken by car.

If you’re planning a summer road trip, it’s a good idea to get a tune-up before you go. Regular and preventive maintenance can give you peace of mind and prevent a break-down that could throw a wrench into your vacation plans. Once your car’s ready for the road, be sure to bring these five things along on your road trip.

  1. Emergency kit. Keep some basic tools and set of jumper cables in your car. And make sure you’ve got a first aid kit stocked with Band-Aids and other essentials to treat minor aches, pains, cuts, or scratches.
  1. GPS system. If your car doesn’t have a built-in system, use your smartphone or a stand-alone GPS device. Being able to find your way from Point A to Point B, and all the places in between without getting lost can lower stress and make your vacation more relaxing and enjoyable.
  1. Food and water. You don’t need to pack like you’re never coming back. But having a little extra food and water on board is a good idea. You won’t have to stop as often. If there aren’t any restaurants for long stretches, you’ll still have something to eat and drink. And if you plan it right, you might even save money eating your own food instead of going out to eat when you’re on the road.
  1. Extra keys. A magnetic key box you can hide under your car, or just an extra key you keep in your wallet can save the day if you lock yourself out of your car. It happens. Sure you could call a locksmith, but that will mean waiting around and forking over some extra money you probably didn’t plan on spending for your vacation.
  1. Cell phone and charger. Love it or hate it, having a cell phone when you’re on a road trip is a good idea. You’ll be able to call for help if something happens. And it will make it easier to check in with family and friends when you’re on the road.

Start planning your road trip by getting your car serviced before you go. We can help. Give us a call at 515-423-8185 or click here to schedule an appointment.

Back-Up Camera Improves Safety

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A Des Moines woman was recently in a hurry to leave home when she hopped in her car and started backing up to leave her driveway on Broadway Avenue. At the same time, a man on a motorcycle rode by. The driver of the car didn’t see the motorcycle rider and continued backing up. Unfortunately, the motorcycle hit the rear driver’s side of car and the rider was killed.

back up camera repair safety2018 – New Cars Required to Have Back-Up Cameras

Accidents like these happen all too often. It’s one reason why the National Highway Safety Transportation Agency and the U.S. Department of Transportation passed a law that requires all cars built after May 1, 2018, include a back-up camera.

Is There Anything Behind Me? Back-Up Cameras Save Lives

If you own a newer-model car, many car manufacturers are already making this a standard feature. It’s also a feature that can be added by to most cars with basic equipment, wiring, and electrical work. And it can save lives. According to the NHTSA, an estimated 210 people are killed every year in back-up related accidents, another 15,000 are injured, and property damage caused by backing up blind costs vehicle owners and insurance companies millions.

If you already have a back-up camera in your car, you’re already a safer driver than the woman who backed out of her driveway and hit the motorcycle driver. Based on the NHTSA regulations, a back-up camera should allow you to see 10 feet across and 20 back from the rear of your car. For the Des Moines woman, that may have been just enough to see the motorcycle rider and stop in time.

Back-Up Camera Service and Installation

If you don’t have a back-up camera, check with local car-audio shops or car-dealer to find out about having one installed. And there’s nothing wrong with being overly cautious, checking blind spots, and making sure nothing is behind you when you’re backing up. Cars with factory-installed back-up cameras generally function pretty well, but there’s always the chance that moisture, an accident, or unexpected electrical problems interfere with your camera working properly. And that’s something we can help you with.

Need your back-up camera or other car electronics serviced? If you’ve got questions about your car’s back up camera, we can help. Bring your car in for an inspection or give us a call at 515-423-8185 or click here schedule an appointment.