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Your Car’s Electrical System Maintenance

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Were you aware that your car’s electrical system needs scheduled maintenance, too?

car electrical system help des moines iowaIt wasn’t that long ago that most cars were made with a basic electrical system. A fuse box and series of relays delivered power to electrical features like the radio, dash lights, turn signals, and power locks and windows. Now these are standard features in most cars. Improvements in technology and consumer demands for mobile-everything have made car electrical systems far more complex.

It’s great for things like Bluetooth compatibility, global positioning navigation systems (GPS), and DVD players. And many new safety features like back-up cameras, tire pressure monitors, car alarms controlled by your smartphone, and other on-board indicators all depend on your car’s electrical system to function properly.

Your car can literally be a mobile office on wheels or keep the kids entertained on a road trip with a movie, video games, and even separate climate controls for the front and rear of the cabin thanks to your car’s electrical system. But what happens when something goes wrong with a fuse, wiring, or relay, and these much-loved features quit working?

A blown fuse that disables your DVD player might be a minor inconvenience. But if you were just about to go on vacation, it could be incredibly frustrating. If you can’t turn your headlights on, your turn signals don’t work, or your car alarm can only be shut off by disconnecting the battery, it’s more than an inconvenience.

Beckely’s – Car Electrical System technicians for over 30 Years

Fortunately, we’ve been unraveling crossed wires, fixing blown fuses, and troubleshooting electrical problems for more than 30 years. We know the ins and outs of vehicle electrical systems from the basic commuter car to luxury SUVs and everything in between.

When your car has an electrical issue, we’ll diagnose the problem and aim to fix it for less than $125. When your car’s electrical system needs help, it’s not always easy to pinpoint the problem. Some mechanics with the best of intentions might rack up the labor costs trying to find the source of an electrical problem, and that’s not good for customers.

We created a strict policy to help keep repair costs as affordable as possible. When car electrical system issues costs more than $125 to fix, we won’t proceed without providing you with a full diagnostic report, explaining what’s required to fix the problem, and receiving approval to proceed.

If you’ve got an electrical problem that’s buzzing, shorting out, or a feature that’s no longer working, 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.

 

Knock, Knock… Is It Your Engine Knocking?

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If everyone could afford to drive a new car, most probably would. Hearing a brand new, perfectly-tuned engine is almost a magical sound (even if you’re not a mechanic). But the reality is that you’re not going to be able to replace your car as often as you wish. That means your car is bound to tally up some miles, experience some wear and tear, and need regular maintenance.

engine knock service des moines iowaSo what happens when you start up your car and hear a knocking sound coming from under the hood? Do you ignore it and keep on driving, hoping it will go away? Do you pop the hood and try to identify where the knocking is coming from? Or do you take your car to the shop right away?

While we prefer the latter, some times the simplicity of changing the way you drive and maintain your car can help.

3 Ways to Fix Engine Knocking

Engine knocking is nothing to ignore. It’s typically caused by a bad mix of fuel and air needed to power the engine. When the gasoline in your engine burns unevenly, it creates a kind of “POP” shock-wave that makes the knocking sound. Run your car for very long with this kind of problem, and it can cause serious engine damage.

The good news is that, in some cases, there’s a simple fix to the problem. Here’s the three things we recommend when you hear your engine making knocking sounds.

  1. Fill up with premium unleaded. The typical low-grade and least expensive gasoline at the pump may be the problem. If you normally use this type of gas, fill up with premium unleaded next time. Higher-octane fuel can often help correct a knocking engine.
  1. Add fuel detergent. Pour in detergent in your dishwasher or washing machine, and it helps clean the dishes and clothes. Fuel detergent works the same way. Most gasolines include some fuel detergent, but if your engine is knocking, you may need something a little stronger. Kind of like using the stain-buster detergent when you want to get some grass or grease stains out of clothes. Adding the right fuel detergent can help remove carbon build-up that could be part of the knocking problem.
  1. Replace spark plugs. If your car has ever been serviced, it’s possible the original spark plugs were replaced with the wrong ones. They may still fire, but not the way they should. Making sure the right spark plugs are installed for your car can often help silence the knocking.

These are a few basic do-it-yourself strategies to consider if you hear knocking sounds coming from your engine. Troubleshoot it yourself or bring it in for an inspection. Fixing the source of a knocking engine sound sooner than later can save you time and money.

Beckley Imports works on all make and models of cars. From BMW to Ford and everything in-between. If a knock or other strange sounds are starting to concern you, call our team of professional technicians at 515-243-8185 or click here to schedule your car for service.  After over 30 years in the industry, we’re darn certain we’ll be able to clear it up and get you back on the road quickly.

Think Beckley’s to Save On Car Repair Costs

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Everyone wants to save on car repair costs.  Dealerships are notorious for overpricing and under servicing the same cars they’re selling.  If you don’t have the skills or the time to repair a car problem on your own, what do you do? If it’s not a complicated problem, maybe a friend of yours knows how to make the repair. But after that, you’re probably going to need to find a good mechanic in Des Moines to fix the problem.

save-on-car-repair-costsDo you go to a dealership’s service center to get your car fixed, or do you find an independent auto repair shop with a highly-trained staff that can take care of the problem?

If you drive a newer car and it develops a problem covered by the manufacturer’s warranty, you certianly can head to the dealer. Although, Beckley’s handles most warranty repairs and we work well with the manufacturers to get you the best service at the best price.  The warranty will likely cover the cost of the repair, and maybe only require a small service payment. On the other hand, if you drive an older car or the problem isn’t covered by a warranty, steer clear of going to a dealership.

Here’s why:

Study: Dealers Charge More for Repairs Than Independent Shops

Getting your car repaired at a dealer will cost you more. And in some cases, a lot more. In a recent study using data from the Bureau of Transportation and Statistics, the Federal Highway Administration, and the automotive Aftermarket Industry Association, researchers found that some repairs (like transmission work) made by a dealer may cost as much as $800 more than getting the work done by an independent repair shop.

At Beckley’s, we’ve grown our business by providing high-quality automotive repair services at affordable prices. Our team of certified automotive technicians represent decades of collective experience working on European, domestic, and foreign cars, trouble-shooting problems, performing routine maintenance, and using the latest state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment in the automotive industry.

Expert Mechanics at an Affordable Price

If you need your oil and air filters changed, or have bigger problems like engine trouble or a bad transmission, instead of going to a dealer, bring your car in and we’ll take a look with our 30-point inspection. Beckley’s has been helping drivers keep their cars on the road and money in their pocket for nearly 40 years.

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!

Has a Recall Been Issued for Your Vehicle?

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what to do in case of a recallGeneral Motors has made headlines in recent months for an ignition switch problem that can deactivate the airbag system in the car. GM officials believe the design flaw impacts an estimated 8.23 million cars, and the problem has been linked to 61 accidents and 16 deaths, according to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration.

While this particular recall has garnered significant media attention for exposing GM’s negligence in correcting a known problem, it’s hardly the only motor vehicle recall creating safety issues for drivers.

BMW recently issued a recall for a series of vehicles because the air bag inflator may rupture when it is deployed in a crash. Cadillac issued a recall for an ignition switch in some vehicles because drivers reported the ignition switch moved to the “off position,” turning the engine off while driving. And Chrysler issued a recall for certain vehicles with a lamp that can short circuit and potentially cause a fire.

The list of recalls keeps growing, particularly in the wake of scrutiny GM has faced for ignoring the problem with faulty ignition switches. And it serves a good reminder to find out if a recall has been issued on your vehicle. The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration is a good place to check for recall information. You can also search a database of recalls by auto manufacturers at Cars.com.

In addition, the NHTSA recently launched the SafeCar mobile app (Apple, Android) that can alert you to potential safety issues or recalls for your vehicle. The app also allows you to submit vehicle complaints, and access a wide range of safety-related information.

In most cases, when an auto manufacturer issues a recall, free repairs are available at authorized service centers. If you’re not sure if a recall has been issued for your vehicle, take a minute to find out. It could save you money, and it could save your life.

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.

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.

Safe Driving Tips for Halloween

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safe driving downtown des moines iowa

In just a few short days, ghouls, goblins, and ghosts will roam the streets after dark to trick-or-treat on Halloween night. If you’ve got to make a trip the store for more candy, or drive your car for some other reason, there are a few things to keep in mind before you get behind the wheel on a night like this.

safe driving downtown des moines iowa1. Check your brakes. If your brakes squeal or you experience a lot of vibration when slowing down, your brakes may need to be replaced. And waiting until Halloween night isn’t a good idea. If you need to drive your car when trick-or-treaters are out and about, you need to be sure you can brake quickly and safely just in case a costumed-creature runs out in front of you.

2. Refill wiper fluid. If your windshield is dirty, it’s going to be harder to see what’s in front of you, especially if you’re staring into the glare of a streetlight, oncoming car, or the glowing flashlight of a trick-or-treater. Wash your windshield and top off your wiper fluid reservoir. And if your wipers don’t clear your windshield well during rain, take care of those now before you’re on the road Halloween night.

3. Check your vehicle lights. Headlights, brake lights, and turn signals. Have someone help you make sure all the lights on your vehicle are working properly. If you plan to drive at dusk or just after dark on Halloween night, properly working vehicle lights will make things safer for you and trick-or-treaters.

4. Watch for pedestrians. In many neighborhoods, there isn’t a lot of pedestrian traffic after dark. But an estimated 97 percent of all children in the United States are expected to trick-or-treat on Halloween night. You’ll want to pay particular attention to parked cars and curbs where little trick-or-treaters could be hiding. And stop at all corners and intersections to make sure it’s clear to go. With all the excitement of filling their bags with candy, kids don’t always follow the look-both-ways rule on Halloween night.

5. If you’re out-trick-or treating…If you don’t have plans to drive anywhere on Halloween night, maybe you’ll be escorting trick-or-treaters through your neighborhood. If that’s the case, make sure everyone wears reflective clothing along with their costume. Carry a flashlight. Use the sidewalk and walk in lighted areas whenever possible.

If you’ll be driving your car on Halloween night, it doesn’t have to be scary. Just make sure your car is working properly, drive cautiously, and watch out for ghosts and goblins. Happy Halloween!

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.