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Are your Anti-Lock Brakes Working?

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Good Vibrations: Your Anti-Lock Brakes Are Working

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

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

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

Anti-Lock Brakes Improve Driving Safety

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

Most Cars Are Made with Anti-Lock Brakes

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

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

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

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

Iowa’s Cold Weather Can Kill Your Car Battery

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Cold weather can be a killer for your car’s battery.

Sure, when your car is running smoothly, it’s easy to take it for granted. You hop in, turn the key, and the engine fires up. You buckle up, pick your favorite radio station or music, and turn on the heater. You might even have the luxury of heated seats to warm your backside and a navigation system to help you get to your destination.cold weather affect on car battery

Just about every single one of these functions makes your car driving experience a little more convenient, comfortable, and enjoyable. But the minute something stops working, everything changes. Your radio won’t turn on. You turn the key and hear a clicking noise. The engine tries and fails to fire up. Or you turn the key and get absolutely nothing. If you’re like most people when this happens, you raise your fist to the sky and shout, “Why!”

Take a closer look at these features, and many others that make your car work, (like lights, locks, windows, and dashboard info) and they often have at least one thing in common. They’re powered by the car battery. In Iowa, it’s that time of year when frigid winter temperatures can kill your car battery. Consider this:

  • When cold weather arrives, Des Moines-area towing and roadside assistance services see a major rise in calls for Battery jump starts
  • A typical car battery lasts three to five years. Cold weather can shorten the lifespan of a battery. How long have you had yours?
  • It takes your battery twice as much current to start the engine in cold weather than warmer days.
  • Phones, tablets, computers, DVD players, navigation systems, and other electronics drain and strain car batteries. Do you use any of these devices in your car?
  • At 32 degrees, a car battery loses 35 percent of its power
  • At 0 degrees, a car battery loses 60 percent of its power

If the very thought of being late to work or school, or being stranded in a parking lot after a long day of shopping with a dead battery has crossed your mind, don’t let it happen. A simple inspection and battery test can determine the health of your battery. And if it needs to be replaced, it’s a lot better to do it before you’re stuck out in the cold waiting for a jumpstart.

Need to get your battery tested? We can help. Our technicians can test your battery to make sure it’s fully charged, identify any problems, and install a new battery if necessary. 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,

Stay Warm with a Car Heater Check-Up or Repair

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Nobody likes to walk outside when it’s cold and climb into a freezing cold car. It’s one reason many people start up their car, go back inside, and let it run a few minutes.

stay warm with car heater repair des moines iowaSure, “everybody does it.” But it’s actually against the law in Iowa. Leave your car running unattended, and you can be fined $20. You also run the risk of letting anyone in search of a joyride take off in your car. But it’s a risk a lot of people are willing to make for warm-car comfort.

Does it take a while for your car to warm up?

If your engine and heater are working properly, your car should be warm in just a few minutes, even in frigid Iowa temperatures. But if you’re still shivering 20 minutes after leaving the house, can see your breath inside the cab of the car, or need to wear gloves just to grip the steering wheel and ward off frostbite, it may be time for a heater checkup.

Car Heater Basics

When you fire up your engine, it generates heat. As the pistons fire, coolant goes through the engine and absorbs heat to keep it from overheating. Then the hot coolant goes back through the radiator and makes a delivery to the heater core. You crank up the thermostat in your car, turn the fan in high, hit defrost, and in theory, hot air should fill the cabin. But it doesn’t always work that way.

When Your Car Doesn’t Warm Up

If your car doesn’t heat up in a few minutes, or never seems to get very warm, there’s a problem that leaving your car running in the driveway for 15 minutes before work won’t fix. The good news is that it’s generally an inexpensive to get your heater to pump hot air again.

Check the Thermostat and Radiator

In most cases, a poorly working car heater is caused by a faulty thermostat, radiator, or hoses clogged with gunk that limits the amount of hot air being circulated. A basic inspection can usually identify the problem. And the fix usually involves replacing the thermostat, flushing the radiator and hoses, or both.

If your car hasn’t been warming up like you think it should, we can help heat things 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.

By Any Other Name, It’s Still Your Baby

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We don’t see a lot of Lamborghini’s rolling through Des Moines, or on the lifts in our shop (boy do we love seeing them, though). But this Italian-made car has a massive following of speed-crazed fans, celebrity collectors, and an entire subculture of car aficionados who obsess over speed, styling, and performance.baby your car

The price alone is reason enough to create some buzz. For example, if you can get your hands on a 2016 Lamborghini Aventador, you can expect to pay a cool $500,000. You don’t have to be a car buff to know that’s a staggering price tag for a vehicle.

But aside from price and performance, there’s at least one other thing that makes the Lamborghini unique. Every model from the Miura made in 1966, the well-known Diablo made in 1990, and the latest Aventador, is named after bulls that killed their matador.

Kind of crazy, or is it?

Lamborghini isn’t the only one who gives meaningful names to cars. Over the years, we’ve helped customers take care of their pride and joy on wheels, and on occasion even agreed to refer to the cars by their given name (instead of make and model).

Have you given your car a name? A lot of people have. Leave it to the Internet to discover that people are as obsessed about choosing the right name for their car as they are a newborn baby. But if you spend a lot of time in your car commuting, shuttling the kids from place to place, or log a lot of miles for work, maybe it just makes sense to give it a name.

Maintenance and Repairs for All Foreign and Domestic Cars

If you drive a domestic-made car like a Ford, Chevy, Chrysler, or Jeep, we’ll take handle your car repair needs, just like they were a member of the family. And if you drive a Honda, Toyota, Hyundai, Kia, or foreign-made car, that’s OK too.

With our team of technicians, state-of-the-art equipment, and decades of experience, we can repair any car, even if yours is named after a bull that killed its matador.

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.

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.

Car Problems? Schedule Service Online

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When Neil Armstrong landed on the moon in 1969, it was a modern-day marvel years in the making. For decades, scientists, researchers, and engineers worked together to make the moon landing possible. It was a monumental achievement, especially with the kind of technology the Apollo 11 team had to work with.

schedule car service online des moines iowa

Just go to “BeckleyImports.com” on your mobile device!

So what does the moon landing have to do with cars? More than you might think.

Pick up your smartphone, tablet, mobile device, or turn on your computer. At your fingertips, you have more computing power than the 1969 lunar module that reached the moon and all the computers back in Houston for that historic mission. Seriously, today’s software, hardware, and technology is faster, smarter, more intuitive, and a lot less expensive.

When you have a problem with your car, or just need to schedule an oil change, setting up an appointment is easy, thanks to the speed and convenience of the Internet. There’s no need to play phone tag, listen to on-hold music (unless you really want to), or leave a rambling voice mail that sounds something like, “Houston, we have a problem.”

Car Repairs and Maintenance When It’s Convenient

All you have to do is click Schedule Service on our site, and you’ll be able to relay your message from anywhere with an Internet connection and a computer or mobile device. You’ll be prompted to provide a few details, like your contact information, a preferred time and date for service that works for you, and the type of car you drive.

You can even choose from a list of services your car needs like an oil change, transmission service, or major tune-up. If there’s a problem with your car, give us your best explanation about what’s going on. Your observations will give us a better idea of what to look for when you bring your car in for service.

When you need to Schedule Service, it’s easy to do from your computer or any mobile device. Once we receive your message (which only takes a few seconds), we’ll contact you to confirm your service appointment. We’ll take care of your car so you can travel to the moon and back if you want to.

Having problems with your car? Or is it time for some routine maintenance? Click Schedule Service, and book an appointment now.

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.

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Bad Car Air Filter Damage the Mass Air Flow Sensor

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

Need your air filter changed or routine maintenance to help prevent costly repairs? We can help. Give us a call at 515-423-8185 or click here to schedule an appointment.