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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.

Flush Your Transmission Now, Before It’s Too Late

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transmission flush des moines iowa.jpg

Bring up the topic at a dinner party, and someone is bound to have their own tale of woe, costly repairs, or even the ultimate demise of a car caused by a failing transmission. Aside from engine damage, a failed transmission is one of the more expensive repairs that can put a real dent in your pocket. So it makes sense that you do everything you can to protect your transmission from going bad in the first place.

transmission flush des moines iowa.jpgMost car manufacturers recommend getting the transmission fluid in your car flushed about once every two years, or every 30,000 miles. But that may not be soon enough if your car is already showing signs of transmission issues. You should get your transmission inspected or flushed as soon as possible if you notice any of these five warning signs of transmission problems. Doing so could protect your transmission from failing, or at least prolong its life, and save you some money.

Gear Grinding or Unexplained Noises
Over time, your transmission can get dirty, absorb grease, and even develop sludge that slows its ability to help your car cycle through changing gears. If you hear grinding sounds or unexplained noises from under the hood while driving, check your transmission fluid. It should be a brightly-colored red. Black or brown-colored transmission fluid means your transmission is dirty or is being compromised by sludge, and obviously warrants a transmission flush.

Getting Into Gear
It’s a telltale sign of transmission problems. If you find it hard to get your car with an automatic or manual transmission into gear, it’s a warning sign of transmission problems. But it could just be caused by dirt or sludge build-up in your transmission. Getting your transmission flushed at the first onset of this problem and replaced with clean transmission fluid can often improve gear shifting and prevent transmission damage.

Popping Out of Gear
If you find yourself driving down the road, only to have your car pop out of gear, your transmission may be to blame. If your transmission is too dirty, it won’t have enough power to keep your car into gear at times. And that can cause your vehicle to pop out of gear, and it undoubtedly happens at an inconvenient moment while on the road. Flushing your transmission at the first signs of this problem can power up the hydraulic pressure in your transmission to keep your car in gear.

Unexplained Surges in Power
If you notice unexplained surges in power while you’re driving, it’s often an indicator that your transmission is dirty. When dirt, grease, and sludge interfere with transmission operation, it’s hard for your transmission to provide a continuous and steady flow of power to keep your gears moving smoothly from one to the next. Notice this problem, and it’s a good time to flush the transmission before it’s too late.

Slow to Go After Getting Into Gear
You’ll notice right away if this is a problem. You put your car into gear, and for just a second or two nothing happens. You might not think anything of it at first, but it’s a warning sign of transmission trouble. The first time you noticed this is a good time to take your car in for a transmission flush.

Getting your transmission flushed every two years or every 30,000 miles is a good maintenance plan to follow. But if you noticed any of these warning signs, bring your car in as soon as possible for a transmission inspection. Simply flushing your transmission and replacing it with clean, dirt-free transmission fluid could save you a lot of money. 

6 Ways to Improve Gas Mileage

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improving gas mileage des moines

Ways to improve Gas Mileage is on the top of all of our minds…  and wallets!

improve gas mileage des moinesIf you commute to work, do a lot of driving around town, or you’re planning a vacation, you’re probably keenly aware of gas prices at the pump. (If you’re driving an electric car or hybrid, battery life or the nearest charging station might be on your mind more than the price of gas.) The current national average is $3.676 per gallon, but in some areas, gas costs more than $4 a gallon.

If you’re wondering why gas prices are going up, media reports suggest concerns with oil production in the Middle East, as well as increased demand during peak travel season. But regardless of the reason, higher gas prices have an impact on your budget. Fortunately, there are simple things you can do to improve the gas mileage of your vehicle.

1. Get a Tune-Up – Your car needs regular maintenance to deliver peak performance and optimal gas mileage. Changing the oil and filter, installing a new air filter, inspecting and changing belts, and replacing spark plugs are all common repairs that can improve gas mileage. A regular tune-up can identify these problems and save you money in the long run.

2. Check Your Tire Pressure – Many newer model cars are designed to tell you if your tire pressure is low. It might be annoying to see a low-tire pressure light in the dash, but properly inflated tires help improve gas mileage. Use a tire gauge to measure air pressure and inflate your tires to the recommended PSI for your vehicle.

3. Change the Oil and Air Filter – You’ve heard the recommendation to get your oil and air filter changed every 3,000 miles. It’s one of the best things you can do to prolong the life of your car and maximize gas mileage. Your engine operates more efficiently with clean oil and a new filter. Replacing the air filter on a regular basis also improves fuel economy, acceleration, and engine performance.

4. Check Your Gas Cap – If you haven’t thought about your gas cap as a potential source for poor gas mileage, you’re not alone. But the truth is a faulty gas cap that’s loose or has a missing or damaged seal allows gas to vaporize. This can force you to spend more money at the pump, but it’s an easy fix that typically only costs a few dollars.

5. Take Care of Major Maintenance Issues – As you put more miles on your car, there’s always the chance for wear and tear that needs special attention. Taking care of maintenance issues like cleaning or replacing fuel injectors or replacing a faulty oxygen sensor can significantly improve gas mileage.

6. Improve Your Driving Habits – Your driving habits may also be a factor that determines the gas mileage your car gets. Here are some things you can do: Follow speed limits. Avoid rapid acceleration, quick stops, and excessive idling. Remove any heavy items from your trunk. These simple changes can also help improve fuel economy.

Run through the list of these six tips to improve gas mileage and put them into practice. You should see an improvement in gas mileage the next time you fuel up at the pump.

5 Reasons Your Check Engine Light is On

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check engine light is on des moines

Your Check Engine Light is On. Now what?

Murphy’s law – If anything can go wrong it probably will. So you’re on your way to an important job interview or sales call. You’ve just packed up the family car and left town on a road trip you’ve been planning for months. Or you’re just feeling a little stressed out and think the last thing you want is car trouble. Then a red light blinks on in your dash. It’s the Check Engine light, and you immediately envision worst-case scenarios like expensive car repairs or the ultimate demise of your car.

check engine light is on des moinesIf your Check Engine light comes on, chances are pretty good that your car isn’t going to stall out and leave you stranded right away. But it’s not something you want to ignore.

As soon as you’re able to, take your car to an auto parts store and ask them to run a diagnostic test on your vehicle. They’ll hook up a computer to your dash that can identify the reason your Check Engine light is on. In some cases, it’s a simple fix. You may also need the help of an experienced mechanic, but at least you’ll get an idea of what the problem is.

Here are the five most common reasons the Check Engine Light gets activated:

1. Defective Oxygen Sensor. Most cars have two to four oxygen sensors which essentially help regulate oxygen and fuel to help your car get the best gas mileage possible. When a sensor fails, gas mileage declines, and more emissions will be present in your car’s exhaust. It’s a relatively easy and low-cost repair to make. But if you ignore it for too long, a faulty oxygen sensor could damage your car’s catalytic converter, and that can be an expensive repair.

2. Check the Gas Cap. Most cars on the road today have engine sensors linked to your car’s fuel system. If your gas cap isn’t on properly or tightened down enough, or it has a crack, your car’s fuel efficiency will be off. If this is the source of your problem, you can fix it for free or less than the cost of a Starbucks coffee. Check your gas cap and make sure it’s tightened down. And if your gas cap has a crack or faulty seal, buy a new gas cap at and auto parts store to replace the old one on your car. It’s one of the easiest fixes associated with the Check Engine Light.

3. The Catalytic Converter Needs to be Replaced. This isn’t the news you want to hear if you remember reading about this in connection with a defective oxygen sensor. It’s an expensive repair that can cost an estimated $2,000. If your catalytic converter is failing, eventually it will quit working completely and you’ll be calling a tow truck. Give us a call and we’ll get your car back up and running.

4. Mass Airflow Sensor is Failing. When your car’s mass airflow sensor begins to fail, your car can’t get the right amount of air and fuel mixture to power your engine. Your gas mileage will start to decline, and your car will stall more and more frequently. Like the oxygen sensors, it’s a relatively easy repair to do on your own if you’re willing. And most mechanics will install a new airflow sensor for under $300.

5. Spark Plugs Need More Spark. When the spark plugs in your engine start to fail, you’ll notice periodic jolts or fluctuations in your engine’s power when you’re driving. Sparks plugs are like a lot of car parts that just don’t last forever. Older cars may need the spark plugs replaced every 30,000 miles, while the spark plugs in newer cars should last 100,000 miles or more. If you have the time and patience, you can replace the sparks plugs on your car with a few basic tools. And it’s generally a low-cost repair if you bring it in to the shop.

If your Check Engine Light comes on, don’t panic. It’s your car’s warning system giving you an indicator to get your car checked out. But just don’t ignore it. Schedule an appointment with Beckley Auto immediately to find out the issue and fix it as soon as possible!

Des Moines Auto Repair – Service to the Core

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Aaron Lukacs - Beckley Auto

Auto repair gets a bad rap. In Des Moines, there are in the hundreds of service shops you can go to, but which one can you trust? Which can you guarantee service and support after the sale?

Our service writer, Aaron, talks a bit about the job he provides at Beckley Auto. With his focus on the customer, honesty and drive, where else would you want to take your car to get serviced?

If you’re looking for a great auto repair shop with the staff and support that will exceed your expectations, bring it down to Beckley’s. Aaron and the others are ready to help you out.

To schedule an appointment online to have your car serviced, just click on the “Schedule Service” button to the right.

We look forward to seeing you!

European Car Owner Tips: Don’t Put Off Repairs

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mercedes heater repair des moines iowa

We’re all thinking it: someday this winter will end. And it has to be soon, right? So it’s not that big of a deal if we put off checking up on the heating system or the starter system til next fall when it gets cold again.

mercedes heater repair des moines iowaYou would be sorely mistaken if you thought you could put off these important checkups and repairs! Besides, it doesn’t look like it’ll be warming up anytime too soon.

Harsh Iowa winters (and I think we can all agree this one has been especially harsh) put a huge strain on your starter system and battery. It takes more gas and power to get it started in the extremely cold winters, and constantly starting it up without getting it checked or updated can lead to damage and battery failure; not something you want to be dealing with in negative temperatures.

Cold temperatures also put a strain on your heating system; if your car is heating up slower than usual, you may have a problem. The climate control system in your European car is more complex than other types of vehicles, and it’s important to have a certified European car technician work on it; they know what they’re doing and can save you time and money while avoiding expensive mistakes.

Finally, it’s important to make sure your brakes and anti-lock system are working, your oil is fresh and up to date, and your electrical system is up to speed. All of these factors are crucial in keeping a European car running smoothly and efficiently, and all of these services are provided by Beckley Imports.

If you would like to speak to one of our technicians, or schedule an appointment for your vehicle, we welcome you to give us a call at (515) 243-8185. We hope to hear from you soon!

The Proper Wheel Alignment for your European Car

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wheel alignment des moines iowa

European cars are extremely sensitive to proper wheel alignment; if it’s off, the tires wear off more quickly and adjustments are needed constantly. At Beckley, we stay up to date with latest alignment equipment and software to ensure perfect results for each and every car we service. Additionally, our experienced specialists are trained on specific makes of cars, so you’ll get the best service available.

At only $35 per car for a Wheel Alignment check, you’ll get excellent service and peace of mind at a great value. Call us today to schedule an appointment: (515) 243-8185.