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Not your Typical Repair Shop

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You’re in a rush to pick up your kids from school. But with afternoon traffic and hundreds of other parents trying to do the same thing, you’re running behind. And if it’s not picking up kids, you probably know what it’s like to fight traffic when you’re trying to get to work, go on vacation, make a delivery, or get to an important appointment.

car repair, beckley automotive, beckley imports, great customer service, auto repair des moinesSo what do you do? You deal with it. You listen to the radio, talk to others in the car, check your phone messages (But no texting while driving. It’s against the law in Iowa), or people-watch as drivers and other cars go by. All the while, you’re counting on your car to get you from here to there.

But what happens when your car has a problem?

All hell breaks loose. Right? Or at least that’s what it can feel like.

It happened to an Altoona mom recently. Her car overheated. Quick thinking and a Google search pointed her to our shop, and she rolled in with smoke and steam billowing from under the hood. Fortunately, it wasn’t a major problem, but it was going to take the rest of the afternoon to repair. And that had this mom a little worried.

“I just picked up my daughter from school,” she said. “And I took the afternoon off to take her shopping, and spend some time together.” She was worried their plans were going to be canceled because of car trouble.

Our waiting area is nice and comfortable, but there’s probably other places you’d like to be with some free time on your hands. We like taking care of our customers, so we worked out an arrangement that let this mom keep the shopping date with her daughter (check it out, here). A couple hours later, and we had her car fixed and ready to roll.

“We had a wonderful afternoon,” she said. That’s not the typical response you expect to hear when you ask someone about getting their car repaired. But then again, we’re not your typical auto shop.

We’re the best automotive repair shop serving the Des Moines area since 1979.

Got car trouble? Need repair work done, or just routine maintenance? We can help. Click here to schedule a service appointment, contact us at 515-243-8185, or stop by at 901-8th Street in Des Moines.

5 Ways to Make Winter Weather Driving Safer

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It happens every year. Mother Nature shows up with a delivery of snow and ice for the greater Des Moines area. From a window seat in your home, it’s nice to look out at the winter wonderland. And if you’re lucky, you don’t have to head out the door to drive to work, go to school, or stock up on groceries to weather the storm.

But what if you do need to get behind the wheel? Plenty of people still need to drive during winter weather. If you’re prepared, you’re more likely to get to your destination without incident. But that’s not always the case. For example, this past Monday, slick conditions on I-80 near Altoona caused a 25-car pile-up, and blocked Interstate 80 westbound for hours.

winter weather driving, winter driving safety, safer winter driving, beckley automotive des moines, beckley imports des moines, des moines foreign and domestic auto careYou can’t always prevent an accident, especially in difficult driving conditions. But you can take steps to lower the chance of having problems if you do go somewhere during bad weather.

Here are five ways to make winter weather driving safer:

  1. Keep your car topped off with gas. If you get stuck in a line of cars because of a road closure, you’ll be able to keep your car warm and running, without worrying about the tank running dry.
  1. Schedule routine maintenance on your car. It’s a good way to save money and prevent costly repairs. But it also gives you peace of mind, especially during winter weather, knowing your car is reliable and running properly. You don’t want to find out your brakes aren’t working right or your defroster is broken in the middle of storm. Get your battery checked. Make sure the wiper fluid and antifreeze reservoirs are full. Little things like this can help prevent problems.
  1. Use studless or studded winter tires. If you want to improve the way your car handles in conditions like drivers experienced on Highway 80, getting studded or studless winter tires can make a big difference. A lot of times, it’s your driveway and neighborhood side streets that make winter weather driving the most difficult. Use winter weather tires or carry chains/traction devices just in case.
  1. Pack emergency supplies. You don’t have to turn your car into a survivalist bunker, but having some emergency supplies on hand when you’ll be driving in winter weather is a good idea. Consider storing things like basic tools, a blanket, snack food, road flares, and a first aid kit in your trunk or back of the car. Keep an ice scraper handy, too.
  1. Slow down. Fortunately, no one was seriously injured in the 25-car pile-up on Highway 80. You can’t always prevent an accident when the roads are covered in snow and ice, but speed is often a factor. Slow down. You’ll have better control over your car, and be more likely to avoid an accident.

If you know it’s time to give your car a tune-up, or you’ve been putting off doing something about that funny noise coming from under the hood, don’t wait until winter weather leaves you out in the cold.

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

Cold-Weather Tips to Improve Gas Mileage

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If you’re planning a road trip during the holidays, travel for work, or still have a lot of present shopping to do, you’re probably going to put a fair amount of miles on your car.

All the usual routine maintenance is important. But a more immediate cost you’re probably keenly aware of is the price of gas.

cold weather gas mileage, winter gas mileage, tips for winter fuel economyRight now gas prices are better than they have been for a while. In Des Moines, gas prices for regular unleaded range from $2.19 a gallon to $2.59 a gallon. But even with lower gas prices making things a little easier on your budget, it still makes sense to get the best fuel economy possible. Cold weather can interfere with fuel economy. But it doesn’t have to. Follow these five tips to improve gas mileage during the winter months.

  1. Park Inside. Whenever possible park your car in a place that’s out of the elements. A warm garage is best. Start your car when it’s already a little warm, and fuel economy will be better than trying to warm up a cold engine.
  1. Evaluate Your Travel Plans. Before you hop in the car and drive to work, the store, drop kids off at school, or go do something else, take a little time to evaluate your plans for the day. Look for ways you can combine trips. You’ll drive less, and you won’t be starting up a cold engine over and over.
  1. Don’t Idle Your Engine. If you’re serious about getting better gas mileage during the winter, don’t idle your engine. A lot of people do this to warm up their vehicle, but it’s wastes fuel, costing you more at the pump. If you really feel the need to warm up your engine, give it 30 to 60 seconds, and then be on your way.
  1. Check Tire Pressure. If you drive a newer car, it may be equipped with a Tire Pressure Monitoring Sensor. If you get a warning about low tire pressure, add some air. Driving around with low tire pressure, can wear out your tires faster, can be dangerous in bad weather, and reduces fuel economy. If you don’t have a TPMS system in your car, get out a tire gauge to check tire pressure, or bring it in for an inspection.
  1. Limit the Use of the Defroster and Heated Seats. Driving with a clear windshield is important. But you probably don’t need to run your defroster non-stop. And heated seats are really just a luxury some cars have. Both of these features take a toll on fuel economy, so only used them as necessary.

Get better gas mileage during the winter months by following these tips. Routine maintenance can make a big difference in fuel economy, too. And we can help. Click here to schedule a service appointment, contact us at 515-243-8185, or stop by at 901-8th Street in Des Moines.

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.

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. 

Rock Salt & Proper Winter Maintenance

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bmw rock salt damage winter

While we’re in the time of year when warm temperatures and “car wash” days are few and far between, you have to understand how Rock Salt and Winter damage the exterior (and interior) of your car. Opportunities for winter car washes need to be capitalized upon, and Beckley’s helps you do that!

bmw rock salt damage winterBeckley’s oil change service includes an oil change specialized to your vehicle, a 30 point written safety inspection by an ASE certified technician, and a hand wash (weather permitting) and vacuum.

The hand wash is our way of adding a special touch, because not only is it important to take care of the mechanical parts of your car; if you want to keep it looking great, and have the maximum resale value when you’re ready to sell, you need to take care of the exterior as well.

Rock salt used to melt snow and ice in the winter is great for what it’s used for, but can do a number on the interior and exterior of your vehicle. Rock salt can lead to rust and corrosion in the undercarriage of the vehicle, which can be costly and difficult to repair. It also can cause rust around your tires, fenders, and doors, causing paint to chip and your resale value to diminish. If possible, you should rinse your car every 10 days; bringing it in for an oil service and tune up on one of our nice days ahead will really take care of any built up salt on your car.

Rock salt can also cause damage to the inside of your car; it stains if left to sit, diminishing the attractiveness and resale value of your vehicle. Loose rock salt can also be dangerous to any children or pets that ride in your car. Our service technicians will completely vacuum the inside of your car to prevent staining or other damage from salt.

We want to do everything we can to help you keep your European car in great shape in the coming months. If you have any questions, or if you want to schedule a service, don’t hesitate to call us at (515) 243-8185.

We look forward to hearing from you soon!