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Find a Good Auto Repair Shop Before You Need One

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If you drive an older car, the chances of something going wrong are probably going to be higher than driving a car home from a dealership. But that doesn’t mean new cars won’t have problems. While you might not want to think about it, do you know where you’ll take your car if it does need a repair?

You should. You don’t have to look far to know that prices among auto mechanics can vary widely on parts and service. And unless you’ve done your homework, you might not know anything about a shop’s customer service, track record, and warranties before someone has your car up on a hydraulic lift.

auto repair shop downtown des moines iowaYou’ll save yourself time, money, and worry, if you know where to take your car when it needs to be fixed, instead of scrambling to find a good mechanic. Here’s how to find one:

Ask Your Friends for a Referral

While Google may help you find a long list of auto shops in Des Moines, you still won’t know a lot about them. Ask your friends for a referral. It’s a good place to start your own research to find a place to take care of your car.

Check Qualifications

Online reviews can tell you a lot about a business, customer service, and quality of work. But don’t base you decision on choosing a mechanic entirely on word-of-mouth. You can also check to see if the business is registered with the state of Iowa, the city of Des Moines, the local Chamber of Commerce, and the Better Business Bureau. You can also check to see if the shop has mechanics on staff with an Automotive Service Excellence certification.

Ask about Warranty Work

If your car is still covered under warranty and need repairs, read the fine print. You may need to take your car to an authorized dealer, but in some cases an approved shop may be able to do the work covered by your warranty, too. You’ll also want to ask the manage about what type of work they warranty, and what type of work or repairs it covers.

Get Details about Diagnostic Testing

In most cases, before any kind of repair is made to your car, a mechanic starts with diagnostic testing to determine, identify, or confirm the problem that needs to be repaired. When you’re looking for a shop, ask if they charge for diagnostic testing. In many cases, basic diagnostic tests are free, while more labor-intensive testing to identify a problem may come with a fee. Some shops will waive the fee if you have them perform the needed repair.

Get a Second Opinion

Even after you’ve found a shop you trust, it’s always a good idea to get a second opinion, especially with an expensive repair. You could take your car to a second shop and have their team give you a quote. Or you could ask your mechanic for the details, and simply call another shop and see what they would do the work for. Either way, getting a second opinion for expensive car repairs can save you time, money, and anxiety in the long run.

Get It In Writing

Reputable shops will gladly give you a quote for work that needs to be performed. It’s important to get this in writing, before you agree to any repairs. That way when it comes time to settle your bill there are no surprises.

If your car needs routine maintenance or a major repair, we can help. We’ve been keeping cars on the roads for Des Moines drivers for more than 30 years. And we’re proud of our reputation for friendly customer service and outstanding work on thousands of cars.

Need a good mechanic? Do your homework, and then click here to schedule a service appointment, contact us at 515-243-8185, send us an email at service@beckleyimports.com, or stop by at 901-8th Street in Des Moines.

Tips to Protect Your Car Battery in Iowa’s Hot Weather

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When Mother Nature heats things up during the peak of summer, most people take action to keep cool. Consuming cold drinks, swimming, or cranking up your home’s air conditioner can help you stay cool. But your car probably doesn’t have that luxury.

battery care des moines iowa When you’re not driving it, your car is probably soaking up the sun in your driveway, in the parking lot at work or the store, or in your garage where it’s still hot. Too much exposure to direct sunlight can take a toll on your car’s paint job, but that’s the least of your worries when it’s hot and you’re in a hurry to get to work or pick up the kids from swimming lessons. Hot weather can take a toll on your car battery too.

In fact, it’s one of the most common factors that shorten the life of a car battery, according to the Car Care Council. Cold weather might prevent your battery from firing and make the engine harder to start, but it’s not nearly as damaging as hot weather.

When your car battery gets hot from being in 80-plus-degree weather, it causes fluids inside your battery to evaporate. Lack of fluid in your car battery cells, can cause permanent damage to the battery. If this happens, it can cause your battery to be overcharged, which slowly drains the life out of it. At first, your car might seem hard to start in hot weather. And then one day, you’re walk out the door into a blast of heat, put your key in the ignition and nothing happens.

Here are some things you can do to protect your car battery from exposure to hot weather:

  1. Have your battery and electrical system checked to make sure it’s charging correctly. Overcharging or undercharging can shorten the life of your battery.
  1. Check fluid levels in your car battery. If any of the cells are empty or low, add distilled water. It’s a good idea to check battery fluid levels regularly during hot weather.
  1. If you need a new battery, follow the manufacturer’s recommendations to get the right battery for optimal performance.
  1. Keep the battery, cables, and terminals clean. Dirt on the battery, cables, and terminals can drain your battery and prevent your battery from working properly.

Need to give your battery a check-up? Give us a call at 515-423-8185 or click here to 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.

Steering Problems? Wheel Alignment May Straighten Things Up

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wheel alignment des moinesWhen you turn the steering wheel on your car, it’s supposed be responsive and easy to handle. And with power steering, it should be. But if you struggle to keep your car from “wandering lanes,” or feel like you have to man-handle the steering wheel to simply control the car, you might have a wheel alignment problem.

After a long, cold Iowa winter, it’s not uncommon. There’s a good chance you slid on the ice while parking your car and bumped a few curbs, drove over a couple of potholes, rumbled your way across a bumpy stretch of road covered in patches of ice, or braked too hard after sliding into an intersection. All that wear and tear can take a toll on your tires and wheel alignment.

If your car steering seems to be “uneven,” pulling to one side, or handling poorly, here’s what you can do:

  1. Check your tires. Use a tire gauge to check the air pressure in each tire and make sure they’re inflated with the right amount of pressure. If you find a problem, add some air to the low tire.
  1. Inspect the tread on all four tires. Severely worn tires, or a mix-and-match or snow tires and all-season tires can effect steering. Replace your tires if you notice excessive wear, and use the same tire for all four wheels.
  1. Get your wheel alignment inspected. If checking your tire pressure and inspecting the tread don’t reveal any major problems, bring your car in for a wheel alignment and inspection. Fixing a wheel alignment-issue early on can often keep your tires from wearing down prematurely.

To find out if you need a wheel alignment, we’ll also measure tire pressure and inspect your tires. Then we’ll use diagnostic automotive tools to examine the toe-in, castor, and camber of each tire. Many times a wheel alignment is all you need to correct a steering-related problem to straighten things up.

In some cases, poor steering performance isn’t entirely caused by wheel alignment. Steering problems may also be linked to worn out struts or shocks, loose bearings, or damage to other steering components. If that’s the case, we can fix those problems too so you can drive with confidence and safety.

Reach out to Beckley’s today to schedule an appointment.  Call 515-243-8185 or simply click on the “Schedule Service” button to the right to get your car running right for spring!

 

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!

European Car Sales on the Rise in Des Moines & Around the Country!

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european car sales in des moines

Good news for European Car dealers and owners! European Car Sales rose for a third consecutive month in November, which is the largest growth in the industry in the past four years. It’s a great signal that the industry-wide decline in sales could be coming to an end in the next few years. In 2013, European Car registrations were up 0.9% from 2012, another indication that sales are on the rise.

european car sales in des moinesSo, which cars are contributing the most to this growth? Here are the top three:
Volkswagen Golf Hatchback
Volkswagen Skoda Rapid Spaceback
Renault Captur

Overall sales in the industry are still low, but do seem to have reached their very lowest point, which will hopefully lead to a recovery in the near future. One European Auto Maker, The Fiat Group, is said to have plans to invest up to 9 Million Euros (equal to 12.4 billion American dollars) on reviving its factories and developing new models. They are focusing more on the Fiat line, a subcompact, low-budget line of vehicles, while also trying to bolster sales for the Maserati and Alfa Romeo lines with new models.

If you’re considering purchasing a European car, the time to start looking is now. Prices are good, and the industry is back on rise. Beckley can help you care for and maintain whichever vehicle you decide on.

5 “Did You Know” Answers for The Passionate BMW Owner

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bmw owners, BMW information des moines iowa

While Des Moines BMW owners have unmatched passion for their European autos, being the “Go-To” service location for European cars requires us to dig deep into the history and heritage of the cars we service so we can give the best maintenance and support to your European car as possible. Along the way, we pick up odd and somewhat amusing tidbits of European car information.

Check out these 5 “Did you knows” about our beloved BMW:

  1. passionate bmw ownerThe BMW Name – BMW stands for Bayerische Motoren Werke. In English, that would be: Bavarian Motor Works
  2. The BMW Logo – The Roundel logo stems from the days of its aircraft heritage, and symbolizes a spinning propeller.
    A huge component of the BMW logo is the blue and white fields, and those come off the Bavarian flag. (Bavaria is a state in Germany. Yes. BMW’s come from Bavaria.)
  3. The BMW “LOOK” – The kidney Grille was first used in the BMW 303. The 303 was a mid-sized saloon produced in the early 1930’s. It was the first BMW to use the “kidney grille” which today is a hallmark if their model.
  4. The BMW Letter – BMW does not use automobile platforms like any other manufactures, instead, each generation has a development code (Entwicklungsnummeren ), E = Entwicklung = DevelopmentSo, why did they switch to “F code” with the new 7-series? Did they run out of E-numbers? We’ll have to look into this… 🙂
  5. The FIRST BMW – The first car made by BMW is: The BMW Dixi!!!
    BMW bought the Automobilwerk Eisenach in 1928 and, with it, the rights to build the Dixi car… Soon after that, they dropped the Dixi name.

European cars run in our blood (almost literally). From BMWs to Mercedes, Jaguars, Porsche and more, we love what we do as much as you, as owners, love the driving and performance.

Reach out to us if you have any questions concerning your vehicles service and performance. Beckley Imports and the entire Beckley Automotive Group can handle any question and help get you back on the road.