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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.

Car Repairs Can Save You Money

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Nobody wants to get a speeding ticket. But it happens. Sometimes it’s a law enforcement officer clocking driver speed that lands someone a ticket. And other times, it’s one of about 25 Red Light Cams or Speed Cams in the greater Des Moines are that snaps a picture of a speeding driver behind the wheel, generates a bunch of paper work, and delivers a digital citation that shows up in the mail with a fine of up to a few hundred dollars. Speed laws are in place to keep us safe on the roads.

car repair des moines iowaDid you know there are also laws on the books that require drivers to keep cars running properly? It’s true. In the state of Iowa, there are also laws that require you to maintain your vehicle. Here are some examples:

Brakes
You need to have good working brakes to stop in time to avoid an accident, or face a fine of $200-plus if you don’t.

Horn
Your car horn is required to work properly, because it can also help avoid an accident and alert other drivers of a problem. No horn could mean a fine of up to $120.

Muffler
Every car needs a working muffler to filter exhaust, minimize noise from the engine, and improve performance. Drive around with a defective muffler, and a citation could cost about $100.

Windshield Wipers
Yes, you can even get a ticket for defective windshield wipers. You can driver around a long time with poorly working wipers, and still see the road in the rain or snow. But it could cost you up to $100 in fines if you do. New ones usually cost less than $20 bucks and only take minutes to install.

Tires
When tire tread starts to show signs of wear, it’s a good idea to replace the tires. Tires with a decent amount of tread remaining helps your car handle better, improves gas mileage, and makes driving safer for you and others. Put off getting new tires long enough, and it could cost up to $100 in fines. In case you haven’t done your homework, that about the price of two tires on a lot of cars.

Headlights and Turn Signals

When a headlight burns out or a turn signal isn’t working properly, it’s a safety issue for you and other drivers. Your car may still run properly, but defective lights can become a safety issue for you and others. Put off getting lights replaced, and the fine is around $100.

Most of the time, when a car has brakes that need replaced, a defective horn, a muffler that’s corroded or failing, worn out tires, or lights that don’t work, you find out on your own, another driver lets you know there’s a problem, or your mechanic recommends making the repairs. And it’s worth it. It’s a much better use of your hard-earned money to keep your car running properly than to fork over money to pay fines for things that can easily be repaired.

Have a car repair that needs to be addressed? Don’t wait until you’ve got to pay a citation for a car problem, along with making the needed repair. Click here to schedule a service appointment, contact us at 515-243-8185, 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,

Is Your Car’s Air Conditioning Ready For Summer in Des Moines?

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car air conditioning des moines iowaModerate springtime temperatures can deceptively make you forget about the dog days of summer in Des Moines not too far away. When you wake up in the morning and head to your car, it’s a cool 40 degrees outside. By mid-afternoon and a little sun, it’s in the upper 60s, which generally isn’t hot enough to make you think about turning on the air conditioning.

But if you’ve been around Des Moines, and the Midwest long enough, hotter days are ahead. Within a month, we’ll be approaching 80-degree-plus temperatures that will be here to stay for a few months. That’s hot enough to seriously heat up the interior of your car and feel the need to crank up the air conditioning.

You might not be thinking about hot summer weather yet, but you should. Driving a car on a hot and humid day in Des Moines without a properly working air conditioning can be a miserable sweat-soaked experience. And it doesn’t have to be that way.

We can give your car’s air conditioning system a check-up to see if it’s ready to handle the rigors of summer in Des Moines. We’ll inspect your car’s air conditioning compressor, motor, electronics, blower, and ducts. We’ll check to see if your car’s air conditioning is capable of keeping things cool, even on a hot day, and take a look at the refrigerant level of your air conditioning unit needed to help you chill out when you want to.

In many cases, a simple diagnostic evaluation and additional refrigerant is all you need to maximize your car’s air conditioning performance. Before you’re battling the next summer heat wave on a cross-country road trip or sitting in an overheated cabin on a hot day, stop in or schedule an appointment to have your car’s air conditioning inspected and serviced.

If you’ve got questions about your car’s air conditioning, we can help. Bring your car in for an inspection or give us a call at 515-423-8185 or click here schedule an appointment.

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.

Don’t Leave Home Without a Roadside Assistance Plan

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roadside assistance plan

What Would You Do Without A Good Roadside Assistance Plan?

During the summer months when more people are traveling, there’s bound to be more breakdowns. And that’s especially true for people who want to see the sights off the beaten path. If your car hasn’t had the best service history or a regular tune-up, there’s a chance you might encounter an engine problem, electrical failure, broken water pump, or simply run out of gas. And there’s no doubt that locking your keys in the car, getting a flat tire, leaving your lights on and running down the battery, or experiencing a breakdown can spoil your day and your plans for some summer fun.

roadside assistance planSo if you’re in the middle of Des Moines or on some dusty road outside of town and you’re stuck, what do you do? If you’ve got some mechanical skills, you might be able make a minor repair and get back on the road. But even that might require a trip and back to a parts store. If you’re not packing any tools, or don’t have the mechanical skills, then what? It’s the kind of situation no one wants to find themselves in. And that’s why we encourage people to carry a basic roadside assistance plan.

You can get a roadside assistance plan through organizations like AAA, the National Motor Club, and AARP. And most insurance companies offer various roadside assistance plans as an option when you buy a car insurance policy. Most basic plans only cost about $50 a year, and it’s worth every penny. Roadside assistance plans can save you a lot of money and typically include services at no additional cost like:

  • Free towing up to 50 miles
  • Dead battery services
  • Tire change service
  • Lock-out assistance
  • Gasoline delivery

Some plans even include a reimbursement for food and lodging if you have a breakdown that interrupts your travel plans. And if you slide off into a ditch or down an embankment, some plans even cover the cost of extrication and winching. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen.

We’ve been taking cars for nearly 40 years. And you’d be amazed at the calls we field to send out a tow truck to get people out of trouble. Even if you only use your roadside assistance plan once every couple of years, it’s worth every penny. Just to send out a tow truck can cost $50 or more. And paying out of pocket for some of the other services covered by a roadside assistance plan can cost hundreds of dollars.

If you already have a roadside assistance plan, keep it. You never know when you might need it. And if you don’t, check out your options before you’re stranded and need roadside assistance.

Remember, Beckley’s can get your car ready for any trip. From tuneups and oil changes to complete engine repair, we’re here to help get you on the road.