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Protect Your Battery in Iowa’s Summer Heat

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Protect Your Battery

When Mother Nature heats things up during the peak of Iowa 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 doesn’t have that luxury, and that can cause problems for your battery.

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, extreme heat is one of the most common factors that shorten the life of a car’s power source. Cold weather might keep it from firing and make the engine harder to start, but it’s not nearly as damaging as hot weather.

Sitting in the sun or a closed garage in 80-plus-degree weather causes fluids inside your battery to evaporate. Lack of fluid in the cells can cause permanent damage to the battery. If this happens, it can inadvertently overcharge, 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 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 entire electrical system checked to make sure it’s charging correctly. Overcharging or undercharging can shorten the life of your battery.
  1. Check the battery’s fluid levels. 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 and grime can drain your battery and prevent it from working properly.

Need to give your battery a check-up? Let Beckley Imports help you keep all your car’s performance systems in top shape! Give us a call at 515-423-8185 or click HERE to schedule an appointment online.

Flat Tire Challenge

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Flat Tire

flat tire challengeNo one wants to get a flat tire. But it’s bound to happen at some point if you drive a car. If you walk into any tire store, you’re likely to see a jar full of nails, bolts, pieces of metal, and other objects that punctured someone’s tire and caused a slow hard-to-find leak or a full-on blowout. If something like that happens to you, your first order of business is to pull the car over to the side of the road to a safe location. After that, your best bet for quickly getting back on the road is to change your tire.

You’re probably not going to break any tire-changing records unless you’re already a pit crew professional. But if you’re prepared, you’ll be back on the road in no time. So before you you have to deal with a flat tire, Take the Flat Tire Challenge to ready yourself for the day you hear that unmistakable hissing noise or the thump-thump-thump of a punctured tire. Here’s all you need to do:

1. Take a minute to locate the spare tire in your car. In many cars, it’s a small tire affectionately known as the “donut.” It might be under a layering of flooring in the trunk of your car or bolted to the bottom of your car on the outside. Some trucks and SUVs provide easier access to the spare tire with it mounted on the back.

2. Locate the jack and tire iron. Most cars have some kind of brackets, casing, fabric bag, or both to keep these items together. And they’re usually located near or under the spare tire. Remove these tools and retrieve the spare tire.

3. Practice changing your tire. There’s no better way to prepare for changing a flat tire than learning how to do it before it happens.

  • Make sure your car is in a flat location away from traffic and set the parking brake.
  • Use the tire iron to loosen the lug nuts on the flat tire on your car.
  • Place the jack under the frame of your car, and jack it up until the tire clears the ground.
  • Remove the lug nuts and the tire.
  • Put your spare tire on and replace the lug nuts with your fingers.
  • Use the jack to lower the car back to the ground, and then tighten the lug nuts with the tire iron.

Doing this ahead of time forces you to get familiar with where your spare tire is located, along with using the tools needed to change a flat. You might find out that the tools you need are missing, your spare is flat, or worse – you don’t even have a spare. But it’s better to find that out during a planned exercise than when you’re stranded on the side of the road. Take the Flat Tire Challenge, and you’ll be well-prepared to deal with a flat when it happens. You can even use a timer to see how long it takes.

Did you pass the Flat Tire Challenge? If you’re looking for new tires, need routine maintenance or any kind of auto repair, call Beckley Imports at 515-243-8185 or simply schedule an appointment online HERE. Our trusted, expert technicians will have you back on the road in no time!

Improving Gas Mileage With These Simple Tips

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improving gas mileage des moines

improving gas mileage des moines

Improving gas mileage is on the top of all of our minds…and wallets! If 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. The current national average is $2.268 per gallon, but in some areas, gas costs more than $3 a gallon.

Fluctuating gas prices have an impact on your budget. Fortunately, improving your gas mileage is easy with these simple tips.

1. Get a Tune-Up – Your car needs regular maintenance to deliver peak performance and optimal gas mileage. Improving gas mileage is as simple as common repairs like changing the oil and filter, installing a new air filter, inspecting and changing belts, and replacing spark plugs. 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 be a significant way of improving 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.

This simple list of tips will go along way toward improving gas mileage. You should see a change over the next few times you fuel up at the pump.

Bring your car to Beckley Imports and let our expert technicians help you get your vehicle in top shape this summer. Call our service department at 515-243-8185 or schedule an appointment ONLINE today!

Are You Getting Great Fuel Economy?

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great fuel economyDo you do a lot of highway driving? Are you more of a city stoplight driver? No matter if you’re road-tripping for your summer vacation, traveling for work, or just hopping on the interstate to get across town, your engine performs best and achieves peak fuel economy during ideal highway driving conditions. In Iowa, that means traveling at 65 miles an hour or better. Cross state lines and the speed limit goes up. That can be good for getting to your destination faster, and it can give you great fuel economy, but only if your car’s engine and supporting systems are working properly.

That’s where Beckley Imports comes in. Through proper maintenance of your car’s engine, you can get the best fuel economy, drive safe and secure, and save a little money in the long run. Proper engine maintenance is simply a matter of discipline.  Some of the issues you need to pay attention to for great fuel economy include:

  • Intake and exhaust restrictions:

    Make sure your air filters are clean and clear. If your car can’t breathe, it will work harder and use more fuel to get going.

  • Timing and shifting:

    Slipping of the clutch in a manual transmission or the torque converter lockup in an automatic can make you lose power before it even gets to the wheels.

  • Mechanical resistance:

    We’ll tell you time and time again to make sure your oil is clean. The more impurities and particles in your engine’s oil, the more friction in your engine and the harder it has to work.

  • Tire performance:

    Improper inflation of your tires causes all kinds of trouble, including lower fuel economy and more wear on your wheels.

These can have a substantial effect on fuel economy and how well your car runs. Even driving conditions like outside temperature and wind resistance can have an impact.

Get the most out of every dollar you spend at the pump. Beckley Automotive’s team of expert technicians can give your car a thorough inspection and recommend needed services to help your vehicle achieve optimal fuel economy for driving around town or hauling the family to Wally World. In many cases, a simple tune-up can make a big difference!

Don’t forget that Mother’s Day is this weekend! Bring Mom’s car in for an inspection and tune-up and help her get the most out of her gas money. We can also get Dad’s or your graduate’s engine ready for summer travel and adventure. Give us a call at 515-423-8185 or click HERE to schedule an appointment online.

5 Tips For Buying a Used Car for Your Graduate

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buying a used car, pre-purchase inspectionBuying a used car is an excellent way to save money on a newer set of wheels, especially for a college student or a recent graduate staring down student loans. Vehicles depreciate in value faster than just about any other major purchase, so buying used can really slash the price. But buying used brings about a different set of risks. Is the seller being truthful about the car’s history? Will the engine fail as soon as you drive away? How can you be sure you’re buying a reliable vehicle for your son or daughter? If you are thinking of buying a used car for your new high school or college graduate, bring it to Beckley Automotive first for a Pre-Purchase Inspection. You can also save yourself some time and hassle by knowing what to look for in a used vehicle.

Here are 5 tips to keep in mind when buying a used car:

  1. Get the CarFax

    You’ve seen the commercials. A CarFax report is one of the most helpful documents you’ll obtain regarding a vehicle. The report details every kind of service performed over the life of the car. Whether it has been in an accident, had a new engine put in or the previous owner just put on new shocks, it is all listed here. Request a CarFax report whenever buying used.

  2. Beware of Leaking Fluids

    Any kind of leaking fluid is a sign to stay away. Naturally it’s not going to leak sitting in a lot or garage. Take the vehicle for a test drive, then let it idol for 30 seconds or a minute. From there get out, look under the vehicle and pop the hood. If you see any leaking you need to pass. A pre-purchase inspection can also identify possible leaks.

  3. Bring Your Kelley Blue Book

    Look up the vehicle on Kelley Blue Book. Make sure you have the exact trim model and mileage and any extra, third party features noted. Kelley Blue Book will then detail if the price is fair or not.

  4. Check the Windshield

    This is easy to miss, but look over the windshield carefully. It’s easy to miss little nicks and scratches when looking at everything else on the vehicle. However, even a small nick can end up costing you hundreds in glass repair later down the line.

  5. Get a Pre-Purchase Inspection

    If you’re buying the vehicle from an independent seller this is a must. Even with the CarFax, a professional inspection gives you a complete overview of the vehicle. Our trained technicians will point out any potential and upcoming problems.

Shopping for a used vehicle can be daunting. You don’t want to waste time and money on a possible lemon when you need a reliable car to get your student to and from college safely. Take some of the stress out of the process by getting a pre-purchase inspection from the experts at Beckley Automotive.

Whether you’re buying a Landrover to handle the Des Moines winters or a slightly used BMW convertible for the Iowa summers, Beckley’s can service everything. Give us a call at 515-243-8185, stop by our shop at 901 8th Street in Downtown Des Moines, or set up an appointment ONLINE today!

Car Battery Troubleshooting Tips

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car battery troubleshooting

Car battery problems can range from extremely simple to head-scratching confusing. In fact, some engine problems have nothing to do with the battery at all, but with the alternator or another part of the vehicle all together. No matter what make or model car you currently drive, it’s important to understand basic universal car battery troubleshooting.

Warning Signs You Need to Replace Your Battery Soon

It’s always better to fix an issue before it turns into a problem such as getting stranded with a dead battery. Thankfully, a dying battery typically puts out a host of different signs. How do you know it’s your battery? First, if you notice it takes your car a few revs before kicking to life, it is a clear sign you need a new battery. If you notice leaking from around the battery, see it is swelling or has a low power level when testing, these are all signs to replace your battery. At the very least, have your battery performance tested every three years which tends to be the typical life of a car battery.

Following are some car battery troubleshooting clues that may not be the battery at all:
  • Nothing Happens When You Turn the Key
    If you turn the key in the ignition and nothing happens at all, it means the battery is dead. If there are no lights, signs of the radio, buzzes or anything else, the vehicle is not receiving any power. Charge the battery if you can and bring it into Beckley Auto. Our experienced technicians will be able to tell if it’s the battery, the electrical system, or another component causing the problem.
  • Car Can’t Turn Over
    If you have some power – like dim and fading lights or a clicking noise – but the engine just doesn’t catch when turning the key, it probably isn’t a battery problem at all. Car batteries aren’t meant to provide long-term power. The alternator’s job is to keep replenishing the juice to the battery while the car is running. If you can jumpstart the car but it dies again shortly after removing the cables, a faulty alternator is most likely the culprit.
  • Car Battery Smells BAD
    If your vehicle smells like rotten eggs, it means the battery is leaking. Using an alkaline like baking soda, carefully clean off the battery engine and see if this does the trick. If it continues to leak, it is time to replace the battery.

Car battery troubleshooting is pretty simple, no matter what make and model. If you suspect you have a bad battery, schedule an appointment online HERE or call our service department at 515.243.8185 today. Our experienced and trained technicians will get your vehicle running as good as new!

Watch for These Signs of Heating System Issues

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heating system, beckley autoLiving in Iowa, you know the importance of having a vehicle with heat. Navigating the streets through fall, winter and spring without a heated vehicle is not only uncomfortable but potentially dangerous. This is why you need to stay on top of your car’s heating system. If you notice any of the following heating system issues make sure to bring it into Beckley Auto and get it taken care of right away.

  • Low Coolant Level

    Sufficient coolant is essential during Iowa winter months. Antifreeze serves several purposes such as protecting against corrosion and scale build-up as well as keeping water from freezing in winter and boiling in summer. You can check your own antifreeze level when the engine is cool and has been sitting overnight. If you end up adding coolant, check levels at least once a week to ensure there isn’t a leak somewhere.

  • Damaged Thermostat

    A damaged thermostat can lead to serious engine problems. This is a small, inexpensive part, yet it helps control the flow of coolant into the engine in order to keep it at an optimal running temperature. If your coolant level is fine yet your vehicle is cold, that could indicate a damaged thermostat.

  • Plugged Heater Core

    Over time, the vehicle’s heater core can collect debris. This will block the flow of coolant. When the heater core is plugged the only option you have is to replace it. Ideally, when replacing the heater core it is a good idea to flush the coolant system as well. This will push out any debris, bleed out any air pockets and help restore your vehicle’s ability to heat the interior of the cabin.

  • Heater Control Valve Gone Bad

    Most heater control valves use a vacuum system. If this system is damaged or remains on constantly it will prevent coolant from circulating through the heater core.

  • Electrical Issues

    From a blown motor to damaged wiring, an electrical system malfunction is another potential culprit behind your lack of heat.

You need a strong heating system to make it through the crazy Iowa weather from October through April. It is always a good idea to test out the heater before winter is in full force. This way, you have time to correct the problem before having proper heat is of the utmost importance.

Whether for your heating system or another issue, bring your BMW, Jaguar or any make to Beckley Auto. Our expert mechanics will have your vehicle working correctly in no time! Feel free to contact our service department at 515-243-8185 or schedule maintenance today.

How to Know if Your Car Needs an Oil Change

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no care is "maintenance free", needs an oil change

no care is "maintenance free", needs an oil changeOil is your engine’s life blood. Without clean oil flowing through the engine it may overheat, which can lead to all sorts of problems ranging from blown gaskets to the vehicle simply running rough. But how can you tell if your car needs an oil change? After all, you don’t want to spring for an oil change when it isn’t necessary. Here are a few signs your car, regardless of make or model, can tell you it needs an oil change.

  • Change Oil Light

    Alright, this one is a bit of a no brainer. If the “check oil” or “change oil” light comes on, it’s time to change your oil. However, this isn’t always the case. Perhaps you just had your oil changed a bit ago and the change oil light comes on. What does that mean? It may just mean the mechanic did not reset the change oil light during the last change, which can throw off the timer on some newer vehicles.

  • Oil Level and Color

    At Beckley Auto, we highly recommend checking your oil from time to time. It is easy to do and it can help avoid potential problems later on down the line. If you’ve never checked your oil before park your vehicle and kill the engine. Now, pull the dipstick out and wipe it off on a paper towel (a shop paper towel is great for this). Once clean, slide it back down all the way and pull it back out. If the oil level is near or under the minimum line it is time to get an oil change. Make sure to take notice of the oil color as well. The oil should have a golden brown tone to it. If the oil is dark black and gritty than it means it is dirty and needs an oil change.

  • Car is Louder Than Normal

    When driving, does your engine sound louder than normal? Of so, there are a few potential issues. First, if you have a special cold air intake filter, it may have slipped off. If you don’t have such a filter, it more than likely means you don’t have enough oil or it’s running hot. Time to change the oil.

At Beckley Auto, we can service both your domestic and import vehicles. From a routine oil change to transmission issues and everything in between, we’re your one -top shop for all things automotive. Schedule your appointment ONLINE or give us a call at 515.243.8185 today!

How to Reset the Change Oil Light On a Newer Dodge

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change oil light, vehicle codesYou finally did it. It might be a few thousand miles past the little sticker in your window, but you finally went in for an oil change. Or, maybe you decided to take it upon yourself to change your own oil. However you went about it, with fresh oil and a new oil filter, your engine can breathe a sigh of relief. The only problem is now you still have that red “change oil” light illuminated on the dash board. You could go the way of your grandfather and just put a piece of black tape over the light, but that isn’t a great look. Thankfully, you don’t need to go to the dealership to have the light reset. The following steps are for resetting the change oil light for a newer model Ram pickup, but it should work for any later model Chrysler, Jeep or Dodge as well.

Turn Off “Change Oil” Light

To start, insert your key and set the ignition to “On.” Do not start the engine though. This will work for both current models, which use a chip based starter, and the more traditional metal key options of slightly older models.

With the ignition on, push down completely on the accelerator pedal. Do this slowly three times in a row within 10 seconds. When the pedal has come up following the third time, turn the ignition back to “Off.”

Now, turn the ignition and start the engine. Wait for all of the information to load up and for the dash to blink through its different computer and error indicators. The oil change light should now switch off. If it doesn’t, that could mean you did not have the ignition in the “On” position (if the RPMs shoot up while pushing down on the accelerator than you have gone past the “On” position). It may also mean you didn’t allow the accelerator pedal to fully depress and raise back up. Repeat the process until the light blinks off.

View Vehicle Codes

While you’re resetting the change oil light, wouldn’t it be nice to see if there are any other issues with the vehicle without taking it into the shop? Your car has a computer system that logs error codes whenever there is a problem. This can be anything from needing more coolant to problems with the transmission. You could purchase a computer program and a special connector to plug into the vehicle, but this is costly and unnecessary. Instead, you can simply check the vehicle error codes using a method similar to resetting the change oil light.

  1. First, make sure you have a pad of paper and something to write with. The codes can flick through quickly, so if you have multiple codes it can be tough to remember.
  2. Now, insert the key into the ignition. Flip it to the “On” position, then back off quickly. Do this three times in a row, leaving it in the “On” position on the third time.
  3. In the middle of the dash, underneath the display information, messages and other context will flash through. If you have any error codes, the codes will appear here. The codes typically start with one or two letters, followed by a series of four or so numbers (for example, “PH2087“).
  4. Write these codes down as each appears. If there are no error codes it will tell you there are no error codes.
  5. Now, with the error codes written down, you can easily look up the codes on Google.

Often times,  you can self-correct many of the problems, such as fluid levels or tire pressure.  If you’re unsure about what the codes mean or how to fix them, contact Beckley Automotive. Our expert service department will help you determine what is urgent and what can wait, and then will make repairs using the most up-to-date technology and techniques.

Schedule your appointment online HERE today, call our service department at 515-243-8185, or visit our convenient downtown location at 901 8th Street, Des Moines.

New Year’s Resolutions to Keep Your Car in Top Shape

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new year's resolutions, new years resolutions, car care des moinesEvery January, Americans fall into the trap of setting – and setting aside – New Year’s Resolutions. How many barely used pairs of running shoes are taking up space in your closet? Could you open your own exercise facility with all the equipment gathering dust somewhere in your basement? We always start with the best of intentions and then old habits and real life get in the way and everything keeps rolling on the same as last year and the year before.

Resolutions You Can Keep: Maintain Your Car’s Top Fitness

Following are just a few things you can do to get your vehicle into its best shape since it rolled off the assembly line – and to keep it in fighting shape for years to come!

  1. Keep the interior clean: When many of us live in our cars, grabbing a quick bite to eat on the go between home and work, on the way to a meeting, between kids’ activities, it doesn’t take long to accumulate a bit of trash. Stop it before it gets out of control! At least quarterly, take your car somewhere that will clean out your interior for you. Vacuum the seats and floors, clean the inside of your windows and wipe down the dash. Then be strict with riders and yourself to grab any trash EVERY time you get out of the car. Your car will love you for it.
  2. Run through a car wash: Accumulated dirt and dust make your car look terrible, and the grime of winter roads treated with salt and sand can do a number on your finish. Don’t wait until someone scrawls “WASH ME” in the dirt on your auto; set a schedule to do a quick car wash drive-through at least every two weeks. Harsh winter weather in Iowa may dictate more frequent visits, but two weeks should be good on a regular basis. And don’t be stingy – splurge for the wax! It will make your finish look shiny and new as well as protect it from regular driving damage.
  3. Schedule quarterly checkups: A little maintenance can go a LONG way. Most vehicles need an oil change and a new filter every 3 months (more often if you’re particularly hard on your car). And just like staying hydrated might be a personal health resolution, these checkups are the perfect opportunity to have your car’s fluid levels topped off, too. If you are checking transmission, steering and brake fluids on a regular basis, a crack or leak is much easier to detect. Your service center can nip it in the bud well before it becomes a costly repair. And don’t forget to replace wiper blades and have your chassis lubrication looked at during every other service visit.
  4. Check tire pressure: Learn what your optimal tire pressure is for your vehicle and specific tires and then maintain it. Every driver should carry a tire gauge in their glove box and should check their tire pressure every other time they fill up the gas tank. Driving on properly inflated tires not only extends the life of the tires, but improves safety and gas mileage. There should be a sticker on the inside edge of your driver’s door that tells you what psi the tires on your car should be at for the best performance.

Keeping New Year’s Resolutions doesn’t have to be difficult. You are in your car nearly every day, so remembering to follow the above steps should be second nature in no time! When you take care of your car, it will give you years of life and a sense of reliability and security to make 2017 a great year on the road!

Let Beckley Automotive help keep your New Year’s Resolutions on track! Schedule an appointment online HERE, visit our convenient downtown Des Moines location at 901 8th Street, or call our outstanding service department at 515.243.8185.