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Don’t Leave Your Car Battery Out in the Cold

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car battery, winter driving bmw des moines iowa

car battery, winter driving bmw des moines iowaIowa winters are definitely known for being frigid and snowy and this week is certainly reminding us of this fact.  While you’re stocking up on ice salt and making sure the old snow blower still starts up, we at Beckley Imports want to make sure you check out one other thing: your car battery and starter system.

With all the new features offered in cars today, like seat heaters and high end sound systems, battery drain happens more quickly than it used to.  Add on a couple of bitter Iowa winters, and your battery is tired.  The last thing you want on a cold January night after a long day of work is to walk out to your car only to find that it won’t start.

At Beckley Imports, we stock AC Delco and Interstate batteries that have the long life and power you need to start your engine every time.  Not only that, but these two battery brands are guaranteed to fit properly.  This is highly important, as many batteries are now set in the trunk or under the backseat; poorly fitted batteries can  lead to more costly problems like leaks and short circuits.  Beckley Imports is also an Authorized Bosch Service Center, meaning that we use only genuine Bosch starters and alternators on European vehicles; these parts come with a two year warranty, so if something goes wrong, you don’t have to worry.

If you’re concerned about your car’s battery making it through the winter months, bring it on by.  We’d be happy to test it out for you.  Beckley Imports has top of the line equipment to test the battery and other factors within the vehicle that could cause it to fail.

Don’t get left out in the cold this winter.  Call Beckley Imports at (515) 243-8185 or schedule your appointment online HERE today.

Know Your Car’s Electrical System Warning Signs

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electrical system, car starter, car battery, car alternatorYour vehicle’s electrical system is an involved arrangement made up of three main components: the alternator, the starter and the battery. When you start having trouble with your car’s electrical system, it’s apparent – but how do you know which part needs the attention? We’ll outline the most common warning signs for each part to help you pinpoint the issue to be addressed.

Your battery provides the juice to the entire electrical system. When your battery is giving out, it affects the rest of the system. Watch for:

  • Sluggish engine cranking when you try to start the car; the battery alone starts the car, so if you have trouble at the get-go you know what’s causing it.
  • Excessive corrosion around the positive/negative cable connection posts; this indicates a battery leak and the “gunk” needs to be removed or the connectors won’t get the power
  • Swollen battery case; this means the battery has been exposed to excessive heat and/or cold and has been damaged
  • Smell of rotten eggs under your hood; a shorted battery causes a chemical reaction, releasing sulfuric acid that can damage other engine components

If your starter malfunctions, the pistons don’t rotate and won’t pull in air/gas mixture needed to fuel the engine. Watch for:

  • Grinding noise; if the drive gear isn’t engaging or is worn, you’ll hear a sound like when you start your car and then try to start it again. Ignoring this noise can cause irreparable damage tot he engine flywheel.
  • Freewheeling; if you only hear a whining noise and the engine isn’t cranking, the starter gear isn’t engaging with the flywheel and this is called freewheeling.
  • Single loud “click”; you may have a bad starting motor, bad solenoid, or even a bigger mechanical problem in the engine.

The alternator is exceptionally important as it recharges your battery and turns energy from the crankshaft into useable electricity. Watch for:

  • Flickering or dim headlights; this means the alternator is struggling to get the necessary power to the headlights.
  • Car stalls; since the alternator powers the spark plugs that keep the engine alive, if your car stalls for no reason while running you should have the alternator looked at.
  • Other electrical failures; if your power windows and locks, air conditioning or dashboard lights aren’t working correctly or working at all, the alternator could be the culprit because it supplies all of these electrical parts with power.

Your car has literally dozens of electrical components that send power throughout your auto to keep everything going. When one part fails, it causes a chain reaction and ultimately keeps your car from running. Come see the expert technicians at Beckley Automotive who have the training, the tools and the experience to diagnose and correct any and all problems you might be having with your electrical system.

Don’t wait until your car leaves you stranded! Schedule your appointment online today, call our service department at 515-243-8185 or stop by our shop in downtown Des Moines at 901 8th Street.

Protect Your Warranty With Beckley Automotive

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scheduled maintenance, protect your warranty, car warranty, auto warrantyOne of the great things about buying a new car is the warranty. Knowing that the manufacturer will stand behind the quality of the products they make helps take some of the stress out of the purchase. But there is some confusion about how, exactly, to use the warranty and what will truly negate it. How can you protect your warranty?

If the dealership tries to tell you that you have to bring the vehicle to them for maintenance and repairs, they may be committing a crime. The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act established in 1975 makes it illegal for dealers or manufacturers to say that the warranty will be voided or denied if anyone but the dealer does the work. You can take your vehicle to any independent mechanic, retail chain shop or do the work yourself without negating the warranty. Of course, the manufacturer or dealer can require the use of specific facilities if the services are to be done without a charge to the consumer under the warranty.

How can you avoid problems with the warranty? According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, there are a few steps you can follow to avoid issues:

  • Read Your Warranty: It’s important to know what it covered and what isn’t before repairs are needed. The warranty is usually in with the owner’s manual and will provide specific details of the warranty so there aren’t any surprises down the road. Most manufacturer websites will have an owner’s manual available online if you happen to misplace the one that came with your car.
  • Know Your Warranty Period: Warranties DO have an expiration – either a number of years or a number of miles. It’s important to know the time limits of your warranty so you can be certain to get problems corrected in plenty of time.
  • Service Regularly: While regular service is a good idea in any case, it’s essential to follow the manufacturer’s recommended service schedule to be certain you are following the parameters of the warranty.
  • Keep All Service Records and Receipts: Whether it’s an oil change, new brake pads, tire rotations or a major repair, create a file to track all repairs and maintenance. If you have to take advantage of your warranty, it will be in your favor to be able to prove that you took care of the vehicle.
  • Fight For Your Warranty: In some cases, a warranty claim may be denied unfairly. If you feel this is the case, ask to speak with a supervisor or go to the manufacturer or another dealer. You can also file a complaint with your state Attorney General or the FTC if service is denied arbitrarily.

Beckley Automotive has been servicing domestic and European vehicles for over 30 years. Our technicians are ASE and Bosch certified and are well-trained in all the latest diagnostic and service tools. You can rest assured that our team will protect your warranty and your investment with integrity.

Do you have a question or concern about your car’s maintenance? Are you needing a repair estimate or a pre-purchase inspection? Contact Beckley Automotive today at 515-243-8185 or conveniently schedule an appointment online!

Oil Changes Every 3,000 Miles? Not So Fast…

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des moines oil change, european car service tips

Did you know automobile oil never wears out? It’s the additives in oil that help keep your engine clean and protected that cause the problems. Plus, oil gets dirty and abrasive from combustion contaminants which leads to sludge* and premature wear.

*We see more engine failures from sludge than old age. Sludge occurs from using the wrong oil or not changing oil frequently enough. It becomes thick like tar then clogs the oil passages. Not unlike what happens to us with a bad diet.

des moines oil change, european car service tipsConventional wisdom was “change your oil every 3,000 miles. Today, some new car manufacturers are recommending 10-15,000 miles between oil changes. How do you know what’s right for your car without spending TOO much? The answer depends on two considerations:

1.Conventional or Synthetic Oil?

Conventional petroleum based oils offer excellent protection for most circumstances and are recommended by many automobile manufacturers. They are also less expensive than synthetic oil.

Synthetic oils hold up better under extremes of temperature and extended drain intervals of 10,000 miles or more*. The only drawback is they can cost twice as much as conventional – about $8-$10 per quart.

*If you go an extended drain interval you need a premium oil filter to last as long as your oil, not the discount filters sometimes used to keep the price down.

At Beckley Automotive, we always advise using the type of oil the manufacturer recommends. Failure to do so can jeopardize any warranties and, as we’ve experienced, will hurt your engine if it’s not up to specification. We can tell you what your car’s manufacturer recommends.

2.How Do You Drive Your Car?

Your owners manual typically has two maintenance schedules. One for “Ideal” driving conditions, one for “Severe” conditions. How do your driving habits stack up? Unless you primarily drive long distances, most of us operate our cars under “severe” conditions. Here, your manual says to cut the “ideal” service intervals in half.

[one_third]

Ideal Driving Conditions

  • Mostly highway miles
  • Moderate temperatures
  • Moderate loads
  • Dust free environment[/one_third]

Severe Driving Conditions

  • Frequent trips under 10 miles or stop & go (city) driving
  • Very hot or cold temps (below freezing)
  • Towing or heavy loads
  • Dusty, unpaved roads

 

And The Answer Is…

Based on the car and oil manufacturers recommendations and our long experience with all European car engines we recommend to change conventional oil every 5000 miles and synthetic oil every 7500 miles. This is based on the typical mix of temperatures and driving styles we experience in Central Iowa.

One Final Consideration

If you drive a particular car infrequently, say under 7500 annually, change your oil once a year. Just because your oil lasts 15,000 miles doesn’t mean everything else will. Our experts will report on your tires, brakes, steering, etc. so you know your car is safe for you and your family. Do this in the fall if you’re going to store it. It will last longer with clean fluids.

When we change your oil at Beckley Automotive, your car gets a 30 point written safety inspection performed by a certified technician with years of training and experience on European cars just like yours. They know what to look for and how to respond to prevent any problems while you’re on the road. We use Mobil oil and original equipment (or better!) filters to ensure the longest life for your car and protect any warranties you might have. Plus we have the proper equipment to reset your service lights. Don’t forget – you also get a free car wash with every service.

So be sure to call us the next time you need service. We’ll be glad to give you a price and explain all the benefits our car care specialists will provide. Or you can go online and Schedule your service appointment today.

Roadside Assistance Plans Keep You on the Go

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roadside assistance plan

roadside assistance planDuring the spring and 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 something else to hit a travel dead end. 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.

So 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 pays for itself the first time you use it. 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.

At Beckley Imports and Beckley Automotive, we’ve been taking care of 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 call for a tow truck can cost $50 or more. And paying out of pocket for some of the other services typically 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. Click here to schedule an appointment, call us at 515-243-8185, or stop by at 901-8th Street in Des Moines.

Delaying Auto Repairs Can Cost You Big

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When your car stops running it’s easy to know that something major is wrong and you have no choice but to head to your mechanic immediately.

don't delay auto repairs, beckley automotive beckley importsBut what happens when there’s a minor noise, a slight firing delay, an occasional stutter? You can still drive the car so it must not be catastrophic, right? The demands of real life – work, family, friends, fun – certainly enable us to put off that visit to the auto shop as long as the car still gets us from point A to point B every day. Plus, who wants to spend the money if they don’t absolutely have to?

Putting off auto repairs is never a good idea. Let us explain:

  1. Your antifreeze is leaking, but it’s only a little bit. You can just add more every week, right? Unfortunately, that can only exacerbate the problem and you will still probably overheat your engine, causing a chain reaction to the tune of thousands of dollars. Ignoring a “little” problem can spread like a virus throughout your engine. Each system is connected to and relies on another, so if one isn’t working properly, it can cause the next system to fail, as well. Then you’re staring down the barrel of a multi-problem fix instead of just the original “little” one.
  2. That knocking in your engine has been there off and on for a couple weeks without any issues, so you’re cruising down the interstate on your way to the tournament or a hot date. Suddenly, the knock becomes more insistent, louder, the wheel begins to shake, smoke pours out from under the hood and with a last sputtering gasp, the engine quits completely while you limp to the side of the road. Now what? You’re late to your appointment plus you’re out the cost of a tow truck and a taxi (or a favor to a friend) as well as the parts and repairs. You have to sit on the side of the road alone, or with your family stuck in a dead car with nothing to keep them entertained, while other cars and semis zoom past at terrifying speeds within inches of you and what you hold most dear.
  3. A regularly scheduled oil change and routine inspection may feel inconvenient and, for many, falls under the category of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” But those inspections are imperative to keeping your car running and keeping you and your family safe. It’s more than just an oil change and a cursory glance under the hood. Routine inspections are where minor leaks, dirty filters, frayed wires and loose screws are found. If these things are skipped you are looking at the possibility of whole lot more than just inconvenience!

Are you sure you want to gamble with the life of your car’s engine and the safety and peace of mind of your family and passengers? No one wants to be stranded on the side of the road in the middle of the night, or worse, during rush hour!

Don’t wait until your engine figuratively – or literally! – falls out, dead, in the middle of the road. Bring your foreign or domestic auto into Beckley’s for minor repairs, a check-up and oil change! Click here to schedule an appointment, call us at 515-243-8185, or stop by at 901-8th Street in Des Moines.

 

Reboot: Quick Tip for Fixing Electrical Problems

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It wasn’t that long ago that cars were designed with a basic electrical system. Wiring, fuses, and relays helped power basic things light lights, dashboard messages, and the radio. And there are still a lot of older cars on the road that don’t have any more bells and whistles than this.

car electrical systems, auto electrical problemsBut the vast majority of cars on the road today have a much more complex electrical system to power things like DVD players, automatic controls for doors and windows, navigation systems, mobile devices, and satellite radio.

And dashboard messaging is no longer limited to letting you know the emergency brake is on or flashing you with the dreaded “Check Engine” light. Now many cars are designed to monitor tire pressure in all four tires, let you know if a door is open, track the temperature inside and out, and much more.

With a greater demand for features powered by electricity in your car, there’s a greater chance for something to go wrong. And it does from time to time. Ever get a dashboard message you don’t recognize, and have to break out the owner’s manual or look it up online? It happens.

Diagnostic Tools Can Help Identify Electrical Problems

Then what? When we service cars with electrical problems, one of the first things we do is connect the car’s computer to our diagnostic tools. In a few minutes, our tools can gather a lot of information about your car and help identify potential problems, both electrical and mechanical.

Sometimes the solution to an electrical problem is pretty straightforward. Replace a fuse or sensor. Change out a relay. Replace wiring damaged by corrosion or worn out over time.

How to Reboot Your Car’s Electrical System

But is it always that way? No. In fact, we sometimes resort to using a technique that’s a lot like hitting Ctrl+alt+delete when your computer starts acting up. Giving your car a reboot can sometimes correct electrical problems. And it’s easy. Disconnect the battery from both terminals, touch them together, wait five minutes, and then reconnect.

In many cases it helps get that electrical problem unstuck, a lot like rebooting your computer or resetting a wireless router to get your Internet signal working again.

Have an electrical problem that you don’t know how to fix? Try giving your car a reboot. Or bring your car in and we’ll take a look. Click here to schedule an appointment, call us at 515-243-8185, or stop by at 901-8th Street in Des Moines.

Beckley Auto Tips – Five Preventable Car Repairs

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Even if you’re a smart money planner and have a special fund to pay for car repairs, there’s a good chance you’d rather spend the money on something else. Right? Cars do need regular maintenance and repairs from time to time.

car repiar tips des moinesWhether you drive 100 miles a week or 1,000 miles a week, wear and tear happens. But you can keep repair costs down by paying attention to a few things. In fact, some of the most common car repairs that we perform can be prevented. Like what? We’re glad you asked.

  1. Damaged Ignition Switch

If you’re driving a car with a remote starter, or press a button to fire up the engine, you probably won’t have this problem. But for everyone else who uses a key to start their car, take a good look at your keychain and everything you have dangling from it.

The most common reason for a damaged ignition switch is a heavy keychain. Is yours loaded with keys, a mini flashlight, lanyards, charms, and other stuff? A heavy keychain can pull on the gears inside the ignition switch, cause damage, or even cease up. The solution: Limit the amount of keys you carry with your car key.

  1. Power Steering Pump Problems

Ever turn the steering wheel hard to make a sharp turn and hear a squealing noise? It’s an indicator that something’s wrong with your car’s power steering. It could be a simple fix that requires topping of the power steering fluid reservoir. But if you’re cranking the wheel like that a lot, it can damage the power steering pump. The solution: Avoid making hard turns and turning the steering wheel too far.

  1. Rumbling Rotors

Rotors are part of your car’s braking system. And they can last a long time with proper care. But if you drive your car with brake pads that need to be replaced, you’ll damage the rotors. Worn out brake pads grind away at the rotors. How can you tell if the rotors are going bad? For drivers, the most obvious sign is rumbling or uneven braking, especially when you slow to a stop. The solution: Replace brake pads at the first sign of wear.

  1. Engine Trouble

It wasn’t that long ago that getting 100,000 miles out of a car was the norm. But that’s not the case anymore. Many of today’s cars can run for 200,000 miles or more without any major mechanical problems. But that’s only if you take care of your car. Too often, people neglect the most basic routine maintenance of car care: changing the oil. It’s often the source of serious engine problems and expensive repairs. The solution: Follow the manufacturer guidelines for regular oil changes for your car.

  1. Fuel Pump Failure

You try and start your car, but can seem to keep the engine running. Or you’re driving, when your car begins to sputter and stall. It happens, and a bad fuel pump is often the problem. Just like any other moving part, fuel pumps do wear out over time. What’s the main reason that causes fuel pump failure? Running your car on fumes. The solution: Avoid driving your car on an empty gas tank.

Routine maintenance, regular oil changes, and smart driving habits are the best ways to prevent car trouble. Click here to schedule a service appointment, contact us at 515-243-8185, or stop by at 901-8th Street in Des Moines.

Pushing Limits Can Damage a Car’s Fuel Pump

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When it comes to performance vehicles like BMW and Mercedes, drivers often push the limits, racing RPM, red-lining, and testing suspension and speeds. But there are some limits set for your car you shouldn’t test. If you’re the kind of driver that pushes the limit on all of your vehicle’s systems, like your fuel pump, you may be in for trouble.

fuel pump replacement des moines iowaAlthough it’s exhilarating to drive withe the fuel gauge on “E” with ten miles to go as your spouse stresses out in the passenger seat, it takes a toll on your car’s fuel system. Save yourself from future problems and visits to the shop by knowing when to draw the line on your gas tank.

Vehicles have fuel level warning lights to give you a warning before your car runs out of gas. It’s simply a buffer to remind you of how far you have until you have no other option but to fill up or walk home.

The gas light also serves as a red flag. It’s telling you you’ve crossed the line. According to most driver manuals, 1/2 tank should be considered low and 1/4 full is the time to consider getting it topped off again. Not only will it prevent you from experiencing that small panic of not making it to the next stop, but your car’s fuel system will also see better life.

By letting your gas tank go lower than suggested, you are in more likely to burn your fuel pump. It’s an expensive price to pay and an inconvenience when you take it into the shop.

The mechanical parts of a fuel pump are lubricated by fuel which travel through the pump. When the fuel level is low, air is drawn into the pump. Similar to running an engine without oil, too much air can damage the fuel pump if it isn’t properly lubricated.

Debris is likely to sit at the bottom of a fuel tank but when the fuel level is low, the debris has a better chance of entering the pump and plugging the fuel filters, which in turn, damages the pump.

The flashing and dinging of the gas light should be your ultimate last warning, however it is better to take precautions and fill up sooner rather than later. Pull over when you can and make it a priority to save you time and money by filling up.

For more information on how you can get the performance you need from your car while protecting your finely tuned systems, contact us at 515-243-8185, send us an email at service@beckleyimports.com, or stop by at 901-8th Street in Des Moines.

 

 

Radiator Cap Check Can Save You Time & Money

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It’s a hot summer day. You’ve packed up your car with everything you need for a week-long vacation and take I-35 out of town. Everything seems to be going as planned on your road trip, until you notice the needle of the thermostat gauge start creeping towards H-O-T.

radiator cap checkIf your car overheats, it’s possible to let the engine cool, refill the coolant reservoir, and keep on going. But driving your car when it’s overheating, can lead to serious engine damage. And if there’s any truth to Murphy’s Law (anything that can go wrong, will go wrong), your car could overheat in the middle of nowhere during the hottest time of day where cell service is poor.

While car trouble on a summer vacation road trip might be funny in the movies, it’s not when you’re the one stuck on the side of the road. There are a variety of reasons your car could overheat. But sometimes, it’s as simple as a faulty radiator cap.

How the Radiator Cap Works

The radiator cap on the coolant reservoir is made of metal. There’s a spring inside that helps regulate pressure inside the radiator. The cap also has a rubber gasket designed to create a proper seal with the coolant reservoir. Both the spring inside the radiator cap and the rubber seal are wearable parts and should be inspected periodically.

How to Inspect Radiator Cap

A quick inspection of the radiator cap can save you time and money. But you’ll want to do this before your next road trip. Here’s how:

  1. When your car engine is cool, open the hood and locate the radiator cap. (It’s typically a silver-colored cap on the reservoir that contains coolant or antifreeze.)
  1. Push down, twist, and pull up on the radiator cap. It requires a little effort because it’s spring loaded and should have a solid seal if the rubber gasket is good.

Here’s what to look for:

  • If you don’t feel any resistance or pressure when you push down on the radiator cap, the spring inside may no longer be working properly.
  • Once the cap is off, take a closer look at the rubber gasket. If it’s cracked or brittle in any places, it’s not creating a proper seal.

If you find either of these problems, replace the radiator cap. It’s a good time to check the coolant level and top off the reservoir, too.

If you need help with a failing radiator cap, or your car is still prone to overheating after replacing it, we can help. Give us a call at 515-423-8185 or click here to schedule an appointment.