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Muffler Repairs & Preventing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

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Earlier this year one Iowa teen died and a second was hospitalized after an exhaust leak filled their car with poisonous carbon monoxide gas, according to KCCI-8 News. Investigators believe the teens were hanging out with the car running at the close of a Saturday night date and were unaware that the vehicle’s exhaust pipe was broken.

muffler repair downtown des moines iowaCarbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas your car engine releases when running. But it normally travels through the muffler and out the exhaust into open air where it doesn’t pose a serious health risk. In the recent Iowa case, the exhaust pipe was broken directly under the passenger side of the car and toxic fumes filled the interior of the vehicle in a short amount of time.

Accidental carbon monoxide poisoning from a faulty muffler or exhaust system is largely preventable. If you notice changes in the sound of your muffler, a different smell coming from your exhaust, or can visibly see holes in the muffler or exhaust, take action.

Here’s what you can do:

Listen up. You drive your car every day. You should be the first to notice a change in the sound your engine makes as you cruise down the road. If it sounds rougher or louder than normal, your muffler or exhaust system may have a problem, and you should schedule an inspection.

Use your sniffer: You’ve probably been walking or driving down the road when a car passes you spewing nasty-smelling exhaust fumes. No one likes that smell. If you start to notice a similar smell in the cab of your car, don’t ignore this. It’s often a sign of holes or perforations in the muffler or exhaust system allowing carbon monoxide into the cab of the car instead of exiting the tailpipe. If your car starts smelling like exhaust fumes, get it checked out.

Take a look: If you think your muffler or exhaust system might have a problem, take a look. Be sure the muffler is cold before you try this. Look under the car at the muffler and exhaust pipe. You might see obvious holes, rust spots, or splits that could be the source of the problem. Even a problem as small as a pinhole could leak carbon monoxide into your car, and getting it repaired is important.

Muffler and Exhaust Repairs

If your car does have a muffler or exhaust issue, pinhole-sized problems can often be welded closed. For bigger problems, the muffler and all or part of the exhaust system may need to be replaced, which may include the resonator, catalytic converter, and the pipes that carry exhaust to the tailpipe exit.

Need your muffler and exhaust system inspected? We can help. Give us a call at 515-423-8185 or click here to schedule an appointment.

5 Essentials for Planning Your Next Road Trip

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It’s been a week since kiddos in the Des Moines area said goodbye to another school year. That means it’s officially summer vacation. More people hit the road in cars, trucks, and motor-homes during the summer season than any other time of the year.summer road trip tips iowa

In fact, Americans take an estimated 657 million road trips during the summer months from Memorial Day to Labor Day, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. The typical vacationer drives their own car to a destination about 284 miles away for a little R&R. The survey results showed that 9 out of 10 vacation road trips are taken by car.

If you’re planning a summer road trip, it’s a good idea to get a tune-up before you go. Regular and preventive maintenance can give you peace of mind and prevent a break-down that could throw a wrench into your vacation plans. Once your car’s ready for the road, be sure to bring these five things along on your road trip.

  1. Emergency kit. Keep some basic tools and set of jumper cables in your car. And make sure you’ve got a first aid kit stocked with Band-Aids and other essentials to treat minor aches, pains, cuts, or scratches.
  1. GPS system. If your car doesn’t have a built-in system, use your smartphone or a stand-alone GPS device. Being able to find your way from Point A to Point B, and all the places in between without getting lost can lower stress and make your vacation more relaxing and enjoyable.
  1. Food and water. You don’t need to pack like you’re never coming back. But having a little extra food and water on board is a good idea. You won’t have to stop as often. If there aren’t any restaurants for long stretches, you’ll still have something to eat and drink. And if you plan it right, you might even save money eating your own food instead of going out to eat when you’re on the road.
  1. Extra keys. A magnetic key box you can hide under your car, or just an extra key you keep in your wallet can save the day if you lock yourself out of your car. It happens. Sure you could call a locksmith, but that will mean waiting around and forking over some extra money you probably didn’t plan on spending for your vacation.
  1. Cell phone and charger. Love it or hate it, having a cell phone when you’re on a road trip is a good idea. You’ll be able to call for help if something happens. And it will make it easier to check in with family and friends when you’re on the road.

Start planning your road trip by getting your car serviced before you go. We can help. Give us a call at 515-423-8185 or click here to schedule an appointment.

How Many Mechanics Does it Take To Replace a Car Headlight Bulb?

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You’d think that would be the beginning of a bad joke, but it seems car manufacturers are increasingly engineering headlight assemblies that are making the once-simple task of replacing a headlight bulb much more difficult.

replace car headlight bulbFor example, in the Saturn Aura and some Cadillac models, the only way to get to the headlight assembly is by removing the entire front bumper. In the Chevy Traverse, the inner fender has to be removed to gain access to the headlight assembly. And it can be incredibly frustrating if you’re trying to figure out how to change a headlight on a car like this on your own.

Fortunately, enough hands-one mechanics and consumers have complained about this design, that some manufacturers have tasked their engineering team with making it easier to change a headlight. GMC added an easy-to-remove access panel under the fender of the Sierra. Chrysler did something similar to the PT Cruiser. And for those who drive the latest VW Beetle models, Volkswagen was kind enough to add an access panel too.

If you’ve got a burned out headlight, and you’re scratching your head about how to replace it, we can help. We’ve been servicing foreign and domestic cars for over 35 years, and seen just about every headlight assembly out there.

Got a headlight that needs to be replaced? Let us brighten your day. Give us a call at 515-423-8185 or click here to schedule an appointment.

Improve Fuel Economy With Proper Engine Maintenance

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improve fuel economy des moines iowaHow much highway driving do you do? Whether you’re planning to take a summer vacation, travel for work, or just have to get on the interstate to head 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 improve fuel economy, but only if your car’s engine and supporting systems are working properly.

That’s where Beckley’s comes in. Through proper maintenance of your car’s engine, you can get the best fuel economy, drive safe and secure, as well as 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 the best fuel economy include:

  • intake and exhaust restrictions
  • timing and gearing,
  • mechanical resistance, and
  • tire performance

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

Get the most out of every dollar you spend at the pump. Our team of expert technicians can give your can an inspection and recommend needed services to help your vehicle achieve optimal fuel economy for driving around town or when you’re cruising down the interstate. In many cases, a simple tune-up can make a big difference.

Have you been wondering how to go a little farther on a tank of gas, especially as prices at the pump begin to rise with peak travel season approaching? Bring your car in for an inspection and tune-up. We’ll get your engine ready for summer travel. Give us a call at 515-423-8185 or click here schedule an appointment.

Tailpipe Exhaust Color, Is It Bad?

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One of the telltale signs that a car has a problem is colored exhaust or smoke coming from the tailpipe. If there is smoke coming from the tailpipe, its color can often provide clues to help identify the problem.

exhaust smoke color repair des moines iowaOf course, we use high-tech diagnostic tools to troubleshoot all of your car problems, but any information you can provide (like the color of exhaust coming from the tailpipe) can help us identify the problem and get you back on the road faster. Here’s what some exhaust colors can indicate:

White: Your engine may put out white smoke if the fuel mixture has been compromised by water or antifreeze. It’s often caused by a faulty or failed rubber gasket designed to maintain a tight seal to keep antifreeze out. Sometimes a leak can develop if your car overheats and damages a head gasket.

Blue: All it takes to spew blue smoke from your exhaust is a tiny drop of oil leaking on to the engine’s cylinder. Only a mixture of gasoline and oxygen are meant to power your engine. If a gasket or seal has failed, there’s a chance that a small amount of oil may reach the engine’s cylinder and could potentially damage spark plugs. In addition to making any necessary repairs to prevent this, some older cars may also benefit from using thicker engine oil or an additive that can minimize the potential for an oil leak.

Black smoke: If too much fuel gets into the engine’s cylinder and you try to start your car, you may see black smoke coming from your exhaust. In many cases, a poorly-working carburetor is to blame. Black smoke may also be linked to a failing fuel pump, a fuel injector that needs to be cleaned or replaced, or a computer-related problem connected to your engine.

If you see odd colored smoke coming from your tailpipe, getting it checked out before other problems develop is the best idea.

Concerned about smoke coming from your car’s tailpipe? We can help. Give us a call at 515-423-8185 or click here schedule an appointment.

Scheduled Maintenance Helps Your Car Last Longer

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Drive off the dealer’s lot with a new car, and you should be feeling pretty good about your new ride. That new-car smell, nice seats and interior, new tires, a problem-free engine, and peak performance for all the other systems in your vehicle can give you peace of mind and improve your driving experience. But your car still requires regular scheduled maintenance.

scheduled maintenance bmw mercedesIf you’re as serious as we are about taking care of your car and getting the most out of that investment, reading through the owner’s manual is a good place to start. There’s more to learn in that little book than you might realize. It’s got all the how-to details about the controls in your car, and most also include a recommended factory-service maintenance plan.

Too many new-car owners don’t pay attention to the scheduled maintenance recommended for their car. If you’ve ever balked at the replace-your-oil-ever-3,000-miles recommendation, you’re not alone (even we advise some vehicles extend the mileage based on the engine and oil type). Ignore recommendations to save a few bucks and time may not seem like a big deal at first. After all, cars are engineered a lot better today than they were even a few years ago. The trouble is that over time, all the wear and tear on your car from driving to and from work, around town, and on vacation, eventually takes its toll.

All too often, we find ourselves working on cars that require major repairs that could have been prevented by following the recommended scheduled maintenance, usually every 30,000 miles. So what’s so great about regular maintenance? It’s a lot like getting an annual physical from your doctor meant to detect and treat any issues before a small problem becomes something chronic. When you bring your car in, we it up to a computer that scans all the systems in your vehicle to identify potential problems.

Based on the results along with your car’s mileage and performance, and scheduled maintenance recommendations created by the Motorist Assurance Program, we can create a tailored plan designed to help your car last longer, maximize performance, and potentially save you from the expense of costly and preventable repairs down the road. We’ll help you understand what maintenance recommendations are most important and help you prioritize any service and repairs.

When you buy a car, new or used, you want it to last and be problem-free. The best way to do that is by following the factory service maintenance recommendations. If you can’t find your car owner’s manual or locate service recommendations for your make and model online, we can help. We’ve got access to the factory service maintenance recommendations for most cars, both foreign and domestic.

Ready for regular maintenance to prolong the life of your car? Give us a call at 515-423-8185 or click here schedule an appointment.

5 Signs Your Car May Have Pothole Damage

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If you’ve been excited to see the winter snow melt in Des Moines, you’re not alone. After all , we had some seriously cold-weather days, some heavy snow storms, and plenty of snow and ice-covered roads that contributed to a long list of traffic accidents.

pothole damageBut just because most of the snow is gone, doesn’t mean it’s smooth sailing through spring and summer. Why? Because there’s a good change you drove your car through some rough patches of ice during the winter. And now that the snow is gone, there are plenty of potholes around to still do some serious damage to your car.

Driving through a pothole is unmistakable. With even a little speed, it feels like you’re off-roading, which isn’t exactly what sedans and minivans were designed to do. Potholes can damage the shocks and struts your car uses to cushion you from bumps in the road. Plowing through potholes can also damage suspension, alignment, tires, steering, and braking.

Think your car might have been beat up by one too many potholes? Here’s five telltale signs your car has pothole damage:

  1. When you turn, it feels like the car is moving more than you want it to.
  2. When you step on the brakes, the front end of your car moves downward.
  3. Your car feels like it’s sliding or out of control when driving on roughs roads with a lot of twists and turns.
  4. You frequently hit bottom when driving over speed bumps or other small bumps in the road that didn’t cause a problem in the past.
  5. When you look at a side profile of your car from the outside, it’s lower in the front than the back, instead of parallel.

When your car has battled it out with potholes (not uncommon in Des Moines), you might not always notice a problem with performance right away. But damage from potholes only gets worse over time. If your car demonstrates any of these telltale signs of pothole damage, schedule your car for an inspection or give us a call at 515-243-8185. We’ll make any necessary repairs to keep your car running properly and keep you safe when you’re on the road.

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.

Your Car’s Cabin Filter May Need to be Changed

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It’s a cool fall day. It’s been raining off and on. You walk out to your car, open the door and get in. As soon as you sit down and shut the door, you notice a musty smell inside your car. You chalk it up to the changing seasons, start your car and drive off. Sound familiar?

cabin filter bmw des moinesThat musty smell may be more than just the changing seasons. In fact, if could be an indicator that it’s time to change the cabin air filter in your car. This air filter protects the interior of your car from dust, pollen, and gases from your exhaust and other vehicles on the road. It even blocks small debris like bugs and leaves from getting sucked through your car’s ventilating system and floating around inside the vehicle.

Car manufacturers recommend changing the cabin air filter about every 12,000 to 15,000 miles. Over time, the cabin air filter can become dirty or clogged and it can leave your car smelling musty. Left unchecked, a dirty cabin air filter can’t remove harmful fumes and particles as effectively as a new one. It can also make it more difficult for your car’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system to circulate air through the cabin.

If you haven’t changed your cabin air filter, fall is a good time to do this. For most vehicles, this is likely something you can do yourself. The cabin air filter may be located inside your vehicle, or under the hood near the HVAC system. One you locate it, you should be able to remove it with your hands or a few basic tools.

Then all you need is a new cabin air filter from a car parts store. Install it, and there’s a good chance that if your car had a musty smell this will solve the problem. You’ll also be breathing cleaner air once you replace the cabin air filter.

If you’re not sure where your cabin air filter is located, need to buy one, or want help replacing your old one, stop by and we’ll be glad to help.

Stock Your Car with These Essentials

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A few years ago Honda aired a commercial for the Accord that showed a guy welding the hood of the car shut. It was a clever marketing idea that did a good job promoting the longevity of this car. You don’t have to look far to find one of these cars running problem-free with 250,000 miles or more. And of course there are many other reliable cars on the road besides Hondas, especially when they get they serviced on a regular basis.

In the perfect world, your car operates without any issues for thousands of miles. But if you’ve been a vehicle owner for any amount of time, you know that’s probably an unrealistic expectation. Drive your car long enough, and sooner or later there’s going to be a problem that needs your attention of the expertise of an experienced mechanic. When the day comes that your car won’t start, you’ve got a flat, or you’ve locked out of your car, keeping these essentials in your vehicle will save the day.

Tire Sealant
If you get a flat, pulling over to change the tire is always a good option. But if you’re in a hurry, there isn’t a safe place to pull over, or you’re not too confident about your tire-changing skills, tire sealant can help. It comes in a large aerosol-style can with a screw-type valve that connects to the valve stem of your tire. It works well for repairing simple tire punctures and can get you back on the road in a jiffy.

spare car keysSpare Key
Just about every driver since the beginning of time has locked their keys in the car at least once. It happens. But you can prevent that from ruining your day by putting a spare key in one of those magnetic key boxes and attaching it in an obscure place under your car.

Jumper Cables
If you find yourself stranded with a dead battery, a friendly driver willing to help isn’t going to do you any good without jumper cables. Keep a set of long, high-capacity jumper cables in your car. They may be just the thing to get your car running again or come in handy to help another driver.

Flashlight
If your car breaks down at night, the last thing you want to do is start walking along the road in total darkness. A flashlight will help cars see you at night if you’re stranded. It can also come in handy for making repairs and looking for lost objects under the seat.

Tire Gauge
We’ve talked about the importance of checking your tire pressure on a regular basis in previous posts. The easiest way to do that is with a tire gauge. It’s a good thing to keep in your car, and makes it easy to check the air pressure in your tires.

auto-first-aid-kitFirst Aid Kit
If you’re working on cars all the time, you’re bound to get a few cuts and scratches. Keeping a first aid kit in your car is good for that. But you’re more likely to find it useful when you need.

No matter the emergency, don’t find yourself left out in the cold this winter.  Call Beckley Imports at (515) 243-8185 and schedule your appointment to make sure your car is winter ready!