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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.

 

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.

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.

Stop In Time with Brake & Rotor Maintenance

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Not too long ago, a driver in a white sedan was following a DART bus in Des Moines during Friday morning traffic. When the bus slowed near the intersection of 30th Street and Hickman Road, the driver in the sedan stepped on the brakes to slow down, but nothing happened. Her brakes failed, and she slammed into the back of the bus.

In troubles - unhappy woman in carFortunately no one on the bus was injured. The woman driving the car was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries, but her car was totaled. Investigators believe the woman tried to stop or slow down for the bus, but faulty brakes prevented her from doing so.

Unfortunately, accidents like this happen all the time, but sometimes they’re fatal. Driving your car with faulty, worn out, or poorly-working brakes is a bad idea. The brakes and rotors that help your car slow down and come to a spot are wearable parts. Over time, the rotors can become thin or warped and metal or ceramic brake pads can wear out. In extreme cases, poorly working brakes can cause the brake fluid to boil and prevent you from stopping your car safely.

If you step on the brakes and you don’t slow down, experience significant vibrations, or have to press hard to get the brakes to respond, get your brakes checked out immediately.

In most cases, a simple and low-cost brake repair will get you back on the road knowing your brakes are working properly. However, if you continue to drive your car for miles after the early warning signs of failing brakes, you could be in trouble. You could cause an accident. And ignoring brake problems can make repairs more expensive.

If your rotors are in decent shape, we can resurface them to make them smooth again, and save you some money. But extended driving with faulty brakes can damage the rotors with excessive heat, warping, and deep scores that interfere with proper braking.

If you’re wondering if your brakes are going bad, don’t wait to find out. Bring your car in for an inspection and we can help you come to a stop before it’s too late.

Timing Belt Replacement Can Save You Money

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If you’ve driven your car more than 70,000 miles, there’s a good chance a the timing belt is over-worn and a breakdown is imminent. If it breaks before being replaced, your engine could be lost and repair costs could be staggering, but if the timing belt is replaced in your vehicle before it breaks, it’s a relatively low-cost repair.

replace your timing belt des moinesJust about anyone can inspect a timing belt. It’s the thick-toothed rubber belt that helps power the engine and control the camshaft, crankshaft, valves, and pistons. Periodically checking the belt for wear can reveal small cracks in the rubber or missing teeth that can hinder engine performance.

Unfortunately, too many drivers fail to inspect the timing belt or have it replaced before it’s too late. If it snaps while you’re driving, you’ll be stranded and your car will need to be towed. If you’re lucky, replacing the timing belt will get you back on the road. But in many cases, a broken timing belt damages the engine too. And that can be expensive to repair.

Timing Belt Replacement Recommendation
Most car manufacturers recommend replacing the timing belt every 70,000 to 110,000 miles. Remember, in most cars the timing belt is a wearable part made of rubber. It won’t last forever with all the friction it endures along with hot and cold temperatures. Inspecting your timing belt and having replaced before it breaks can save you thousands of dollars. When your timing belt is replaced as recommended, it typically only costs a few hundred dollars.

Warning Signs of a Bad Timing Belt
Sometimes a timing belt can reach the end of its life without warning. One minute you’re driving down the road, the next minute your engine is running but you’re not going anywhere. It’s a good reasons to have the timing belt replaced based on the recommended guidelines before it’s too late. However, there are a few warning signs to be aware of that are telltale signs of a timing belt about to break:

  • Trouble starting the car. If you can rule out the battery, starter, or lack of fuel, a bad timing belt may be the problem. A poorly functioning timing belt can interfere with the car’s ignition timing.
  • Thick smoke from the exhaust. If your car begins emitting thick smoke from the tail pipe and it progressively gets worse, it’s an indicator that fuel in the engine isn’t being used efficiently. Poorly functioning valves linked to a bad timing belt may be to blame.
  • Shaking or vibrating engine. When the timing belt in a car begins to age, gets stretched out over time, or has missing teeth, you may notice more shaking or vibrating from the engine.
  • Hot engine, leaking fluids. If you’re not taking care of your car, the engine could be running hotter than it should be or it could be leaking fluids. These conditions can further weaken and damage the timing belt.

Taking care of your car and avoiding costly repairs with routine maintenance can save you time and money in the long run. If your car is due for a timing belt replacement, or you just want to have it inspected, give us a call or click here to schedule service on your car today!

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!

Has a Recall Been Issued for Your Vehicle?

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what to do in case of a recallGeneral Motors has made headlines in recent months for an ignition switch problem that can deactivate the airbag system in the car. GM officials believe the design flaw impacts an estimated 8.23 million cars, and the problem has been linked to 61 accidents and 16 deaths, according to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration.

While this particular recall has garnered significant media attention for exposing GM’s negligence in correcting a known problem, it’s hardly the only motor vehicle recall creating safety issues for drivers.

BMW recently issued a recall for a series of vehicles because the air bag inflator may rupture when it is deployed in a crash. Cadillac issued a recall for an ignition switch in some vehicles because drivers reported the ignition switch moved to the “off position,” turning the engine off while driving. And Chrysler issued a recall for certain vehicles with a lamp that can short circuit and potentially cause a fire.

The list of recalls keeps growing, particularly in the wake of scrutiny GM has faced for ignoring the problem with faulty ignition switches. And it serves a good reminder to find out if a recall has been issued on your vehicle. The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration is a good place to check for recall information. You can also search a database of recalls by auto manufacturers at Cars.com.

In addition, the NHTSA recently launched the SafeCar mobile app (Apple, Android) that can alert you to potential safety issues or recalls for your vehicle. The app also allows you to submit vehicle complaints, and access a wide range of safety-related information.

In most cases, when an auto manufacturer issues a recall, free repairs are available at authorized service centers. If you’re not sure if a recall has been issued for your vehicle, take a minute to find out. It could save you money, and it could save your life.