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Studded or Studless: Choosing Winter Tires for Your Vehicle

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When you wake up in the morning, temperatures are already dipping into the 30s around in the Des Moines area. And it won’t be long before those temperatures drop even lower and turn passing weather systems into snow and ice storms.

When winter weather does arrive, the best place to be is indoors where it’s warm and safe. But if you’ve got to be on the road, studded or studless tires for your car will help you handle driving conditions that may include, snow, ice, slush, and excess water. But is there a difference between studded tires and studless tires?

winter driving tires des moines iowaStudded Tires
They’re legal to drive with on Iowa roads from November 1 through April 1. But they’re illegal in some states, and states that do allow studded tires have set their own dates for when they can be used on the roads.

Studded tires have tiny metal studs in the tread of the tire that help grip the road and provide traction, even when it’s icy or you’re driving on snow-packed roads. Instead of struggling to chain-up on a wintery day, studded tires make it easier to get in your car and drive in winter weather.

However, the studs are strong enough to damage pavement when the roads are clear, and that’s a major reason some states have banned studded tires. Studded tires are allowed in Iowa. But surrounding states including Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Illinois have all banned the use of studded tires. If you’re from Iowa and just passing through, you can still drive your car with studded tires in these states during the winter season. Iowa’s other border states, Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas, and South Dakota allow studded tires for winter driving.

While studded tires are highly effective for winter driving, they’re also criticized for being too noise when used on dry roads.

Studless Tires
In Iowa where studded tires are legal, some people still opt for studless tires because they’re more environmentally friendly and aren’t as noisy. But in terms of performance, studless tires may perform as well as studded tires based on rubber compounds and engineering practices used to design them.

Studless tires are made with a type of rubber that doesn’t become brittle or hard when temperatures reach the freezing point or colder. This helps the tire remain flexible and improves traction on snow, ice, and wet roadways. Most studless tires also have deeper tread, compared to typical all-season tires, which helps improve traction.

Because studded tires are legal in Iowa, you’ve got the option of going with studded or studless tires on your car. Both will help your car handle better during winter driving conditions. But it’s better to get snow tires on your car early in the season, before the first big winter storm arrives.

Check Your Brake Fluid Level

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check brake fluid des moines iowa

check brake fluid des moines iowa If you don’t consider yourself a mechanic or have an aversion to working on cars, it makes sense that you prefer to let the professionals deal with any issues. But in reality, there are many things the average driver and non-mechanic can do to keep a car running properly. Some of those things include checking oil levels, tire pressure, lights, etc. Here’s one more thing you can do. Check your brake fluid level.

Watch for the Warning Signs
Your anti-lock brake system requires brake fluid running through the lines from under the hood of your car to the brakes on your wheels. Newer cars have electronic sensors that light up your dash when your car is running low on brake fluid. If the brake pedal feels like you’re pressing on a sponge or it’s extra hard to press down, your car may be low on brake fluid.

There are other reasons your brakes might not be working properly, like won brake pads and rotors, pulling to one side when you step on the brakes, or excessive vibrations, particularly at slower speeds. But checking your brake fluid is a good way to eliminate other problems. And it’s easy.

1. Open the hood of your car with the engine cooled off.

2. Locate the Master Cylinder, and you’ll find the reservoir that contains the brake fluid. It’s usually towards the back of the car behind the engine. If you’re not sure where the brake fluid reservoir is, check the owner’s manual for your car, or consult Dr. Google.

3. After you find the brake fluid reservoir, check the fluid levels based on the markers for   “min” and “max” If it’s low and below the “min” mark, add some brake fluid. Make sure you only add the kind of brake fluid your car requires (DOT 3, DOT 4, DOT 5). Be sure to clean the exterior of the reservoir before you remove the cap to prevent any dirt or debris from contaminating the brake lines. And make sure you don’t spill any. Brake fluid is toxic and corrosive.

4. Once you’ve added brake fluid, replace the cap and close the hood.

5. In some cases, simply topping off the brake fluid reservoir can improve the performance of your brakes. But if you experience further problems with your brakes, bring in your car and we’ll take a look at what’s going on. Your pads and rotors might need to be replaced, you could have a leak in your brake line, or the brake lines could be contaminated with copper which can happen over a long period of time.

Flush Your Transmission Now, Before It’s Too Late

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Bring up the topic at a dinner party, and someone is bound to have their own tale of woe, costly repairs, or even the ultimate demise of a car caused by a failing transmission. Aside from engine damage, a failed transmission is one of the more expensive repairs that can put a real dent in your pocket. So it makes sense that you do everything you can to protect your transmission from going bad in the first place.

transmission flush des moines iowa.jpgMost car manufacturers recommend getting the transmission fluid in your car flushed about once every two years, or every 30,000 miles. But that may not be soon enough if your car is already showing signs of transmission issues. You should get your transmission inspected or flushed as soon as possible if you notice any of these five warning signs of transmission problems. Doing so could protect your transmission from failing, or at least prolong its life, and save you some money.

Gear Grinding or Unexplained Noises
Over time, your transmission can get dirty, absorb grease, and even develop sludge that slows its ability to help your car cycle through changing gears. If you hear grinding sounds or unexplained noises from under the hood while driving, check your transmission fluid. It should be a brightly-colored red. Black or brown-colored transmission fluid means your transmission is dirty or is being compromised by sludge, and obviously warrants a transmission flush.

Getting Into Gear
It’s a telltale sign of transmission problems. If you find it hard to get your car with an automatic or manual transmission into gear, it’s a warning sign of transmission problems. But it could just be caused by dirt or sludge build-up in your transmission. Getting your transmission flushed at the first onset of this problem and replaced with clean transmission fluid can often improve gear shifting and prevent transmission damage.

Popping Out of Gear
If you find yourself driving down the road, only to have your car pop out of gear, your transmission may be to blame. If your transmission is too dirty, it won’t have enough power to keep your car into gear at times. And that can cause your vehicle to pop out of gear, and it undoubtedly happens at an inconvenient moment while on the road. Flushing your transmission at the first signs of this problem can power up the hydraulic pressure in your transmission to keep your car in gear.

Unexplained Surges in Power
If you notice unexplained surges in power while you’re driving, it’s often an indicator that your transmission is dirty. When dirt, grease, and sludge interfere with transmission operation, it’s hard for your transmission to provide a continuous and steady flow of power to keep your gears moving smoothly from one to the next. Notice this problem, and it’s a good time to flush the transmission before it’s too late.

Slow to Go After Getting Into Gear
You’ll notice right away if this is a problem. You put your car into gear, and for just a second or two nothing happens. You might not think anything of it at first, but it’s a warning sign of transmission trouble. The first time you noticed this is a good time to take your car in for a transmission flush.

Getting your transmission flushed every two years or every 30,000 miles is a good maintenance plan to follow. But if you noticed any of these warning signs, bring your car in as soon as possible for a transmission inspection. Simply flushing your transmission and replacing it with clean, dirt-free transmission fluid could save you a lot of money. 

5 Reasons Your Check Engine Light is On

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check engine light is on des moines

Your Check Engine Light is On. Now what?

Murphy’s law – If anything can go wrong it probably will. So you’re on your way to an important job interview or sales call. You’ve just packed up the family car and left town on a road trip you’ve been planning for months. Or you’re just feeling a little stressed out and think the last thing you want is car trouble. Then a red light blinks on in your dash. It’s the Check Engine light, and you immediately envision worst-case scenarios like expensive car repairs or the ultimate demise of your car.

check engine light is on des moinesIf your Check Engine light comes on, chances are pretty good that your car isn’t going to stall out and leave you stranded right away. But it’s not something you want to ignore.

As soon as you’re able to, take your car to an auto parts store and ask them to run a diagnostic test on your vehicle. They’ll hook up a computer to your dash that can identify the reason your Check Engine light is on. In some cases, it’s a simple fix. You may also need the help of an experienced mechanic, but at least you’ll get an idea of what the problem is.

Here are the five most common reasons the Check Engine Light gets activated:

1. Defective Oxygen Sensor. Most cars have two to four oxygen sensors which essentially help regulate oxygen and fuel to help your car get the best gas mileage possible. When a sensor fails, gas mileage declines, and more emissions will be present in your car’s exhaust. It’s a relatively easy and low-cost repair to make. But if you ignore it for too long, a faulty oxygen sensor could damage your car’s catalytic converter, and that can be an expensive repair.

2. Check the Gas Cap. Most cars on the road today have engine sensors linked to your car’s fuel system. If your gas cap isn’t on properly or tightened down enough, or it has a crack, your car’s fuel efficiency will be off. If this is the source of your problem, you can fix it for free or less than the cost of a Starbucks coffee. Check your gas cap and make sure it’s tightened down. And if your gas cap has a crack or faulty seal, buy a new gas cap at and auto parts store to replace the old one on your car. It’s one of the easiest fixes associated with the Check Engine Light.

3. The Catalytic Converter Needs to be Replaced. This isn’t the news you want to hear if you remember reading about this in connection with a defective oxygen sensor. It’s an expensive repair that can cost an estimated $2,000. If your catalytic converter is failing, eventually it will quit working completely and you’ll be calling a tow truck. Give us a call and we’ll get your car back up and running.

4. Mass Airflow Sensor is Failing. When your car’s mass airflow sensor begins to fail, your car can’t get the right amount of air and fuel mixture to power your engine. Your gas mileage will start to decline, and your car will stall more and more frequently. Like the oxygen sensors, it’s a relatively easy repair to do on your own if you’re willing. And most mechanics will install a new airflow sensor for under $300.

5. Spark Plugs Need More Spark. When the spark plugs in your engine start to fail, you’ll notice periodic jolts or fluctuations in your engine’s power when you’re driving. Sparks plugs are like a lot of car parts that just don’t last forever. Older cars may need the spark plugs replaced every 30,000 miles, while the spark plugs in newer cars should last 100,000 miles or more. If you have the time and patience, you can replace the sparks plugs on your car with a few basic tools. And it’s generally a low-cost repair if you bring it in to the shop.

If your Check Engine Light comes on, don’t panic. It’s your car’s warning system giving you an indicator to get your car checked out. But just don’t ignore it. Schedule an appointment with Beckley Auto immediately to find out the issue and fix it as soon as possible!

Des Moines Auto Repair – Service to the Core

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Aaron Lukacs - Beckley Auto

Auto repair gets a bad rap. In Des Moines, there are in the hundreds of service shops you can go to, but which one can you trust? Which can you guarantee service and support after the sale?

Our service writer, Aaron, talks a bit about the job he provides at Beckley Auto. With his focus on the customer, honesty and drive, where else would you want to take your car to get serviced?

If you’re looking for a great auto repair shop with the staff and support that will exceed your expectations, bring it down to Beckley’s. Aaron and the others are ready to help you out.

To schedule an appointment online to have your car serviced, just click on the “Schedule Service” button to the right.

We look forward to seeing you!

Audi, Volkswagen and Porsche Service Specials in Des Moines, Iowa

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audi service volkswagen service porsche service specials des moines iowa

Beckley Imports has been providing Audi, Volkswagen and Porsche Service in Des Moines, Iowa for over 35 years.

audi service volkswagen service porsche service specials des moines iowa

Get the Benefits of a European car service specialist. At Beckley Imports you receive sensibly priced service solutions and repair options you won’t find at ordinary auto repair shops or car dealerships.

Call us or click the schedule service button to the right for your European car service questions.

Beckley Imports – 901 8th Street, Downtown Des Moines, Iowa 50309

Phone: 515-243-8185

On a regular basis we run European car service promotions and savings solely through our valued client list and our website.
To receive these deals and notifications of others, subscribe to our news feed or request to be added to our valued client list.