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Is It Time to Replace Your Shocks and Struts?

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shocks and struts, beckley automotive suspension repairsDes Moines roads are generally less than smooth-riding, and are definitely inconsistent. Have you ever found yourself cruising down a straight-away at a good clip when you suddenly realize the road ahead is torn up and full of potholes? Rough roads can do a number on your car – especially your shocks and struts. While most manufacturers recommend replacing them every 15,000-30,000 miles, that estimate changes if you haul heavy loads or regularly drive on rough roads with potholes, bumps or washboard ridges. So how do you know when you really need to get new shocks and struts?

There are a few clues to let you know when you need to bring your vehicle into Beckley Automotive for a suspension system check. These are just a few:

  • Nose Dive  Does the front end of your car dip down when you stop? Although it can feel like your car is going to flip end-over-end, it really won’t. But there can be associated safety issues like longer stopping distance or steering issues that need to be considered.
  • Squatting  On the other end of the car you may notice something called “squatting”. This is when you accelerate from a stop and your front end rises slightly off the ground. It looks cool in car racing movies, but it’s a bad thing in real life.
  • Excessive Bounce Do you bottom out on railroad tracks or speed bumps – and then continue bouncing your way down the road? Here’s a test: Push down on each corner of your vehicle (SUVs can be tricky). Does it continue bouncing after you let go? Get your shocks and struts checked.
  • Sways and Leans  If you fear tipping sideways when you turn a corner or change lanes, you may need look at your suspension. Other things you might notice that should give you pause include poor steering, steering wheel stiffness or noise when turning the steering wheel.
  • Visible Wear  Check your tires for unusual wear patterns like “cupping” which is when a tire shows scalloped dips around one side of the tread. You can always get under your car and find your struts and shocks – are there dents, cuts or leaks?

Shocks and struts wear out gradually, so you may not really notice any of the above issues. There won’t be a particular moment that your vehicle’s ride gets bouncy or “loose.” You just get used to the changes little by little until they’re part of your driving experience. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

If you suspect you need your shocks and struts looked at by an expert, bring your auto into Beckley Automotive. You can make an appointment online HERE, give us a call at 515.243.8185, or stop by our convenient downtown Des Moines location 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!

It’s Not Too Early to Get Your Car Ready for Winter Driving

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car battery, winter driving bmw des moines iowa

It’s hard to imagine prepping your car for fall and winter driving with the 80+ degree temps we’re currently enjoying.  But reality is that fall is practically here and that means football, turkey, presents and HARSH WINTER DRIVING are just around the corner.

TIP:  When you see the garden centers closing up and the patio furniture on clearance at the stores – it’s time to winterize.

winter driving bmw des moines iowaWinter puts an amazing strain on your car’s systems and fluids.  And if you leave your car outdoors overnight, it endures even more punishment.  Here’s what you should do now to avoid shivering on the roadside waiting for a tow.

Get caught up on recommended maintenance

If the summer was just too busy, it’s a good idea to get caught up on the simple things.  We’re sure that with other shops you’ve visited, you might have felt “taken” a bit with add-ons and extras that didn’t seem necessary.  We guarantee that our technicians will recommend only what’s necessary for your vehicle and give you clear guidance on additional maintenance items that you should consider.

TIP:  Sometimes you just feel like asking, “Is it OK if I wait on servicing say…my water pump…until the next time I visit?”  Don’t feel awkward about it! At Beckley, you’ll get an honest answer that does not contain a hidden agenda or innuendo.  We’ve built our business on honesty and good value…so ask any question you’d like and we’ll give you a straightforward answer.

Kick the tires

Possibly the most essential element in the winter equation is tires.  If you don’t do a summer/winter tire switch, make sure you have tread – and lots of it.  Sometimes when you’re at that “in between” stage where there’s probably just enough tread to get by until Spring, this is a tough decision.  Safety should be your first consideration here.  Stopping distances go through the roof on snow and ice and tread is your friend.

Get the cooling system ready to be REALLY cool

It might seem like “cooling” systems are less relevant in the winter.  It’s true you’re less likely to have overheating issues from a 10-minute drive when it’s 20 degrees outside.  But a properly operating cooling system is essential to your engine’s life at ALL temperatures.  Freezing temps can really push an old water pump to the limit, so if you’re approaching or are over the max life for that part – consider a proactive replacement.

Put the scraper and winter emergency kit back in the vehicle

It’s a great idea to keep a plastic bin containing simple roadside survival items in your trunk.  Be sure to check your items each year for expiration dates and put in fresh batteries. Some things to include are:

  • spare gloves/hats
  • jackets
  • flashlights
  • first aid kit
  • blankets
  • small shovel
  • food
  • knife
  • chains
  • jumper cables

TIP:  Consider putting one or more 40 pound sandbags in the rear of your car.  This will help with traction in a rear wheel drive car of course.  But a side benefit is that if you get stuck, you can grab the knife from your winter safety kit, cut open the bag, and lay the sand down under and around your tires for extra traction.  You’d be surprised how much this helps when things get slick and you’re spinning those gorgeous wheels.

Now is the perfect time to schedule an appointment online to get your car ready for the harsh Iowa winter. Our convenient shuttle can get you to work or home and our service advisers can help you with further transportation arrangements. Call Beckley Automotive today!

How to Choose the Best Auto Repair Shop in Des Moines

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best auto repair shop des moinesWhen car troubles show up out of nowhere, it can be stressful figuring out who to call. Most people don’t have a mechanic or repair shop on speed-dial, and it’s easy to panic when faced with the prospect of going without a car for an undetermined period of time. How do you select the best auto repair shop? Do you rely on Google or Yelp reviews? Do you talk to friends and coworkers? Or do you choose based on location or because your dad used that facility?

Tips for Choosing the Best Auto Repair Shop for You

  • Be sure to research and find a repair shop BEFORE you need one. The first shop on the Google list isn’t necessarily the best for your car or your repair needs.
  • Have a plan for alternate transportation already in place. It’s easy to choose a repair shop closest to home or work without knowing their reputation or skill set. Some roadside assistance plans like AAA offer car rental coverage in the case of mechanical repairs.
  • Ask your friends and family where they go, who they would recommend and who they would recommend to stay away from. Find out their reasons for a positive or negative review so you know it’s about the shop and not just a bad day.
  • When you call the facility, ask if they specialize in only certain types of repair or certain vehicle makes and models. Ask specific questions about the qualifications of the technicians and what types of certifications they hold. Are they ASE certified? Is there a requirement for ongoing education to keep up with technology?
  • Put in the legwork and visit potential shops. You should be looking for cars in the parking lot or service bays that are comparable to yours in age and technology. Are there awards in the lobby regarding outstanding customer service or community involvement? Is the reception area neat, clean and professional?
  • Are diagnostic fees, acceptable payment types and guarantees posted? Is the staff courteous and willing to answer your questions and explain charges, services and procedures?
  • Be sure to reward outstanding customer service and repair work with repeat business. Show customer loyalty and make referrals through positive word-of-mouth. When you find the best auto repair facility, you’ll want to support the business and spread the word!

You never want to get stuck picking a service shop out of hat without knowing anything about their certifications, pricing or reputation. It’s important now more than ever to do your own research and form your own opinions. Take the time to look for professionalism, great customer service, current certifications or advanced course work and pricing transparency. If you put in the work, you will be rewarded with the best auto repair shop and peace of mind.

Are you in need of auto repair or routine maintenance? Beckley Automotive may just be the best auto repair shop for you! Give us a call at 515-243-8185, stop by our convenient downtown Des Moines location at 901 8th Street, or schedule a service appointment online today!

5 Fun Facts For BMW Owners

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bmw owners, BMW information des moines iowa

While Des Moines BMW owners have unmatched passion for their European autos, being the “Go-To” service location for European cars requires Beckley Automotive to dig deep into the history and heritage of the cars we service. This allows us to give the best maintenance and support to your European car as possible. Along the way, we pick up odd – and somewhat amusing – tidbits of European car information.

Check out these 5 “Did you knows” about our beloved BMW:

  1. passionate bmw ownersThe BMW Name – BMW stands for Bayerische Motoren Werke. In English, that would be: Bavarian Motor Works
  2. The BMW Logo – The Roundel logo stems from the days of its aircraft heritage, and symbolizes a spinning propeller.
    A huge component of the BMW logo is the blue and white fields, and those come off the Bavarian flag. (Bavaria is a state in Germany.)
  3. The BMW “LOOK” – The kidney grille BMW owners have come to love was first used in the BMW 303. The 303 was a mid-sized saloon (meaning it had a closed body and a closed trunk separate from where the driver and passengers sit) produced in the early 1930’s. It was the first BMW to use the “kidney grille” which today is a hallmark of their model.
  4. The BMW Letter – BMW does not use automobile platforms like any other manufactures. Instead, each generation has a development code – an Entwicklungsnummeren. The “E” stands for “Entwicklung” which means “Development.” BMW progressed through the E series into triple digits and then switched to using “F”. At this time, we can’t find that “F” stands for anything – it was just the logical next step!
  5. The FIRST BMW – The first car made by BMW is: The BMW Dixi!
    BMW bought the Automobilwerk Eisenach in 1928 and, with it, the rights to build the Dixi car… Soon after that, they dropped the Dixi name.

European cars run in our blood (almost literally). From BMW to Mercedes, Jaguar, Porsche and more, we love what we do as much as you love the driving performance of the cars we service.

Feel free to contact Beckley Automotive with any questions you have about your car’s performance. You can schedule a service appointment online HERE, give us a call at 515-243-8185, or visit us at our convenient downtown location at 901 8th Street!

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.

Make Selling Your Car More Profitable

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tips for selling your car, selling your carAt some point, you’re probably going to decide it’s time for a new car. Maybe you need more space for a growing family, or you’re downsizing to a smaller vehicle as an empty-nester. Or maybe you want to unload a gas-guzzler for a more fuel-efficient auto. When you look at selling your car, you can get more money by simply taking care of a few details.

Check out these 10 ways to boost the resale value of your car.

  1. Replace windshield wipers – It’s an inexpensive fix and only takes a few minutes to install new wipers.
  2. Clean the engine – You can try and clean the engine yourself with products designed to help remove dust, grease, and dirt. Or check out our detailing services to shine up your engine.
  3. Refill or top off fluids – Letting a potential buyer know your car has had a recent oil change and the reservoirs are filled for anti-freeze, brake fluid, windshield wiper fluid, etc., can help seal the deal.
  4. Check tire tread – You’re good if you’ve got a decent amount of tread remaining. But if tread is worn, replace the tires to increase the sale price of your car. If a buyer will have to replace the tires, you’re more likely to haggle over the asking price.
  5. Clean up the exterior with a wash and wax – Simply giving your car a thorough wash and wax can shine it up and make it more appealing to a potential buyer. If your headlights are foggy from years of oxidation, consider replacing the headlight casing or look into headlight restoration. Shining rims and wheels can also increase the “wow” factor when you show your car to a potential buyer.
  6. Clean the interior – After miles of road trips or shuttling kids around town, the interior of your car could probably use a makeover. Give it a thorough cleaning by vacuuming and wiping down surfaces.
  7. Get the brakes inspected/replaced – Like new tires, new brakes can cost a couple hundred bucks. If you’ve had your brakes serviced recently, let the buyer know. If you think it may be time to get your brakes replaced, bring your car in for an inspection. Selling your car with new brakes can be a good way to get the price you want.
  8. Take care of minor repairs – Over time most cars develop minor problems that are easy to overlook. These are things like a burnt out dome light, a squeaky door hinge, windshield cracks and dings, or minor body damage like a small dent from a shopping cart. Taking care of minor repairs like these may cost a few dollars, but it can help you get closer to your asking price when you list the car.
  9. Consider major mechanical work – When you’re trying to sell a car, it may need some major repairs like a new transmission or alternator. Major repairs may cost you a little more, but it could be worth it depending on the age of your car, mileage, and overall condition.
  10. Bring your car in for an inspection before you sell. – Our experienced mechanics can give you a complete diagnostic report about your car. This information can help you determine a fair asking price, decide on repairs you might want to make, and give you some negotiating power when you’re ready to sell.

We can help you get the most out of selling your car. If you’re looking for the best auto care and service in Des Moines call Beckley Automotive at 515-423-8185 or click here to schedule an appointment today!

Don’t Wait to Fix Auto Recall Items

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engine noise warnings, auto recall, beckley automotive serviceHave you ever been subject to an auto recall? Car manufacturers will mail out auto recall notices to owners when the vehicle they own has any kind of faulty part that needs to be replaced. These recalls are generally free of charge and are put in place to keep the car owner and others on the road safe. But if you haven’t experienced any issues with your car, do you rush right out to get that service performed?

For example, in April 2016 Chrysler recalled certain 2012-2014 Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300 vehicles, as well as certain 2014-2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee vehicles due to issues with the eight-speed automatic transmission. Equipped with a monostable gear selector, there were reports of injuries and accidents resulting from less than adequate warning when the vehicle isn’t in PARK and the driver opens the door to exit the car. Owners also reported that the gear-shift design makes it difficult to read what gear the vehicle is in, with drivers mistakenly believing the car was in PARK when it wasn’t.

Recently, it is believed the actor Anton Yelchin, who portrayed Ensign Pavel Chekov in the newest version of the Star Trek franchise, died when his own Jeep Grand Cherokee rolled down his driveway and hit him. It is unclear if his particular vehicle was part of the April recall or if this issue was even the actual cause of his death.

Auto recalls can be issued for something as simple as a faulty power window switch or as dangerous as defective brake parts or engine fire hazards. But the severity of the recall shouldn’t really matter; it’s a service provided by the auto manufacturer for the general safety of the driver and the public. It’s imperative that once you have received your auto recall notification you make your appointment to have the repairs made.

Are you unsure if your current vehicle is subject to a recall? Don’t worry – you can simply visit the National Highway Safety Administration Recall website and look up your vehicle either by year, make and model. You can also type in your car’s individual Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), which can be found inside the car where the dashboard meets the windshield on the driver’s side of the car. Notices can get lost when we move or mistaken for junk mail, so it’s a good idea to be proactive and make sure your car is safe.

Whether your car is part of an auto recall or simply needs a good tune up, Beckley Automotive has you covered! Make an appointment online HERE, call us at 515-243-8185, or stop at our convenient downtown Des Moines location at 901 8th Street!

 

Keep Your Car Cool in Iowa’s Extreme Heat

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overheated car, summer heat, extreme heat wave, Beckley AutomotiveThe recent heat wave here in Des Moines basically has us melting and remembering with fondness winter snow storms. While we rely on the air conditioning in our homes, offices and cars to save the day, we don’t usually think about other critical auto maintenance necessary in Iowa summer’s extreme heat.

  1. Stay on top of tire pressure. Weather plays a big role in your tire pressure: cold weather can cause your tires to be under-inflated while hot weather can cause them to be OVER inflated. When your tire pressure is off, it can lower your gas mileage and cause extra and uneven wear on the tread. Make sure you check your tire pressure during extreme heat and keep tires inflated to the number printed on the vehicle door placard or in the owner’s manual, not the number on the tire.
  2. Maintain your cooling system. Does it take forever for your auto air conditioner to actually get cold? If you haven’t flushed your cooling system in the last 5 years, that could be why. Engines these days have a lot of aluminum parts and require great corrosion protection to last longer. It’s also a good idea to park out of the sun whenever possible so your air conditioner doesn’t have to work so hard.
  3. Top off all fluids. Motor oil does so much more than keeping the moving parts moving – it also absorbs heat from all the friction. You’re aware that you need to keep coolant at the right levels, but there is a lot of evaporation going on under the hood that a lot of people forget about. You’ll burn through transmission fluid faster and battery fluids don’t always last through extended high temperatures, like we’ve seen recently.
  4. Plan for an emergency. Nobody wants to think they could get stranded out in the middle of nowhere during the summer, but planning ahead could save a life. Put together an emergency package with things like bottled water, a flashlight, a car charger for your cell phone, a first-aid kit, road flares, granola bars, instant cold packs that activate when needed, and anything else you think you might need in an emergency. It’s always better to have something and not need it than to need something and not have it.

This extreme heat will pass, but make sure you can get your car through it without any major breakdowns or problems. If you think ahead and stay prepared, you can save yourself a lot of trouble and a lot of money.

Need to make sure your car is ready for the current extreme heat and brutal summer months ahead? No matter the make or model, you can contact Beckley Imports today to schedule an appointment online, give us a call at 515-243-8185, or visit us downtown at 901 8th Street!

Beckley’s Breathes New Life Into the Car You Love

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car you love, beckley's automotive serviceYou and your favorite car have likely been through a lot. Perhaps it was the first car you bought on your own, or your very first luxury vehicle, or maybe it just GETS you. But the years have piled up. Does it start rough? Are the brakes squealing or shuddering when you stop? Maybe it’s eating oil a lot faster these days. Now you’re worried that you’ll have to trade in the car you love for an expensive, newer model that you’ll have to get to know all over again.

Beckley’s Automotive can make a car you love last longer!

It doesn’t matter what you’re driving, Beckley’s provides expert service for all makes and models, whether domestic or import. Do you love European cars? Our technicians stay up-to-date with the most recent technology and are award winning Authorized Bosch Service specialists for Audi, BMW, Mini, Mercedes, Porsche, and Volkswagen. Beckley Automotive is also an Authorized Saab repair center and an AAA Approved Auto Repair center for ANY cars you may have.

We believe in the quality of our parts and workmanship and we back our repairs with a 24 month/24,000 mile guarantee. If there is ever a question or an issue, you can simply contact us and we’ll make it right because we stand by our work 100%. Serving central Iowa since 1979,  Beckley’s has been a Best of Des Moines award winner and an A+ rated BBB Accredited Business. Our technicians are ASE Master Certified and are trained and equipped with the latest computer diagnostics tools to resolve any issues you’re having with your vehicle.

The next time your car needs attention, whether it’s an oil change, factory maintenance, or a major repair, call Beckley Automotive and rest assured that your auto will receive the best service from the most experienced and knowledgable technicians in Des Moines!

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If you dread the thought of replacing a car you love, Beckley Automotive has service solutions and repair options you won’t find at other shops. Contact Beckley Imports today to schedule an appointment online!