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Car Repairs Can Save You Money

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Nobody wants to get a speeding ticket. But it happens. Sometimes it’s a law enforcement officer clocking driver speed that lands someone a ticket. And other times, it’s one of about 25 Red Light Cams or Speed Cams in the greater Des Moines are that snaps a picture of a speeding driver behind the wheel, generates a bunch of paper work, and delivers a digital citation that shows up in the mail with a fine of up to a few hundred dollars. Speed laws are in place to keep us safe on the roads.

car repair des moines iowaDid you know there are also laws on the books that require drivers to keep cars running properly? It’s true. In the state of Iowa, there are also laws that require you to maintain your vehicle. Here are some examples:

Brakes
You need to have good working brakes to stop in time to avoid an accident, or face a fine of $200-plus if you don’t.

Horn
Your car horn is required to work properly, because it can also help avoid an accident and alert other drivers of a problem. No horn could mean a fine of up to $120.

Muffler
Every car needs a working muffler to filter exhaust, minimize noise from the engine, and improve performance. Drive around with a defective muffler, and a citation could cost about $100.

Windshield Wipers
Yes, you can even get a ticket for defective windshield wipers. You can driver around a long time with poorly working wipers, and still see the road in the rain or snow. But it could cost you up to $100 in fines if you do. New ones usually cost less than $20 bucks and only take minutes to install.

Tires
When tire tread starts to show signs of wear, it’s a good idea to replace the tires. Tires with a decent amount of tread remaining helps your car handle better, improves gas mileage, and makes driving safer for you and others. Put off getting new tires long enough, and it could cost up to $100 in fines. In case you haven’t done your homework, that about the price of two tires on a lot of cars.

Headlights and Turn Signals

When a headlight burns out or a turn signal isn’t working properly, it’s a safety issue for you and other drivers. Your car may still run properly, but defective lights can become a safety issue for you and others. Put off getting lights replaced, and the fine is around $100.

Most of the time, when a car has brakes that need replaced, a defective horn, a muffler that’s corroded or failing, worn out tires, or lights that don’t work, you find out on your own, another driver lets you know there’s a problem, or your mechanic recommends making the repairs. And it’s worth it. It’s a much better use of your hard-earned money to keep your car running properly than to fork over money to pay fines for things that can easily be repaired.

Have a car repair that needs to be addressed? Don’t wait until you’ve got to pay a citation for a car problem, along with making the needed repair. Click here to schedule a service appointment, contact us at 515-243-8185, or stop by at 901-8th Street in Des Moines.

3 Common Causes for Poor Emissions

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Even if you don’t drive a diesel-powered Volkswagen, you’ve probably heard about the car maker’s deceptive software designed to manipulate emission testing results. Volkswagen engineers said the cars were designed to meet environmental standards, but when millions of VWs failed state emissions tests, local shops like ours performed the same tests and found emissions much higher than legally allowed.

diesel emissions testing des moines iowaIowa may be one of just 12 states that still don’t require emissions testing for vehicles, but that doesn’t mean driving a car spewing toxic fumes is a non-issue. VW is in the process of working out a plan to correct the emissions problem for 11 million vehicles at a cost of an estimated $7.3 billion. If you own a newer diesel-powered VW, you’ll soon be able to get the emissions problem fixed by an authorized dealer.

And even if you don’t drive a VW, being mindful of your car’s emissions can save you in the long run. Here are three common factors that can have an effect on vehicle emissions:

1. Engine Problems
If the Check Engine Light is on your car, your vehicle won’t pass an emissions test in any state. Mechanical problems can have an impact on engine performance and interfere with emissions. In many cases, we can diagnose the source of a Check Engine Light error by connecting your car to our computer.

2. Low/High Tire Pressure
You might not think about your tires much when you’re headed to the grocery store or cruising through Des Moines on I-35, but your tire pressure can have an impact on emissions. Check your owner’s manual or look on the sidewall of the tire to see how much your tire should be inflated (30 to 40 psi is typical for most cars and light trucks). Use a tire gauge to see if the tires need more/less air. If you’re not sure how to do this, stop by and we’ll check out your tire pressure for you.

3. Failure to Change the Oil
It’s a simple form of preventive maintenance that gets neglected far too often. Going too long without an oil change (5,000 miles or more), can raise the level of hydrocarbons released from the exhaust and negatively impact emissions. Has it been a while since you had the oil changed on your car? We can help, and we’ll do more than just change the oil and filter. Our trained technicians will also perform a 30-point inspection to identify any other safety or maintenance issues your car may have.

Just because Iowa doesn’t require emissions testing, doesn’t mean you should ignore warning signs and maintenance recommendations for your car. You may not have an on-board computer designed to cheat environmental regulations, but your car still needs regular maintenance and upkeep to perform its best.

How does your car measure up to typical emissions standards? Is your car operating at peak performance? Click here to schedule service today. We can help. Check out our 30-point inspection and contact us at 515-243-8185, send us an email at service@beckleyimports.com, or stop by at 901-8th Street in Des Moines, to schedule an appointment.

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.

 

 

Listen… 5 Warning Sounds Your Car May Be Making

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When you start up your car, you want to hear your engine running smoothly and quietly. And when you leave the house in a rush to get to work or head out of town on vacation, the last thing you want to hear some unfamiliar sound coming from your car.

engine noise warningsTo the untrained ear, any unfamiliar or new sound coming from under the hood can seem like impending doom for your vehicle. While some sounds may indeed be a telltale sign of a serious problem, some sounds are early warning signs that are inexpensive to fix. Here are five common sounds you might hear coming from your car, along with what to do about it.

1. Clicking and Tapping
It’s a warning sound you’ll notice right away, especially when your car has been running smoothly. Hear clicking or tapping, and you’ll probably roll down your window while driving to get a closer listen to the sound. Chances are pretty good it’s either a valve problem related to a worn part, or low oil pressure. Make sure the engine has enough oil, and if you can’t find the source of the sound, schedule an inspection.

2. Loud Knocking Noises
If you hear this warning sound, stop driving as soon as possible. Loud knocking sounds usually indicate a major issue with a part inside the engine. Continue driving, and the problem can lead to serious engine damage that might only be repairable by replacing the engine.

3. Rattling and Whining
If your car has a cam shaft belt problem, you might notice a rattling or whining sound when you step on the gas. The camshaft helps open and close valves in the engine, and it’s a critical component for engine performance. If the cam shaft belt is loose, poorly aligned, or slips, it can cause a rattling or whining noise, particularly when you accelerate. A problem with the cam shaft is best handled by a trained mechanic.

4. Squealing During Acceleration
When an engine fan belt is loose or slips, it can make a terrible squealing sound. It’s most often caused by an aging belt that has developed cracks and is beginning to loosen. The engine fan belt is also called a serpentine belt. When the rubber teeth of the belt no longer grip the pulley tightly, they can drag across the pulley and make the telltale squealing sound. The belt either needs to be tightened to eliminate the squealing, and in most cases usually needs to be replaced.

5. Grinding Sounds
If you hear grinding sounds, it may not be coming from the engine. Let’s hope not (grinding sounds coming from the engine usually indicate a very serious problem). Roll down your window and listen carefully. The grinding sound may be coming from your brakes. Worn out brake pads and rotors can make a grinding sound. Hear this warning sound, and it’s a good time to get a brake inspection.

Got a car sound that’s driving you crazy? We can help. Give us a call at 515-423-8185 or click here to schedule an appointment.

Stop Your Car From Overheating

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If you’ve ever driven a car prone to overheating, constantly seems to be low on coolant, or has an unknown problem with the radiator, hoses, thermostat, or other components that help keep your engine cool, there’s rarely a happy ending. All too often, overheating happens when you’re on a road trip, a long way from a service station, or out of cell phone range. But with the right maintenance and a little diligence, keeping your car from overheating is easier than you think.

car overheating des moines iowaKeeping your car from overheating by keeping its radiator and cooling system in working order is important for engine performance and reliability. When your car’s cooling system is working properly, the thermostat gauge in your car should be about in the middle between hot and cold. Your car’s engine performs best when it runs at a moderate temperature. An engine that runs too hot or cold causes more wear and tear on plastic parts, decreases efficiency, and spits out more pollution in the exhaust.

Simple inspection and maintenance practices can keep your radiator and cooling system working properly and stop your car from overheating. Here are some things you can do to check on your cooling system:

  • Examine rubber hoses for cracks or missing rings where the hoses attach to the radiator or engine.
  • Make sure the rubber gasket on the radiator cap is creating a proper seal.
  • Monitor your thermostat while driving to make sure your engine is running at a moderate heat.
  • Inspect the coolant level in the reservoir.
  • Look for coolant leaks where you park your car.

If you take these preventive measures to monitor your car’s radiator and cooling system, you’ll be more likely to identify warning signs of a problem. Cracked hoses or a failed gasket need to be replaced. An engine running too hot or too cold, is an indicator of a radiator problem. And if coolant seems to be evaporating, you may have a leak or poorly performing radiator. Taking care of these kinds of problems you can identify on your own, can keep you from getting stranded and prevent your car from overheating.

Need help giving your radiator and cooling system a checkup? Give us a call at 515-423-8185 or click here to schedule an appointment.

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!