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Stop. It’s Time for a Brake Inspection

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We hate to hear stories of vehicle accidents, especially when, with a little preventative maintenance, they could have been avoided.

When a car hit a curb near 19th St. and Clarke Ave in Des Moines on Thursday morning, the impact launched the car into the air, then rolled and hit a tree.  Investigators haven’t determined an official cause for the crash, but officers first on the scene reported “minimal skid marks.”

preventative maintenance brake repair des moines iowaWe may never know all the details, but “minimal skid marks” raises some questions that could point to bad brakes a possible contributor to this accident. When you step on the brakes to slow down, the pedal should feel firm under your foot. The harder you press on the pedal, the firmer the brakes should feel. And if you’re in a situation that requires a sudden stop, mashing down on the brake pedal will feel almost as firm as stomping your foot on the ground.

What if your brakes don’t feel firm when you slow down or need to make a sudden stop? If you’re like most people, that sensation can leave you feeling a little anxious. When you press on the brakes, you want to know without a doubt that they’re going to slow your car down.

Getting your brakes checked periodically can be a lifesaver. In many cases, simple and inexpensive repairs and preventive maintenance can keep your brakes in working order for many miles. Check out these three warning signs that suggest a problem with your brake system:

  1. Brake pedal quickly goes to the floor when you press it. This may be a sign that your brake system’s master cylinder is no longer pressurized and could have a leak.
  1. Pressing the brake pedal feels soft or has less resistance than normal. It’s often caused by low levels of brake fluid.
  1. Braking feels rough. Worn brake pads and uneven rotors can make braking feel rough and bumpy. You may even hear screeching or grinding noises coming from the wheel hub where the brakes are located if these parts are worn or warped.

If you’re wondering if your brakes are working properly, don’t wait to find out until you’re faced with making a sudden stop to avoid an accident. And even if you think your brakes are fine, but it’s been 30,000-plus miles since your brakes were inspected, is a good idea to have them checked out.

Need a brake inspection or brake system repairs? We can help. Give us a call at 515-423-8185 or click here to schedule an appointment.

Steering Problems? Wheel Alignment May Straighten Things Up

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wheel alignment des moinesWhen you turn the steering wheel on your car, it’s supposed be responsive and easy to handle. And with power steering, it should be. But if you struggle to keep your car from “wandering lanes,” or feel like you have to man-handle the steering wheel to simply control the car, you might have a wheel alignment problem.

After a long, cold Iowa winter, it’s not uncommon. There’s a good chance you slid on the ice while parking your car and bumped a few curbs, drove over a couple of potholes, rumbled your way across a bumpy stretch of road covered in patches of ice, or braked too hard after sliding into an intersection. All that wear and tear can take a toll on your tires and wheel alignment.

If your car steering seems to be “uneven,” pulling to one side, or handling poorly, here’s what you can do:

  1. Check your tires. Use a tire gauge to check the air pressure in each tire and make sure they’re inflated with the right amount of pressure. If you find a problem, add some air to the low tire.
  1. Inspect the tread on all four tires. Severely worn tires, or a mix-and-match or snow tires and all-season tires can effect steering. Replace your tires if you notice excessive wear, and use the same tire for all four wheels.
  1. Get your wheel alignment inspected. If checking your tire pressure and inspecting the tread don’t reveal any major problems, bring your car in for a wheel alignment and inspection. Fixing a wheel alignment-issue early on can often keep your tires from wearing down prematurely.

To find out if you need a wheel alignment, we’ll also measure tire pressure and inspect your tires. Then we’ll use diagnostic automotive tools to examine the toe-in, castor, and camber of each tire. Many times a wheel alignment is all you need to correct a steering-related problem to straighten things up.

In some cases, poor steering performance isn’t entirely caused by wheel alignment. Steering problems may also be linked to worn out struts or shocks, loose bearings, or damage to other steering components. If that’s the case, we can fix those problems too so you can drive with confidence and safety.

Reach out to Beckley’s today to schedule an appointment.  Call 515-243-8185 or simply click on the “Schedule Service” button to the right to get your car running right for spring!

 

Winter Weather Driving Caused Most Accidents in Iowa History

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It’s that time of year when Mother Nature gives the Des Moines area the old one-two punch with bouts of bad weather and then tries to fake us out with sunshine and clear skies. Some winters are no doubt milder than others, but it doesn’t take much to turn winter weather driving conditions into a white-knuckled experience.

safe driving and car repairs in des moinesFor example, last winter snow storms began making their way across Iowa, turning highways, key arterials, and roadways into a wintery slip-and-slide. From Dec. 1, 2013 to Feb. 1, 2014, four major accidents blocked Iowa highways for hours, caused thousands of dollars in damage, and sent dozens of people to the hospital. In one of the biggest crashes in Iowa history, a single collision on icy roads on Interstate 80 during rush hour created a chain reaction that caused a 40-car pile-up and closed the freeway from more than three hours.

Spending the holidays in the hospital, hustling insurance quotes, getting car repairs, and wondering how you’re going to pay for it all isn’t exactly the definition of joy and cheer. And while you can’t control Mother Nature or other drivers, a few simple practices can keep your car running properly and help you avoid getting into an accident.

Slow down in bad weather
Investigators who questioned the drivers and passengers in the 40 car pile-up believe the weather and excessive speed were the major factors that led to the multi-car accident. If the roads are icy or wet, you’re driving in a blizzard or windy conditions, or fog impairs your view, slow down. You’ll be more likely to avoid an accident at a lower rate of speed with more distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you.

Let Beckley’s help you prepare for winter weather driving conditions
Defensive driving practices can help you avoid an accident, but it’s only part of the solution. Your car needs to be working properly to help you steer clear of an accident. Inspect your tires, make sure you’ve got plenty of windshield washer fluid, and have your brakes tested and repaired if necessary. Regular maintenance can help you avoid costly repairs and keep you safer when you’re on the road this winter. If your car does need service, we can help.

Go to our Schedule Service page today and schedule time for us to look at your car to see if your winter driving ready.