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Improve Driving Safety with a Winter Wheel Alignment

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winter tires, winter driving bmw, des moines winter, beckley wheel alignment

winter tires, winter driving bmw, des moines winter, beckley wheel alignment, winter alignmentYou’ve probably enjoyed the summer and great fall temperatures with a handful of outings that required driving your car on dirt/gravel roads. You traveled some Midwest backroads, hit a few pot holes, and now you notice that your car pulls to one side when you’re driving down the road, indicating that your wheel alignment could use a little TLC.

If your car seems to handle differently, veers to one side, or steering seems to vibrate, it may be time for a winter wheel alignment. Car experts recommend getting a wheel alignment for your car at least every 10,000 miles. Proper wheel alignment helps keep your car on the road, improves gas mileage, tire longevity, and makes steering easier.

Whether the wheel alignment of your car has been compromised from driving on rough roads, hitting a curb, or getting into a minor fender bender, it’s a bigger deal than you may think. When your wheels aren’t properly aligned, you lose traction and the contact between tires and road that is so critical during the rough Iowa winters. We all know that the tread on your tires is imperative to safe winter driving, and misaligned wheels drastically lower the lifespan of your tires and can put you and your passengers in danger.

Poor road conditions probably have the biggest impact on wheel alignment than anything else. Over time, driving on bumpy road with pot holes and uneven surfaces can alter your alignment and wear down your tires. But even if you’re mainly driving on paved roads, bumps, pot holes, curbs, and debris you might drive over can have the same effect. With winter on the way, now is a good time for a winter wheel alignment, especially if you are switching from all-season tires to winter snow tires. Since winter tires are designed specifically to move snow and slush off the road and out from under your tires, proper alignment is critical for that to happen.

In the old days, mechanics took a best-guess approach to fine-tuning the wheel alignment of a car. But even a few millimeters can make a difference in steering performance and tire longevity. We use a computerized wheel alignment machine that produces precise measurements for the camber, toe, and caster. These measurements help us make adjustments to the backward and forward tilt of your tires, the inward and outward tilt of your tires, and the distance between the front and rear tires. The computerized wheel alignment machine also helps us make sure your steer wheel is centered.

A typical wheel alignment for most cars is fairly inexpensive, but it can save you a lot of time, trouble and cash in the long run. If you think your car is in need of a winter wheel alignment, stop in for an inspection, and we’ll point you and your car in the right direction. Schedule your appointment online HERE or call us at 515-243-8185.

Iowa’s Cold Weather Can Kill Your Car Battery

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Cold weather can be a killer for your car’s battery.

Sure, when your car is running smoothly, it’s easy to take it for granted. You hop in, turn the key, and the engine fires up. You buckle up, pick your favorite radio station or music, and turn on the heater. You might even have the luxury of heated seats to warm your backside and a navigation system to help you get to your destination.cold weather affect on car battery

Just about every single one of these functions makes your car driving experience a little more convenient, comfortable, and enjoyable. But the minute something stops working, everything changes. Your radio won’t turn on. You turn the key and hear a clicking noise. The engine tries and fails to fire up. Or you turn the key and get absolutely nothing. If you’re like most people when this happens, you raise your fist to the sky and shout, “Why!”

Take a closer look at these features, and many others that make your car work, (like lights, locks, windows, and dashboard info) and they often have at least one thing in common. They’re powered by the car battery. In Iowa, it’s that time of year when frigid winter temperatures can kill your car battery. Consider this:

  • When cold weather arrives, Des Moines-area towing and roadside assistance services see a major rise in calls for Battery jump starts
  • A typical car battery lasts three to five years. Cold weather can shorten the lifespan of a battery. How long have you had yours?
  • It takes your battery twice as much current to start the engine in cold weather than warmer days.
  • Phones, tablets, computers, DVD players, navigation systems, and other electronics drain and strain car batteries. Do you use any of these devices in your car?
  • At 32 degrees, a car battery loses 35 percent of its power
  • At 0 degrees, a car battery loses 60 percent of its power

If the very thought of being late to work or school, or being stranded in a parking lot after a long day of shopping with a dead battery has crossed your mind, don’t let it happen. A simple inspection and battery test can determine the health of your battery. And if it needs to be replaced, it’s a lot better to do it before you’re stuck out in the cold waiting for a jumpstart.

Need to get your battery tested? We can help. Our technicians can test your battery to make sure it’s fully charged, identify any problems, and install a new battery if necessary. Click here to schedule a service appointment, contact us at 515-243-8185, send us an email at service@beckleyimports.com, or stop by at 901-8th Street in Des Moines,

By Any Other Name, It’s Still Your Baby

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We don’t see a lot of Lamborghini’s rolling through Des Moines, or on the lifts in our shop (boy do we love seeing them, though). But this Italian-made car has a massive following of speed-crazed fans, celebrity collectors, and an entire subculture of car aficionados who obsess over speed, styling, and performance.baby your car

The price alone is reason enough to create some buzz. For example, if you can get your hands on a 2016 Lamborghini Aventador, you can expect to pay a cool $500,000. You don’t have to be a car buff to know that’s a staggering price tag for a vehicle.

But aside from price and performance, there’s at least one other thing that makes the Lamborghini unique. Every model from the Miura made in 1966, the well-known Diablo made in 1990, and the latest Aventador, is named after bulls that killed their matador.

Kind of crazy, or is it?

Lamborghini isn’t the only one who gives meaningful names to cars. Over the years, we’ve helped customers take care of their pride and joy on wheels, and on occasion even agreed to refer to the cars by their given name (instead of make and model).

Have you given your car a name? A lot of people have. Leave it to the Internet to discover that people are as obsessed about choosing the right name for their car as they are a newborn baby. But if you spend a lot of time in your car commuting, shuttling the kids from place to place, or log a lot of miles for work, maybe it just makes sense to give it a name.

Maintenance and Repairs for All Foreign and Domestic Cars

If you drive a domestic-made car like a Ford, Chevy, Chrysler, or Jeep, we’ll take handle your car repair needs, just like they were a member of the family. And if you drive a Honda, Toyota, Hyundai, Kia, or foreign-made car, that’s OK too.

With our team of technicians, state-of-the-art equipment, and decades of experience, we can repair any car, even if yours is named after a bull that killed its matador.

Click here to schedule a service appointment, contact us at 515-243-8185, send us an email at service@beckleyimports.com, or stop by at 901-8th Street in Des Moines.

Tired of a Rough Ride?

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It May Be Time for Strut Replacement…

Clunk, clunk. Rattle, rattle. It’s a sound you might hear every time you turn the wheel left or right, especially if you’re driving a car that’s seen its share of miles. To the untrained ear, the sound could be confused with a failing transmission. But if the problem only appears when turning, it’s probably not.rough ride change struts

Fortunately, a clunk or rattle that’s noticeable, particularly when turning, is often a sign the struts on your vehicle are worn out. It’s one of those parts on a car that holds up well to wear and tear, pot holes, gravel roads, bumps, and those times you accidentally drive over the curb. But eventually the struts will need to be replaced. Car manufacturers recommend inspecting and/or replacing the struts after about 50,000 miles.

Worn Out Struts Compromise Performance

When struts wear out, it doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it’s a gradual process that happens so slowly, you don’t always notice it. But as struts wear out, they can start to leak fluid. They’re not as effective at controlling your tires. And that can have an impact on the way your car handles, steers, and brakes. As the struts wear out, your car takes on more of a rough ride than that smooth feel it had when it was newer. Struts that have seen their share of miles can also wear down tires faster, too.

Enjoy the Ride with New Struts

Getting the struts replaced on your vehicle when they’ve soldiered a lot of miles can make a big difference. You’ll notice a big change in the way the car handles, the clunk-and-rattle sound when you turn will be gone, and your tires will last longer. New struts can also help prevent wear and tear on other parts that help with steering and suspension.

Want to improve the way your car handles? Bring it in for an inspection, and we can let you know how the struts are holding up. Click here to schedule a service appointment, contact us at 515-243-8185, send us an email at service@beckleyimports.com, or stop by at 901-8th Street in Des Moines.

Find a Good Auto Repair Shop Before You Need One

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If you drive an older car, the chances of something going wrong are probably going to be higher than driving a car home from a dealership. But that doesn’t mean new cars won’t have problems. While you might not want to think about it, do you know where you’ll take your car if it does need a repair?

You should. You don’t have to look far to know that prices among auto mechanics can vary widely on parts and service. And unless you’ve done your homework, you might not know anything about a shop’s customer service, track record, and warranties before someone has your car up on a hydraulic lift.

auto repair shop downtown des moines iowaYou’ll save yourself time, money, and worry, if you know where to take your car when it needs to be fixed, instead of scrambling to find a good mechanic. Here’s how to find one:

Ask Your Friends for a Referral

While Google may help you find a long list of auto shops in Des Moines, you still won’t know a lot about them. Ask your friends for a referral. It’s a good place to start your own research to find a place to take care of your car.

Check Qualifications

Online reviews can tell you a lot about a business, customer service, and quality of work. But don’t base you decision on choosing a mechanic entirely on word-of-mouth. You can also check to see if the business is registered with the state of Iowa, the city of Des Moines, the local Chamber of Commerce, and the Better Business Bureau. You can also check to see if the shop has mechanics on staff with an Automotive Service Excellence certification.

Ask about Warranty Work

If your car is still covered under warranty and need repairs, read the fine print. You may need to take your car to an authorized dealer, but in some cases an approved shop may be able to do the work covered by your warranty, too. You’ll also want to ask the manage about what type of work they warranty, and what type of work or repairs it covers.

Get Details about Diagnostic Testing

In most cases, before any kind of repair is made to your car, a mechanic starts with diagnostic testing to determine, identify, or confirm the problem that needs to be repaired. When you’re looking for a shop, ask if they charge for diagnostic testing. In many cases, basic diagnostic tests are free, while more labor-intensive testing to identify a problem may come with a fee. Some shops will waive the fee if you have them perform the needed repair.

Get a Second Opinion

Even after you’ve found a shop you trust, it’s always a good idea to get a second opinion, especially with an expensive repair. You could take your car to a second shop and have their team give you a quote. Or you could ask your mechanic for the details, and simply call another shop and see what they would do the work for. Either way, getting a second opinion for expensive car repairs can save you time, money, and anxiety in the long run.

Get It In Writing

Reputable shops will gladly give you a quote for work that needs to be performed. It’s important to get this in writing, before you agree to any repairs. That way when it comes time to settle your bill there are no surprises.

If your car needs routine maintenance or a major repair, we can help. We’ve been keeping cars on the roads for Des Moines drivers for more than 30 years. And we’re proud of our reputation for friendly customer service and outstanding work on thousands of cars.

Need a good mechanic? Do your homework, and then click here to schedule a service appointment, contact us at 515-243-8185, send us an email at service@beckleyimports.com, or stop by at 901-8th Street in Des Moines.

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.

 

 

If You Don’t Replace Your Car’s Air Filter…

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Anytime you get some basic service done on your car, a good mechanic will check a number of important things that can have a major impact on engine performance. One of those things happens to be your car’s air filter.

car air filter replacementCar Air Filter Inspection: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Many technicians like to pull out the air filter under the hood and show you what it looks like. If it’s new and relatively clean, the filter will be a nice, bright white. With a little age, it might have a dull-gray color. And if it’s been trying to protect your engine for far too long, it might be borderline black and filled with tiny dust-like particles. We’ve even seen air filters neglected for so long that they’re even packed with bigger debris like leaves and small twigs.

How Much Does a New Car Air Filter Cost?
Replacing an air filter is a relatively easy thing to do. It’s something most people can do on their own, once they know where to find the air filter and how to remove/replace the old one. A new air filter at an auto parts store typically $10 to $25.

But a lot of people neglect to replace the air filter. Sometimes it’s just because they don’t want the cost of a typical oil change to double in price. And sometimes, it’s just something people forget to do. Unfortunately, neglecting to replace your air filter on a regular basis could cost you a lot more than a bag of groceries.

A Bad Car Air Filter Damage the Mass Air Flow Sensor

Your engine is powered by a mixture of air and fuel. The amount of air your engine gets is regulated by a part called a mass air flow sensor. For the most part, the mass air flow sensor isn’t one of those parts that needs to be replaced on a regular basis like brakes and belts. However, running your car for mile after mile with a dirty air filter will take a toll on the mass air flow sensor. If it fails, industry estimates show the average repair cost to replace the mass air flow sensor runs about $400.

Need your air filter changed or routine maintenance to help prevent costly repairs? We can help. Give us a call at 515-423-8185 or click here to schedule an appointment.

Car Purchasing Advice from Millionaires: Buy Used

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Have you been thinking about purchasing a new car? It’s tempting when there’s countless commercials, magazine ads, and promotions showing off the latest models in style and features. But in order to afford a new car, most people are going to finance the cost with a combination of a down payment, trade-in, and years of monthly payments.car purchase tips des moines iowa

But if you can avoid financing a car, you should. That’s what authors Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko discovered in their book The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy. They interviewed dozens of ordinary people who amassed at least a million dollars in wealth through hard work, smart investments, and frugal living.

In their quest to uncover the habits of self-made millionaires, they found that many intentionally bought used cars for years instead of making payments on a new one. It’s a novel concept that can save you a lot of money.

Car Repairs and Regular Maintenance Can Save You Money

Buy used and pay cash. Take good care of the car with regular maintenance and necessary repairs. Save some money. After a couple of years, trade-up for another used car with your trade-in and cash to cover the cost. It’s one of the ways people with ordinary jobs in The Millionaire Next Door were able to save a lot of money and eventually drive their dream car.

If you’re driving an older car that has a few issues, you might be tempted to get rid of it and buy a new-off-the-lot car. But in most cases, it’s going to cost a lot more in the long run to buy a new car than to keep your used car up and running.

Have a used car that needs a little help? Basic maintenance like regular oil changes and replacing the brakes, belts, and air filters can prolong the life of your car. Keeping up on routine maintenance can help prevent more costly repairs and save you money over time. In The Millionaire Next Door people used that extra money to save and make smart investments instead of making monthly car payments.

Want to get the most mileage out of your car? We can help. A full-inspection can identify any issues and routine maintenance will keep your car running longer, smoother, and more efficiently, and cost you less money over time. Give us a call at 515-423-8185 or click here to schedule an appointment.

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.

 

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.