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Reboot: Quick Tip for Fixing Electrical Problems

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It wasn’t that long ago that cars were designed with a basic electrical system. Wiring, fuses, and relays helped power basic things light lights, dashboard messages, and the radio. And there are still a lot of older cars on the road that don’t have any more bells and whistles than this.

car electrical systems, auto electrical problemsBut the vast majority of cars on the road today have a much more complex electrical system to power things like DVD players, automatic controls for doors and windows, navigation systems, mobile devices, and satellite radio.

And dashboard messaging is no longer limited to letting you know the emergency brake is on or flashing you with the dreaded “Check Engine” light. Now many cars are designed to monitor tire pressure in all four tires, let you know if a door is open, track the temperature inside and out, and much more.

With a greater demand for features powered by electricity in your car, there’s a greater chance for something to go wrong. And it does from time to time. Ever get a dashboard message you don’t recognize, and have to break out the owner’s manual or look it up online? It happens.

Diagnostic Tools Can Help Identify Electrical Problems

Then what? When we service cars with electrical problems, one of the first things we do is connect the car’s computer to our diagnostic tools. In a few minutes, our tools can gather a lot of information about your car and help identify potential problems, both electrical and mechanical.

Sometimes the solution to an electrical problem is pretty straightforward. Replace a fuse or sensor. Change out a relay. Replace wiring damaged by corrosion or worn out over time.

How to Reboot Your Car’s Electrical System

But is it always that way? No. In fact, we sometimes resort to using a technique that’s a lot like hitting Ctrl+alt+delete when your computer starts acting up. Giving your car a reboot can sometimes correct electrical problems. And it’s easy. Disconnect the battery from both terminals, touch them together, wait five minutes, and then reconnect.

In many cases it helps get that electrical problem unstuck, a lot like rebooting your computer or resetting a wireless router to get your Internet signal working again.

Have an electrical problem that you don’t know how to fix? Try giving your car a reboot. Or bring your car in and we’ll take a look. Click here to schedule an appointment, call us at 515-243-8185, or stop by at 901-8th Street in Des Moines.

Dent or Ding? Paintless Dent Removal Can Fix It

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You get in a minor fender bender. Your car door gets dinged with a dent in a parking lot by a mysterious driver who doesn’t stick around or leave a note. Your kid tries some don’t-try-this-at-home stunt on the hood of the car and leaves a dent.

car dent, car ding, minor dent, paintless dent repair, beckley imports, beckley automotive, european car repairStuff happens.

If a dent is big enough, your car will probably need traditional body work that could cost you and your insurance carrier big bucks. But not all dents and dings have to be repaired with new parts, paint, and high labor costs. In many cases, minor fender benders and door dings can be repaired with a process called paintless dent removal.

About 80 to 90 percent of dents can be removed with paintless dent removal. If the dent in your car can be accessed from behind, there’s a good chance it can be removed without the hassle of traditional autobody work that can take a lot more time and money.

Here’s how it works:

  1. You bring your car in to our shop.
  2. We assess the damage. We look at the dent, location, size, and ways to access it from behind by removing lights, panels, etc. If we can fix it, we’ll get out the tools and equipment to get the job done.
  3. We’ll remove all the pieces on your car necessary to access the dent from behind. Then using special tools and measurements, we’ll massage the dent back into place. And voila.
  4. Then we’ll put all the pieces back and call you.
  5. You’ll drive away happy with a dent-free car, and money left in your pocket.

Have you been driving around with a dent or ding that bugs you every time you see it? Kind of takes the fun out of driving sometimes. But it doesn’t have to. Bring your car in for an inspection, and we’ll let you know if that dent or ding can be fixed with paintless dent removal.

Click here to schedule an appointment, call us at 515-243-8185, or stop by at 901-8th Street in Des Moines.

Has Your Car Been Recalled?

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If you’re the owner of a new car and it’s been recalled for some reason, you’ll get a notice directly from the manufacturer. And even though we live in a high-tech world where the car design and manufacturing process gets heavily scrutinized before production begins, recalls do happen.

30-Plus Recalls in a Month. That’s Normal.

automobile recall, vehicle recall, car recall, recall repair, recall serviceFor example, in December alone there were more than 28 recalls from major manufacturers for things like faulty locks, defective fuel pressure, ignition fuel leaks, wiring problems, defective air bag deployment, drive axel issues, and other problems that could potentially lead to a fire or accident.

Recall Notification for Original Owners

If you find out that your car is on the recall list, you also receive instructions on how to get the problem taken care of (usually at an authorized dealer/repair shop specified by the manufacturer).

Sure, it’s a hassle, but it’s better than the alternative that can occur if you choose to do nothing about a known problem. And if you do find out your car has been recalled, take care of it as soon as possible. Sometimes manufacturers end up putting customers on a waiting list because they run out of parts needed to complete the recall repair.

If You’re Not the Original Owner…

So what happens if you’re not the original owner of a car when a recall is issued? Nothing. You won’t get a visit from the Car Recall Response Team, letter in the mail, or even a phone call from a spammy-looking number.

Want to find out if your car has been recalled? Check with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Visit the site and check Recalls & Defects to see if your car has been recalled for a problem. You can also find recall info on tires, motorcycles, and travel trailers.

Deadline for Recall Repairs

Car recalls happen pretty frequently. But there’s one detail you don’t hear very often from car manufacturers when a recall occurs. You have up to 10 years from the original sale date of the car to get a no-cost repair for a recall.

If your car doesn’t seem to be running right, or you’re concerned it may have been issued a recall, do something about it. Check with the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, or bring your car in for an inspection. Our team of certified and experienced mechanics stay up to date on the latest recalls, and can let you know if your car is on the list.

Click here to schedule an appointment, call us at 515-243-8185, or stop by at 901-8th Street in Des Moines.

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.

Stay Warm with a Car Heater Check-Up or Repair

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Nobody likes to walk outside when it’s cold and climb into a freezing cold car. It’s one reason many people start up their car, go back inside, and let it run a few minutes.

stay warm with car heater repair des moines iowaSure, “everybody does it.” But it’s actually against the law in Iowa. Leave your car running unattended, and you can be fined $20. You also run the risk of letting anyone in search of a joyride take off in your car. But it’s a risk a lot of people are willing to make for warm-car comfort.

Does it take a while for your car to warm up?

If your engine and heater are working properly, your car should be warm in just a few minutes, even in frigid Iowa temperatures. But if you’re still shivering 20 minutes after leaving the house, can see your breath inside the cab of the car, or need to wear gloves just to grip the steering wheel and ward off frostbite, it may be time for a heater checkup.

Car Heater Basics

When you fire up your engine, it generates heat. As the pistons fire, coolant goes through the engine and absorbs heat to keep it from overheating. Then the hot coolant goes back through the radiator and makes a delivery to the heater core. You crank up the thermostat in your car, turn the fan in high, hit defrost, and in theory, hot air should fill the cabin. But it doesn’t always work that way.

When Your Car Doesn’t Warm Up

If your car doesn’t heat up in a few minutes, or never seems to get very warm, there’s a problem that leaving your car running in the driveway for 15 minutes before work won’t fix. The good news is that it’s generally an inexpensive to get your heater to pump hot air again.

Check the Thermostat and Radiator

In most cases, a poorly working car heater is caused by a faulty thermostat, radiator, or hoses clogged with gunk that limits the amount of hot air being circulated. A basic inspection can usually identify the problem. And the fix usually involves replacing the thermostat, flushing the radiator and hoses, or both.

If your car hasn’t been warming up like you think it should, we can help heat things 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.

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.

Car Problems? Schedule Service Online

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When Neil Armstrong landed on the moon in 1969, it was a modern-day marvel years in the making. For decades, scientists, researchers, and engineers worked together to make the moon landing possible. It was a monumental achievement, especially with the kind of technology the Apollo 11 team had to work with.

schedule car service online des moines iowa

Just go to “BeckleyImports.com” on your mobile device!

So what does the moon landing have to do with cars? More than you might think.

Pick up your smartphone, tablet, mobile device, or turn on your computer. At your fingertips, you have more computing power than the 1969 lunar module that reached the moon and all the computers back in Houston for that historic mission. Seriously, today’s software, hardware, and technology is faster, smarter, more intuitive, and a lot less expensive.

When you have a problem with your car, or just need to schedule an oil change, setting up an appointment is easy, thanks to the speed and convenience of the Internet. There’s no need to play phone tag, listen to on-hold music (unless you really want to), or leave a rambling voice mail that sounds something like, “Houston, we have a problem.”

Car Repairs and Maintenance When It’s Convenient

All you have to do is click Schedule Service on our site, and you’ll be able to relay your message from anywhere with an Internet connection and a computer or mobile device. You’ll be prompted to provide a few details, like your contact information, a preferred time and date for service that works for you, and the type of car you drive.

You can even choose from a list of services your car needs like an oil change, transmission service, or major tune-up. If there’s a problem with your car, give us your best explanation about what’s going on. Your observations will give us a better idea of what to look for when you bring your car in for service.

When you need to Schedule Service, it’s easy to do from your computer or any mobile device. Once we receive your message (which only takes a few seconds), we’ll contact you to confirm your service appointment. We’ll take care of your car so you can travel to the moon and back if you want to.

Having problems with your car? Or is it time for some routine maintenance? Click Schedule Service, and book an appointment now.

7 tips to prepare for driving in winter weather

Are you ready for driving in Winter weather?

Farmer’s Almanac Predicts Colder Winter than Normal

prepare for winter driving iowaEven if you don’t read The Old Farmer’s Almanac, a lot of people do, especially if you have ties to farming in Iowa. And let’s face it, most of us do. Whether you’re a farmer or a city dweller, there’s at least one thing you have in common…driving in the winter weather.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac, predicts a harsh winter with more snow complicated by longer periods of freezing temperatures. And if you’ll be trying to get in and around Des Moines this winter, you need to be prepared. Here are seven things you can do to be prepared for driving in winter weather:

  1. Flush the radiator. Eliminating any building up and replacing old antifreeze with a proper mixture of coolant and water will improve engine performance and help your heater work better.
  1. Replace wiper blades. When it’s dry, you might not think about this. But turn on your wipers when rain or snow are really coming down, and you’ll want fresh wiper blades that work to help you see the road. Keep your windshield washer fluid reservoir topped off too.
  1. Check your car battery. Now is a good time to get your battery tested. If it’s old, or not performing properly, getting the battery replaced will reduce your risk of being stranded on cold Iowa morning with a car that won’t start.
  1. Measure tire pressure and tread. Cold air causes tires to lose pressure. Get in the habit of checking your tire pressure at least once a week (when you gas up). Add air if you need to. Proper tire pressure improves fuel efficiency and helps your car handle better on wet and icy roads. Check the tread on your tires too. Worn or slick tires can be very dangerous, even on dry roads.
  1. Keep your tank full. There’s been more than one section of freeway closed in the Des Moines area during the winter because of a major accident and pile up or severe conditions. Keep your tank full. You’ll be able to stay warm if you get stranded. It’s also a good way to help keep moisture from freezing in the fuel lines.
  1. Get a tune up. Going by manufacturer recommendations is a good plan for getting regular tune-ups to keep your car running smoothly. If you haven’t been vigilant about routine maintenance, now is an even better time to get an inspection and take care of any problems before a winter storm arrives.
  1. Carry a safety kit. It doesn’t have to be complicated. A few simple things like a flashlight, flares, first aid kit, jump cables and basic tools, a blanket, and some extra food and water, can be helpful in an emergency. An ice scraper, extra washer fluid, and salt or kitty litter to help with traction in icy conditions can help too.

If you need help with any of these things to winterize your car, 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. You’ll be glad you did.

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.

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.