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How Do You Know What Your Check Engine Light Means?

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your check engine lightIt’s happened to all of us. Driving down the road, listening to your favorite music, when all of a sudden your check engine light pops onto the dash. Naturally, a million different things instantly run through your head. What if the engine is shot and you have to replace it? Would it be better to replace the engine or buy a new car? How much is this going to cost? Is there really something wrong with the vehicle? As long as you take care of your vehicle, the chances of it being a substantial engine problem is low, but you still need to take your vehicle in for a good check up. Here is what you need to know about your check engine light and what it means for your vehicle.

Owner’s Manual

It is important to keep your vehicle’s owner’s manual in the glove compartment at all times. This way, you can check to see what kind of an issue you might be having. If you own a new vehicle, your check engine light may be accompanied with a computer code. You can look this code up to determine what kind of servicing you need. There’s a chance you only require an oil change or more coolant.

Different Lights

Most vehicles have two different check engine lights. One is a lighter, orangish-yellow color while the other is a deep red-amber. The lighter color means you have some time before you need to make a service appointment, but you should still do something in the near future. If your check engine light is red, the problem is likely more significant and you need to take your vehicle to the garage right away. Failure to do so may result in additional damage to the engine.

Let the Auto Mechanics Help

The issue with a check engine light that doesn’t include a code is that there are dozens of potential issues or minor inconveniences that might come up. This is why you need a professional mechanic to help. Just like looking up physical symptoms online, trying to diagnose your own engine problem can either miss a potentially serious issue or blow a minor one out of proportion and cause you a ton of unnecessary stress.

It doesn’t matter if you drive a Porsche Boxster, a Ram 1500 or a Chevy Cruise – when it comes to excellent service and quality car care, Beckley Automotive is your one stop shop. At Beckley Automotive, we are here to help with your check engine light or any other issues! Call us at 515-243-8185 or set up an appointment online HERE for your vehicle today!

Keep Your Anti-Lock Brakes in Tip Top Shape

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anti-lock brakesWhether you’re old enough to remember the days before anti-lock brakes or if you had the privilege of driving such a hand-me-down vehicle, you understand the importance of fully functioning anti-lock brakes – especially in a crazy Iowa winter. These brakes may be the difference between your vehicle skidding off the side of the road during a heavy rain and you remaining safe and sound in the vehicle. That is why it is important to bring your vehicle into Beckley Automotive in order to keep your anti-lock brakes in top shape.

Brake Pedal Not Responding

Should your brake pedal not respond you need to bring your vehicle in right away. This may be due to an issue with the anti-lock brake system, your brake pads may be worn down or there simply is another problem all together. It is not safe to drive your vehicle with a faulty brake system, so have your vehicle brought into Beckley right away.

The ABS Light

There’s nothing worse than seeing a new warning light on your dash. It isn’t the fact that you need work done but the fact that you may not know what the problem is. If your ABS might pops on you need to bring your vehicle in. Some vehicles have the light pop on to remind you of general maintenance, while other lights come on when there is a growing issue. Some vehicles also have the light turn orange as a warning while a red light means you need to service it right away. Always consult your owner’s manual for dash lights, but also make sure to bring the vehicle in to have it checked.

Locked Brakes

The entire purpose of your anti-lock brake system is to prevent the brakes from locking up. So, if you are experiencing this very issue it is time to bring your vehicle into the shop. This means there is a problem with the anti-lock brake system that requires immediate assistance.

Whether you drive a dated Saab, a brand new Chevrolet SUV or have been holding onto that Jeep for some time, all your vehicle needs can be handled at Beckley Automotive. Resolving an issue or just a general inspection, everything can be taken care of on the spot with expert technicians and the most up-to-date equipment.

When you’re in need of expert auto care, contact Beckley Automotive at 515-243-8185, visit the shop at 901 8th Street in downtown Des Moines, or set up a service appointment online HERE.

How to Know if Your Car Needs an Oil Change

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no care is "maintenance free", needs an oil change

no care is "maintenance free", needs an oil changeOil is your engine’s life blood. Without clean oil flowing through the engine it may overheat, which can lead to all sorts of problems ranging from blown gaskets to the vehicle simply running rough. But how can you tell if your car needs an oil change? After all, you don’t want to spring for an oil change when it isn’t necessary. Here are a few signs your car, regardless of make or model, can tell you it needs an oil change.

  • Change Oil Light

    Alright, this one is a bit of a no brainer. If the “check oil” or “change oil” light comes on, it’s time to change your oil. However, this isn’t always the case. Perhaps you just had your oil changed a bit ago and the change oil light comes on. What does that mean? It may just mean the mechanic did not reset the change oil light during the last change, which can throw off the timer on some newer vehicles.

  • Oil Level and Color

    At Beckley Auto, we highly recommend checking your oil from time to time. It is easy to do and it can help avoid potential problems later on down the line. If you’ve never checked your oil before park your vehicle and kill the engine. Now, pull the dipstick out and wipe it off on a paper towel (a shop paper towel is great for this). Once clean, slide it back down all the way and pull it back out. If the oil level is near or under the minimum line it is time to get an oil change. Make sure to take notice of the oil color as well. The oil should have a golden brown tone to it. If the oil is dark black and gritty than it means it is dirty and needs an oil change.

  • Car is Louder Than Normal

    When driving, does your engine sound louder than normal? Of so, there are a few potential issues. First, if you have a special cold air intake filter, it may have slipped off. If you don’t have such a filter, it more than likely means you don’t have enough oil or it’s running hot. Time to change the oil.

At Beckley Auto, we can service both your domestic and import vehicles. From a routine oil change to transmission issues and everything in between, we’re your one -top shop for all things automotive. Schedule your appointment ONLINE or give us a call at 515.243.8185 today!

How to Reset the Change Oil Light On a Newer Dodge

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change oil light, vehicle codesYou finally did it. It might be a few thousand miles past the little sticker in your window, but you finally went in for an oil change. Or, maybe you decided to take it upon yourself to change your own oil. However you went about it, with fresh oil and a new oil filter, your engine can breathe a sigh of relief. The only problem is now you still have that red “change oil” light illuminated on the dash board. You could go the way of your grandfather and just put a piece of black tape over the light, but that isn’t a great look. Thankfully, you don’t need to go to the dealership to have the light reset. The following steps are for resetting the change oil light for a newer model Ram pickup, but it should work for any later model Chrysler, Jeep or Dodge as well.

Turn Off “Change Oil” Light

To start, insert your key and set the ignition to “On.” Do not start the engine though. This will work for both current models, which use a chip based starter, and the more traditional metal key options of slightly older models.

With the ignition on, push down completely on the accelerator pedal. Do this slowly three times in a row within 10 seconds. When the pedal has come up following the third time, turn the ignition back to “Off.”

Now, turn the ignition and start the engine. Wait for all of the information to load up and for the dash to blink through its different computer and error indicators. The oil change light should now switch off. If it doesn’t, that could mean you did not have the ignition in the “On” position (if the RPMs shoot up while pushing down on the accelerator than you have gone past the “On” position). It may also mean you didn’t allow the accelerator pedal to fully depress and raise back up. Repeat the process until the light blinks off.

View Vehicle Codes

While you’re resetting the change oil light, wouldn’t it be nice to see if there are any other issues with the vehicle without taking it into the shop? Your car has a computer system that logs error codes whenever there is a problem. This can be anything from needing more coolant to problems with the transmission. You could purchase a computer program and a special connector to plug into the vehicle, but this is costly and unnecessary. Instead, you can simply check the vehicle error codes using a method similar to resetting the change oil light.

  1. First, make sure you have a pad of paper and something to write with. The codes can flick through quickly, so if you have multiple codes it can be tough to remember.
  2. Now, insert the key into the ignition. Flip it to the “On” position, then back off quickly. Do this three times in a row, leaving it in the “On” position on the third time.
  3. In the middle of the dash, underneath the display information, messages and other context will flash through. If you have any error codes, the codes will appear here. The codes typically start with one or two letters, followed by a series of four or so numbers (for example, “PH2087“).
  4. Write these codes down as each appears. If there are no error codes it will tell you there are no error codes.
  5. Now, with the error codes written down, you can easily look up the codes on Google.

Often times,  you can self-correct many of the problems, such as fluid levels or tire pressure.  If you’re unsure about what the codes mean or how to fix them, contact Beckley Automotive. Our expert service department will help you determine what is urgent and what can wait, and then will make repairs using the most up-to-date technology and techniques.

Schedule your appointment online HERE today, call our service department at 515-243-8185, or visit our convenient downtown location at 901 8th Street, Des Moines.

Beckley’s Offers the Best Authorized BMW Service

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authorized bmw serviceBeckley Automotive has had a stellar run providing the best care for BMW vehicles for over thirty years. This unique working relationship has given us a distinct insight into the inner workings of BMW engines that few companies can boast of today. There isn’t a single problem or malfunction in your BMW that will be alien to us. Our team of dedicated and experienced experts will quickly identify and correct any problems, meaning you will be well on your way in no time. As authorized Bosch specialists, you can feel assured that our authorized BMW service is of the highest quality.

  • High-quality maintenance

    Being the best automotive service provider in Des Moines, Iowa, we pride ourselves in going out of our way to not only correct any faults in your vehicle but to also prevent them. Part of our authorized BMW service care package involves using advanced technology to communicate with your vehicle’s computers to determine how to make it perform even better. As authorized BMW service experts, we can service your vehicle without jeopardizing the validity of your warranty.

  • Why Beckley’s is the best choice for you

    What sets us apart from our competitors is our attention to detail and our determination to offer our clients the very best service and products. An example of this can be seen in the substandard oil changes many automotive companies offer to their clients. With only profits in mind, many shops will use the cheapest oil rather than making sure your car gets the oil recommended by the manufacturer to extend the life of your engine. At Beckley Automotive, your BMW will receive the undivided attention of a master technician who will use quality oils that are suited to your car. These are the perks that come with having an authorized BMW service provider within reach. There isn’t another place in the Waukee, Johnston, Ankeny or Clive areas where you can find this level of automotive care.

  • Our inspection services

    The weather in Des Moines can fluctuate tremendously at different times during the year. This can range from extreme cold to snow accumulation and on to occasional flooding. Given your car will often be subjected to such conditions, it is important that you schedule regular inspections. Since there are few authorized BMW service providers in the area with the expertise we have, coming to Beckley’s will be well worth your time. We will focus our attention on assessing the spark plugs, air filters, brake and transmission fluid, and coolant. While checking all these components at the same time might seem unnecessary, it can save you plenty of hassle in the future.

  • Updating your computer software

    The software found in BMW vehicles, as with all high-quality cars, performs a variety of important functions in the car. This might include simple tasks like operating the radio and climate control to more important tasks like engine performance and braking. Our authorized BMW service package also includes software updates to keep your auto performance as efficient and comfortable as possible. We also provide consultation on the best updates available to meet your specific needs.

Most BMW car owners who get their cars regularly serviced by an authorized BMW service provider like Beckley’s have been found to be happiest with their performance on the road. Now is the perfect time to schedule your appointment online HERE, visit our shop at 901 8th Street in Downtown Des Moines, or give our service center a call at 515-243-8185.

New Year’s Resolutions to Keep Your Car in Top Shape

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new year's resolutions, new years resolutions, car care des moinesEvery January, Americans fall into the trap of setting – and setting aside – New Year’s Resolutions. How many barely used pairs of running shoes are taking up space in your closet? Could you open your own exercise facility with all the equipment gathering dust somewhere in your basement? We always start with the best of intentions and then old habits and real life get in the way and everything keeps rolling on the same as last year and the year before.

Resolutions You Can Keep: Maintain Your Car’s Top Fitness

Following are just a few things you can do to get your vehicle into its best shape since it rolled off the assembly line – and to keep it in fighting shape for years to come!

  1. Keep the interior clean: When many of us live in our cars, grabbing a quick bite to eat on the go between home and work, on the way to a meeting, between kids’ activities, it doesn’t take long to accumulate a bit of trash. Stop it before it gets out of control! At least quarterly, take your car somewhere that will clean out your interior for you. Vacuum the seats and floors, clean the inside of your windows and wipe down the dash. Then be strict with riders and yourself to grab any trash EVERY time you get out of the car. Your car will love you for it.
  2. Run through a car wash: Accumulated dirt and dust make your car look terrible, and the grime of winter roads treated with salt and sand can do a number on your finish. Don’t wait until someone scrawls “WASH ME” in the dirt on your auto; set a schedule to do a quick car wash drive-through at least every two weeks. Harsh winter weather in Iowa may dictate more frequent visits, but two weeks should be good on a regular basis. And don’t be stingy – splurge for the wax! It will make your finish look shiny and new as well as protect it from regular driving damage.
  3. Schedule quarterly checkups: A little maintenance can go a LONG way. Most vehicles need an oil change and a new filter every 3 months (more often if you’re particularly hard on your car). And just like staying hydrated might be a personal health resolution, these checkups are the perfect opportunity to have your car’s fluid levels topped off, too. If you are checking transmission, steering and brake fluids on a regular basis, a crack or leak is much easier to detect. Your service center can nip it in the bud well before it becomes a costly repair. And don’t forget to replace wiper blades and have your chassis lubrication looked at during every other service visit.
  4. Check tire pressure: Learn what your optimal tire pressure is for your vehicle and specific tires and then maintain it. Every driver should carry a tire gauge in their glove box and should check their tire pressure every other time they fill up the gas tank. Driving on properly inflated tires not only extends the life of the tires, but improves safety and gas mileage. There should be a sticker on the inside edge of your driver’s door that tells you what psi the tires on your car should be at for the best performance.

Keeping New Year’s Resolutions doesn’t have to be difficult. You are in your car nearly every day, so remembering to follow the above steps should be second nature in no time! When you take care of your car, it will give you years of life and a sense of reliability and security to make 2017 a great year on the road!

Let Beckley Automotive help keep your New Year’s Resolutions on track! Schedule an appointment online HERE, visit our convenient downtown Des Moines location at 901 8th Street, or call our outstanding service department at 515.243.8185.

Our 30-Point Oil Change Service is Far From Routine

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oil change service, beckley automotiveAn oil change service may seem like minor maintenance, but if the service isn’t up to par, you could be risking more serious engine issues down the road. You can get oil service pretty much anywhere – the chain repair shops, tire companies, car dealerships – but how do you know who you can really trust to do the best job?

When you bring your European or Domestic car to Beckley Automotive, you know the expert technicians are knowledgeable, trained and experienced. Through continuing education and certification from AAA, Bosch and ASE, our technicians are well-equipped to provide the best repair service as well as to advise you on the right oil to use for your particular car.

With the Beckley Oil Change Service, you won’t just get new oil in your car. Our 30-Point Inspection ensures that your minor routine maintenance will catch potential engine issues before they become larger problems. While inspecting seven different systems in your vehicle, each point gets a score on our report card, indicating whether the item in question is in good condition, could stand to be repaired or replaced, or needs attention immediately.

Some of the items covered in our 30-Point Inspection include:

  • Road Test: to gauge engine and transmission performance, braking and steering condition, and ride quality
  • Under Hood: checking belts, hoses, filters and fluid levels
  • Under Car: to look at exhaust system, shocks and struts, suspension and to look for any leaks
  • Tires & Wheels: adjust to proper air pressure and thoroughly examine tread
  • Chassis: examine windshield wipers and blades, headlights and exterior lights
  • Routine Service Needs: advise on any other routine maintenance recommended by the manufacturer

If you still aren’t convinced that Beckley Automotive is the best shop for all your oil change and maintenance needs, let us sweeten the deal a little farther:

Never been to Beckley Automotive? Mention this web offer and get $25 off your first visit! Or, if you’re already a regular Beckley customer, bring in a vehicle we haven’t seen before and you can also get $25 off your purchase!

Now is a great time to schedule your Beckley’s oil change appointment online HERE. You can also call our service department at 515-243-8185 or simply stop at our convenient downtown Des Moines location at 901 8th Street today!

Know Your Car’s Electrical System Warning Signs

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electrical system, car starter, car battery, car alternatorYour vehicle’s electrical system is an involved arrangement made up of three main components: the alternator, the starter and the battery. When you start having trouble with your car’s electrical system, it’s apparent – but how do you know which part needs the attention? We’ll outline the most common warning signs for each part to help you pinpoint the issue to be addressed.

Your battery provides the juice to the entire electrical system. When your battery is giving out, it affects the rest of the system. Watch for:

  • Sluggish engine cranking when you try to start the car; the battery alone starts the car, so if you have trouble at the get-go you know what’s causing it.
  • Excessive corrosion around the positive/negative cable connection posts; this indicates a battery leak and the “gunk” needs to be removed or the connectors won’t get the power
  • Swollen battery case; this means the battery has been exposed to excessive heat and/or cold and has been damaged
  • Smell of rotten eggs under your hood; a shorted battery causes a chemical reaction, releasing sulfuric acid that can damage other engine components

If your starter malfunctions, the pistons don’t rotate and won’t pull in air/gas mixture needed to fuel the engine. Watch for:

  • Grinding noise; if the drive gear isn’t engaging or is worn, you’ll hear a sound like when you start your car and then try to start it again. Ignoring this noise can cause irreparable damage tot he engine flywheel.
  • Freewheeling; if you only hear a whining noise and the engine isn’t cranking, the starter gear isn’t engaging with the flywheel and this is called freewheeling.
  • Single loud “click”; you may have a bad starting motor, bad solenoid, or even a bigger mechanical problem in the engine.

The alternator is exceptionally important as it recharges your battery and turns energy from the crankshaft into useable electricity. Watch for:

  • Flickering or dim headlights; this means the alternator is struggling to get the necessary power to the headlights.
  • Car stalls; since the alternator powers the spark plugs that keep the engine alive, if your car stalls for no reason while running you should have the alternator looked at.
  • Other electrical failures; if your power windows and locks, air conditioning or dashboard lights aren’t working correctly or working at all, the alternator could be the culprit because it supplies all of these electrical parts with power.

Your car has literally dozens of electrical components that send power throughout your auto to keep everything going. When one part fails, it causes a chain reaction and ultimately keeps your car from running. Come see the expert technicians at Beckley Automotive who have the training, the tools and the experience to diagnose and correct any and all problems you might be having with your electrical system.

Don’t wait until your car leaves you stranded! Schedule your appointment online today, call our service department at 515-243-8185 or stop by our shop in downtown Des Moines at 901 8th Street.

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!