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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. 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.

Muffler Repairs & Preventing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

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Earlier this year one Iowa teen died and a second was hospitalized after an exhaust leak filled their car with poisonous carbon monoxide gas, according to KCCI-8 News. Investigators believe the teens were hanging out with the car running at the close of a Saturday night date and were unaware that the vehicle’s exhaust pipe was broken.

muffler repair downtown des moines iowaCarbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas your car engine releases when running. But it normally travels through the muffler and out the exhaust into open air where it doesn’t pose a serious health risk. In the recent Iowa case, the exhaust pipe was broken directly under the passenger side of the car and toxic fumes filled the interior of the vehicle in a short amount of time.

Accidental carbon monoxide poisoning from a faulty muffler or exhaust system is largely preventable. If you notice changes in the sound of your muffler, a different smell coming from your exhaust, or can visibly see holes in the muffler or exhaust, take action.

Here’s what you can do:

Listen up. You drive your car every day. You should be the first to notice a change in the sound your engine makes as you cruise down the road. If it sounds rougher or louder than normal, your muffler or exhaust system may have a problem, and you should schedule an inspection.

Use your sniffer: You’ve probably been walking or driving down the road when a car passes you spewing nasty-smelling exhaust fumes. No one likes that smell. If you start to notice a similar smell in the cab of your car, don’t ignore this. It’s often a sign of holes or perforations in the muffler or exhaust system allowing carbon monoxide into the cab of the car instead of exiting the tailpipe. If your car starts smelling like exhaust fumes, get it checked out.

Take a look: If you think your muffler or exhaust system might have a problem, take a look. Be sure the muffler is cold before you try this. Look under the car at the muffler and exhaust pipe. You might see obvious holes, rust spots, or splits that could be the source of the problem. Even a problem as small as a pinhole could leak carbon monoxide into your car, and getting it repaired is important.

Muffler and Exhaust Repairs

If your car does have a muffler or exhaust issue, pinhole-sized problems can often be welded closed. For bigger problems, the muffler and all or part of the exhaust system may need to be replaced, which may include the resonator, catalytic converter, and the pipes that carry exhaust to the tailpipe exit.

Need your muffler and exhaust system inspected? We can help. Give us a call at 515-423-8185 or click here to schedule an appointment.