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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!

What is an ASE Certified Technician?

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ASE certified techniciansHave you noticed Beckley Automotive’s “ASE Certified” signs or stickers displayed in the shop or on the website? You’ve probably wondered what that’s all about and what it means for you and your vehicle.

ASE – the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence –  offers consumers a way to find a reliable, knowledgeable auto technician. It’s hard to feel confident trusting your car to a new mechanic. How do you know he’ll be able to diagnose your car correctly AND have the ability to fix the problem once it’s found? ASE takes the guesswork out of the equation by vetting vehicle technicians all over the United States so you don’t have to.

How does it work?

  • Every year, roughly 100,000 technicians take the difficult national ASE tests. To become ASE Certified, each technician must have two years’ of work experience as well as a passing score on at least one ASE exam. A technician can attain Master Technician status by completing a tough series of further specialized exams on top of meeting the experience requirement.
  • ASE tests are developed by industry experts and then administered by ACT, the college entrance exam group, so you know the tests are comprehensive and challenging.
  • There are eight tests available for auto technicians that cover all car systems: Manual Drive Train and Axles, Suspension and Steering, Automatic Transmissions, Heating and Air Conditioning, Engine Performance, Brakes, Engine Repair and Electrical/Electronic Systems. ASE also offers comprehensive exams for parts specialists, collision repair technicians, engine machinists and more.
  • ASE credentials do expire, and technicians have to pass exams for re-certification every five years to ensure they are up-to-date on the newest technology.

Your car is an essential component of your everyday life. You rely on it to get you to and from work, to play, to transport your children to practices and school and family functions. Is that something you want to take a chance on? Doctors have to pass rigorous tests to be able to practice medicine, letting you know that they can be trusted to have the knowledge and skills to take care of you and your family. Why would you take any less precaution when entrusting your vehicle’s care to a technician? You can rest easy knowing your car will be in the hands of Beckley’s certified, knowledgeable and skilled technicians.

Beckley Automotive is proud to participate in the ASE Certification Program and to provide peace of mind to our customers. Schedule your auto maintenance or repair appointment ONLINE today!

 

 

Keep Your Car Cool in Iowa’s Extreme Heat

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overheated car, summer heat, extreme heat wave, Beckley AutomotiveThe recent heat wave here in Des Moines basically has us melting and remembering with fondness winter snow storms. While we rely on the air conditioning in our homes, offices and cars to save the day, we don’t usually think about other critical auto maintenance necessary in Iowa summer’s extreme heat.

  1. Stay on top of tire pressure. Weather plays a big role in your tire pressure: cold weather can cause your tires to be under-inflated while hot weather can cause them to be OVER inflated. When your tire pressure is off, it can lower your gas mileage and cause extra and uneven wear on the tread. Make sure you check your tire pressure during extreme heat and keep tires inflated to the number printed on the vehicle door placard or in the owner’s manual, not the number on the tire.
  2. Maintain your cooling system. Does it take forever for your auto air conditioner to actually get cold? If you haven’t flushed your cooling system in the last 5 years, that could be why. Engines these days have a lot of aluminum parts and require great corrosion protection to last longer. It’s also a good idea to park out of the sun whenever possible so your air conditioner doesn’t have to work so hard.
  3. Top off all fluids. Motor oil does so much more than keeping the moving parts moving – it also absorbs heat from all the friction. You’re aware that you need to keep coolant at the right levels, but there is a lot of evaporation going on under the hood that a lot of people forget about. You’ll burn through transmission fluid faster and battery fluids don’t always last through extended high temperatures, like we’ve seen recently.
  4. Plan for an emergency. Nobody wants to think they could get stranded out in the middle of nowhere during the summer, but planning ahead could save a life. Put together an emergency package with things like bottled water, a flashlight, a car charger for your cell phone, a first-aid kit, road flares, granola bars, instant cold packs that activate when needed, and anything else you think you might need in an emergency. It’s always better to have something and not need it than to need something and not have it.

This extreme heat will pass, but make sure you can get your car through it without any major breakdowns or problems. If you think ahead and stay prepared, you can save yourself a lot of trouble and a lot of money.

Need to make sure your car is ready for the current extreme heat and brutal summer months ahead? No matter the make or model, you can contact Beckley Imports today to schedule an appointment online, give us a call at 515-243-8185, or visit us downtown at 901 8th Street!

Beckley’s Breathes New Life Into the Car You Love

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car you love, beckley's automotive serviceYou and your favorite car have likely been through a lot. Perhaps it was the first car you bought on your own, or your very first luxury vehicle, or maybe it just GETS you. But the years have piled up. Does it start rough? Are the brakes squealing or shuddering when you stop? Maybe it’s eating oil a lot faster these days. Now you’re worried that you’ll have to trade in the car you love for an expensive, newer model that you’ll have to get to know all over again.

Beckley’s Automotive can make a car you love last longer!

It doesn’t matter what you’re driving, Beckley’s provides expert service for all makes and models, whether domestic or import. Do you love European cars? Our technicians stay up-to-date with the most recent technology and are award winning Authorized Bosch Service specialists for Audi, BMW, Mini, Mercedes, Porsche, and Volkswagen. Beckley Automotive is also an Authorized Saab repair center and an AAA Approved Auto Repair center for ANY cars you may have.

We believe in the quality of our parts and workmanship and we back our repairs with a 24 month/24,000 mile guarantee. If there is ever a question or an issue, you can simply contact us and we’ll make it right because we stand by our work 100%. Serving central Iowa since 1979,  Beckley’s has been a Best of Des Moines award winner and an A+ rated BBB Accredited Business. Our technicians are ASE Master Certified and are trained and equipped with the latest computer diagnostics tools to resolve any issues you’re having with your vehicle.

The next time your car needs attention, whether it’s an oil change, factory maintenance, or a major repair, call Beckley Automotive and rest assured that your auto will receive the best service from the most experienced and knowledgable technicians in Des Moines!

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If you dread the thought of replacing a car you love, Beckley Automotive has service solutions and repair options you won’t find at other shops. Contact Beckley Imports today to schedule an appointment online!

 

Automotive Innovations to Expect in the Near Future

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Innovations, Image Courtesy Acura

Image Courtesy Acura

The automotive world changes every year with new models, new technology, and new safety features to please the most dedicated car enthusiast. Innovations for luxury vehicle safety, military vehicles, high-performance hybrids, and “green” manufacturing topped the list for 2015, according to Popular Science Magazine. Here are some highlights of what’s new:

  • In May 2015, the first ever “supercar” was created using 3D-printed parts and cutting factory emissions by up to 90 percent. The Blade, a high-performance automobile that uses carbon-fiber shafts and 3D-printed joints for the chassis, weighs only 1,400 pounds and accelerates from 0-60 in only 2.5 seconds. Created by Divergent Microfactories as a sustainable manufacturing platform, this car is fast, strong and was assembled in around 30 minutes, greatly reducing resources used such as space, energy, materials and time.
  • Oshkosh Defence has created a light combat tactical all-terrain vehicle to withstand bomb blasts and to protect the soldiers inside. It uses similar ballistic protection to a light tank and is expected to replace the Humvee over the next few years with its off-road agility and bomb-resistant shaping.
  • Hybrids are gaining popularity for being eco-friendly, but haven’t taken over the industry due to lack of handling and responsiveness. The Acura NSX for 2017 may change that. While the price is still pretty astronomical, starting around $155,000, the NSX promises to be the first high-performance sports coupe hybrid. It combines an electric motor that offers zero-delay acceleration with a twin-turbo V-6 engine, a motor at each front wheel, and precision power through torque vectoring.
  • Volvo has long been thought of one of the safest cars on the road, and certainly raises the bar with the Volvo XC90. At a much-more affordable starting price of $43,950, the safety features developed for this vehicle may change auto technology for the future. The XC90 offers USB and auxiliary connectors, a built-in hotspot for constant connectivity, and Sensus navigation to get you to your destination with as few distractions as possible. But the safety features are what really set the XC90 apart; using cameras, radar and body sensors, this car will alert a distracted driver to impending crashes or drifting off the road, will engage the brakes if you turn into the path of an oncoming car in an intersection, and crumples the seat frames downward and tightens seatbelts if your car does leave the road.

The future of the automobile industry is already here and could be taking over the roads of Des Moines in the next few years. You can trust Beckley’s expert technicians to stay in front of the technology and to always be ready to take care of your import or domestic vehicle care and repair needs.

Until one of the above beauties is actually in your garage, Beckley’s is ready to help you maintain your current vehicle, whether foreign or domestic, innovative or old school. Click here to schedule an appointment, call us at 515-243-8185, or stop by at 901-8th Street in Des Moines.

Poor Wheel Alignment Can Displace Your Bottom Line

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Iowa winters can be pretty harsh. But the salt, sand, ice and melting snow can be even worse on the roads. In Des Moines, the roads this year are showing exceptional wear and tear with ruts and potholes big enough to swallow your Land Rover! The crews are out fixing them, but for many of us, the damage has already been done to the wheel alignment on our vehicles.

wheel alignment, winter drivingThe wheel alignment of your car may be compromised from driving on rough roads, hitting a curb or two, or getting into a minor finder bender. It may not seem like a big deal, but it is. Misalignment can cause some troublesome and expensive issues:

  • Less than ideal handling
  • Vibrating steering wheel
  • Lower fuel efficiency
  • Excess or uneven wear on tires
  • Possible damage to your suspension and other components

It used to be that 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. At Beckley Automotive Services, we stay up to date with the latest alignment equipment and software to ensure perfect results for each and every car we service. We use a computerized wheel alignment machine that produces precise measurements for the camber, toe and caster. Our experienced specialists are trained on specific makes of cars, foreign and domestic, so you know you’ll get the best service available for your vehicle.

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

Low on Oil? Aging Piston Rings May Be the Problem

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white exhaust smoke, aging piston rings, beckley automotive, beckley importsMost car manufacturers recommend changing the oil in your car every 3,000 miles. It’s a good practice to maintain your engine and keep clean oil running through all its moving parts.

But if you’re ultra-busy, changing the oil on your own or taking your car to a shop for an oil change doesn’t always happen. Sound familiar? We’ve seen cars that haven’t had an oil change in 5,000 and even 10,000 miles.

Check the Oil

You might be able to make it that long without an oil change, but it can have disastrous and expensive consequences. A simple solution: check your oil periodically. To get the most accurate reading, wait until your engine is cooled, like in the morning before you start the car. Pop open the hood, find the dipstick and pull it out. Using a paper towel, wipe the dipstick clean and then push it all the way back in. No when you pull it back out, you can get a true view of your oil level. If the dipstick has semi-clear oil up to the “full” mark, you’re in good shape.

Too Low, Too Often?

What if it’s low? For a short-term solution, add a quart of oil recommended for your car’s engine and check the level on the dip stick again. That’s better than driving around with a low oil level. However, if your car seems to be burning a lot of oil, faulty piston rings may be to blame. Other telltale signs of faulty piston rings include:

  • White or gray smoke coming from the exhaust
  • Slow response time for accelerating when you press the gas pedal
  • Noticeable decrease in power and overall performance

Compression Test Best Way to Check Piston Rings for Oil Leak

If your car seems to be perpetually low on oil, the pistons may be leaking oil. It happens, especially as you rack up the miles on your car. Moveable parts just don’t last forever. If your car exhibits any of the signs above, a compression test is the standard used to check for piston ring leaks. If the test reveals low pressure levels in the engine, aging piston rings are likely the cause.

Need an oil change for your car? Wondering if your car is burning an excessive amount of oil? We can help. Click here to schedule an appointment, call us at 515-243-8185, or stop by at 901- 8th Street in Des Moines.

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.

Spring Break Road Trip? Give Your Car a Check-Up Before You Go

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spring break, road trip, car inspection, beckley automotive, beckley importsWhat are your plans for spring break?

It’s that time of year when a lot of people take a road trip. Some will catch a plane and head to super-sunny places like Hawaii, Cancun, or the Bahamas. But for a lot of people with kids home from school, a week off work, or a spring-fever feeling for some much needed R&R, getting behind the wheel and driving to a spring break destination is the way to go.

Preventing Car Trouble Can Save Your Vacation

Sounds simple enough, right? Pick your destination. Pack up the car. And hit the road. But what happens when you’re in the middle of nowhere and your car has a problem. You can’t anticipate every car problem you might experience on a road trip. But you can take steps to prevent car trouble from spoiling your spring break.

Inspection Time – Before You Go…

Take a few minutes to inspect your car before you go. Check the following:

  • Tires – Check the tire pressure. Make sure it’s inflated to the manufacturer’s recommended PSI. Low tire pressure can reduce gas mileage and cause the tires to wear faster. Inspect the tread, too. Bald spots or bulges raise your risk for a flat or a blowout. And if you don’t have a decent amount of tread left, traction, regardless of the weather, will be compromised.
  • Belts and Hoses – Pop the hood and inspect the belts and hoses like the ones attached to the engine and radiator. These are usually made of rubber and can become loose or cracked over time. Taking care of any aging belts or hoses before your trip can save you a lot of headaches down the road.
  • Fluids and Filters – It’s also a good idea to check fluid levels for key operating systems (i.e. oil, brake fluid, power steering fluid, windshield wiper fluid, and antifreeze). A clean air filter will also help improve gas mileage for your road trip.
  • Lights and Wipers – Have someone step on the brakes, turn on the lights, and use the turn signals, while you walk around the car. It only takes a few minutes, but can alert you to any lights that need to be replaced before your road trip. Check the lights inside your car, too. And if it’s been a while since you replaced your wiper blades, before your trip would be a good time to replace them, especially if you know you’ll be traveling in rainy or snowing conditions.
  • Battery and Brakes – To give your battery a basic inspection, make sure it’s got a good connection, and the battery terminals are free of acid or corrosion. And if your brakes are squeaking or you feel a lot of vibrations when you slow down, it may be time for new pads and/or rotors. Or bring your car in for a battery and brake inspection.

When you make plans to take a road trip for spring break, you want to enjoy the experience. Making sure your car gets you there and back without any problems will help, regardless of your destination.

Ready for a pre-road-trip inspection? Click here to schedule an appointment, call us at 515-243-8185, or stop by at 901-8th Street in Des Moines.

Cold-Weather Tips to Improve Gas Mileage

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If you’re planning a road trip during the holidays, travel for work, or still have a lot of present shopping to do, you’re probably going to put a fair amount of miles on your car.

All the usual routine maintenance is important. But a more immediate cost you’re probably keenly aware of is the price of gas.

cold weather gas mileage, winter gas mileage, tips for winter fuel economyRight now gas prices are better than they have been for a while. In Des Moines, gas prices for regular unleaded range from $2.19 a gallon to $2.59 a gallon. But even with lower gas prices making things a little easier on your budget, it still makes sense to get the best fuel economy possible. Cold weather can interfere with fuel economy. But it doesn’t have to. Follow these five tips to improve gas mileage during the winter months.

  1. Park Inside. Whenever possible park your car in a place that’s out of the elements. A warm garage is best. Start your car when it’s already a little warm, and fuel economy will be better than trying to warm up a cold engine.
  1. Evaluate Your Travel Plans. Before you hop in the car and drive to work, the store, drop kids off at school, or go do something else, take a little time to evaluate your plans for the day. Look for ways you can combine trips. You’ll drive less, and you won’t be starting up a cold engine over and over.
  1. Don’t Idle Your Engine. If you’re serious about getting better gas mileage during the winter, don’t idle your engine. A lot of people do this to warm up their vehicle, but it’s wastes fuel, costing you more at the pump. If you really feel the need to warm up your engine, give it 30 to 60 seconds, and then be on your way.
  1. Check Tire Pressure. If you drive a newer car, it may be equipped with a Tire Pressure Monitoring Sensor. If you get a warning about low tire pressure, add some air. Driving around with low tire pressure, can wear out your tires faster, can be dangerous in bad weather, and reduces fuel economy. If you don’t have a TPMS system in your car, get out a tire gauge to check tire pressure, or bring it in for an inspection.
  1. Limit the Use of the Defroster and Heated Seats. Driving with a clear windshield is important. But you probably don’t need to run your defroster non-stop. And heated seats are really just a luxury some cars have. Both of these features take a toll on fuel economy, so only used them as necessary.

Get better gas mileage during the winter months by following these tips. Routine maintenance can make a big difference in fuel economy, too. And we can help. Click here to schedule a service appointment, contact us at 515-243-8185, or stop by at 901-8th Street in Des Moines.