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Delaying Auto Repairs Can Cost You Big

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When your car stops running it’s easy to know that something major is wrong and you have no choice but to head to your mechanic immediately.

don't delay auto repairs, beckley automotive beckley importsBut what happens when there’s a minor noise, a slight firing delay, an occasional stutter? You can still drive the car so it must not be catastrophic, right? The demands of real life – work, family, friends, fun – certainly enable us to put off that visit to the auto shop as long as the car still gets us from point A to point B every day. Plus, who wants to spend the money if they don’t absolutely have to?

Putting off auto repairs is never a good idea. Let us explain:

  1. Your antifreeze is leaking, but it’s only a little bit. You can just add more every week, right? Unfortunately, that can only exacerbate the problem and you will still probably overheat your engine, causing a chain reaction to the tune of thousands of dollars. Ignoring a “little” problem can spread like a virus throughout your engine. Each system is connected to and relies on another, so if one isn’t working properly, it can cause the next system to fail, as well. Then you’re staring down the barrel of a multi-problem fix instead of just the original “little” one.
  2. That knocking in your engine has been there off and on for a couple weeks without any issues, so you’re cruising down the interstate on your way to the tournament or a hot date. Suddenly, the knock becomes more insistent, louder, the wheel begins to shake, smoke pours out from under the hood and with a last sputtering gasp, the engine quits completely while you limp to the side of the road. Now what? You’re late to your appointment plus you’re out the cost of a tow truck and a taxi (or a favor to a friend) as well as the parts and repairs. You have to sit on the side of the road alone, or with your family stuck in a dead car with nothing to keep them entertained, while other cars and semis zoom past at terrifying speeds within inches of you and what you hold most dear.
  3. A regularly scheduled oil change and routine inspection may feel inconvenient and, for many, falls under the category of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” But those inspections are imperative to keeping your car running and keeping you and your family safe. It’s more than just an oil change and a cursory glance under the hood. Routine inspections are where minor leaks, dirty filters, frayed wires and loose screws are found. If these things are skipped you are looking at the possibility of whole lot more than just inconvenience!

Are you sure you want to gamble with the life of your car’s engine and the safety and peace of mind of your family and passengers? No one wants to be stranded on the side of the road in the middle of the night, or worse, during rush hour!

Don’t wait until your engine figuratively – or literally! – falls out, dead, in the middle of the road. Bring your foreign or domestic auto into Beckley’s for minor repairs, a check-up and oil change! Click here to schedule an appointment, call us at 515-243-8185, or stop by at 901-8th Street in Des Moines.

 

Tailpipe Exhaust Color, Is It Bad?

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One of the telltale signs that a car has a problem is colored exhaust or smoke coming from the tailpipe. If there is smoke coming from the tailpipe, its color can often provide clues to help identify the problem.

exhaust smoke color repair des moines iowaOf course, we use high-tech diagnostic tools to troubleshoot all of your car problems, but any information you can provide (like the color of exhaust coming from the tailpipe) can help us identify the problem and get you back on the road faster. Here’s what some exhaust colors can indicate:

White: Your engine may put out white smoke if the fuel mixture has been compromised by water or antifreeze. It’s often caused by a faulty or failed rubber gasket designed to maintain a tight seal to keep antifreeze out. Sometimes a leak can develop if your car overheats and damages a head gasket.

Blue: All it takes to spew blue smoke from your exhaust is a tiny drop of oil leaking on to the engine’s cylinder. Only a mixture of gasoline and oxygen are meant to power your engine. If a gasket or seal has failed, there’s a chance that a small amount of oil may reach the engine’s cylinder and could potentially damage spark plugs. In addition to making any necessary repairs to prevent this, some older cars may also benefit from using thicker engine oil or an additive that can minimize the potential for an oil leak.

Black smoke: If too much fuel gets into the engine’s cylinder and you try to start your car, you may see black smoke coming from your exhaust. In many cases, a poorly-working carburetor is to blame. Black smoke may also be linked to a failing fuel pump, a fuel injector that needs to be cleaned or replaced, or a computer-related problem connected to your engine.

If you see odd colored smoke coming from your tailpipe, getting it checked out before other problems develop is the best idea.

Concerned about smoke coming from your car’s tailpipe? We can help. Give us a call at 515-423-8185 or click here schedule an appointment.

Knock, Knock… Is It Your Engine Knocking?

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If everyone could afford to drive a new car, most probably would. Hearing a brand new, perfectly-tuned engine is almost a magical sound (even if you’re not a mechanic). But the reality is that you’re not going to be able to replace your car as often as you wish. That means your car is bound to tally up some miles, experience some wear and tear, and need regular maintenance.

engine knock service des moines iowaSo what happens when you start up your car and hear a knocking sound coming from under the hood? Do you ignore it and keep on driving, hoping it will go away? Do you pop the hood and try to identify where the knocking is coming from? Or do you take your car to the shop right away?

While we prefer the latter, some times the simplicity of changing the way you drive and maintain your car can help.

3 Ways to Fix Engine Knocking

Engine knocking is nothing to ignore. It’s typically caused by a bad mix of fuel and air needed to power the engine. When the gasoline in your engine burns unevenly, it creates a kind of “POP” shock-wave that makes the knocking sound. Run your car for very long with this kind of problem, and it can cause serious engine damage.

The good news is that, in some cases, there’s a simple fix to the problem. Here’s the three things we recommend when you hear your engine making knocking sounds.

  1. Fill up with premium unleaded. The typical low-grade and least expensive gasoline at the pump may be the problem. If you normally use this type of gas, fill up with premium unleaded next time. Higher-octane fuel can often help correct a knocking engine.
  1. Add fuel detergent. Pour in detergent in your dishwasher or washing machine, and it helps clean the dishes and clothes. Fuel detergent works the same way. Most gasolines include some fuel detergent, but if your engine is knocking, you may need something a little stronger. Kind of like using the stain-buster detergent when you want to get some grass or grease stains out of clothes. Adding the right fuel detergent can help remove carbon build-up that could be part of the knocking problem.
  1. Replace spark plugs. If your car has ever been serviced, it’s possible the original spark plugs were replaced with the wrong ones. They may still fire, but not the way they should. Making sure the right spark plugs are installed for your car can often help silence the knocking.

These are a few basic do-it-yourself strategies to consider if you hear knocking sounds coming from your engine. Troubleshoot it yourself or bring it in for an inspection. Fixing the source of a knocking engine sound sooner than later can save you time and money.

Beckley Imports works on all make and models of cars. From BMW to Ford and everything in-between. If a knock or other strange sounds are starting to concern you, call our team of professional technicians at 515-243-8185 or click here to schedule your car for service.  After over 30 years in the industry, we’re darn certain we’ll be able to clear it up and get you back on the road quickly.

Studded or Studless: Choosing Winter Tires for Your Vehicle

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When you wake up in the morning, temperatures are already dipping into the 30s around in the Des Moines area. And it won’t be long before those temperatures drop even lower and turn passing weather systems into snow and ice storms.

When winter weather does arrive, the best place to be is indoors where it’s warm and safe. But if you’ve got to be on the road, studded or studless tires for your car will help you handle driving conditions that may include, snow, ice, slush, and excess water. But is there a difference between studded tires and studless tires?

winter driving tires des moines iowaStudded Tires
They’re legal to drive with on Iowa roads from November 1 through April 1. But they’re illegal in some states, and states that do allow studded tires have set their own dates for when they can be used on the roads.

Studded tires have tiny metal studs in the tread of the tire that help grip the road and provide traction, even when it’s icy or you’re driving on snow-packed roads. Instead of struggling to chain-up on a wintery day, studded tires make it easier to get in your car and drive in winter weather.

However, the studs are strong enough to damage pavement when the roads are clear, and that’s a major reason some states have banned studded tires. Studded tires are allowed in Iowa. But surrounding states including Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Illinois have all banned the use of studded tires. If you’re from Iowa and just passing through, you can still drive your car with studded tires in these states during the winter season. Iowa’s other border states, Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas, and South Dakota allow studded tires for winter driving.

While studded tires are highly effective for winter driving, they’re also criticized for being too noise when used on dry roads.

Studless Tires
In Iowa where studded tires are legal, some people still opt for studless tires because they’re more environmentally friendly and aren’t as noisy. But in terms of performance, studless tires may perform as well as studded tires based on rubber compounds and engineering practices used to design them.

Studless tires are made with a type of rubber that doesn’t become brittle or hard when temperatures reach the freezing point or colder. This helps the tire remain flexible and improves traction on snow, ice, and wet roadways. Most studless tires also have deeper tread, compared to typical all-season tires, which helps improve traction.

Because studded tires are legal in Iowa, you’ve got the option of going with studded or studless tires on your car. Both will help your car handle better during winter driving conditions. But it’s better to get snow tires on your car early in the season, before the first big winter storm arrives.

Check Your Brake Fluid Level

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check brake fluid des moines iowa

check brake fluid des moines iowa If you don’t consider yourself a mechanic or have an aversion to working on cars, it makes sense that you prefer to let the professionals deal with any issues. But in reality, there are many things the average driver and non-mechanic can do to keep a car running properly. Some of those things include checking oil levels, tire pressure, lights, etc. Here’s one more thing you can do. Check your brake fluid level.

Watch for the Warning Signs
Your anti-lock brake system requires brake fluid running through the lines from under the hood of your car to the brakes on your wheels. Newer cars have electronic sensors that light up your dash when your car is running low on brake fluid. If the brake pedal feels like you’re pressing on a sponge or it’s extra hard to press down, your car may be low on brake fluid.

There are other reasons your brakes might not be working properly, like won brake pads and rotors, pulling to one side when you step on the brakes, or excessive vibrations, particularly at slower speeds. But checking your brake fluid is a good way to eliminate other problems. And it’s easy.

1. Open the hood of your car with the engine cooled off.

2. Locate the Master Cylinder, and you’ll find the reservoir that contains the brake fluid. It’s usually towards the back of the car behind the engine. If you’re not sure where the brake fluid reservoir is, check the owner’s manual for your car, or consult Dr. Google.

3. After you find the brake fluid reservoir, check the fluid levels based on the markers for   “min” and “max” If it’s low and below the “min” mark, add some brake fluid. Make sure you only add the kind of brake fluid your car requires (DOT 3, DOT 4, DOT 5). Be sure to clean the exterior of the reservoir before you remove the cap to prevent any dirt or debris from contaminating the brake lines. And make sure you don’t spill any. Brake fluid is toxic and corrosive.

4. Once you’ve added brake fluid, replace the cap and close the hood.

5. In some cases, simply topping off the brake fluid reservoir can improve the performance of your brakes. But if you experience further problems with your brakes, bring in your car and we’ll take a look at what’s going on. Your pads and rotors might need to be replaced, you could have a leak in your brake line, or the brake lines could be contaminated with copper which can happen over a long period of time.

A Smooth-Running European Car or Hot New Pumps… Hard Choice?

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chosing between a beautiful new pair of shoes or getting you oil changed shouldnt be a hard decision
Steven Beckley, Beckley Automotive and Beckley Imports

Steve Beckley

My friend Barbara loves her (new to her) BMW. I asked her about keeping it serviced.

“I always remember my Dad’s advice,” she said, “Change your oil!”

I asked how she managed that.

“I usually look for whoever has a coupon. Every dollar I save on car repair I can spend on shoes.”

I thought about that and decided I can appreciate it, I really do. But there might be a different way to think about it.

Getting your oil changed is the one opportunity for someone to look under your hood and under your car to see if anything is going to be a problem and prevent you from driving safely wherever you want to go.

chosing between a beautiful new pair of shoes or getting you oil changed shouldnt be a hard decision

Doesn’t it make sense to have it looked at by an expert, someone who’s 100% familiar with your car? That way, when they inspect your brakes and tires and steering, they know exactly what to look for and what’s important. And, if they see something that needs attention, they can tell you clearly how soon you need to act and what your options are for fixing it. You’re not going to get this benefit at an ordinary oil change place, and new car dealers can’t give you the repair options we offer.

Plus it’s not expensive. Here at Beckley Imports, a conventional oil change starts at $40 and a full synthetic starts at $60 with European quality oil, not the budget oil many places use. And we reset your service lights, which ordinary shops can’t do.

It’s a VERY good deal that leaves PLENTY of money for … shoes.

Prices include up to 5 qts. of the oil specified by the manufacturer of your car.  Some high performance models extra.  Please call for an exact quote on your make and model.


Beckley Imports – Servicing European Import Cars Since 1977

Because Beckley Imports has solely focused our services on European Imports, we have the certified technicians, facilities and the right equipment to properly work on your European import car.

For more information or to schedule a service on your Mercedes, please call 515.243.8185, or go to the “Schedule Service” page on this website to make an appointment TODAY!

 

How to Prepare Your BMW for Winter

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

When temperatures start to drop, it’s time to get your car ready for winter. The right maintenance, preparation and tools can be literal lifesavers in harsh conditions.
Regular Maintenance
Now’s the time to get your car up to speed on all of its regular maintenance. That means taking care of any fluids that may have been neglected while you were out enjoying the summer sun or going in for that 60,000-mile tune-up if you’re due. Check, change and/or top off your oil, coolant, brake and transmission fluid as needed. In the case of your oil or automatic transmission, make sure you get a high-quality filter, too. It may seem like overkill to take care of all of your fluids at once, but it’s worth it in the long run.

Take a look at the car’s brakes too. Are your rotors warped or cracked? Do they have deep grooves or are the pads worn close to their minimum clearance? Your vehicle will be experiencing harsher conditions soon, so nip any potential problems in the bud now. Make sure all your lights are working properly to ensure good visibility. New bulbs only cost a few dollars and are easy to install yourself or easy to have installed when getting your vehicle serviced. The same goes for windshield wipers. If your blades are more than six months old, odds are it’s time to swap them out for new ones. And don’t forget to fill the washer fluid reservoir with freeze resistant wiper fluid.

Check your tires and consider winter tires
Go ahead and have your tires rotated and inspected. The last thing you need in cold, wet weather is to be driving on bald or dry rotted tires. Err on the side of caution and replace any tires that are too worn.

We’d recommend looking into snow (or winter) tires, depending on your location or length of time you’ll be spending in the snow. Winter tires are made with special low temperature resilient rubber compounds and have deep treads that grip unplowed snow and ice. Even the best all-season tires have compounds that get more brittle as the temperature drops, and when that happens, the tires tend to grip less. The winter tire compound remains pliable when temperatures are low, retaining grip and keeping the car’s safety systems, like all-wheel drive and anti-lock brakes, functioning properly.

At this time, also check to make sure your spare tire has enough air in it. Once you’ve made sure everything looks good, take a look at your tire pressure. With everything up to spec, you’ll get better gas mileage and your vehicle will handle and stop better.

Maintain the coolant system
Our most important tip is to take the time to get your car’s coolant system checked. Extreme temperatures and harsh conditions can knock it out easily if it’s not up to snuff. If any part of the system comes up with a shaky bill of health, swap the parts for new ones. That means having your car’s radiator pressure tested and the hoses examined for cracks or bulges. Most shops can quickly test radiators without the hassle of having to remove them from the vehicle.

If you can’t remember the last time your water pump was replaced, or if your pump has more miles on it than what the manufacturer recommends, it’s time for a new one. While everything is apart, go for a new thermostat as well because you’ll save money on labor getting these two done at once.

Even if everything comes up good to go under the hood, replacing your engine’s coolant is cheap insurance against extreme temperatures. Over time, antifreeze can actually generate a weak electrical current, which can then cause oxidation and eventually failure inside of your coolant system. You’ll want at least a 50/50 mix of antifreeze and water to provide protection against below-zero temperatures. Keeping everything fresh inside will put less stress on your vehicle’s hardware and save you serious money in the long run.

A little preparation goes a long way to keep your car running smoothly during the winter months. Not only will the right tools and maintenance protect you and your car from the elements, but they will also keep you safe.


Beckley Imports – Servicing European Import Cars Since 1977

Because Beckley Imports has solely focused our services on European Imports, we have the certified technicians, facilities and the right equipment to properly work on your European import car.

For more information or to schedule a service on your Mercedes, please call 515.243.8185, or go to the “Schedule Service” page on this website to make an appointment TODAY!