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The Four-Step, Go-Green Guide for Car Owners

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go green, eco-friendly car, beckley automotive, beckley imports, environmentally friendly autosEver heard of Elon Musk? He’s one of the masterminds behind a series of high-tech companies like SpaceX, SolarCity, and PayPal. But he’s not just a savvy businessman and entrepreneur. He’s also an engineer, inventor, investor and founder of Tesla Motors.
If you ever thought about driving a hybrid vehicle or all-electric car to save on gas money, reduce emissions, and protect the environment, driving a Tesla should be on your list. But there’s just one problem with this for most people. The typical price tag for a Tesla starts around $70,000 with luxury models priced at over $100,000.

Pretty expensive. Of course there are more affordable electric and hybrid cars to choose from, too. But what if you’re not in the market to buy a new car or don’t have the cash to drive a Tesla? Is there anything you can do to make your gas-powered vehicle more environmentally-friendly?

Yes! Follow these four steps to go green, save money, and keep your car running efficiently.

  1. Get regular maintenance. Ignoring the little things like regular oil changes, replacing the air filter, changing brake pads, and neglecting to flush the radiator can take a toll on vehicle performance. Taking care of your car can help reduce exhaust emissions, help you get better gas mileage, and save you money in the long run.
  2. Stick with your old car longer. A lot of factors go into buying a new car like a more luxurious interior, electronic upgrades, additional seating, or more storage capacity. But take a closer look at what you’re driving and you might find that your current car is running just fine. Take good care of it, and you’ll be able to drive it longer, save on car payments and insurance, and avoid adding another vehicle to the junkyard.
  3. Recycle car waste. There’s a right way and a wrong way to dispose of car waste. The wrong way: illegally dumping a pile of old tires in the woods, or pouring chemicals down the drain. But it happens, a lot more than you might think. If you want to go green, do your part to make sure car waste like old tires, oil, batteries, and other fluids are recycled or disposed of properly. If you’re not sure how, call us or check with Metro Waste Authority.
  4. Consider an engine replacement. Here’s another way you can go green and cut down on waste when it comes to cars. Instead of buying a new car when your current vehicle needs major engine work, consider getting a rebuilt engine. It will save you a lot of money, improve engine performance, fuel economy, and emissions output.

If you’re not in the market for an electric or hybrid car, or can’t afford one, that doesn’t mean you can’t do your part to help the environment. Smart car care, regular maintenance, and other environmentally-friendly practices can make a difference.

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

Has Your Car Been Recalled?

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

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

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

Recall Notification for Original Owners

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

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

If You’re Not the Original Owner…

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

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

Deadline for Recall Repairs

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

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

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

Car 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.

3 Common Causes for Poor Emissions

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Even if you don’t drive a diesel-powered Volkswagen, you’ve probably heard about the car maker’s deceptive software designed to manipulate emission testing results. Volkswagen engineers said the cars were designed to meet environmental standards, but when millions of VWs failed state emissions tests, local shops like ours performed the same tests and found emissions much higher than legally allowed.

diesel emissions testing des moines iowaIowa may be one of just 12 states that still don’t require emissions testing for vehicles, but that doesn’t mean driving a car spewing toxic fumes is a non-issue. VW is in the process of working out a plan to correct the emissions problem for 11 million vehicles at a cost of an estimated $7.3 billion. If you own a newer diesel-powered VW, you’ll soon be able to get the emissions problem fixed by an authorized dealer.

And even if you don’t drive a VW, being mindful of your car’s emissions can save you in the long run. Here are three common factors that can have an effect on vehicle emissions:

1. Engine Problems
If the Check Engine Light is on your car, your vehicle won’t pass an emissions test in any state. Mechanical problems can have an impact on engine performance and interfere with emissions. In many cases, we can diagnose the source of a Check Engine Light error by connecting your car to our computer.

2. Low/High Tire Pressure
You might not think about your tires much when you’re headed to the grocery store or cruising through Des Moines on I-35, but your tire pressure can have an impact on emissions. Check your owner’s manual or look on the sidewall of the tire to see how much your tire should be inflated (30 to 40 psi is typical for most cars and light trucks). Use a tire gauge to see if the tires need more/less air. If you’re not sure how to do this, stop by and we’ll check out your tire pressure for you.

3. Failure to Change the Oil
It’s a simple form of preventive maintenance that gets neglected far too often. Going too long without an oil change (5,000 miles or more), can raise the level of hydrocarbons released from the exhaust and negatively impact emissions. Has it been a while since you had the oil changed on your car? We can help, and we’ll do more than just change the oil and filter. Our trained technicians will also perform a 30-point inspection to identify any other safety or maintenance issues your car may have.

Just because Iowa doesn’t require emissions testing, doesn’t mean you should ignore warning signs and maintenance recommendations for your car. You may not have an on-board computer designed to cheat environmental regulations, but your car still needs regular maintenance and upkeep to perform its best.

How does your car measure up to typical emissions standards? Is your car operating at peak performance? Click here to schedule service today. We can help. Check out our 30-point inspection and contact us at 515-243-8185, send us an email at service@beckleyimports.com, or stop by at 901-8th Street in Des Moines, to schedule an appointment.

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.

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.

5 Essentials for Planning Your Next Road Trip

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It’s been a week since kiddos in the Des Moines area said goodbye to another school year. That means it’s officially summer vacation. More people hit the road in cars, trucks, and motor-homes during the summer season than any other time of the year.summer road trip tips iowa

In fact, Americans take an estimated 657 million road trips during the summer months from Memorial Day to Labor Day, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. The typical vacationer drives their own car to a destination about 284 miles away for a little R&R. The survey results showed that 9 out of 10 vacation road trips are taken by car.

If you’re planning a summer road trip, it’s a good idea to get a tune-up before you go. Regular and preventive maintenance can give you peace of mind and prevent a break-down that could throw a wrench into your vacation plans. Once your car’s ready for the road, be sure to bring these five things along on your road trip.

  1. Emergency kit. Keep some basic tools and set of jumper cables in your car. And make sure you’ve got a first aid kit stocked with Band-Aids and other essentials to treat minor aches, pains, cuts, or scratches.
  1. GPS system. If your car doesn’t have a built-in system, use your smartphone or a stand-alone GPS device. Being able to find your way from Point A to Point B, and all the places in between without getting lost can lower stress and make your vacation more relaxing and enjoyable.
  1. Food and water. You don’t need to pack like you’re never coming back. But having a little extra food and water on board is a good idea. You won’t have to stop as often. If there aren’t any restaurants for long stretches, you’ll still have something to eat and drink. And if you plan it right, you might even save money eating your own food instead of going out to eat when you’re on the road.
  1. Extra keys. A magnetic key box you can hide under your car, or just an extra key you keep in your wallet can save the day if you lock yourself out of your car. It happens. Sure you could call a locksmith, but that will mean waiting around and forking over some extra money you probably didn’t plan on spending for your vacation.
  1. Cell phone and charger. Love it or hate it, having a cell phone when you’re on a road trip is a good idea. You’ll be able to call for help if something happens. And it will make it easier to check in with family and friends when you’re on the road.

Start planning your road trip by getting your car serviced before you go. We can help. Give us a call at 515-423-8185 or click here to schedule an appointment.

10 Ways to Get More Money When Selling Your Car

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At some point in time, you’re probably going to decide it time to replace your ride with a different car. Maybe you need more space for a growing family, or downsizing to a smaller ride as an empty-nester. Or maybe you want to sell off a gas-guzzler for a more fuel efficient vehicle.

tips for selling your carWhen you’re ready to sell, taking care of a few details can help you get more money for your car. Check out these 10 ways to boost the resale value of your car.

  1. Replace windshield wipers – It’s an inexpensive fix and only takes a few minutes to install new wipers.
  2. Clean the engine – You can try and clean the engine yourself with products designed to help remove dust, grease, and dirt. Or check out our detailing services to shine up your engine.
  3. Refill or top off fluids – Letting a potential buyer know your car has had a recent oil change and reservoirs are filled for anti-freeze, brake fluid, windshield wiper fluid, etc., can help seal the deal.
  4. Check tire tread – You’re good if you’ve got a decent amount of tread remaining. But if tread is worn, replace the tires to increase the sale price of your car. If a buyer will have to replace the tires, you’re more likely to haggle over the asking price.
  5. Clean up the exterior with a wash and wax – Simply giving your car a thorough wash and wax can shine it up and make it more appealing to a potential buyer. If your headlights are foggy from years of oxidation, consider replacing the headlight casing or headlight restoration. Shining rims and wheels can also increase the wow-factor when you show your car to a potential buyer.
  6. Clean the interior – After miles of road trips or shuttling kids around town, the interior of your car could probably use a makeover. Give it a thorough cleaning by vacuuming and wiping down surfaces.
  7. Get the brakes inspected/replaced – Like new tires, new brakes can cost a couple hundred bucks. If you’re had your brakes serviced recently, let the buyer know. If you think it may be time to get your brakes replaced, bring your car in for an inspection. Selling your car with new brakes can be a good way to get the price you want.
  8. Take care of minor repairs – Over time most cars develop minor problems that are easy to overlook. These are things like a burnt out dome line, a squeaky door, windshield cracks and dings, or minor body damage like a small dent from a shopping cart. Taking care of minor repairs like these may cost a few dollars, but it can help you get closer to your asking price when you list the car.
  9. Consider major mechanical work – When you’re trying to sell a car, it may need some major repairs like a new transmission or alternator. Major repairs may cost you a little more, but it may be worth it depending on the age of your car, mileage, and overall condition.
  10. Bring your car in for an inspection before you sell. – Our experienced mechanics can give you a complete diagnostic report about your car. This information can help you determine a fair asking price, decide on repairs you might want to make, and give you some negotiating power when you’re ready to sell.

Want help getting your car ready to sell? Give us a call at 515-423-8185 or click here to schedule an appointment.