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Improving Gas Mileage With These Simple Tips

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improving gas mileage des moines

improving gas mileage des moines

Improving gas mileage is on the top of all of our minds…and wallets! If you commute to work, do a lot of driving around town, or you’re planning a vacation, you’re probably keenly aware of gas prices at the pump. The current national average is $2.268 per gallon, but in some areas, gas costs more than $3 a gallon.

Fluctuating gas prices have an impact on your budget. Fortunately, improving your gas mileage is easy with these simple tips.

1. Get a Tune-Up – Your car needs regular maintenance to deliver peak performance and optimal gas mileage. Improving gas mileage is as simple as common repairs like changing the oil and filter, installing a new air filter, inspecting and changing belts, and replacing spark plugs. A regular tune-up can identify these problems and save you money in the long run.

2. Check Your Tire Pressure – Many newer model cars are designed to tell you if your tire pressure is low. It might be annoying to see a low-tire pressure light in the dash, but properly inflated tires help improve gas mileage. Use a tire gauge to measure air pressure and inflate your tires to the recommended PSI for your vehicle.

3. Change the Oil and Air Filter – You’ve heard the recommendation to get your oil and air filter changed every 3,000 miles. It’s one of the best things you can do to prolong the life of your car and maximize gas mileage. Your engine operates more efficiently with clean oil and a new filter. Replacing the air filter on a regular basis also improves fuel economy, acceleration, and engine performance.

4. Check Your Gas Cap – If you haven’t thought about your gas cap as a potential source for poor gas mileage, you’re not alone. But the truth is a faulty gas cap that’s loose or has a missing or damaged seal allows gas to vaporize. This can force you to spend more money at the pump, but it’s an easy fix that typically only costs a few dollars.

5. Take Care of Major Maintenance Issues – As you put more miles on your car, there’s always the chance for wear and tear that needs special attention. Taking care of maintenance issues like cleaning or replacing fuel injectors or replacing a faulty oxygen sensor can be a significant way of improving gas mileage.

6. Improve Your Driving Habits – Your driving habits may also be a factor that determines the gas mileage your car gets. Here are some things you can do: Follow speed limits. Avoid rapid acceleration, quick stops, and excessive idling. Remove any heavy items from your trunk. These simple changes can also help improve fuel economy.

This simple list of tips will go along way toward improving gas mileage. You should see a change over the next few times you fuel up at the pump.

Bring your car to Beckley Imports and let our expert technicians help you get your vehicle in top shape this summer. Call our service department at 515-243-8185 or schedule an appointment ONLINE today!

Difference in Diesel Engine Repair Vs. Gasoline Engines

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diesel engine repair, diesel engine service, bmw diesel engine des moinesDo you drive a diesel engine vehicle? It doesn’t matter if it is a compact VW diesel or a supersized full-size truck, the engine runs the same. While all diesel engines run the same, the engine is slightly different from a standard gasoline engine. Should you ever require diesel engine repair, you need to take your vehicle into an auto repair shop capable of working on the different engine type. At Beckley Imports, you’ll have certified and trained diesel engine repair specialists on hand, capable of working on your vehicle.

Ignition Difference

Outside the kind of fuel used in the two engines, the biggest difference between a diesel engine and a gasoline engine is diesels do not use spark plugs to ignite the fuel. Instead, it uses a compression system. This helps reduce some of the more common problems found with spark plugs, including the spark plugs becoming dirty, falling out of proper alignment or just dying out. As long as you take care of your diesel engine, it can last you for hundreds of thousands of miles without major repairs. Diesel engines do require higher temperature to burn the fuel, but as the fuel burns slower, fuel economy increases.

Most Common Problems

Diesel engines do not produce as much horsepower as gasoline counterparts, although these engines do generate more torque, which is why diesel is typically found on large trucks. As the engine does not produce as much horsepower, it does not move as quickly, so you are less likely to crack a gasket or have piston problems. In fact, the most common problems associated with a diesel engine include a loose throttle, low power and dirty fuel filters.

Lubricating oil is another problem that may require some diesel engine repair services for your vehicle. When too much lubrication oil is used, it can cause leaking around the gaskets or connections. Like most of the other problems with your vehicle, this is an easier repair to perform, but needs to be taken care of right away so you don’t require any extensive engine repairs.

It doesn’t matter if you need a full diesel engine repair on your BMW 328d sedan or your Audi diesel needs an oil change. All diesel engine vehicles are welcome at Beckley Imports and can be serviced by our knowledgeable, experienced technicians. Contact Beckley’s by phone at 515-243-8185 or schedule your appointment online HERE.

How Do You Know What Your Check Engine Light Means?

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

Owner’s Manual

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

Different Lights

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

Let the Auto Mechanics Help

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

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

Vacuum Pump Oil Changes: Tips for Self Service

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vacuum pump oil changes at homeChanging your vehicle’s oil regularly is essential. It keeps your engine running smoothly – as the oil becomes dirty or runs low, your engine may begin to experience performance problems. Changing your own oil is a rite of passage. Many vehicle owners prefer to do this on their own as it is a great way to save money while feeling handy at the same time. However, unless you own a pickup or a large SUV, chances are you can’t slide under the vehicle without some sort of lift, and investing in proper lifts eliminates any monetary return. Instead, you may want to consider a vacuum pump oil change. This extracts oil from the top of the engine block instead of underneath. While not the conventional way to change oil, we at Beckley Auto have a few tips whenever using this kind of equipment.

  1. Check Your Dipstick Before Investing in a Vacuum Pump Oil Change Kit
    Before buying anything, check your oil’s dipstick. Does it have any circuitous elements to it? Does it twist a bit in parts around the oil line? If so, a vacuum pump generally will not work at all, so bypass this purchase as it won’t work.
  2. Don’t Use For Every Oil Change
    The vacuum pump oil change is fine to use on occasion, but not always. Why? Because while you’re changing the oil, you’re not changing the oil filter. You still need to be under the vehicle to remove the oil filter, which keeps the oil clean. In a pinch, a vacuum pump works, but it is always recommended to have the oil filter changed – or at least checked – at the same time as the oil.
  3. Check Capacity
    Before removing the oil, check how much oil your vehicle holds. The last thing you want is to begin the process, only to discover the vacuum oil tank does not have enough storage space. You can check how much oil your vehicle holds at maximum inside of the owner’s manual (this information is usually listed towards the rear of the book).

At Beckley Auto, we are here to ensure your vehicle is always properly taken care of. From oil changes to tire rotations, transmission work and exhaust problems, we are here for you.

If you are in need of any kind of automotive work, feel free to contact us by phone at 515.243.8185 or simply schedule your appointment online for your domestic or import vehicle.

Know Your Car’s Electrical System Warning Signs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Beckley Automotive Meets Growing Need for Diesel Service

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As people become more concerned about the environment and auto emissions, the call for diesel service shops grows. If you’re in the market for a diesel vehicle, you won’t be disappointed in your selection. Auto makers from Jeep to Chevrolet to BMW to Volkswagen offer great diesel options. You can choose from pickup trucks, crossovers, SUVs and luxury models.

Now that you know where to go for trustworthy diesel service, why should you look at purchasing a diesel vehicle?

  1. diesel service, diesel engine maintenanceMileage. Diesel engines are well-known for being cost effective. Diesel fuel generates more power from less fuel, so you can easily get more bang for your buck and stretch that tank of gas farther with diesel over gasoline.
  2. Safety. Your standard gasoline engine relies on ignition from a spark plug, diesel engines use compressed hot air to ignite the fuel. Diesel fuel has a higher flashpoint than gasoline, so it takes much more than a spark to set it on fire. There is a much lower chance of the fuel igniting in the case of an accident.
  3. Maintenance. Diesel engines are built ruggedly to combat the rigors of higher compression. Also, because they don’t rely on electrical ignition parts like spark plugs and a moving distributor rotor, you don’t have to change out as many engine parts on a regular basis.
  4. Power. You get far more torque from a diesel engine. Because of its slow burn, high compression design, the driveshaft receives much more powerful torque to assist in acceleration and towing capabilities.
  5.  Longevity. Mercedes-Benz currently holds the record for longevity, having multiple vehicles that have racked up more than 900,000 miles on their original engines. Gas-powered cars start needing more love and money poured into them around the 100,000 mile marker. If you are looking to purchase a vehicle for the very long haul, diesel can stick by your side for at least a couple generations.

Of course, there are cons to balance out the pros of diesel engines: While you have less frequent maintenance demands, it can cost you more when you do need major diesel service. The initial purchase price can be about 10% more than the gasoline counterpart. Diesel fuel doesn’t perform well in frigid temperatures, so you may need to install an engine block heater to insure that your car will start on cold winter mornings.

Whether you’re looking at purchasing a diesel vehicle or you already own one, rest assured that Beckley Automotive has the knowledge, the tools and the experience to provide outstanding diesel service. Schedule your appointment online HERE or call our expert service department at 515-243-8185 today!

Check Engine Light Isn’t Always a Wallet Drain

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check engine light, engine diagnosticsVery few things can set your heart racing like an illuminated Check Engine light on your car’s dashboard. You start wondering how long your car has before the transmission falls out, the engine catches on fire or your car just expires on the side of the road. You also begin panicking trying to decide whether fixing the problem or buying a new car is more cost-effective.

The “Check Engine” light became standard around 1995 and can alert the driver to a slew of engine troubles, big or small. This warning light is attached to the computer in your car, and that computer is pretty smart. If it comes on and stays on, you need to get it checked as soon as possible. If it comes on and flashes, pull that machine over, turn it off, and call for help.

The only thing the computer and the check engine light can’t tell you, is what the actual problem is. Here are some of the top reasons your Check Engine light might come on:

  • Loose spark plug wires or faulty spark plugs
  • Faulty sensors, such as the oxygen sensor or the mass airflow sensor
  • A bad catalytic converter
  • A loose or missing gas cap

Some of these problems are more serious than others and are more expensive. But be wary of any DIY workarounds that you might find on the internet. If you mess with the data storage by disconnecting or running out the battery, you wipe the memory and make true diagnostics harder down the line.

The expert technicians at Beckley Automotive are trained and certified to diagnose any issue with your engine, whether your vehicle is foreign or domestic. And, the best part is that Beckley’s puts a cap on your cost for that diagnostic check. You won’t be charged more than $125 for that first step toward finding what’s wrong. Sometimes that’s all it will take to fix the problem, but the experts at Beckley’s won’t move forward on repairs above and beyond that cost without your approval. The diagnostic findings and a comprehensive repair plan will be outlined before you spend another dime. That’s the Beckley way.

The quickest and least expensive way to handle a check engine light is to bring your car to an expert that can identify the fault correctly and repair it without a lot of guesswork. Schedule your appointment online HERE, visit our convenient downtown Des Moines location at 901 8th Street or give our service staff a call at 515-243-8185 today.

Pre-Purchase Inspection Takes the Fear Out of Car Buying

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bmw pre-purchase european luxury vehicles

bmw pre-purchase european luxury vehicles, pre-purchase inspectionPurchasing a new car is an exciting event, and at Beckley Automotive, we want to keep it that way! When you’re looking to spend a substantial amount of money on a pre-owned vehicle like BMW, Mercedes, Audi, Volvo or any number of domestic beauties, you want to know that you’re getting the value you expect – style, performance, reliability, and economical value! That’s why Beckley’s offers a pre-purchase inspection to set your mind at ease and ensure you’re getting what you pay for.

By scheduling a pre-purchase inspection with Beckley, you can save yourself from inheriting someone else’s problems, not to mention saving potentially hundreds of dollars. Our specialists have years of experience with most makes and models – domestic, Asian and European – so you know you’ll be getting the best service around. We’ll check the brakes, steering, tires, and more, giving you a clear, written explanation of results when it’s all said and done.

Having your future vehicle inspected by someone you trust is also important. At Beckley Automotive, our certified experts give you the facts and verify the listing against the potential issues you may have after the vehicle purchase.

The Beckley Imports pre-purchase inspection includes:

  • An under the hood inspection, where we check the engine for any signs of leaks.
  • A thorough body inspection, where we check out all the body panels to look for any signs of previous accidents or any damage the seller may have not reported.
  • A comprehensive road test to see if the transmission is working properly, as well as the rest of the car.

As soon as you drive the car off the lot, the liability is all on you. Whether buying from an established used car lot or an individual in the paper or online, the seller may not be truly forthcoming with all the details. Even the fear that the seller isn’t telling you everything can make the car-buying process far more stressful than it needs to be.

Make sure you have your vehicle inspected before you purchase to avoid unexpected and expensive repairs down the road. Let Beckley Automotive help you make a good decision in your luxury ride – schedule an appointment online HERE or give us a call at 515.243.8185 today!

Protect Your Warranty With Beckley Automotive

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scheduled maintenance, protect your warranty, car warranty, auto warrantyOne of the great things about buying a new car is the warranty. Knowing that the manufacturer will stand behind the quality of the products they make helps take some of the stress out of the purchase. But there is some confusion about how, exactly, to use the warranty and what will truly negate it. How can you protect your warranty?

If the dealership tries to tell you that you have to bring the vehicle to them for maintenance and repairs, they may be committing a crime. The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act established in 1975 makes it illegal for dealers or manufacturers to say that the warranty will be voided or denied if anyone but the dealer does the work. You can take your vehicle to any independent mechanic, retail chain shop or do the work yourself without negating the warranty. Of course, the manufacturer or dealer can require the use of specific facilities if the services are to be done without a charge to the consumer under the warranty.

How can you avoid problems with the warranty? According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, there are a few steps you can follow to avoid issues:

  • Read Your Warranty: It’s important to know what it covered and what isn’t before repairs are needed. The warranty is usually in with the owner’s manual and will provide specific details of the warranty so there aren’t any surprises down the road. Most manufacturer websites will have an owner’s manual available online if you happen to misplace the one that came with your car.
  • Know Your Warranty Period: Warranties DO have an expiration – either a number of years or a number of miles. It’s important to know the time limits of your warranty so you can be certain to get problems corrected in plenty of time.
  • Service Regularly: While regular service is a good idea in any case, it’s essential to follow the manufacturer’s recommended service schedule to be certain you are following the parameters of the warranty.
  • Keep All Service Records and Receipts: Whether it’s an oil change, new brake pads, tire rotations or a major repair, create a file to track all repairs and maintenance. If you have to take advantage of your warranty, it will be in your favor to be able to prove that you took care of the vehicle.
  • Fight For Your Warranty: In some cases, a warranty claim may be denied unfairly. If you feel this is the case, ask to speak with a supervisor or go to the manufacturer or another dealer. You can also file a complaint with your state Attorney General or the FTC if service is denied arbitrarily.

Beckley Automotive has been servicing domestic and European vehicles for over 30 years. Our technicians are ASE and Bosch certified and are well-trained in all the latest diagnostic and service tools. You can rest assured that our team will protect your warranty and your investment with integrity.

Do you have a question or concern about your car’s maintenance? Are you needing a repair estimate or a pre-purchase inspection? Contact Beckley Automotive today at 515-243-8185 or conveniently schedule an appointment online!

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!