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Watch for These Signs of Heating System Issues

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heating system, beckley autoLiving in Iowa, you know the importance of having a vehicle with heat. Navigating the streets through fall, winter and spring without a heated vehicle is not only uncomfortable but potentially dangerous. This is why you need to stay on top of your car’s heating system. If you notice any of the following heating system issues make sure to bring it into Beckley Auto and get it taken care of right away.

  • Low Coolant Level

    Sufficient coolant is essential during Iowa winter months. Antifreeze serves several purposes such as protecting against corrosion and scale build-up as well as keeping water from freezing in winter and boiling in summer. You can check your own antifreeze level when the engine is cool and has been sitting overnight. If you end up adding coolant, check levels at least once a week to ensure there isn’t a leak somewhere.

  • Damaged Thermostat

    A damaged thermostat can lead to serious engine problems. This is a small, inexpensive part, yet it helps control the flow of coolant into the engine in order to keep it at an optimal running temperature. If your coolant level is fine yet your vehicle is cold, that could indicate a damaged thermostat.

  • Plugged Heater Core

    Over time, the vehicle’s heater core can collect debris. This will block the flow of coolant. When the heater core is plugged the only option you have is to replace it. Ideally, when replacing the heater core it is a good idea to flush the coolant system as well. This will push out any debris, bleed out any air pockets and help restore your vehicle’s ability to heat the interior of the cabin.

  • Heater Control Valve Gone Bad

    Most heater control valves use a vacuum system. If this system is damaged or remains on constantly it will prevent coolant from circulating through the heater core.

  • Electrical Issues

    From a blown motor to damaged wiring, an electrical system malfunction is another potential culprit behind your lack of heat.

You need a strong heating system to make it through the crazy Iowa weather from October through April. It is always a good idea to test out the heater before winter is in full force. This way, you have time to correct the problem before having proper heat is of the utmost importance.

Whether for your heating system or another issue, bring your BMW, Jaguar or any make to Beckley Auto. Our expert mechanics will have your vehicle working correctly in no time! Feel free to contact our service department at 515-243-8185 or schedule maintenance today.

Don’t Leave Your Car Battery Out in the Cold

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car battery, winter driving bmw des moines iowa

car battery, winter driving bmw des moines iowaIowa winters are definitely known for being frigid and snowy and this week is certainly reminding us of this fact.  While you’re stocking up on ice salt and making sure the old snow blower still starts up, we at Beckley Imports want to make sure you check out one other thing: your car battery and starter system.

With all the new features offered in cars today, like seat heaters and high end sound systems, battery drain happens more quickly than it used to.  Add on a couple of bitter Iowa winters, and your battery is tired.  The last thing you want on a cold January night after a long day of work is to walk out to your car only to find that it won’t start.

At Beckley Imports, we stock AC Delco and Interstate batteries that have the long life and power you need to start your engine every time.  Not only that, but these two battery brands are guaranteed to fit properly.  This is highly important, as many batteries are now set in the trunk or under the backseat; poorly fitted batteries can  lead to more costly problems like leaks and short circuits.  Beckley Imports is also an Authorized Bosch Service Center, meaning that we use only genuine Bosch starters and alternators on European vehicles; these parts come with a two year warranty, so if something goes wrong, you don’t have to worry.

If you’re concerned about your car’s battery making it through the winter months, bring it on by.  We’d be happy to test it out for you.  Beckley Imports has top of the line equipment to test the battery and other factors within the vehicle that could cause it to fail.

Don’t get left out in the cold this winter.  Call Beckley Imports at (515) 243-8185 or schedule your appointment online HERE today.

Improve Driving Safety with a Winter Wheel Alignment

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

winter tires, winter driving bmw, des moines winter, beckley wheel alignment, winter alignmentYou’ve probably enjoyed the summer and great fall temperatures with a handful of outings that required driving your car on dirt/gravel roads. You traveled some Midwest backroads, hit a few pot holes, and now you notice that your car pulls to one side when you’re driving down the road, indicating that your wheel alignment could use a little TLC.

If your car seems to handle differently, veers to one side, or steering seems to vibrate, it may be time for a winter wheel alignment. Car experts recommend getting a wheel alignment for your car at least every 10,000 miles. Proper wheel alignment helps keep your car on the road, improves gas mileage, tire longevity, and makes steering easier.

Whether the wheel alignment of your car has been compromised from driving on rough roads, hitting a curb, or getting into a minor fender bender, it’s a bigger deal than you may think. When your wheels aren’t properly aligned, you lose traction and the contact between tires and road that is so critical during the rough Iowa winters. We all know that the tread on your tires is imperative to safe winter driving, and misaligned wheels drastically lower the lifespan of your tires and can put you and your passengers in danger.

Poor road conditions probably have the biggest impact on wheel alignment than anything else. Over time, driving on bumpy road with pot holes and uneven surfaces can alter your alignment and wear down your tires. But even if you’re mainly driving on paved roads, bumps, pot holes, curbs, and debris you might drive over can have the same effect. With winter on the way, now is a good time for a winter wheel alignment, especially if you are switching from all-season tires to winter snow tires. Since winter tires are designed specifically to move snow and slush off the road and out from under your tires, proper alignment is critical for that to happen.

In the old days, 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. We use a computerized wheel alignment machine that produces precise measurements for the camber, toe, and caster. These measurements help us make adjustments to the backward and forward tilt of your tires, the inward and outward tilt of your tires, and the distance between the front and rear tires. The computerized wheel alignment machine also helps us make sure your steer wheel is centered.

A typical wheel alignment for most cars is fairly inexpensive, but it can save you a lot of time, trouble and cash in the long run. If you think your car is in need of a winter wheel alignment, stop in for an inspection, and we’ll point you and your car in the right direction. Schedule your appointment online HERE or call us at 515-243-8185.

Let Climate Control Work for You

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automatic climate control, vehicle air conditioning, car climate controlThe saying goes something like, “If you don’t like the weather, wait 5 minutes.” Fall in Iowa is no exception. Last week was sweltering heat and humidity and this week is sweater weather. Many people find themselves in the bizarre position of needing to run the heat at night and then to switch to the air conditioning in the afternoon. It’s no different in your car – but can you rely on both to work at top performance at the drop of a hat?

Air conditioning and climate control in a car are not the same thing. When purchasing a new vehicle, there is a definite price difference between the two – air conditioning comes standard and costs less. What are some of the other differences between the two?

  • Air conditioning cools the air inside your car through manual adjustment of the temperature dial. If you want it colder, you turn it farther to the blue. If you want it less cold, turn it toward the red and warmer air will gradually mix in.
  • Automatic Climate Control lets you set the temperature you want inside your car and you don’t have to touch it again. Ever. On your home thermostat, you even have to switch between heat and cooling. But Automatic Climate Control will switch seamlessly from air to heat to keep the temperature constant.
  • With air conditioning, you will have to constantly adjust the dials as the temperature inside your car is affected by the sun, the speed you’re driving, outside weather. This can lead to battles with your passengers who are too hot or too cold and grumble about the constantly changing climate inside the car.
  • Climate control is much more advanced and most offer “dual zone” control. The driver can set their temperature and the passenger can select what is most comfortable for them. Everyone is happy!
  • Another benefit to Automatic Climate Control is that it can potentially save you money. We all know running the air at the lowest temperature and the highest fan speed will make your engine work harder and run through your gas much faster. Climate control only uses the air as needed instead of at a constant clip and works much more efficiently.

Whether you have standard air conditioning or the more luxurious automatic climate control, chances are you’re going to need some work on the system at some point to keep it running at optimal levels. Unfortunately, because climate control is advanced technology and possibly the most complicated system in your vehicle, a lot of shops won’t even touch it. But at Beckley Automotives we have the experience and technology to find any problems and provide solutions more quickly and efficiently than the other guys.

Don’t waste time and money while the other shops guess at what needs to be done to keep you and your passengers riding in comfort. Schedule your appointment online HERE, give Beckley Automotive a call at 515.243.8185 or simply stop by our convenient downtown Des Moines location.

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.

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.

Are your Anti-Lock Brakes Working?

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Good Vibrations: Your Anti-Lock Brakes Are Working

With snow already in the upcoming forecast, there’s a good chance that sometime during the Iowa winter you’re going to need to step on the brakes, hard. The person in front of you suddenly brakes during rush-hour traffic. A car slides out in front of you on an icy or snowy patch of road. You’re cruising down the Interstate when you roll up to a multi-car pile-up (yes, it happens in Des Moines at least once a year), and need to slow down fast.

Anti-Lock Brakes, ABS, winter driving, driving on snow, brake checkup

Step on the brakes, and you’re counting on the brake pads or drum, and rotors to evenly slow you down and bring your car to a stop. And on most cars, there’s one more built-in safety feature designed to help you handle your car better when you have to stop in a hurry…anti-lock brakes.

Anti-Lock Brakes Improve Driving Safety

Anti-lock brakes are meant to prevent you from stuff like skidding into an accident and laying a ton of rubber on the road in the process. And it works. Step on the brakes hard, and you’ll experience rapid vibrations designed to keep you from going into a full-on skid. It’s actually a good idea to try braking hard when no one is around, just to get a feel for what engaging anti-lock brakes feel like.

Most Cars Are Made with Anti-Lock Brakes

So who gets the credit for inventing anti-lock brakes? This braking safety feature has actually been around a lot longer than you might think. It was the brainchild of the now-defunct Jensen Motors, a British auto maker. The company designed the first anti-skid braking system in 1958, and then used it on the production line to make the Jensen FF Sports Sedan in 1966.

At first anti-lock brakes were too expensive, and only appeared on high-end sport and luxury cars. But with changes in technology, manufacturing and production, the price for anti-lock brakes dropped. Now most cars are equipped with anti-lock brakes to make driving safer for everyone.

Need your brakes checked before the first big winter storm arrives? Don’t wait to find out. Let us inspect your brake pads, rotors, drums, and anti-lock braking system.

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.

Iowa’s Cold Weather Can Kill Your Car Battery

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Cold weather can be a killer for your car’s battery.

Sure, when your car is running smoothly, it’s easy to take it for granted. You hop in, turn the key, and the engine fires up. You buckle up, pick your favorite radio station or music, and turn on the heater. You might even have the luxury of heated seats to warm your backside and a navigation system to help you get to your destination.cold weather affect on car battery

Just about every single one of these functions makes your car driving experience a little more convenient, comfortable, and enjoyable. But the minute something stops working, everything changes. Your radio won’t turn on. You turn the key and hear a clicking noise. The engine tries and fails to fire up. Or you turn the key and get absolutely nothing. If you’re like most people when this happens, you raise your fist to the sky and shout, “Why!”

Take a closer look at these features, and many others that make your car work, (like lights, locks, windows, and dashboard info) and they often have at least one thing in common. They’re powered by the car battery. In Iowa, it’s that time of year when frigid winter temperatures can kill your car battery. Consider this:

  • When cold weather arrives, Des Moines-area towing and roadside assistance services see a major rise in calls for Battery jump starts
  • A typical car battery lasts three to five years. Cold weather can shorten the lifespan of a battery. How long have you had yours?
  • It takes your battery twice as much current to start the engine in cold weather than warmer days.
  • Phones, tablets, computers, DVD players, navigation systems, and other electronics drain and strain car batteries. Do you use any of these devices in your car?
  • At 32 degrees, a car battery loses 35 percent of its power
  • At 0 degrees, a car battery loses 60 percent of its power

If the very thought of being late to work or school, or being stranded in a parking lot after a long day of shopping with a dead battery has crossed your mind, don’t let it happen. A simple inspection and battery test can determine the health of your battery. And if it needs to be replaced, it’s a lot better to do it before you’re stuck out in the cold waiting for a jumpstart.

Need to get your battery tested? We can help. Our technicians can test your battery to make sure it’s fully charged, identify any problems, and install a new battery if necessary. Click here to schedule a service appointment, contact us at 515-243-8185, send us an email at service@beckleyimports.com, or stop by at 901-8th Street in Des Moines,

7 tips to prepare for driving in winter weather

Are you ready for driving in Winter weather?

Farmer’s Almanac Predicts Colder Winter than Normal

prepare for winter driving iowaEven if you don’t read The Old Farmer’s Almanac, a lot of people do, especially if you have ties to farming in Iowa. And let’s face it, most of us do. Whether you’re a farmer or a city dweller, there’s at least one thing you have in common…driving in the winter weather.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac, predicts a harsh winter with more snow complicated by longer periods of freezing temperatures. And if you’ll be trying to get in and around Des Moines this winter, you need to be prepared. Here are seven things you can do to be prepared for driving in winter weather:

  1. Flush the radiator. Eliminating any building up and replacing old antifreeze with a proper mixture of coolant and water will improve engine performance and help your heater work better.
  1. Replace wiper blades. When it’s dry, you might not think about this. But turn on your wipers when rain or snow are really coming down, and you’ll want fresh wiper blades that work to help you see the road. Keep your windshield washer fluid reservoir topped off too.
  1. Check your car battery. Now is a good time to get your battery tested. If it’s old, or not performing properly, getting the battery replaced will reduce your risk of being stranded on cold Iowa morning with a car that won’t start.
  1. Measure tire pressure and tread. Cold air causes tires to lose pressure. Get in the habit of checking your tire pressure at least once a week (when you gas up). Add air if you need to. Proper tire pressure improves fuel efficiency and helps your car handle better on wet and icy roads. Check the tread on your tires too. Worn or slick tires can be very dangerous, even on dry roads.
  1. Keep your tank full. There’s been more than one section of freeway closed in the Des Moines area during the winter because of a major accident and pile up or severe conditions. Keep your tank full. You’ll be able to stay warm if you get stranded. It’s also a good way to help keep moisture from freezing in the fuel lines.
  1. Get a tune up. Going by manufacturer recommendations is a good plan for getting regular tune-ups to keep your car running smoothly. If you haven’t been vigilant about routine maintenance, now is an even better time to get an inspection and take care of any problems before a winter storm arrives.
  1. Carry a safety kit. It doesn’t have to be complicated. A few simple things like a flashlight, flares, first aid kit, jump cables and basic tools, a blanket, and some extra food and water, can be helpful in an emergency. An ice scraper, extra washer fluid, and salt or kitty litter to help with traction in icy conditions can help too.

If you need help with any of these things to winterize your car, click here to schedule a service appointment, contact us at 515-243-8185, send us an email at service@beckleyimports.com, or stop by at 901-8th Street in Des Moines. You’ll be glad you did.

Yes, Cold Weather Can Damage Your Performance Tires

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Some performance tires can crack in the cold!

We all know those cool summer tires not only lack grip in cold weather, but did you know they can also be damaged in these freezing temperatures?

cold weather damage performance tiresRubber products, including tires, become more rigid as temperatures get this low. We’ve even seen performance tires not only lose traction and grip, but crack and damage beyond repair due to our Iowa blow freezing wind-chills.

General Motors notably advises against such driving during colder chills, at the risk of developing damaging cracks in their tires. Also, important to owners looking forward to those zippy spring drives, it’s imperative to have their tires thoroughly inspected by a professional.

GM went as far as to publish a notice in January of 2014 saying:

“…avoid driving, moving, or test-driving vehicles equipped with high-performance summer-only tires below 20º F as operating at these temperatures can cause damage to the tires.”

In many manufacturers’ quest to deliver “the ultimate handling” in their higher-end cars, they’ve built performance tires with essentially a racing compound to deliver the goods. These tires are great for driving in temperate areas and are ideally suited for track use, but the practicality of the tires stops there.  And while Iowa does have it’s own NASCAR track, it certainly isn’t running with temperatures as low as we see them today (-30 windchill projected!).

Pirelli, the king of performance tires, explains that in colder temperatures, the performance tread compound becomes so stiff on such tires that it can lead to cracking when deformed. In measuring the hardness of numerous brands of summer tires at 0º F, {they’ve} found the tread becomes almost inflexible and the tires lose their bounce when dropped. The cracking is characterized as cosmetic, but in {their} experience any cracking shouldn’t be taken lightly as it can evolve over time. If there is crack, you should replace the tire.

Here is what you need to do if you own or are considering purchasing performance tires for your car (tips from Consumer Reports).

  1. If you’re considering buying a new car with performance tires:  check the tires on the car for cracking in the tread area. The car may have only a few miles on the odometer, but if it has been parked in the cold and moved around during transport or by the dealer, the tires could have cracked. This is the time to have the dealer change the effected tires, because once you make the deal and drive off, it’s your headache.
  2. If you own a car with summer tires: refrain from using it at all in cold temperatures as the tires may crack. Leave it parked. Beyond cracking concerns, summer tires have diminished grip below 40º F on dry and wet roads and virtually little to no grip on snow and ice.
  3. If you bought your dream car with summer tires on it and live in an area that does have winter: consider using performance all-season tires or dedicated winter tires. These will provide better cold-weather grip and preserve the pricey summer times for the other seasons.

There are a number of all-season tires that also offer higher performance and grip in the warmer months. But for your safety and the benefit to your car’s wheels and general health, make sure you’re driving on the tires best suited for the weather dominant to your area.

Beckley Auto offers a 30-point inspection for all makes and models of cars. Tire inspection is part of that package, and before you drive through this winter, risking potentially expensive repairs or dangerous conditions, have one of our technicians offer the best solutions for your Winter driving.

Click here to schedule an appointment to have your car’s tires inspected today.