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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.

Don’t Get Left Out In The Cold

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car battery, winter driving bmw des moines iowa

Winter is upon us!  Have you heard enough of that warning lately?  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.

winter driving bmw des moines iowaWith all the new features offered in cars today, like seat heaters and high end sound systems, battery drain happens more quickly than in the past.  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 and schedule your appointment today.

Before more ice and snow hit…

Fall is pretty, but any second it can turn to freezing temperatures and the dreaded snow fall, just like what happened last night. Although it may start to warm up in the next few days, make sure you bring in your vehicle to Beckley so we can do some maintenance checks on the following:

• Tire Checks (for every 18°F of temperature drop, tire pressure goes down by one pound – make sure your spare tire is fully as well)
• Battery check (batteries work harder when it’s cold and the colder temperatures can compromise its performance up to 60 percent. Having it tested to see if it needs replaced could save you from sitting outside in it during a blizzard)
• Cooling System Check
• Brake Inspection
• Headlight Check (this includes all the turn signals and hazard lights)
• Windshield Wipers (you never know when that blizzard will hit and you can’t have the wipers smashing snow about)
• Engine

At Beckley, we want you to be safe drivers, as well as be prepared of any situations. Having the following items in your car could help if there is an accident:

• Windshield scraper and snow brush
• Lightweight shovel
• Bag of sand, wire traction mat or abrasive substance
• Spare tire
• First aid kit
• Flashlight
• Flares
• Battery jumper cables
• Blankets
• Emergency drink or snack
• Extra coat or boots

Even though we have cell phones to call for help, it is still good to be prepared because you never know if your service will go down or your phone will be inoperable.  So stay prepared and let us help take care of your car so that your chances will be lesser in case.

Prep Your European Auto For Harsh Des Moines 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 current enjoy.  But reality is that fall is technically here and that means turkey, presents, and bowl games 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 know that with other places you’ve been in the past, you might have felt “taken” a bit on add-ons and extras that don’t seem necessary.  We guarantee that Aaron and Thomas will recommend 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 the question, “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 in that “in between” stage where there’s “probably just enough tread to get by til 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.  True you’re less likely to have overheating issues after running 10 minutes 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 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 from Lowe’s or Menards with the following items in them.  By the way, check your items each year for expiration dates and be sure to change out batteries.

  • spare gloves
  • jackets
  • flashlights
  • first aid kit
  • small shovel
  • food
  • knife
  • chains
  • jumper cables

TIP:  Consider putting one or more of those 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.

The Beckley team is available for convenient appointments from early morning to evening.  We’ll even take you to work and pick you up with our shuttle.  Give us a call and let’s see what we can do to take care of your investment.