Dialysis for Dracourage

Well, it took three days to get my car out of the snowbank.

Let me explain.

On Wednesday night, before the Nor’easter hit our area, residents of the Town and Village of Green Island were told to take their cars off the streets, so the streets could be properly plowed. Residents could park their cars at the old Ford Motor Company parking lot until the storm was done.

Fine. I parked my car there and walked the six blocks home.

Thursday. Snow coming down like crazy. I stay indoors.

Friday. I go to the Ford parking lot.

I’m greeted with this.

There’s a rear fender there. That’s Dracourage, all right, but there’s no way my 2013 Chevrolet Cruze is budging. No way.

Saturday. I go over to the Ford lot. Some of the snow has melted, but not enough to free Dracourage from the icy mound. At this rate, I might not get my car out in time for summer.

Sunday morning. I call AAA. A flatbed hauler shows up. A man unhurls some hooks and chains, and attaches them to Dracourage’s undercarriage. Tow. Tow. And out you go. Dracourage is free.

But now I’m thinking … three days in the snow probably isn’t good for the undercarriage. And I’ve been meaning to get the transmission fluid changed.

Off to Valvoline I go.

I shall now explain.

When I bought Dracourage in 2016, I also purchased an extended warranty from the dealership. Since the car was considered “certified pre-owned,” I also received some free oil changes. But the oil changes ran out, which meant a return to one of my backup maintenance locations, Valvoline. Well, in addition to oil changes, Valvoline can change transmission fluid.

I pull up to the Valvoline station. The mechanics guide my car into the bay.

One of the mechanics goes over to his computer. “You definitely need your transmission fluid changed.”

“Yes,” I replied, “I want that. That’s the plan.”

“No,” he said, “you NEED your transmission fluid changed. How many miles are on your car?”

“Over 88,000.”

“You’ve been driving with your original factory transmission fluid. It’s never been changed,” he said, pointing to the CARFAX report on his screen.


After the fluid was drained, he showed me the residue. What should have been cherry-pink fluid looked brown and sludgy. Wow.

Meanwhile, another mechanic dropped some tubes into my engine, and the flow of light, sweet transmission fluid flowed through Dracourage’s arteries.

“General Motors recommends that you change your transmission fluid every 45,000 miles,” the tech said. “With this new tranny fluid, you’ll definitely notice a difference in your car’s handling and performance.”

Works for me.

One of the most important rules in car ownership is that if you maintain your tires and your fluids, your car can last for ages. And another important rule for car ownership – get yourself a AAA membership. It will pay off the moment you’re trapped on the side of the road without gas, if you develop a flat tire, if your battery dies, or you find your Chevrolet snuggled deep inside an igloo.

These investments now will pay off down the road. And that’s the most important thing of all.