My car, as you’ve been reading here, has been sick for quite a while now. Over the last four years, it’s been through several bouts of fever, four separate tires, two alignments, countless oil changes, and one “Mass Air Sensor”. Reliable for the first few years, it’s been getting wonky lately, where any attempt to take a curve at speeds higher than 20mph knocks out the transmission, and I spend the next five minutes in the slow lane, racing the engine, unable to get into second gear. Coming to a complete stop requires a steady, gentle foot on the brake, as sudden jolts send the whole car into lurching epileptic fits while the linkage throws itself into and out of neutral (which really turns heads at the bus stop, let me tell you.) Truth be told, I’ve sort of been expecting the car to disintegrate in the parking lot like the Bluesmobile for the last couple of months.
Now, most of you car-driving folks out there are thinking something along the lines of check the tranmission fluid, you bonehead.
Right. Well, you see, I’ve never really had an automatic transmission until ths car—my first car was a standard (the blue 280z my dad bought for $75, which sounds a lot cooler than it actually was); the second (a 1973 VW camper bus, sadly a victim of an accident where both my legs and those of the girl I was with were almost removed by the front bumper of the other car); the car previous to this was a CRX, and before that a Mazda pickup—both standards.
(A brief aside: Sometime I’ll post a list, to the best of my recollection, of all the various cars I drove before I got out of High School. My dad owned a reposession agency, and through the magic of other people’s bad credit, the Dugan family went through a mind-boggling succession of vehicles. Renie and I once sat and came up with a list that got into the twenties.)
I guess what I’m trying to convince you about here is that I’m not lazy or stupid, but that it didn’t occur to me to check the stupid ATF level until this afternoon. Hunting around the engine compartment, I found the dipstick, tucked back between the engine and firewall, and realized it was almost bone dry. I haven’t been on the road yet to see what difference 3/4 qt. of fluid will have, but I’ll let you know.