We don't think it's the engine. Yet.
My poor car huffed, puffed, smoked, and steamed this weekend, while I sweated, fretted, and paced knowing my wallet was about to be considerably lighter. The only thing I hate worse than car repair bills are human repair bills (especially the dental kind). Both The Man and I spoke with our fathers, the Eternal Wise Men of Car Issues, Specifically Camry Issues. Thankfully their advice was very similar and practical. My father was happy to hear that The Man's father was willing to do the dirty work.
Last night, after a dinner we more than happily paid for, The Man's father replaced the radiator and thermostat in my car. He put in a few other new things and changed the fluids (mostly). With The Man's help, they tidied things up and were done in less than two hours. Daylight quickly fading, they went for a test drive and pronounced the job well done.
After the dramatic huffing and puffing this weekend, we've not had a single overheating incident since then. The coolant levels seem to be holding. The engine oil is still amber and beautiful (seriously, when expecting to find frothy chocolatey oil--a sign of a blown head gasket, amber oil is a beautiful thing!). We think the engine has been spared, at least for now. Pushing 200,000 miles within the next year, I'm terrified to know what will go next.
The Man's Camry has nearly 500,000 miles on it. I wouldn't be surprised to see all four tires just fall off one day. All four tires give up at the same time and walk off. We'll walk out of our apartment and see a car on the pavement, tires off by themselves having a tire party, celebrating freedom from The Car that Will Not Die.
Then the Patron Saint of Car Repair will come back down and whip the car into shape. I'm not sure how he can be living and be a Patron Saint, but it sure feels like it when he swoops in and fixes things right up. Phew!
Praying that the new radiator is the end of repairs for a loooooong while.