Thank you for the info. I am trying to learn as much as I can about the problem because I don't want to walk into the garage looking like an uninformed idiot. What I don't understand about this whole thing is why is the coolant in the expansion tank clean (even at the bottom)? Also, why is the expansion tank full? For example, if I blew large amounts of water through the engine (the white smoke) how come my system levels aren't diminished?
As far as the oil level and appearance being good (except for a small amount of sludge on the tip of the dipstick) - this is due to the oil and water separating and the sludge settling on the bottom of the oil pan, right?
I guess I am beating a dead horse because I was hoping to hear something a little better - like maybe this never happened
and it's all a bad dream.
The truth about the car is that it belonged to a friend (husband and wife) and I asked to buy it when they got rid of it. Asking for trouble I suppose but neither one of us expected this to happen. It was a commuter, hence the high miles, but always maintained and quite frankly it's in beautiful condition (or was). The price I paid for the car almost warrants me going the long dollar and making the repairs. I just never expected a $2,000 repair bill! I would hate to drop the bucks into the vehicle only to have another fiasco such as this or maybe worse.
I think I will see what the garage says tomorrow - and like you, I am a bit more optimistic and inclined to spend the cash to get the work done. After all, I really like the car.