What's that smell, a comedy in two parts

My Alero is getting old, it seems. It's only a 2002, but it's got over 128K miles on the odometer, and things don't seem to want to cooperate any more. Last night's episode started when JoDee and I were driving down M59 to take her to work. We both noticed this really strong inner-tube-like smell. Figuring it was the car in front of us, we paid it no mind, and parked. After work was done, we decided to head to BD's Mongolian Barbecue. As we cruised down M59, I noticed faintly that the smell had returned. Then someone honked and said there was something wrong with the tire. Really? The sensors didn't pick anything up. Wonder what that's all about? So, we pulled into the parking lot next to BD's and took a look. Fluid, all over the wheel well. Well, that's rather unpleasent. What the hell could that be? We did what anyone who knows very little about cars would do: call the family members who do know cars to come out and take a look. At first we thought it might be brake fluid, but after careful inspection by qualified personnel like my Dad, and JoDee's brother Stephen, we concluded that it was coolant. Great. I've had coolant issues with this car for some time now, so what happened this time? Thoughts of "head gasket", or "thermostat", or other high-money maintenance items floated in our heads. Turns out the coolant cap gasket was a little warped. I'm no car person, so I'm leaving it in my dad's hands to see what needs to be done with the car. In the mean time, it must've looked like loiter city in that parking lot. JoDee, mysef, Sarah, and Stephen were out there shooting the breeze while we waited for my parents to arrive with my parent's Sable (my preferred rental car of choice).

So, it appears that soon I'm going to be taking on a car payment again. Not looking forward to that, as I just paid off the Alero last year. :(