Originally Posted by Mike
But the weird thing is, I've been here 12+ years and can't seem to recall a single issue with head gaskets on a 3800.
I agree, at least in stock form. The exception being that it was ran out of coolant and kept running, in which case the chance of cracking a head is just as high as well, and that is what scares me.
We need to know where the coolant is coming from. If it'* a LIM failure, those usually just dump coolant into the crankcase. Could also be a coolant elbow or hose puked, and previous owner just pushed it too far.
Keep in mind, you bought a "$500 car that needs a headgasket", with the chance it may have actually been properly diagnosed.
I also had issues with torque, and in my application the manufacturer torque recommendations didn't seal things up. I was fed up with it, so I used more torque, and haven't had an issue since. YMMV.
A coolant pressure tester may go a long way here, and can easily be 'loan-a-tool-ed' from autozone.