The parts stores I went to told me they don't test the computer -- the thin black plastic box mounted near the driver's side wheel well. They do test the ignition control module, but not for trouble codes, just if it's good or bad. They also have for sale a little black plastic (about 2"x2") device that supposedly plugs in somewhere under the dashboard and will give trouble codes that can be interpreted using a code pamphlet that comes with the device.
I think the fact that it starts running lousy and emitting black exhaust once warm is some kind of clue that should narrow it down. Can any of those possibilities you mentioned in your first reply to me be ruled out by this?
I just started it up again, crawled under and found that most of the exhaust is exiting through rusted, corroded out holes in the muffler. Could this be the cause of running well until warm?
The ignition control module checks out OK, and I replaced the distributor cap and rotor, which were both toasted looking. However, it still did the same thing after idling smoothly for around 20 minutes.
I guess my next step is to maybe buy the trouble code tester that plugs in under the dashboard, or just give in and take it to a shop.
Thanks very much.
Tuesday, September 29th, 2009 AT 2:47 PM