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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I have a 1995, Black 2door, 4wheel drive, 16valve sidekick, 1.6l, Caribbean. I believe which my mom bought in error.

This is my issue at the moment;
I just installed new spark plugs in the vehicle tonight, and within 20 minutes of just running idle the spark plugs have gone black and there is black smoke coming from the exhaust.

Originally there was oil on the older plugs and the sidekick would not start. As a result I changed plugs, valve cover gasketl, spark plug hole grommet, spark plug wires.

During the 20 minutes the vehicle idle really well, although there was smoke coming from the back, after the 20 minutes, I shut it off to check the spark plugs for oil (they seemed clean) and then tried restarting which now gives a noisy idle (Wires are in right firing order). I checked each plug one by one while the car was on to listen to engine noise change. I can verify each spark plug appears to be firing.

The ECL is on after the vehicle starts, but has been on for some time. I had a friend read the codes last month and he stated there were codes for Mass Air Flow Sensor (repaired), Throttle body Sensor(un-repaired) and Coolant Temp Sensor (un-repaired).

Reading some threads it would seem as if the Throttle Body sensor may contribute to my issues, any thoughts?

And I know very little about cars.
 

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You can read the codes on your own, just using a jumper wire or metal paper clip. Very easy to do. Instructions here:
Check Engine Light
As the car is fairly new to you, it is a good idea to do a compression test on the engine, which will show you the engine timing. This also is easy for you to do - just borrow a compression gauge from someone (your friend). Make sure your battery is fully charged. Then all you need to do is pull the F1 fuse under the dash which stops fuel/spark, pull out all the spark plugs at one time. Screw the compression gauge into spark plug well #1, get into the car and crank the car about 5 cranks with your gas pedal floored. Then check the compression gauge, write down the number that the needle points to, and go on to well #2. Your car should get about 170 psi on all cylinders on an engine that was not running, or about 190 psi on a warm engine.
You need to start with the timing of the engine first, before going on. As well as read the code that the ECU is trying to give you.
 

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Did you gap the spark plugs before you put them in? If you have fault codes for the Throttle Position Sensor and the Coolant Sensor then you will be in failsafe mode, you need to fix those issues. Do you have a voltmeter? if so check for 5V at the sensors.
 

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If you post the exact numbers of the codes that you got, it will be better - the coolant temp sensor may just be wiring, the TPS may need to be re-calibrated, etc., but much depends on the exact code.
And the spark plugs need to be gapped at .07mm, and not just used out of the box, as normally the gap is too wide for this car.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Update

So, I realize after I replaced the mass air flow sensor, I had not reset the computer errors (just getting a hang of the jargon). Then followed the instructions from the first reply, and I for a code, I goggled and it says the coolant temperature sensor, which I just purchased and the gomet for the PCV value, which I realized is just hanging in the hole.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Yep, did that. The code; (14), my research reveals is the coolant temperature sensor. Just purchased.
Yes I had a friend gap the spark plugs for me, He did some research on it before he did.
Filter needs replacement, but it is not bad.
As I am in the Caribbean its is actually MUCH cheaper to order parts, but then I need to wait at least a week before I get them, so filter will be ordered next!
 

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99 Tracker, 5 door, 2L, 4x4
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Reasons for running rich

FP too high,
FPR leaking
FI stuck open,
illegal air in exhaust
ECT too low,
Air pocket at ET sensor.
Restricted intake...

.....Philip
 

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Yes I had a friend gap the spark plugs for me, He did some research on it before he did.
There should be a label under your hood w/info on the correct gap, timing, etc. for your engine. Be sure to double check the gap was researched correctly.
 

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Yep, did that. The code; (14), my research reveals is the coolant temperature sensor. Just purchased.
Code 14 certainly can cause the car to run rich, as this code indicates that the coolant temp sensor is indicating to the ECU that the car is not warmed up. The ECU will continue to provide extra fuel/air in order to get the car warmed up to the proper temperature - ie, cause the car to run rich.
However, it might be a good idea to understand that often codes do not mean that these sensors need to be replaced, but maybe just checked. If the wiring to the sensors are not good, it will also cause the sensor to throw the code, even if the sensor itself is ok. Normally, with a code 14, it can mean that the connection to the coolant temp sensor is not plugged in properly, wires fell off, etc., so that the ECU is not getting the proper signal from the sensor. Fortunately, this isn't an expensive sensor, and after 20 years, it's no harm to replace it. However, if you were dealing with a $200 sensor, I might actually do a couple of diagnostic tests first, before assuming that it was the sensor, rather than the wiring, that was at fault. Wiring is becoming an issue in these older cars.
And the spark plugs need to be gapped at .028" (.07mm). Plenty of info here on the forum to help you get more familiar with your car. Enjoy!
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thank you everyone for your support, It is the first time i have done a post myself here, but I have always been reading since I had my last car, a few years ago.
I will update on the situation as I go along.
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
Right, So update.
The coolant temperature sensor was changed, and the computer reset.
So no more engine light, horay!!!
Still have the issue :(
Someone mentioned about the an air screw, which was adjusted and for a long time while idling the sidekick was not giving off black smoke, then after about an hour of idle.
Black smoke again and sputtering. Now the only thing I can add was, the gas was really low, when that started. Dont know if that helps any of you.
Also, like before the spark plugs get a lot of sot (Black) on them, and thats just after a few minutes of idle (verified). My issues of sputtering and hard start, I believe are as a result of the blacked spark plugs; I say this as if I change the plugs or clean them, there is no immediate issue with sputtering or hard start. But then after idling and the black smoke for a while, sputtering starts and plugs are black again.
 

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I suppose, sounding like a broken record, it might be a good idea to do a compression test on the engine to verify that the car is timed correctly, as well as checking your tune up, making sure that your plugs are gapped to .07mm. I would also wonder when, if ever, you have changed your o2 sensor. The o2 will not cause a code usually until it is completely dead, and as it is 'failing' it will cause the car to run rich as a precaution. Normally, they should be changed every 100,000 miles or so.

You advise that your car is hard to start - if you floor the gas pedal when you try to start the car, does it start easier? Flooring the pedal will stop fuel delivery, and this would help if the car is flooding. On a normal running car, you would be unable to start the car with the gas pedal floored.
You should also advise exactly what your car does from cold start - what cold idle is, warm idle, etc.
Aqua has listed the basic reasons for a rich condition. You need to diagnose for each of them - checking your fuel pressure to make sure it is in spec (34-41psi), making sure your fuel pressure regulator isn't leaking, confirming with an IR thermometer that your car is warming up to proper running temp (about 170F with IR thermometer pointed at the thermostat housing), vacuum leaks (pinch your vacuum hoses with a pliers - with the exception of the idle speed solenoid, you should have no change in idle. If you do, that circuit is leaking), etc.
 
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