I picked up an 88 off craigslist a few weeks back for scrap value. Body is mint (it's almost hilarious how flawless the truck looks while running so poorly), interior is nearly perfect but the engine is running really rough.
Timing belt went a few days ago which I had replaced so I am now $600 flat into this truck which I guess isn't too bad considering it moves at all.
Since I really don't know all the technical wizardry of how this stuff works I'll just explain what the truck is doing instead.
-Idles rough on cold start. Idle is also very erratic. Will smooth out then chug then seem to rev then almost cut off again.
-Has very little immediate throttle response on level ground and nearly zero response uphill where I am forced into excessive downshifting.
-After running for a few miles ( distance to work ) if I stop for gas it requires multiple attempts to get cranked.
-Is easier to get cranked when cold.
-I seem to be able to hear a "whiring" type sound that I cant decide whether it sounds like metal on metal or air whistling.
-Seems to be running too high an rpm pretty much all the time unless I am a gear above where I should be. For example, 45mph in 4th gear sounds like the engine is about to explode which leaves me having to shift up into 5th which then bogs down on anything except downhill grades.
So far from the "unpaid advice" I have had my problems are related to anything from a carb that needs to be rebuilt, slipping clutch, bad plugs/wires, vaccum leaks and valve damage from when the timing belt broke.
I don't have the tools or the knowledge to do anything on my own or the time to do it via manual assistance (work 70 hours a week) so whatever is fixed will have to be done by someone else. Just trying to educate myself on some of these symptoms so I can possibly avoid being bent over by a dishonest mechanic looking to sell my "i have no idea" self something I don't need and that won't fix the problem.