Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Burlington, Ontario
Re: Scanned for codes, some weird things came back...?
The thermactor air system isn't overly complicated. There's an air pump attached to the lower part of the engine. Depending on the belt system, it'll either be driven by the serpentine belt, or if you have the old v-groove belts, it'll be driven by a small & thin belt directly from the crankshaft pulley.
If the pump has been disconnected, or the belt has broken, that would render the entire system inoperative, and could trigger such a code. However, if the air pump is connected & operational, there is also a valve in the system that is sometimes mounted on the passenger side fender (in the engine bay, of course). Different model years had slightly differing valves & such, but they all functioned the same. I recall reading about how to test the valve, and the test you perform is slightly different depending on the type of valve you have. Basically, though, at idle air is allowed to pump out of one hose on the valve (3-hose type), and when engine rpm increases to a certain point, air ceases to pump out of one hose, but is pumped out of another. Testing the pump itself is quite simple - pull the outlet hose off of it. You should feel air being pumped out at idle, and the amount of air being pumped increases with engine speed. If the pump doesn't perform this way, you replace it.
However, the air pump system is an emission device, and it shouldn't affect the richness of the fuel (that's what the black smoke is - it's extra fuel that couldn't be completely burned). I believe you're dealing with multiple faults. If you're blowing black smoke out the tailpipe on a fuel injected car, I'd test the oxygen sensor(s). A faulty oxygen sensor can be giving a false reading to the computer, and it can be over-compensating by allowing too much fuel.