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Hello and thank you for your question,When the check engine light come on, do you know what the fault code and or codes its setting?
Are you able to watch the timing when the problem is occurring and see if it become erratic?
Spark timing is controlled by the computer and I would like you to try and look at the timing with a timing light hooked up while the problem is occurring and see if its erratic and not holding steady.
Well I am think the problem you are having is an electronic control concern if its coming and going. If the computer is loosing the PIP signal from the distributor Pick up it can cause this type of problem. Why dont you try disconnecting the SPOUT connector and see if it then runs right. There will be a little loss of power with it removed but can you try this and let me know the results?
The SPOUT connector is the connector that has to be removed to set the distributor timing. If you do not have a timing light and you did not remove the SPOUT , how did you set the timing ?
Well then we are back to checking the timing while the problem is occurring. You will need a timing light to do this.
Unfortunately you are right, If you are not able to check these things, anything I suggest would simply be guessing and I am not prepared to do that.