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my mechanic had to jury rig my '82 to get it to pass smog a few years back. basically, the egr was on at idle speed which caused a rough idle. he put a ball bearing in the vacuum line to look normal, but the egr was bypassed. he engaged it manually to pass the test.

i would like to solve this problem myself (he's no longer my mechanic). what areas do you think i should concentrate on?
Well, if you plugged the line and it shut off, the valve itself should be fine. For some reason you're getting vacuum with the throttle closed. Make sure the egr vacuum line is plugged into the proper port on the TB. It should be coming off of the nipple on the TB which is closest to the front of the engine. It should run to the black BVSV on the thermo housing. From there one hose should run to the vacuum modulator.

If your hoses are correct, then maybe your idle has been adjusted with the stop screw instead of the idle screw. This would cause your throttle plate to be more open than normal, letting the egr nipple get vacuum when it shouldn't. If this is the case, let off on the stop screw and open up your idle adjustment to compensate.

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