Help please! My 1982 Malibu Classic wagon suddenly runs terribly

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Dec 31, 2015
The wagon has a 267 v8 stock. Within the past year, the car has had new plugs, wires, and distributor. Two days ago, I filled it up with premium (usually do once a month), and gave it a car wash. It ran well all the way home after the fill up and wash, but the next morning would not idle when kicked down from high idle, eventually It smoothed out and I drove it all day and it ran ok, I thought maybe some water got into the distributor, and it just needed to dry out. Well, the next morning, it behaved the same way. It would idle real low and sputter to a stop. It would crank for a while before restarting. 7/10 times it will not start, idle or drive normally. I can keep it running by feathering the gas.

I thought I would start by replacing the fuel filter, but the smaller fitting is stuck in it very tight. I tried some penetrating oil, but it still wouldn't undo. I stopped for today as I was starting to round the nut out.

I didn't notice any severe vacuum leaks, most of the vacuum hoses are newer. Also, when looking into the carburetor and revving the engine, I can see that the accelerator pump is squirting sufficient fuel.

The car always had a very small surge at idle. Sometimes on the first start of the day it would act like it was going to stall out when I hit the gas but that went away as it warmed up.

What should I check as to the sudden problems? I am somewhat novice to this so please explain in detail.
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Maybe there is some water in the gas maybe try some Sta-Bil and see if the problem goes away.
Hi, yes I thought the same thing about water in the gas, I called the station they said no other problems have been reported. I bought some heat and dumped it in the tank and let it run awhile but it didn't seem to help.
It could perhaps be a problem with proper venting of the tank. Try running it without the gas cap and see if it behaves any different.
So should I try running without the cap? Any tips to get stuck fuel filter loosened?
I am going to pull a plug in the near future to see how it looks. For all I know, they could be fouled for some odd reason. If the plug looks OK, I will see if the car will stay idling by spraying starting fluid to keep it running. If so, would it be safe to say it's likely a fuel delivery issue as opposed to an ignition issue?

I just thought of something, the car always had random low idle fits, and the exhaust could sound choppy at times. Most recently, I heard some slight rattling while driving. The catalytic converter is original to the car, and it looks pretty rough. Could it have finally bit the dust? The odometer reads 53××× but who knows the actual mileage.
Could be a number of things. Some things I'd check are the rubber fuel hose connection at the sending unit. I had one cracked and never noticed a leak but it ran funny. Definitely replace for preventative maintenance. Pull the distributor cap and rotor and clean the contacts. While their off, check the distributor counter weights. Make sure they are operating. You can turn it a little back and forth. Check the little bushings that the counterweights are hung on.
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Where's the sending unit? And after I take the distributor off, do I need to retime it?

Told you guys I'm novice.
Two days ago, I filled it up with premium and gave it a car wash, the next morning would it not idle when kicked down from high idle, eventually It smoothed out and I drove it all day and it ran ok, I thought maybe some water got into the distributor, and it just needed to dry out.
When you washed your car did you wash your engine also?
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