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Hi, Howard,

A lot depends on how long the car was run before it cooled down. It takes awhile to warm up the entire exhaust system and evaporate whatever water is in the system when it was started. Water vapor is also a natural product of combustion and it will condense readily in a cold muffler.

The short answer is that a certain amount of both soot and water may be normal. If the spark plugs also show heavy sooting, the engine is either being over choked or is just running too rich after it has warmed up.

I would drive it for at least twenty miles straight to dry out the system. Then shut it off and let it cool thoroughly. At the next restart, see if the problem decreases. You didn’t mention whether the water level drops in the radiator or that you see bubbles in the radiator, so I’ll rule out a cracked block or blown head gasket.

Give us more details and we can try again.