What make, model, year is your car? What engine? How many miles?
The location you describe may be where the "knock" sensor normally would go. If it is no longer there, it will set a code and turn on the MIL (check engine light). A cheap fix would be to find out for sure what went there, and if it is the knock sensor, find one at a salvage yard, plug it in, and tie it up out of the way so it doesn't move around.
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changing the exhaust system can alter the gas flow and may create problems for the sensors . The HO2s sensor and the O2 sensor may now be operation on the edge of the parameter settings and any exhaust coating on the sensors may be affecting their performance. Run fault codes to check the sensors and sometimes removing them and cleaning them in vinegar to remove the coating will improve the situation. What ever is the problem if it started after the manifold change then that is the area in which to seek answers.
Do you have the idle speed turned up to keep it from dying? Because it is high. Check engine light on? Have you checked for vacuum leaks at the gasket under the throttle body? How does the car run under acceleration? You might have a worn distributor shaft.
If you have a carburator still then you need to know more.
screwdriver method on feel/rpm gauge
Proper exhaust measurement.
Run her up to 650 rpm idle start adjusting mixture screw until max rpm obtained. back out a bit too be lean. Ajust Idle screw again for 650.
Turn on appliances as lighting and airco. If engine starts/tends to stall, vibrate increase the idle a bit more.
You are not ready with the engine if not doing ignition settings and valve clearances as well, etc.