yes any OBD2 code reader will show most of the ENGINE fault codes on your '97 which should point you in the general direction to diagnose your problem. Your check engine light needs to be on to indicate a code is stored. Also do not forget the basics - plugs and connectors and look for vacuum leaks.
Take it to autozone or advanced, they will read your codes and then you can search these forums for the specific faults, it's a start and it is free. Or just buy the reader $140 and save yourself future trips and amaze your friends when their check engine lights come on.
good luck, keep us posted!
RIP "Betsy" (Oo=*=oO)
'96 E 3 2 0 (W 2 1 0) M 1 0 4 (Totalled)
Spaces in sig so as not to screw up the SEARCH; every time someone searches for that MB they don't want my sig!
2004 Audi A8L
'98 VW Passat 1.8T 5M
'87 Alfa Romeo Milano 2.5L 5M
'67 Impala convertible, 327cid