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if the check engine light is on then there is a code set in the ecm(computer) that you need to have pulled and diagnoised.if your spraying starter fluid and it starts then you have a fuel delivery problem,could it be out of gas,plugged fuel filter,bad fuel pump,injectors not being comanded to open by the ecm.this should help to get it running,
it is more than likely the voltage regulator for the dash. this is a common problem for these vehicles. it is located on the back of the dash cluster, its a silver box with 3 wires coming out of it. it converts the voltage from 12v to the required voltage for the gauges to not fry your cluster board (6-7 volts). its an easy fix you just need to hit a junkyard or dealership. also you can try the relay for this which is located at the fuse panel in the vehicle, there are 3 blue or brown relays at the top of the panel it is the 2nd one on the left. just swap it with the ign relay and see if that fixes it. also you can try cleaning corrosion off of the wires to the regulator. fyi the relays are a pain to get out there is a tab on the top of them that you have to depress just look at the relay box under hood this should give you a good idea of removal.
Check your fuse firstly.If that's ok, then check and clean the wires at the plug on the fuel tank.If no joy then your sender unit in the tank has failed.Remove the plug on the fuel tank and short out the wires and check to see if the Gage works.if so its not the Gage,its def the sender in the tank.
Likely the float inside your gas tank has a hole in it and has filled up with gasoline causing it to sink....or it can be a wire disconnected....somewhere.....check your fuse panel first to be certain it is not a blown fuse...
99% of the time this is caused by a defective fuel gauge sending unit in the gas tank, in fact that is the only thing i have ever found wrong in my 40 years as a mechanic, 30 of which were at a Ford dealer.
Has anyone had the dash out? If you take the dash out there is a cable connected to the odometer and the speedometer it is just one cable. And some wires going to the gas gage. Check and make sure the cable is connected all the way. The gas gage may also be disconnected somewhere but there could be different problems that cause the gas gage to be disabled. !Never touch two wires at the same time!
First check to see if you have any fuses related to ''gages'' thar are bad. You will have to find the wire near the gas tank connection that ''grounds'' the gage. When you disconnect the wire you can ''ground'' or touch it to the body...The gage should sweep from E to F when you do this,if the gage in the dash is good..If not you probably have a bad''sending''' unit in the tank itself..Better known as a ''float assembly.