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I just took my 1993 Nissan Serena with the same issue into a auto electrician. They took it apart and found it to be the speedometer driver is broken. Apparently very common for this vehicle. Two options: have it repaired or put in a second hand speedo, the latter is slightly cheaper but then your odometer will be wrong and it could break again.
The electric motor is designed to release if you try to open it by hand, chances are the lock assembly has come apart in the door, and it is usually a $2 plastic clip that causes hours of frustration. to get to it you would need to pull the inner pannel off the door.
Have your battery checked with a car battery testing machine. It may be on it's way out.
If your battery is flat it can ruin your alternator. If this has been a problem, don't just bump start or jump start the car then drive a few miles, you need to charge the battery FULLY with a charger plugged into the mains.
The container you are talking about is called the overflow reservoir and yes, that is where you add the coolant. Make sure that your car has been off for a couple hours and is nice and cool before you try to add any, when it's hot it can build pressure and spray coolant or steam out when you unscrew the cap.