Radiator problem or sensor problem? on 1998 Ford Escort

My temperature gauge starts in the middle (instead of cool) when I start it up. Sometimes while driving down the road - not idling - the gauge goes up towards hot & will go back down some (while still rolling down the road). It has never had a radiator flush that I know of. The check engine light is on. My fuel gauge & temperature gauges don't work correctly (which I guess is caused by faulty sensors). I would like to try everything I can at home before taking it to a mechanic - I don't have a credit card & will need to save up money for repairs. I would like to know if anyoen else has had this problelm & knows what to do about it. This weekend, I'm plannign on trying to flush the radiator, but don't know what else to try. Thanks.

by in Lithia Springs, GA on November 05, 2009
2 answers 1 comment
ANSWER by on November 05, 2009
If the fuel gauge and temperature gauge both work inaccurately it sounds like the problem is most likely at the instrument panel in what is used to control the voltage to the instrument (the voltage stabilizer). It is important to have a accurate temperature gauge to avoid damaging the engine. Are you loosing coolant? do you hear the fan cut in and out? do you see signs of over heating gurgling steam ect...... If so these are all signs of over heating. The gauge should not start at half way from cold. The coolant temperature gauge sender unit is located in the area of the ignition distributor, with a red/white wire attached to it, with that wire disconnected the gauge should read cold when the ignition key is turned on.Check the fuse box in the car look for the 10 Amp fuse marked "meter" that brings power to the instruments, ensure it is good.
COMMENT by on November 05, 2009
It is not showing any signs of overheating (I had a 79 Camaro that did all the time). I checked the fuses - they are ok. I haven't checked the wire that you mentioned. I have been wondering if it's something actually in my dash (electrical?) because my fuel gauge reads over the full mark all the time (I keep up with my fuel by resetting the trip meter when I get gas). My car is not having any problems as far as over-heating or running bad, it's just the gauges make me paranoid. This weekend I'll take a look at the wiring. Thanks for the info =)
ANSWER by on January 01, 2011
The problem is the stepper motors that run the neddles on the gauges. If you know how to solder, then buy the updated cluster stepper motors and put them in. Your problem is solved, I just did it and it took me a total of 1 hour, taking the cluster out and removing the old motors and soldering the new ones in and installing the cluster back into the van. here is the link to the website on instructions to repair. http://www.gm-trucks.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=95547 good luck
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