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Q: Have a problem with my system check(in message ctr) on 2004 Ford Explorer

I am a disabled mom of 3 and prior to being disabled 10 yrs ago I was a purser for Northwest Airlines( I am telling u this because my car has low mileage and just hit 70,000 last week)
About 1 1/2 months ago I had my oil changed and as I was leaving the building my "check engine soon" light turned on. I had not even turned around in the parking lot. I went straight back to the office and the man, whom I assumed was the manager mumbled something about it being because it had been so cold and the person who had been working on my car had done a certain check on it and had not turned it off/reset it,or whatever she was suppose to have done.
So about a week ago it came back on. Now I am not a bubble headed blonde, pardon the expression for the blondes out there! No offense! But I don't just watch the, what we call "dummy, or idiot lights". But When it can at least tell me that nothing is overheating an the fluid is ok, I am not going to panic and sell my first born to have a diagnostics run on it when I don't have the money.
So a friend,here's the kicker, came down from Alaska, and said he had the same thing happen. And HIS friend told him sometimes the sensor is just dirty.
So he went out to look at it, said he cleaned it. Started it up, said it didn't show up anymore. But..... Now my time clock that showed the amount of time that was spent in the car has been erased, and does not run, plus my gas marker that tells how much fuel u have went to full, and I only had a 1/4 of a tank. So now everytime I fill up my car it says I have like 380 miles till empty, when normally it would only have been about 238.
Any suggestions? I really can't afford a diagnostics test, and I am pretty broke most of the time and it really helps to know how much gas I really have so I can keep track of it. Sorry for lengthy message, but figured u might need to know all of story.
Would appreciate any thoughts!
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