1993 Taurus wagon broken fuel level gauge

Hi all.
I have a 1993 Taurus wagon, with a no longer working fuel level gauge. We've been driving around for a while keeping a close eye on the trip
meter, but it's getting a little inconvenient.
The mechanic I took it to replaced the fuel sending unit in the gas tank, because experience told him that was usually the problem...
Got the car back today, but the meter in the dashboard still indicates a full gas tank. Now he claims the fuel level gauge in the dashboard must be broken.
Those things are pretty hard to find! But I did find some, even complete instrument clusters on eBay.
Questions: how hard is it to remove the dashboard (any special Ford tools needed) and can the instrument cluster be opened (without damage) to insert the new meter?
Thanks,
Rick
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

lights out and i have been avoiding the issue because of this. There is some linkage to the back of the IP cluster that has to be removed before it will pop out. Its not as simple as just removing the front IP screws and opening it out far enough to pull the cables of the rear.
How do i know this? i experimented on a donor before i ran out of time and got frustrated. Before i try it again, back to the shop manual for close inspection of procedure and try again. If i were you, i would go down to you local u pull yard, pay the admission fee and experiment on a junk car before you pull yours off. That way if your screw anything up, it won't be on your dime.
Bob
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Bob Urz wrote:

You have to unplug the speedometer cable from the transmission, then pull the cluster out and disconnect the connectors and the speedo cable from that end. You also have to disconnect the shift indiactor cable from the steering column. There is nothing hard about it.
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Tom Adkins wrote:

Nothing hard if you know exactly what your doing and how. Lets just say that the IP won't pull out without some behind work first. Most IP's will just pull out far enough to disconnect the speedo cables and electrical cables without jumping though hoops. That why i suggested the u pull it route so the method could be learned without capital damage.
Bob
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Tom,
Does that mean that the entire dashboard does not have to come off? Instead, is there a way then to just pull out the instrument cluster?
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

What he was trying to say was the IP itself does come out. There are just things behind it to unhook before it comes out. That's the problem i ran into. I took out the front fasteners holding the IP and it would only come out a inch or so. Its all in knowing the tricks to do it. That's the problem with being a DIY. You don't know all the tricks. Sometimes it the school of hard knocks. Sometimes the service manual tells all. Sometimes a pro will chime in and help.
Just for reference, the manual says its a two person job (page 01-12-2) It says position the front wheels straight ahead. disconnect battery. remove radio and cluster Finnish panel disconnect all column electrical connections. Remove two steering column bolts. Disengage insulator retainer and remove insulator. remove four nuts and absorber assembly from under the steering column. disconnect park brake cable and ignition switch wiring connector, remove four nuts retaining steering column to support, disconnect PRNDL cable and lower column on seat.
That the steps just to get to where your going. Now you see why i suggested practicing on a junk car?
Bob
Bob
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Bob Urz wrote:

Bob, the whole instrument panel doesn't need to come out!! Just the cluster. It's about a half hour or 45 minutes for an inexperienced DIYer. I can do it in about 10 minutes, but I've done a lot of them. Manuals are inexpensive but priceless.
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

the steering column. Disconnect the shift indicator cable from the shifter and column.(one screw) There may be trim on either side of the column that just pries off to access the 2 upper bolts for the bolster. (Sounds right, I don't remember exactly on this car). Then remove about 6 screws holding the trim around the cluster. Disconnect the speedo cable from the trans. Remove 4 screws holding the cluster in and pull it toward you until you can reach behind and disconnect the 2 wiring connectors and the speedo cable. Pull the cluster away from the dashboard.
To remove the fuel gauge, remove about 6 screws holding the clear lense onto the cluster. Then a couple of more screws holding the black trim around the gauges. There may be a screw or two holding the gauge in, maybe not. Gently pry the gauge out, it's held in by the electrical contacts on the back. It kinda plugs into the cluster. While you're there, get a box of #194 bulbs and replace all of the bulbs in the cluster.
I would recommend obtaining a factory shop manual (paper or CD) for your car if you intend to work on it. Both are available used on Ebay for very little money. They can be obtained from Helm (The publisher) byt they tend to be pricy. Chilton and Haynes are useless for this sort of thing. The Ford manual gives step by step instructions and usually illustrations. I did a quick search and didn't immediately see any paper manuals, but here is a CD: http://makeashorterlink.com/?S1E7225EC
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Tom Adkins wrote:

Oh, I forgot, The cable doesn't exactly connect to the transmission. It plugs into the Vehicle Speed Sensor that is screwed to the transmission. If you have room, you can unscrew the VSS instead of unplugging the cable IIRC.
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Thanks guys, this is very valuable information!
Last time I removed a dashboard was on a 1980 Peugeot (yes, French car). About 30 screws, and the whole thing just fell straight off. Obviously a decade later things got more complicated :-)
It's good to see the whole dashboard doesn't have to come off. The mechanic that told me about the problem clearly seems to think so. He's an after-hours kinda guy, only one in this small town, not exactly a Ford specialist.
45 minutes for an inexperienced DIY'er, hmm. OK, I'll give it a try tomorrow. I like building things, and I'm not exactly clumsy with a screwdriver. This sounds like something I can do.
Thanks guys, your advice is really very much appreciated!
Erik
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

A #2 Phillips Scrwedriver(you might need a #2 stubby also) and a 1\4" socket set should do it.(#2 is the "regular" Phillips with a non pointy end, don't try the slightly smaller, pointier #1, you'll strip the screws every time). Also, push HARD on the screwdriver as you try to break them loose. Metal screw heads stick firmly to plastic.They tend to break loose with a "snap". As you remove screws tug or pry firmly on the parts, you can usually feel if you have all the screws out. If there arent screws, there's probably clips. You can do it with some patience and some logical thinking. (Hmm, this doesnt want to come off, the tight spot is up here, how do I uncover "up here"? Maybe this has to come off... No screws on "this", maybe clips, I'll try and pry it off...)etc... Oh there's the screws. Think of it as a puzzle that your 14 year old could solve. If you have one , he may be of assistance.
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Hi all.
Me again, with a little update.
Things are getting a little weirder every day!
The new gauge for the instrument panel hasn't arrived yet. I did get a service manual on CD, including a printed electric diagram "book".
So we've been driving around with the still defective fuel gauge in the dash for about a week after installing the new fuel sending unit.
Today something strange happened: I got in the car, turned the key, things cranked properly, but it didn't want to start. After turning the key back and forth a number of times I noticed that the fuel pump wasn't starting up.
Thinking this may be a simple fuse problem, I figured I might as well check the fuses myself. Sure enough, one of the fuses in the fuse box (under the steering wheel) was busted. Replaced it with the same value.
Tried starting it again but the fuel pump still didn't react after turning the key. However, I immediately noticed that the "check engine" and "airbag" lights came on. I hadn't seen those lights in months, but since I hadn't driven the car in about 2 years I never even knew... (it's - mainly - my dear wife's vehicle; it seems I only get to drive it when it's broken, ahem).
More importantly, what also started working is the fuel gauge! Whilst looking at the indicator lights I noticed that the fuel gauge had dropped from almost full (where it has been for months) to somewhere right under one quarter. All this after just spending some dough on a new fuel sending unit and installation and a new fuel gauge. A simple fuse...
I pulled out some hair and proceeded to check the other fuses. They were fine. I had a look under the hood; they're also good (had to check them with an ohm meter - they're not transparent).
I went to the mechanic, informed him of the new problem (not starting), and asked him if he could drop by to have a look. When I got back home, I decided to have another look at the fuses. Got in the car, wanted to roll down the windows (southwest TX here, 93 degrees today...) and as soon as I turned the key - bzzzt - there goes the fuel pump! OK - this thing is haunted. Started like brand new... Maybe oxidated contacts on the fuses?
I have made almost 7 or 8 small trips this afternoon, to the store, mechanic, post office, gas station, etc., shutting the engine down every time, and now it seems to work fine again.
Unfortunately, the fuse I replaced is another matter. I thought the replacement fixed it, but after a couple of trips I noticed that the gauge would stick again, and the indicator lights went out too. I'm now on my 4th fuse! Every time that fuse blows the right side of the instrument cluster - including the fuel gauge - dies with it.
A long story, I'm sorry, but as a non native English speaker it's usually easier for me to describe things in long form. My vocabulary, certainly when it comes to auto parts, is limited. And I don't know much about cars but I do know electronics. So I might find this problem myself - and fix it. After all the wasted money on parts I now find I didn't need that would be a welcome change...
So, my new question: does anyone here know where I might start looking? I could check everything, but is there a "typical" problem with this Ford Taurus wagon, maybe? It would save me a whole lot of time. The fact that the fuse keeps blowing suggests that there's a short circuit somewhere. But the manual doesn't even hint about fuse number 18 being related to the fuel gauge. If it had I wouldn't even have bothered getting those two new parts, probably not even taken it to the mechanic.
Any ideas, anyone?
Thanks again,
Erik
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