break lights & instrument panel help!

hi everyone. i own a 1998 ford ranger xlt, and im having a few issues. i bought the car used and do not have an owners manual for it or the money to get one right now. yes im a little straped for chash lol. my
right break light works at all times. however my left break light only works when i turn on my haed lights or instrument panel lights. my insturment panel only lights up halfway. im guessing there are 4 lights back tehre and only the left one and teh center one is turning on, so i cant see how fast im gogin at night!
i found an online diagram of what fuses in my fues box do but i dont see break lights listed. i looked at every fuse in the box and they all look like they are fine. i do not have fuses in the following spots: 6 12 18 23 34 31 and 32. my dome light was broken off recentley by someone breaking into my car. and my back left license plate light also needs to be replaced.
any help would be fantastic! i really can not afford ot bring it into the shop right now. thank u in advance
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You have a couple different problems.
First check and clean up your tail/brake light wiring... you have a (or more than 1) ground problem on your TL housings.
Take the bulb sockets out (usually from the back of the housing) and watch the bulb filaments on BOTH sides, while a helper pushes the brakes and turns on tailights in various combinations. Note the thicker heavier filament is the BL, the thinner is the TL. A bad ground cause both filaments to light with brake on. Checvk for corrosion in sockets, themselves.
Never saw an Instrument Cluster that didnt come out with just removing the trim around it... look close and be patient and careful. Then there's usually four screw holding cluster in.
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you pay..DEAL with it!
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