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Old 01-24-2005, 10:26 AM
ALL4RD ALL4RD is offline
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Instrument Panel/Gauges Problems 97-F150

1997 F-150 XLT , 4.6, AT, 133K+

First… months back I was having fuel gauge problems, Fuel gauge would read on the high side and after the tank was actually half full it would jump to a quarter tank. But at the same time, at highway speeds the faster you drove the fuller the tank would read the slower, the opposite. After different checks, I finally dropped the tank and changed out the sending unit/pump. Expensive little unit! But it never really fixed the problem.

Then a few times one day, the oil pressure gauge dropped off to zero and with a dash oil light (that gets you attention real quick). Checking things over, the problem seemed to point to the gauge/wire/ground…after that it never happened again. But the fuel gauge problem was still there. Then a few mornings the whole instrument panel was zero operational, right down to the speedo and mile counter. After about 16 –25 miles (happen 3 times so far) I would hear a click behind the dash and everything would work again. I checked fuses (no problem) all the time I am consulting my official and store bought Ford manuals for information. So I finally pulled the instrument panel to check the circuit board, plugs and wires. Everything looked good. After putting it back together, I still have the fuel gauge problem. But then the speedo went bouncing around ( 0-85 mph), when it does, the water temp gauge will go to max and everywhere in between (the higher the speedo reading the higher the water temp and visa-versa) and the fuel gauge will drop by a quarter and sometimes to a quarter tank from where it is sitting. The other gauges, including the tach, are not affected nor are the instrument lights or the mileage counter. The Ford manual said that the computer may have to relearn settings initially since the battery had been disconnected..etc) The second day this happen after I had driven about 15 miles and next it happen after 110 miles since the initial time in started. So I guess I can call this an intermittent problem for the past few times I have driven the truck.

The manual seems to point to the instrument panel but with gauges and the speedo being involved can this be a power control module problem? The manual shows all these gauges and speedo going through the module. I hate to buy an instrument panel ($300++) new and not fix the problem. The fuel sender/pump already set me back $300++ and I still have that problem. Now to make things possibly a little clearer or Not…On cold days, only a few times in the past few years, I get an engine light and with OBDII readings, show two cylinders fouled (which is not the case). The Ford Dealer guys said that this is a problem that this year seems to have. (The 97 Crown Vic) I traded in for a 2000 F-150 did this once or twice also. So I have no problem believing that this is not true. I just reset the codes and all is good. Just thought I would throw that in to give the Overall picture.

I am now waiting for the dreaded smoke from the dash! Is anyone having or had this happen or have any ideas?
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Old 01-25-2005, 12:08 AM
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Racerguy Racerguy is offline
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I think I'd carefully check the powers and grounds to the instrument cluster. If they are good, with no voltage drop then you will probably need to replace the cluster.
Misfire codes were a problem on your year of truck. The PCM's misfire monitor was too sensitive. The cure was to reprogram the PCM. Your dealer can do that for you but I'm not sure what it would cost.
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Old 01-27-2005, 06:21 AM
ALL4RD ALL4RD is offline
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Thanks Racerguy, for the input. This should be interesting to track down to say the least. These last few times that I have driven, the instruments have been right on the money, even the fuel gauge is matching my mileage. (That’s a first)
I am going to try and get back into the dash this weekend if the weather doesn’t go into the toilet. I have a minor eye surgery the beginning of the month, so I may be out of commission for a week after that. But I will be posting what I find as soon as I do.
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Old 01-27-2005, 06:23 AM
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...Thanks!

Last edited by ALL4RD; 01-27-2005 at 06:26 AM. Reason: double posted
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Old 01-31-2005, 07:31 PM
scooteraug02 scooteraug02 is offline
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ALL4RD, I have a 2001 SuperCrew F-150 and I am having a similar problem. The weather was getting cold and I hadn't driven the truck much then I made a short trip to the store. On the way home I turned on the radio and all my gages started going from max to min, tach and speedo went to zero and odometer was unlit. The whole way home they fluctuated and occassionally acted normal.

The next morning I put a charger on the battery. I started the truck and all seemed normal. Went for a drive and all was normal until I accelerated a little hard from a light. They started acting up again.

Nothing new has happened to the truck except for the lack of use and the cold weather. I was thinking battery or alternator but the truck starts fine and the insts. when normal show a charge.

Any help would be appreciated. Haven't had a chance to ask the dealer.
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Old 01-31-2005, 11:08 PM
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Hi and welcome to the forum

I think I'd take the truck and get the charging system and battery tested just to rule that out. If that shows no problems I think you'll have to start looking for bad connections like in the posts above. There are grounds on both sides of the truck, behind the kick panels (panel next to park brake).
Please let us know what you find.
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Old 02-02-2005, 06:17 PM
ALL4RD ALL4RD is offline
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Well I haven't taken the dash back out yet and have driven it 3 more times since my first post. The real kicker here is all my guages have still read on the money. Until the end of the last short trip, nearing home I noticed the fuel gauge is back to its funky readings again. I have an eye operation this Friday, but should be back in commission by the following Monday. I will have book and meter in hand and tear out and test everything possible since I will be home bound for a week. One of us is gonna win this battle, the truck or me. Lets hope the wallet doesn't get the short end of the stick.

Racerguy, the grounds your talking about are good and the battery seems to be A OK. If I can't find things in the dash/wiring I think my next thought may go to the power control module and the ignition switch.
Will keep you posted!
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Old 02-02-2005, 06:58 PM
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scooteraug02, does your dash have a electronic trip meter (red led)? My 2000 does and it will self test the dash. I think I read it in one of the posts here. I tried it on the 2000 and if I remember right, when you turn the key to on and hold the trip meter button in, after 2 seconds it will run a self diagonstic test and start showing codes.Haven't had any problems with the 2000 but do cruise all the boards.
Have been keeping up on the brake/cruise control switch (on the mastercylinder)fires. Ford has just made it a recall on the 2000 but not other models yet. Which sucks since my 97 has that switch also. monckywrench posts a lot of good links http://www.ford-trucks.com/forums/sh...d.php?t=337223 Google seach for the ford recalls.

Last edited by ALL4RD; 02-02-2005 at 07:03 PM.
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Old 02-02-2005, 06:59 PM
cantrma cantrma is offline
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Racerguy, Is there an integrated panel cluster or is there a separate computer for the cluster?
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Old 02-02-2005, 07:09 PM
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Everything is in the cluster.
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Old 09-30-2005, 04:22 PM
ALL4RD ALL4RD is offline
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It has been a while since I have posted and this problem has only got worse from the initial problem. So I will re-cap everything. First was the fuel gauge problem, changing the in-tank unit did nothing but cost me $$. More troubleshooting, cussing and head scratching. Then the problem spread a bit to my oil gauge dropping off to zero to max when it had a mind to (that gets your attention real fast). Then the tach starts its own dance of jumping up and down when it had a mind to with the speedo doing the same. Then the tach settled back down one day on its own. But the speedo decided that it would work when it felt like it, the gas gauge still doing it own thing and sometimes in sync with the speedo, but the gas gauge never being correct in its readings. Still the faster you went the fuller the tank. Then…yes there is more. The over-temp decided to get into the picture too. Max over temp (gauge not truck) when it was not on max over-temp reading the speedo would jump around from zero to 90 (at any speed). If the speedo stayed on zero then you drove around with the gauge on max and an annoying over-temp light. Now on start ups, everything looked good until you took off and went over 20 mph and everything would start doing its own thing. Did I forget to say that the oil gauge had gone back to working again at this time? Remember this is over more than a few months.
Anyway…I checked more wires and had my dash tore apart more than most employed mechanics probably do in a busy month. FINDING NOTHING. After tracing wires on schematics in the Ford and Haynes manuals over and over (I tried to find a common denominator to tie all these gauges together) An electronic module….Being beaten down, crumpled, mumbling, cussing, teeth gritting and frustrated I ordered a PCM (power control module) $$$ lots of green! After it came in and I got it home, installed it and it didn’t fix the problem. I realized in my haste (and slow loss of sanity by now) that I have ordered the wrong module, actually it did seem to make the truck shift a little smoother or maybe I was trying to console myself? Remember electronic boxes are not a return item (except the high dollar ones for your core charge back). After saving a little more money and getting more sick and tired of driving with this these problems. I ordered the GEM (general electronic module). That I should of ordered in the first place. The book will say nothing to the sorts that the instruments have anything to do with this box. This is what the Ford book reads for this box. “The GEM incorporates the functions of several different modules into one and offers diagnostics to easily locate and repair concerns affecting the subsystems that it controls. The GEM constantly monitors the systems under its control and reports a concern in the form of diagnostic trouble codes (DTC’s). Note: The GEM can only detect open circuit/short to ground faults when it is not energizing a load, and short to battery faults when the GEM is attempting to energize a load. The GEM controls the following systems*Wiper Washer*Warning Chimes*Battery Saver* Illuminated Entry*Power Windows and Transfer Case (7A195) (4 X 4)”.
But I found that it was the only thing that seemed to share a common link to all the dash units (through warning lights) when digging through many wiring schematics.
I changed the unit out (the cheapest thing so far but Not cheap). This is an adventure in its self since it rides piggy back to the fuse panel under the driver’s side dash. You have to pull the fuse panel completely out to change the box which is held in place with three screws. I have since driven over 200 miles (slow, fast, faster, back-roads and interstate, lights on, lights off, in silence, radio blasting…everything but in a ditch) and everything is working right for the first time in months and months! Just thought you might like an up-date. I am now going to run outside to find a big tree so I can knock on wood just to be on the safe side! I only hope that I have nothing more to add to this thread in the future.
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Old 09-30-2005, 04:22 PM
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