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Help!!! Ford Focus - Sweeping Gauges To Max Then 0

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Hi, this is my first post here on behalf of my old and possibly-soon-to-be-decrepit 1999 Ford Focus Ghia 1989cc :-(

I was driving along at about 30mph about 1.5 miles from home on a cold and icy day - the traction control light came on (stayed on), then suddenly a lot of other lights on the dashboard flashed (sorry, hard to say which as was trying to control the car!) and the petrol tank gauge dipped below zero (despite being a quarter full), the car bunny hopped madly along until I managed to find somewhere safe to pull over. Scary, with kids in the car.

Upon attempting to restart it on the side of the road, when turning the ignition key all the gauges swept to above maximum, then dropping to 0 within seconds, with no engine activity. The AA man checked:

- oil - fine

- battery - fine

- his conclusion: who knows?!?

But we eventually managed to get the car started again, after I had left it for 30mins, and I have managed to run the car since. The AA man suggested it might be due to the cold weather and having the car running while stationary, with all heating/fan elements on.

However, today the same thing happened, on the driveway, at first try of turning the ignition - the gauge needles went nuts again (technical term). The engine did turn over eventually and the gauges set back to normal.

Not sure if relevant - central locking went out of the window a few weeks before the breakdown - I have to turn the key in both driver and passenger doors and sometimes, as a bonus, have to manually lock one of the back doors that the central locking fails to lock. Also, I recently got four new tyres (all possibly totally irrelevant ;-) ).

I know the next step is to get the car checked at a garage, but I wondered if anybody has experienced similar or knows what any of this might be? So I can prepare myself if costs of repair may be more than the cost of the car, plus we have been using public transport in the meantime, which we all know is a pain in the...

Thanks in advance for any help, all the best.

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