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1996 Ford Contour shuts down & the gauges go wild

I’m helping a retired neighbor, a vet on a tight budget.

They’ve got a 1996 Ford Contour;

the car shuts down & the gauges go wild;

What kind of electrical issue am I looking at?

Please post a much better description of the problem. The car shuts down when and under what conditions? What happens next? It occasionally shuts down, but then starts right back up? Or then it needs a jump start? Or it starts back up the next day? Or what? And what do the gauges do? When the gauges “go wild” do other things in car have problems? E.g. the radio?

No one can really help much w/out you saying more.

The first wild guess would be to check and clean all of the battery connections - terminals and especially grounds.

My advice with all elecrical diagnosis is to start at the battery,do not forget the ground side of the system. make sure the battery is a “good” one",pay attention to cleanleness and that all is tight.

A complete visual inspection (looking for shorts and opens) including tugging on and moving cables and harnesses. Wiggle the fuses in the fuse box (both underhood and inside the car)

Pay attention to any “add on” equipment,check the techniques used to tap into the existing wiring.

I believe you are looking at a poor ground or a issue involving a connection.

Last on the list is rodent damage,not as rare as you may think.

The engine surges on & off, wipers go on & off.
This is sporadic & they’re nervous of driving it- heck, the gent’s near 80 (& that’s not mph… =)