Sounds like there might be two different problems.
As for the gauge problem, I've heard of problems with the connector pins on the cluster pulling loose on the printed circuit. Repair involves carefully soldering the pins to the copper circuits. Since you mention hitting it makes a difference, look for connection problems, not a component failure.
When you say the car won't start, do you mean it won't run or the starter doesn't crank the engine? If it doesn't crank but some dash lights change when the ignition switch is in the crank position, you could have a lock cylinder that is starting to break.
The repair involves removing the upper and lower plastic covers around the ignition switch, and removing the cylinder from the switch. There is a metal round cam on the end that is cracked and / or coming loose. A replacement is available at the dealership, is very inexpensive, and must have a hole drilled to accept a small roll pin.
If this is indeed your problem, a little extra twisting pressure on the switch might get it to crank, but it will get worse. When this cam is loose, the switch goes far enough to turn on some dash lights, (red brake, in particular), as a bulb test, and some circuits turn off to save battery energy for cranking, (wipers and radio, for example), but the switch doesn't go far enough to get to the starter circuit.
Tuesday, March 17th, 2009 AT 3:52 PM