Sorry I missed this the first time.
Yes, on many systems when key is turned to START the ignition switch cuts power to everything except engine systems, so it is not unusual for dash lights/gauges to shut off, this gives all available battery amps to starting engine.
Yes, the loud click would probably be the starter relay(if on the inner fender) or starter solenoid(if on the starter motor), not sure which one the '90 uses.
This "click" means relay/solenoid moved but if starter motor doesn't start turning then it is either bad or it isn't getting enough amps via relay/solenoid or battery cables to starter motor, don't forget to check Ground cable, it is just as important, if not more so, as the 12volt cable
The relay/solenoid "click" is a different electrical circuit and requires very little power, under 1 amp.
Starter motor needs 200amps
Car battery's last 5-7 years but from your description it reads like the voltage regulator in the alternator has failed.
So new battery will suffer the same fate if that is not corrected.
New battery should have 12.7-12.8volts with key off
After starting engine battery should show 14.5volt-14.9volts, approx. 2 volts above battery voltage(key off), above 15volts means "Get it fixed right away"
This is the Recharge voltage
This should last a few minutes, then battery voltage should start dropping
After 5 minutes of engine running battery voltage should show approx. 13.6volts
This is the Maintenance charge, approx. 1 volt above battery voltage(key off), this keeps the battery charged but won't cause it to "boil over", what you described.
These voltage changes are done by the voltage regulator in the alternator.
If your battery voltage stays high, above 14volts, then your new battery will get "cooked"
Last edited by RonD; 06-12-2015 at 10:21 AM.