brake noise/pulling to one side/'engine braking': maybe one of your brake calipers is not retracting properly when you let up on the pedal: this would explain why sometimes you get more 'engine braking' than other times - maybe its just the brakes dragging (you are remembering to release the parking brake hopefully). after lots of dragging maybe the pads on one corner are wearing much faster and are close to worn out and that is why they are making noise. try to narrow down which corner (the noise and the pulling to one side)
the fuel light: i think the light comes on at about 1/4 tank for a little while and then turns off again and stays off until you get to E. thought it was some sort of courtesy/reminder thing as in "oh by the way, you're down to a 1/4 tank". mine seems to do that ('98) anyway, don't know about your model year.
PS: i would look in my owners manual about the fuel light thing but am too lazy so maybe you should start there