I just realized I could pretty much title every blog post with above, or better yet, change the name of the whole blog to it. Ha ha(!)
Yesterday I cleaned up the car a lot. Finally got a chance to go to the car wash, and I pressure washed the engine bay. I know, I know, always a little risky for electrical problems, but I've done it before and never had any problems.
Anyway, we get in the car to go home from a friend's house. I start the car, glance down and notice the alternator light is on. I hook up my radar detector (a Beltronics Vector V995, an awesome machine with a bonus voltage readout, totally brilliant!), and sure enough, it's about 12.1v. No alternator output. Since child is now screaming, I shut off the headlights (still a little before dusk, so okay) and make for home. On the way, the alternator output flicked on and was okay for the ride home. This morning it seems to be down for the count. I wiggled all the wires, and it doesn't seem to be a loose connection, so it must be the alternator. It's a Bosch alternator with a separate regulator, with most of the wear items built into this replaceable part. I found one on eBay for $22. Next project will be to get the alternator out, change the regulator, and reinstall.
Some good news. Yesterday I also visited the dealership and showed them my rusted fenders in the hopes that it might be covered under the 12 year, unlimited mileage, corrosion protection warranty. There was a TSB release specifically addressing the rust areas I have. The guy at the body shop took some photos and said it was "up to Volkswagen", but he thought it should be covered. I'll find out in 2-4 weeks. If I can get those fenders replaced, it will be a major step in the 200k rehab program crossed off the list.
Kind of looking forward to posting something other than car repair, but that's what I'm dealing with right now.
Drive fast and stay close to the break down lane.