However, things changed somewhat when I moved to Washington. While I was commuting to Ellensburg last winter, it started freaking out. If you locked the doors, the alarm would go off. Sometimes, when driving, the cabin lights would set themselves off in a frenzy of strobing; later on, when parked, it might just take a few hours before the battery would drain itself completely.
After taking it to the dealership and two independent VW mechanics, I ran up a bill of just over two thousand dollars more or less getting the problem fixed. The alarm only went off once or twice after that, which was a vast improvement - but it was still annoying.
Then, starting around Thanksgiving, temperatures plummeted to way below zero (Celsius) and stayed there on and off. When we got back from Thanksgiving vacation, the car wouldn't start; for a few weeks before, it started the strobing and alarming all over again, which meant I couldn't lock it or turn on the cabin lights. Ugh. This week, it finally got so bad that I had to park it facing downhill in the garage at work and push-start it to get home yesterday. Thank God I have a manual transmission.
Now, let me tell you about Dan. Dan and I have been together for going on fourteen years now, and he's everything you could possibly want in a partner and then some. On his way in to the office tomorrow, he stopped at Sears and picked up a new car battery. Then, this morning, in the freezing cold (below zero AGAIN), he got up before sunrise and replaced it so that I could get to work. That's dedication and commitment; I probably wouldn't get out of bed early unless something were on fire.
It seems to have fixed all of the problems, and, looking back through old repair bills and invoices, it seems like buying a really good battery would have fixed everything the first time around as well. When we got back from Australia in 2002, the battery was replaced with a marginal quality battery at the AAA shop in San José. That battery then presumably started losing cells during the winter of 2005-2006 in Washington, which started the strobing and alarm problems. Then, the VW dealership in Washington misdiagnosed the problem and spent a lot of my money replacing latches, finally replacing the battery with another cheap battery, which AGAIN started failing when the temperatures hit the low teens in November 2006. Now that Dan's installed a really good battery, everything appears to be working again. Whew.
Dan, you totally rule. Thank you!