We've been getting everything ready for winter around here, and besides just cleaning the yard up, we have quite a few vehicles in the driveway that need a little pre-winter TLC. Which means hooking the Laser up to one of the other cars to jump it and keep it running for a little while: in other words, a huge pain in the arse, so I don't do it as often as I should. Well, as long as I've got it jumped and running, I might as well take my seasonal stab at what the heck is wrong with the electrical system with it, right? ;-)
The last time I played with it, we determined the alternator was cooked, so we did a cheap swap at Pep Boys. I've been going through the possible trouble areas every time I open the hood, and I think I'm down to the battery at this point; that poor little Optima had a hard life, and it's finally done. The problem I was having before was that it would hold a charge for a while (well enough to fire the car and keep it running for a while), which would fool me into thinking I had something else taxing the electrical system. But it's dead as a doornail now; no charge being held whatsoever, so it's blatantly obvious where the problem was.
The upshot is, between this and the alternator, we've likely found the root of the issues we've been chasing the whole time. So, it's probably time to budget a few bucks for a new battery; at a minimum, I'm going to need a workable battery for the Eclipse if I ever get around to firing it, so it's not like it'll be wasted if it turns out something else is causing problems on the 1g.
The sad thing is, every time I go out and fire that car up, I'm shocked at how smoothly that car idles. It's not your typical 17-year-old hoopty that chugs at idle, sputters when you rev it, etc; it idles cleaner than the Evo (which isn't saying much, considering what I've done to the Evo lately, but still). It's a shame I've let it sit there untouched for so long.