Quite some time ago–this turns out to be rather embarrassing–we had get a new alternator. So we took the car down to the shop, had them confirm that the problem was indeed the alternator, and told them to go ahead with the work.
When I picked up the car next day, just after dusk, I noticed something wasn’t quite right: none of the dash lights worked, and so I immediately headed back to the shop. There, they fixed the immediate problem by replacing a fuse or two, and for the time being everything seemed to be working correctly. Sadly that was not the case, because a major issue still existed, as it does to this day. The radio does not remember any presets–or even the last station listened to, the dome light doesn’t come on when you open the door, and the automatic shoulder belt retraction doesn’t work. In other words, with the one exception of the headlamps, signals, and parking lights, nothing works until you put the key in the ignition and turn it to at least the first position. For the shoulder strap extension and retraction mechanism to work, you have to turn the key to the second position.
The embarrassing part about all this is that I didn’t see the general pattern until long after the repair warranty had expired. I only know several things which should work as soon as you open the door now only work with the key inserted and turned to the first or second position clockwise of the initial “off” state. Radio stations can be preset and remembered, but only while the key is turned to at least the first position. Turn the car off and remove the key, and any presets are lost. I’m basically ignorant of how these electrical systems work, but I can only presume that the same source which is supposed to power the shoulder belt mechanism should also make it possible for the radio to remember the station presets, and that this should work before you put the key into the ignition.
Is this an easy fix, e.g. is it merely a matter of having the wrong fuses somewhere?