Do I need to replace my alternator?

I have a '97 Chrysler Cirrus that won’t start on it’s own without being jump started. Once jump started it runs fine, but then the next time you go to start it the battery is drained again. My highly uneducated guess is that I need to replace the alternator. Am I on the right track? I replaced the battery and the problem persisted.

And if so, is it a relatively easy DIY fix? The extent of my car experience is changing a fuel pump on a '98 ford ranger.

With you’re symptoms, I suspect a bad battery connection to the starter. Chrvk all the connections for corrosion.

Maybe the fusible link between the alternator and battery is blown. You really need to make sure that with the engine running a 13ish or 14 volt reading is present at the battery termnals. The voltage will vary based on varying factors but that’s the general range.

When you jump start the car you are supplying more juice to the starter than just using your own battery. That could be enough to cause a failing starter motor to work, but only when jump-started. So you may need a new starter motor.

I’d start first by asking your local retail auto parts store to load test your battery. They can usually test the alterator too, and most of them will do this with both on the car for free.

Mechanics would probably approach this by measuring the voltages at the alternator during charging and at the starter motor during attempted cranking. They do this all the time, and if in doubt just turn this problme over to a trusted inde mechanic. You’ll likely be satisified with this approach, even with a repair fee, when the car comes back to you starting every time you turn the key.

A car which doesn’t reliably start is frustrating, but can also put the driver in dangereous situation, so it is worth it to get this fixed in a timely manner.

It sounds like there is an excessive drain on the battery while the car is parked. Normal current should be around 20 milliamps. I suggest you have a load test done on the charging system. That will tell you if there is something wrong with it. Have the current drain checked also while the car is parked to see if there is a problem there.

I am amazed at all the zebras being trotted out when it is the horse of a weak alternator that should be checked out first.