When winter turns into spring, some of your farm equipment may have been parked for several months without use. When you try to start the vehicle, the battery is dead. How should the vehicle be jump-started safely?

Here are some of the basics:

  • Make sure all battery connections are tight and the posts are clean.
  • Make sure the machinery is out of gear and blocked to avoid movement, in case it jumps into gear.
  • Attach the positive (red) jumper cable to the good battery first and then to the dead one.
  • Attach the ground (black) jumper cable to the good battery and then to an engine ground rather than the dead battery. This is done to avoid sparks at the negative post which could ignite an old leaky battery.
  • Start the machine from the operator’s seat. Do not bypass start. (This means starting the machine by jumping across the terminals of the starter rather than using the key or start button).
  • Once the equipment starts, let the battery run for a few moments and then disconnect the cables in the reverse order.

Bypassing Start

Bypassing start is more common with farm tractors, which are easily started by jumping the starter. Doing so saves the time of jumping back onto the seat to start the tractor. However, starting a tractor from the ground places you right in front of the drive wheel and if a tractor is in gear (or it slips into gear), the tractor will lurch forward and you may be hit before you can move. Install a cover to prevent anyone from bypass starting.

You can use a Battery Jump Starter pack. Some advantages are:

  • They are portable and have built-in cables.
  • Many of these units are very capable of starting large pieces of equipment.
  • They are designed for short-term, high-amp discharge.
  • Their big advantage is that they do not have to be plugged into an outlet to work.
  • Some are rated as high as 100 peak amps.
  • These units are widely available and affordable.
  • They have safeties to prevent accidents and will sound an alarm if not hooked up properly.
  • The packs generally have simple-to-follow manufacturer’s directions.

Avoid Jump-Starting Altogether

When storing your equipment for the winter, hook the battery up to a maintenance charger. There are several of these on the market and some can be used outdoors. They will not overcharge your battery like a trickle charger can. They are also available for 24-volt systems.

Either way, to prevent injury, you should either jump start your vehicle properly or be proactive and maintain your batteries’ charge so you can start your equipment when you need it.