Riding Mower Battery

After sitting all winter, my Toro riding mower won't key start (have to pull start it). Turning the key, it just clicks continuously. I checked the obvious stuff -- the wiring, contacts, etc. It's all fine. The battery is fairly new, but I'm not sure how to test the charge or recharge it (don't want to start screwing around with jumper cables, without knowing what I'm doing). Seems that would be the place to start. I'm willing to buy a new battery, but don't want to do that only to find out it's something else. Any ideas? Thanks.
-jk
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
contrapositive wrote:

for 72 hrs. in the start of the season and then 24 hrs. each month... the inst. manual says that the mower recharges it, but i dont believe it as i was using it pretty much and unlike a car the battery was dead without putting it on a plug in the wall charger..... my battery is a 12 volt and i will use the car to crank it over(at least i did with the old key start toro which was also 12 volts.. so i guess you can use a 12 volt car battery jump to get it to crank and find out if the battery is bad(or will not crank) it might just need a charge. your manual should be able to guide you to do what you want to the mower, if you dont have one then go to www.toro.com and look up the owners manual.. they sell them(see if they got a toll free number and maybe you can find out how much and if its worth it to you.... i got the owners manuals and about 4 books on small engine repair and never had the reason to put a mower in the shop to get fixed...... thats been going on 35 yrs. now...
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Charge your battery. If it froze and wasnt charged its ruined, At 12v your battery Probably wont start it. You may need 12.75 v
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Nothing magical about batteries; they are a device that stores electricity chemically and so can be affected by high/low temperatures and abuse. If the battery was left all winter at a low state of charge and especially if it froze it's probably junk. You can try a) Charging it with a typical car battery charger; it will probably take six to eight amps at first and then drop back to three to four amps. However just because it takes that charging current it doesn't mean the battery is good. Try that for four to five hours. If the battery gets warm and still won't start the machine it almost 100% certain it's ruined. b) You can try 'boosting' from your 12 volt auto. Positive to positive, negative to negative etc. but if your not sure get someone who understands to do it, because an uncharged battery can start gassing and under certain circumstances cause an explosion. I've see that. Do the boosting outdoors. c) If the mower will start manually and the battery doesn't recharge, the battery is either ruined or the machine is not charging (should be around 14 volts while charging). A lot of batteries are spoiled every year by being left in campers, boats and garden equipment. But it's not safe either to put them continuously on charge; that can also ruin them by 'overcharging'. As mentioned there are special chargers that just float the battery along to prevent it from running down; these don't charge the battery, just maintain it at a voltage just under 13 volts. You should also check other obvious items e.g. that the starter is not 'stuck' after sitting idle; is that 'clicking' coming from the starter is there a relay that is clicking in the control circuitry somewhere but not completing the circuit to the starter etc.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
When you get your battery charged, buy a "maintenance" charger from Harbor Freight or someone like that. They run from $5.95 to $15.95, depending on quality. When you're finished using the mower, hook up the charger - - it's just a float charger that will maintain the optimim voltage and won't overcharge or damage the battery. Been using them on my boat and antique sports cars for years - - really save batteries.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
rj writes:

Probably cheaper and more reliable to buy new batteries. An always-on float charger (or any other device) costs you about $1/watt per year in power. Check the wattage and thus that cost, perhaps $15 or $25 per year, times the life of a battery of perhaps 3 years, you may be paying $75 to make your $30 last an extra year or two.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Following that advice, you'll be buying batteries every year. Auto type batteries are not meant to be discharged a significant amount of their total capacity, or even worse left that way for an extended period of time. The deeper and longer the discharge, the more damage that is done. I've seen one year old batteries go bad by allowing them to sit discharged for 6 months.
Just for grins, I put a meter on my battery tender and its drawing a whopping .1 amps. That works out to $5.50 for six months worth of constant use during the winter. Very cheap compared to the cost of a new battery, not to mention the agravation of not having things start when you go to use them or the time and work involved in putting in new batteries.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Chet Hayes writes:

So if you leave it on, you roughly double the cost of the battery over its lifetime.
It would be much better to just run it one day a month, if that was somehow convenient.
Wall-warts are evil.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
It's your battery. You'll need to get a new one. Those aren't maintenance free. You need to keep the cells full. If you don't, the battery life is cut short and can't typically be recharged for any length of time once they reach the point you're at. A new battery is only about $40 or so.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I'll second that. My tractor batteries last 2 years (regardless of warantee period), and have to be recharged first time in the spring. Had one particularly good battery last 3 years. Tractors are really hard on them, they sit all winter without being charged.
-- Tom

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I get about 7 years from my Sears tractor batteries. But I keep it in the garage which rarely goes below freezing. And, I try to remember to connect the trickle charger to it after I park it.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
contrapositive wrote:

manual tells you that it recharges when being used(i guess it is just like a car for the battery to be recharged when driving it) but the manual also tells you to use the little a/c adapter to charge the battery for 72 hrs when you first get it, 24 hrs. each month and 72 hrs. in the start of the season.... this is probably what you have to do...
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.