How to Move a Forklift With a Dead Battery - 3 Options

How to Move a Forklift with a Dead Battery - 3 Options
When your electric forklift has a dead battery, you have a few options.

  1. Use a bigger forklift to move the dead one
  2. Hook the dead forklift up to some car batteries
  3. Replace the dead forklift battery with a charged one

If your business is based in Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee or eastern Arkansas, there’s a simple fourth option: call The Lilly Company at 800-238-3006. We’ll send an experienced technician in a well-stocked van who can diagnose and repair the problem.

You may be wondering, “can I jump-start my electric forklift with another forklift?" Good question.

Can You Jump-Start an Electric Forklift?

A series of car batteries will give you enough juice to move a dead electric forklift, but please note: the car battery solution should only be used to move the forklift to a charging station. Do not use car batteries to powerlifting a load, play forklift basketball, etc.

Option #1 - Use Car Batteries to (Temporarily) Power an Electric Forklift 

  1. Confirm the voltage of your forklift battery (36 or 48 volt)
  2. Collect enough car batteries so, when linked together, they add up to the same voltage as your forklift battery. For a 36V forklift battery, you need 3 x 12V car batteries.
  3. Put the car batteries on a pallet and daisy chain them together. Remember to connect the positive on one battery to the negative on another.
  4. Use a voltage meter to confirm the voltage of your battery series.
  5. Pick up the pallet of batteries with a manual pallet jack and place it on the forks of your dead truck.
  6. Connect the batteries to the forklift

Option #2 - Move a Dead Forklift with a Big Honkin’ Forklift

Buying car batteries is not the cheapest solution. The easiest way to move a dead forklift is with a bigger forklift (if you have one). Kinda like that video that makes the rounds every so often (don’t try this at home!!!).

How big does that big honkin’ forklift need to be?

An electric forklift with a 3,000-6,500 capacity (often called a “core” electric forklift) can weigh between 5,000-11,000 lbs (not including any accessories). To determine how much your forklift weighs, check its data plate, or contact your local forklift dealer.

Once you’ve verified you have a large forklift with sufficient capacity, pick up the dead forklift and move it to your charging area, battery swapping room, or a safe location where it can be parked and properly locked out/tagged out.  

Option #3 - Swap Batteries

This third option won’t be possible for all forklifts and all operations. First, you need backup batteries. Second, if your forklift has a top-loading battery, you’ll need lifting equipment to get it out.

That said, if you have a forklift with a side-loading battery, you could use a portable battery extractor to remove the dead battery and replace it with a charged one. Swapping batteries in the middle of your work area is dangerous; use extreme caution.

How To Ensure Your Forklift Battery Lasts as Long as Possible

Healthy forklift batteries don’t completely discharge on their own. A dead forklift battery is almost always caused by operator error such as: leaving the forklift in the key position all weekend, improper charging or insufficient maintenance.

  • New technologies such as fast charging and opportunity charging minimize the chance for human error.
  • We can provide on-site training for your operators on proper forklift battery charging and maintenance.
  • We also sell portable battery power packs. A single unit can provide  24v, 36v or 48v of power. It's a flexible solution if dead batteries are a frequent problem for your operation.

Have questions? Need forklift service? Contact an electric forklift expert at The Lilly Company online or by phone 844.LILLYCO, or visit one of our 13 locations across the Mid-South.

Arkansas - Jonesboro
Alabama - Birmingham, Dothan, Irondale, Madison, Mobile, and Montgomery
Mississippi - Tupelo and Richland
Tennessee - Jackson, Kingsport, Knoxville, and Memphis

Further Reading:
Forklift Battery Basics
How Often Do Forklifts (Really) Need Service?

Forklift Service

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