In the Shop
As a farm machinery mechanic and writer, Dan brings a hands-on approach that only a pro can muster. Along with his In the Shop blog, Dan writes a column by the same name as well as the Shop Series for Farm Journal magazine. Always providing practical information, he is a master at tackling technical topics and making them easy for all of our readers to understand. He and his wife, Becky, live near Bouton, Iowa.
The Cheesy, Cheap Way To Fix High-Tech Problems
Sep 15, 2013
Farmers are heading to the field this fall with even more complicated technology in their tractor and combine cabs. There will be problems with that high-tech gadgetry. There will be expensive service calls and repairs. But before wasting money or profanity at a frozen screen or a warning code that won't go away, always try a couple simple, free steps that sometimes cure high-tech problems.
If a screen freezes or a warning code comes up and refuses to go away no matter how many times you hit the "Clear" button or smack the console with the palm of your hand:
-write down all the letters and numbers of all warning codes on the screen for future reference. Your owner's manual may have a listing of what the code means and how to fix the problem. If you call your dealership or the system's manufacturer, they will ask for that information.
-write down calibration values related to yield monitors, acre counters or other inputs that you have to calculate, calibrate or input, because they are unique to your machine and its configuration. Some of the following steps may wipe out that info, and you'll be glad you saved it. In fact, it's a good idea to write all that stuff down whether or not you're having problems. It's better to write that stuff down while things are going good than to discover when problems arise that you've lost all that input data you worked so hard to develop.
-with all the relevant info saved, shut off the machine. Wait a full minute before restarting it---it may take 30 seconds or more after key-off for the various computerized systems to save data and actually shut down. Restart the machine and see if things behave better after they reboot and reconfigure.
-if a key-off, key-on sequence doesn't fix the problem, turn off the ignition switch, and unplug the display, console or in-cab device that's causing the problem. Wait for a minute, then plug it back in and re-power the system.
-if the system still refuses to behave and perform, consider doing a cold boot--ie, kill ALL power to the system. This may be as simple as disconnecting the power wire to an aftermarket cab display, or as drastic as disconnecting the machine's main battery cable. There are many forms of "cold booting" a malfunctioning system, but the idea is to remove all electrical power so even the feeble constant-power circuits in the system are forced to re-boot and re-configure when you reconnect the power source.
If none of those steps fix the problem, it's time to call the tech support phone number in the owner's manual or at the local dealership. They may know arcane, hidden things to do that will fix the problem over the phone. If not, it's time to schedule a service call that will turn your headache into a headache for your local technician.