Electric golf carts are usually regarded as low-maintenance vehicles. As a rule, they do not require much attention to keep going. However, not everyone puts the required amount of time and effort into the batteries. Regular maintenance is needed to maximise their lifespan and keep the cart running smoothly. For most golf cart owners it’s important to know how to maintain golf cart batteries.
Other than recharging them when needed, most golfers forget or are unaware that golf cart batteries require regular maintenance before they begin to fall out of peak condition. Also, poorly operating cells can cause a range of problems to the cart and its electrical systems. Fortunately, maintaining a golf cart battery is a simple task when you know what to do.
Proper golf cart maintenance begins at the time of installation. A perfect setup reduces the risk of problems down the line, and it can extend the life of the battery by up to seven years. If you are installing the battery yourself, you can increase your chance of success with a few easy-to-follow tips:
1. Position: Before you remove your old battery, observe how it was installed. Note the location of the cable connectors. The positive cable should connect to the positive terminal, both of which can be identified by a plus sign or red markings. The negative cable should be marked with a minus sign or be black.
2. Clean: After removing the old battery, clean the wires, the battery carriage and any connectors of corrosion and rust. Spray the cable connectors with baking soda or silicon spray. Then scrub the connectors with a wire brush. For clamp-on terminals, clean inside the connectors until they shine. Click here for comprehensive details on cleaning battery terminals.
3. Inspect: Inspect the new battery to ensure that the water level is adequate, and the covers and terminals are tight.
4. Secure: Secure the safety straps or brackets that hold the battery to the carriage. The battery should be secured to the chassis so that it does not bounce or move when jostled.
5. Connect: Connect the cables to the battery terminals with a wrench. After they are connected, apply a non-conductive grease or protective coating to prevent corrosion.
6. Charge: Charge the battery according to your charger’s guidelines. If you have fitted a new battery, ensure the batteries are full of charge before use.
Charging a Golf Cart Battery
The specific instructions for charging golf cart batteries vary by the manufacturer of the charger. Always follow the instructions provided, but be careful to note the average time it takes to charge a battery of your type. Be sure to check the type of batteries in your cart. As lead-acid batteries are being phased out, maintenance-free batteries and lithium-ion batteries are becoming increasingly popular.
If you use your electric golf cart for 36 holes or more per day, your charger may not be capable of providing the charge you need. Heavy use may prevent the batteries from reaching full charge. If the batteries do not fully charge several days in a row, you may need a catch-up charge on a day that the golf cart is not in use.
If your battery has a specific gravity of at least 1.26, then a catch-up charge is not needed. But if the specific gravity is less than 1.26, a catch-up charge should be applied according to the following chart:
- 1.24 to 1.26 – 4 hours
- 1.22 to 1.24 – 8 hours
- Lower than 1.22 – 12 hours
When charging your batteries, be careful not to overcharge them. Overcharging batteries will result in a reduced lifespan. Only charge when required and for such time as is necessary. They do not need charging on subsequent days the cart remains garaged. In addition to shortening a battery’s lifespan, overcharging will cause corrosion on the positive terminal and internal grid.
It is essential that your battery charger always has sufficient AC power. Most golf cart battery chargers operate on 115 volts and provide a starting rate of 25 amps. At 110 volts, the starting rate drops to 22.5 amps, at 105 volts to 19 amps and 100 volts to 16 amps.
Watering the Battery
Your lead-acid golf cart batteries require an electrolyte to charge and to send electricity through the terminals. For most of these batteries, the electrolyte is a combination of sulphuric acid and water. However, the water in the solution will slowly evaporate over time and require refilling. The acid will remain inside the battery, and under normal circumstances, you will never have to add more acid.
The most commonly used golf cart battery delivers 6 volts of electricity and requires 6.8 quarts of water to operate correctly, but the water evaporates very slowly. You should not need to add more than a total of 16 quarts of water to a battery during its lifetime.
Water with low mineral content works best. If there are too many minerals in the water, the minerals will build up inside the battery. This build-up can adversely affect its performance. Using distilled water will ensure low mineral content. But if you can verify that your tap water’s mineral levels are less than the maximum recommendations from the manufacturer, you can use tap-water without a problem.
We recommend filling your battery with water only after it has reached capacity. You should never charge your batteries if the water is below the top of the plates. If they are not below the water level, fill the battery until the water is covering the plates. After charging, you can then top up the water level.
When filling the battery, always leave 0.25 inches between the maximum level indicator and the top of the water, and be careful not to overfill it. If you overfill the battery, the electrolyte may spill out while charging, and this will reduce the battery’s capacity.
Cleaning the Battery
A lead-acid golf cart battery should always be clean. If the battery is dirty or covered in acid, it could reduce the battery’s efficiency. Use a hose to spray off any loose dirt or acid when necessary. If the grime does not come off by hosing, try a solution of water and baking soda. Always rinse the battery after washing with baking soda.
By following these guidelines and those of the manufacturer, you will increase the life of your golf cart batteries. We hope you’ve enjoyed these tips on how to maintain golf cart batteries.
This entry was posted in Golf Cart Batteries