Golf Cart Battery Maintenance
Truck & Auto Accessories
HOW MUCH CHARGE IN YOUR BATTERIES?
Problem: I don’t have a state of charge indicator. My wife used the cart but I don’t know how much. Do I have enough charge to play a round of golf?
Answer: There is another way to tell how much charge your batteries have. Plug in your charger and watch the ammeter. Give it a few minutes to settle down and then use the chart below to tell how much charger you have.
AMMETERE READING USEFUL POWER
2-4 amps Full Charge – 36 Holes
5-9 amps ¾ charge – 27 Holes
9-14 amps ½ charge – 18 holes
15 or more amps ¼ charge – 9 holes
TIRE PRESSURE IS CRITICAL>
Low tire pressure robs you of total distance on a single charge. Under-inflated tires create more rolling resistance, causing your batteries to work harder to push the cart. It’s worse on grass. If the sidewall of the tire bulges out, it’s too low. Adjust to 20 to 25 psi. No tire gauge? Try this. Place your foot on the outer edge of the tire and push hard. If your tire doesn’t give, it’s OK. If it gives at all adjust to 20 to 25 psi. Hopefully you already have a tire gauge and portable air compressor at home, but if not, it may be wise investment. These can be purchased at any automotive parts store, along with valve extensions if needed.
OK, there’s a down side to proper inflation. The ride will be a little harder and you may not be good for people with bad backs. In that case you could lower the pressure to 15 psi, but keep in mind that it is going to cut down on the total distance you can go on one charge.
It is normal to lose 5 to 10 psi over winter or summer storage. However, if you have to inflate the tires more than two or three times a year, you have a slow leak. A small nail or golf tee could be the culprit, or if the side walls are cracked, you may be losing air there. HELPFUL TIP: spray the tire with a solution of soap and water. If you have a leak, the air will cause the soap to bubble. Tire repair kits are available at any automotive parts store.
You can do three things wrong in watering batteries
1. Under Water (or no water)
2. Over water – too much water in the cells
3. Use impure water – put in harmful chemicals
All three of these “wrongs” are equally bad for batteries. If you under water, the plates are exposed to air and can sulfate in places. Those places are no longer good for charging and soon flake off, drop to the bottom and eventually short the cell out.
Over watering is just as bad. As you operate an electric golf cart the electrolyte level in the cells will drop. This is a normal occurrence in the chemical reaction to produce the electrical current. When you charge the batteries, the chemical reaction is reversed and the electrolyte level in each cell will rise. SO if you bring your golf cart home with discharged batteries and proceed to fill the cells with water, you have just over watered them
As you charge, the levels will increase further. During the last (about 15%) of the charge, a normal chemical reaction occurs called “gassing.” Gassing is good because the acid in the electrolyte is heavier than water and tends to settle to the bottom. The short period of gassing (bubbling) mixers the electrolyte for better chemical reaction. If you have over watered, however, there will be no room at the top of each cell for the gases to come out of the solution and escape through the small vent holes. Instead, the gases will force electrolyte out of other vent holes. Where does it go? How about the battery rack, the golf cart frame, on nuts and bolts and/or connecting rods. In other words it goes EVERYWHERE. That electrolyte has ACID in it and acid eats metal. If you use your electric cart quite a bit, use an acid neutralizer about every two weeks and then wash down the battery compartment. If you have over watered, neutralize the compartment and wash it down immediately. Then repeat every two weeks.
If you want to do the maintenance correctly, use a protector spray on all the battery terminals after you have cleaned them.
Don’t think we need to dwell on putting impure water and bad chemicals into your batteries. Use distilled water if your tap water is not pure.
So how do you “properly” water a battery? Don’t sweat the flashlights and measuring ruler, buy yourself a battery-filling bottle. You push the spring-loaded nozzle down in each cell and “zip”, it puts the right amount of water in the cell. The bottle (about $15) isn’t going to break the bank.
SUGGESTION: A rubber mat under the golf cart will protect your concrete floor from acid spills.
To keep batteries in good working condition, follow this maintenance program on a regular basis;
The batteries should be kept clean and free of corrosion. Wash tops and terminals of batteries with a solution of baking soda and water ( 1 cup baking soda per gallon of water) once per week. Rince solution off the batteries. (NOTE: Do not allow the solution to enter the battery.) Be sure terminals are tight. Let the terminals dry and then spray them with battery protector spray.
The electrolyte level in the batteries should be checked weekly. Add water only after charging unless the electrolyte level is below the top of the plates. In this case, add just enough water to cover the plates, charge and then check the level again. Never charge batteries if plates are exposed above electrolyte level. For best battery life, add only distilled water. (NOTE: A battery watering gun or bottle is available at many parts dealers.)
The hold-down straps should be tight enough so that the batteries do not move while the vehicle is in motion, but not so tight as to crack or buckle the battery case. The terminal connections should be clean and tight, and any worn insulation or frayed wires should be replaced. (CAUTION: If battery wire terminals are damaged or corroded, they should be replaed or cleaned as necessary. Failure to do so may cause them to overheat during operation.)
After use, the batteries should be placed on a charge. The batteries should never be left discharged any longer than absolutely necessary (do not leave discharged overnight).
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