Owning an electric golf cart can be lots of fun but once that initial thrill is over you start to worry about how to care for your golf cart, and especially what to do about the battery. How long will it last? How often do you need to charge it? And should you add water to it? If so, where does the water go?
When an electric golf cart is a new thing then you need to learn to care for the golf cart deep cycle battery as this is one of the most expensive items in the golf cart.
A good way to think of your battery is to consider it as a gas tank. The right care and maintenance you use when charging your battery can keep your golf cart in optimal condition wherever you take it. It’s this care that can influence the ultimate service you get from your deep cycle golf cart battery. The following tips cover everything from the initial charge to adding water to the battery cells.
#1 Before Start-up
Turn off the ignition key. Make sure it is in the “off” position, even when there is no draw on the battery. This safeguards the battery but is also safe practice. Now start by inspecting the outer appearance of the battery. Check to make sure the tops and the terminal connections are clean, free of corrosion and dirt. Make sue they are also dry.
#2 Dirty terminals
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If the battery terminals are cruddy, clean the top of the battery. Remove dirt and debris from the terminals with a cloth and brush. Use a solution of water and baking soda. Above all, don’t allow the cleaning solution to get inside the battery. Rinse and dry with clean water. Use this cleaning method about once a month.
#3 Check Battery Cables
Ensure that the cables and connections are clean and free of corrosion. This causes a voltage drop and less battery life. Not only that, it can also cause the cable to overheat and fail.
#4 Look for Fluids on the Top
When the top of the golf cart battery is wet this can mean hat the battery is over-watered.
#5 Check the Vent Caps
Make sure these are secure on the battery. If possible apply a thin coat of petroleum jell or a battery terminal protector. Once installed keep the area around the battery clean.
#6 Battery Electrolyte Levels
Before you charge the battery you want to make sure that each cell has the proper electrolyte level. Avoid charging the battery when the water levels aren’t at their proper levels, which is at the tops of the battery plates. You need to keep water levels about ¼ inch to ½ inch above the lead metal plates. Be sure that when you refill the tanks that you only use distilled water. At all costs, avoid using tap water as it has chemicals that harm the battery.
Tip: Don’t charge a battery without the right water levels, as this will seriously shorten its capacity and life expectancy. But you also want to avoid overfilling as the charge process make the levels rise and can cause the cap vents to be forced out.
Once you´ve checked the correct battery cell fluid levels and you´ve ensured that the cables are clean, you can start charging the battery. Just make sure you charge the battery completely and that the charger shuts off once there is a full charge.
Tip: Never allow for the golf cart battery to fully discharge to where the vehicle won´t run as this also shortens the battery life and can permanently damage it. Besides, at some point, the deeper the discharge the harder it will be to charge again.
#7 When to Charge?
You should charge your battery even when you’ve used it for a short period of time. The charger for your golf cart battery is automatic so it will turn off automatically once fully charged. If at any time the charger doesn’t seem to operate correctly or if the battery seems weak you should seek professional service.
When a battery is used extensively, say at half charge, and then left without re-charging for weeks or months, this could permanently damage the battery as it causes self discharge. Note that batteries also discharge faster when left out in cold weather.
Keep the golf cart battery plugged in while parked. Do not keep it off the charger for a long period of time. Remember the more discharged the battery the longer it will take to charge.
#8 Safety Precautions
All batteries generate explosive gas so keep sparks cigarettes and flames away from the batteries. Do not connect or disconnect cables from live circuits as this can create sparks. This is why you want to make sure the golf cart is turned off.
Avoid leaning directly over the battery when charging or inspecting it, as these contain corrosive sulfuric acid which can destroy clothes and burn skin.