The Care and Feeding of Batteries
One of the main costs associated with electric golf carts, regardless of their use, is a set of batteries. And this cost is rising, primarily because of the high cost of the raw materials involved. You want your batteries to last as long as possible, and there’s a lot you can do to keep them going.
Let’s assume you just purchased a new set of batteries for your cart. First, you want to break them in properly. When you get them, they will be at approximately 75% full strength. How you charge them for the first several cycles makes a difference. Charge them fully (until the charger shuts off) before their first use. Then drive until they are back down to about 75%, then charge them fully again. Repeat this 10-20 times. Somewhere around the middle of this process you should notice an increase in your speed, power, and runtime. Charge time will decrease as the batteries break in.
Regardless of their age, you always want to fill batteries properly. Use distilled water. Before charging, make sure the water in the batteries is just above the plates – you never want to charge batteries when they are dry. Wear rubber gloves and safety glasses and work in an area with plenty of ventilation. Battery caps may have acid on them and batteries discharge an explosive gas during charge/discharge.
To fill the batteries:
- Lift the seat up and twist off the battery caps. Make sure that the water covers the plates.
- Fill to halfway between the plates and the bottom of the neck, which is part of the plastic case.
Don’t overfill them. Protect your garage floor or driveway with an automotive drip tray. If acid does spill over, make sure the caps are on tightly, then use a baking soda wash or a professional neutralizing solution on the spill.
- Use the correct charger for your battery setup (36V charger for 36V, 48V for 48). Batteries come in sets that total 36, 48, or 72 volts. Six 6-volt batteries = 36 volts, six 8-volt batteries = 48 volts, and nine 8-volt batteries = 72 volts.
- Be aware of how much charge you are using. A standard golf cart uses far less power than one with lights, stereo, and other powered accessories.
- Charge every time the cart is used.
- Charge the cart in neutral with the key in the off position.
- Check the water in the batteries before charging; never charge the batteries dry. Also check the water after charging as charging increases the rate of evaporation.
- Note that the charger and cord may get hot during charging, and you may hear a buzzing sound. These are normal.
- In a cold environment, a fully charged battery is better able to withstand freezing.
- If a battery is frozen, do not charge it.
- Most new chargers shut off automatically when the batteries are fully charged. If you’re not sure, bring your charger in and we can check it.
- Keep the cable connections clean and ensure that they’re tight. Loose connections can cause arcing, which will melt the soft lead terminals.
- Check the water levels.
- Use a hard nylon or wire brush to remove corrosion from the terminals.
- Spray protectant on the terminals to avoid corrosion.
- Extended absence: Have someone charge and maintain your batteries at least once a month. Also, check the manufacturer’s instructions to see what they recommend. Some carts may be left plugged in, but others may not benefit from this.
Not sure what state your batteries are in or whether your charger is charging? Bring your cart in to RSC and we’ll test them.
You can also bring your cart to us for an annual maintenance check.
Recreation Sport Carts, Unit 3, 7191 Progress Way, Delta, BC