Maintaining the batteries in a golf cart is necessary for the golf cart to continue to operate efficiently. Since batteries that need recharged or are in poor condition are the most common cause of breakdowns in electric powered golf carts, regular battery maintenance can help to avoid problems and keep a golf cart running. While most golf cart batteries can last for up to five years, good care can extend the lifetime of a battery. In most cases, if properly maintained, a golf cart battery will hold a charge for about 20 miles of use. Regularly testing a golf cart's batteries, and keeping them adequately recharged can prevent a breakdown before it occurs, saving both time and money.
Tools Required for Maintenance
Keeping a golf cart battery running smoothly requires only a few basic tools. Have a bucket of water and a box of baking soda handy to neutralize any acid spills, which may occur. This will help to prevent corrosive damage. You will also need a wrench, voltmeter (an instrument used to measure voltage), hydrometer to measure the gravity of the electrolyte solution, post cleaner, clean cloths, a small brush and a jar of petroleum jelly.
Wear protective clothing such as goggles and acid proof gloves whenever you service a battery. Since you may be refilling the battery with a solution of acid and water, avoid skin contact. Never smoke anywhere near a battery, and don't try adding acid to the battery. Only add water after fully charging a battery, but before you charge, make sure that there is enough water to cover the leaded plates. You should check the water levels in each cell of the battery every week, or at least once a month. Batteries require more water, as they get older. If you need to add water, do not fill the cell all the way up to the cap. Add just enough water so that the plates are submerged in liquid. Use only distilled water, as water with a high mineral content can cause mineral deposits to form on the battery.
Care and Maintenance
Always follow a manufacturer's instructions for maintaining a golf cart battery. Most golf carts are powered by six lead-acid batteries, which are usually mounted beneath the front seat of the cart. Once you locate the batteries, carefully inspect each battery, looking for leaks or cracks in the container and top. Replace the battery if you find any damage. Check to make sure that all vent caps are tight. Clean any dirt, fluids or corrosion from the top of the batteries with a cloth or soft-bristle brush and a solution of baking soda and water. Be careful not to get any cleaning solution inside the battery. Rinse the top of the battery with clean water and dry with a clean cloth. Next, clean the battery terminals and the inside of the cable clamps with a post and clamp cleaner. There are acid neutralizing products available for cleaning golf cart battery terminals, which are safe for the environment. Use a small brush to coat clamps with a thin layer of petroleum jelly before reconnecting to the terminal posts. This helps to prevent corrosion. Keeping the area around a battery clean and dry can help to extend the life of a battery.