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Maintenance

Golf Cart Battery Maintenance and Charging Tips | E-Z-GO

by William B. on 8/19/2015 12:56:00 PM

Golf Cart Battery Maintenance, Charging and Cleaning

The golf cart batteries in your beloved E-Z-GO golf cart are the nerve centers in which your all important work and play activities depend on. Think about it, your golf cart can take you easily through your go-to 18 hole golf course, to your buddy’s football tailgate party and across acres of land for a day of work or play. With that said, you need to have confidence that your electric golf cart can conquer these activities with no battery issues. The key to achieving that confidence begins with understanding your batteries and how to properly maintain, charge and clean them. Our goal at Shop.ezgo.com is for you to walk away with solid answers to your battery questions so you can drive away to your next activity.

What is a Deep Cycle Battery? 

Let's begin by providing some important background information regarding your deep cycle batteries. First of all, the batteries found in your electric golf cart are not the same as ones found in your car although they look the same. They couldn’t be more different. The correct term for the batteries found in your golf cart or utility vehicle are deep cycle batteries. Below are some facts about deep cycle batteries:

  • Also known as a “flooded” batteries or “wet” batteries

  • Deep cycle batteries are not maintenance free

  • Contains electrolytes made up of a lead acid and water solution

  • Produce an electrical current for long periods of time

  • Require routine maintenance (watering and cleaning) to prolong battery life

  • Will consume a considerable about of water over their lifespan

The batteries found in your car are known as shallow cycle batteries (SLI) and produce a high current of electricity for a short period of time. For instance, starting you car requires a shallow cycle battery. Do not replace the batteries in your electric golf cart with SLI batteries. Currently E-Z-GO 36V and 48V electric golf carts use 6 volt, 8 volt and 12 volt golf cart batteries. Currently we recommend the use of Exide, Full River, US and Trojan deep cycle batteries which are also compatible with our current line of 36V and 48V golf cart chargers.

Safety First

Before you work on or near your batteries be sure to wear protective clothing, gloves and goggles. Be sure to steady your golf cart by making sure the Run-Tow switch is in the “Tow/Maintenance” position and the key switch is in the OFF position.Since you are dealing with electricity it is important to make sure the wrench(s) you are using are wrapped in vinyl tape (electrical tape) to prevent the possibility of shorting out a battery. Shorting out a battery could result in an explosion and some serious injuries.

Charging Golf Cart Batteries

Charging your golf cart batteries properly is absolutely necessary for optimal battery performance and longevity. We want you to get the most out of your golf cart and part of that process involves a safe, proper and full charge. Here are some tips on how to charge a deep cycle battery:

  • Familiarize yourself with your battery charger manual

  • Recharge your batteries after every use

  • Inspect your charger connections; make sure they are free of debris/dirt and wire fraying

  • Charge your batteries in a well ventilated area

  • Check to make sure the lead plates are submersed in water (see battery watering section)

  • Do not add water to the correct level before charging (see battery watering section)

  • Make sure all vent caps are tight

  • Make sure the charger connector is firmly connected to receptacle

Just like everything else, golf cart chargers are prone to failure and will need to be replaced at some point. If you suspect that your charger isn’t working properly then you should take it to be inspected by a professional. Troubleshooting a possible bad battery charger can be difficult and that is why we recommend you visit an authorized E-Z-GO dealer or contact us. Shop.ezgo.com offers the golf cart charger that you need for your 36V or 48V golf cart. 

Golf Cart Battery Maintenance 

Let’s play the true or false game for a second to see if you have been paying attention.

Golf cart battery maintenance is necessary. If you answered “true” then you are well on your way to battery bliss. Performing monthly battery maintenance is very important. Trust us we know. We have had our share of experiences where a lack of battery maintenance lead to poor performance and premature battery replacement. You may be asking yourself, “How long do golf cart batteries last?” Well that depends on the effort you put in to maintain them and how often you use your golf cart. If you are a private owner, you could be looking at a life span of 6 – 10 years. 6 - 10 years? Yes it can be done. Creating a monthly maintenance schedule is a great starting point. Having a maintenance schedule and being accountable to it will prove beneficial to the life span and performance of your batteries. The ideal schedule should involve the following:

  • Check for wire fraying, terminal corrosion, battery leaks and any loose wire connections
  • Clean the batteries; the area around the batteries and the terminals
  • Check the electrolyte level and add water when necessary

But let’s not forget that there will probably be a time when you are not using your golf cart. This is not the time to think that you do not need to prepare your batteries for winter storage. In short, we prefer you be like the ant who stored up for the winter instead of the grasshopper. Here are some key tips to taking care of your batteries during winter storage. You will be very happy you took the time to prepare them when spring rolls around.
 

Why is Neutralizing Battery Acid and Cleaning Essential?

Old batteries with no maintenance

Neutralizing battery acid and cleaning your batteries are key processes in the overall health of your batteries. During a charging cycle hydrogen gas is released into the air from the batteries, this process is called “gassing”. This hydrogen gas carries with it water and acid droplets that will eventually find its way onto other components and the facility it is being charged in. Over time those droplets, if left alone, will cause damage to the frame and the facility. So before you do work on the batteries, be sure to use battery acid neutralizer and remove battery corrosion on the batteries by spraying them with a mixture of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and water. We recommend filling up a plastic spray bottle with the mixture below.

1 quart (liter) of water + 2 teaspoons (10ml) of baking soda

Simply spraying the batteries with water will not neutralize them; it just moves the acid to another surface. Cover other electrical components before you spray and clean them. Here are some steps for neutralizing and cleaning your batteries:

1.       Make sure all vent caps are closed tightly

2.       First neutralize, allow the mixture to sit for at least 3 minutes

3.       Use a cloth or soft thistle brush to wipe down the batteries (top and sides)

4.       Rinse the batteries off with clean water to remove the neutralizing solution

5.       Dry with a cloth

6.       Clean the battery terminals with a battery post and terminal cleaner

7.       Spray terminals with E-Z-GO battery terminal protector

 8.      Reconnect the battery terminals

Do not use a pressure washer to clean the batteries. The preferred way to neutralize and clean the batteries is by using a compression sprayer which is included when you purchase an E-Z-GO golf cart battery maintenance kit.

See our YouTube channel on "How to Use E-Z-GO Battery Maintenance Kit." 

Why Is Battery Watering Important?

Distalled Water for Golf Cart Batteries

Golf cart batteries need the correct level of electrolytes in order to properly perform the chemical process of creating electricity. The solution that creates electricity consists of electrolytes and water. Your batteries will consume a considerable amount of water over their lifespan due to the charging process.

The rule of thumb for watering is: Overfilling and having too little water in your battery cells can both have a “negative” effect on your batteries. So it is important to find the correct level.The correct level should be:

½” above the plates and ¼” to ⅜” below the vent

Having too much water will cause the electrolytes to overflow during the charging process. An easy way to prevent overfilling is by using a golf cart battery watering system or by using a watering gun. Both options are fast and accurate because they automatically stop filling the batteries when the appropriate level is achieved.

Also, having too little water will cause sulfation which is a direct result of the lead plates not being covered by water during the charging process. Sulfation will cause permanent damage to the lead plates inside the battery which will lead to a replacement.

The proper time to fill the cells up with water to the correct level (½” above the plates and ¼” to ⅜” below the vent) is after the batteries have been charged. Do not add water to the correct level to discharged batteries. Adding water to the correct level to discharged batteries will cause the electrolytes/acid to overflow onto other components after charging causing damage. The charging process increases the electrolyte level and that is why you add water to the correct level after charging. The only time you should add water to the cells before charging is if the plates are not covered by water. So if the plates are exposed to air, add just enough water to cover the plates, charge the batteries fully and then continue to add water to the correct level.

To be clear, covering the plates and adding water to the correct levels are not the same thing. Do NOT use regular tap water to fill your batteries because tap water contains contaminates that can cause damage, so we HIGHLY recommend distilled water. If you were wondering, the image above is that of a water distillery. Regular tap water has other contaminants that can prevent the proper chemical reaction from occurring.

So here is a recap concerning watering your batteries:

  • Check and maintain the proper water level in each cell monthly

  • Open the vent cap and look inside to check the water level

  • Use distilled water only

  • If the plates are not covered, add just enough water to cover them before charging

  • Otherwise, always charge the batteries fully then add water to the correct level if necessary

  • After a complete charge, open the vent cap and check the levels
     

Battery Testing

 

There are a couple of ways we recommend for testing your batteries in order to determine battery life. The easiest and safest way is by taking your golf cart to an authorized E-Z-GO dealer and letting the professionals handle it.

However, if the do-it-yourself spirit inside of you says you can do it, then we recommend a battery meter called a hydrometer. The hydrometer tests the state of charge for each battery cell. In this test, the hydrometer measures the density of the electrolyte by way of its gravity. The higher the specific gravity the denser the electrolyte is resulting in a battery that has a higher state of charge.

Conclusion

This may have been a lot to take in but it will be well worth it when you have had your batteries for years down the road. However, if working on your batteries is not comfortable for you then please take your golf cart to an authorized E-Z-GO dealer near you for professional assistance. In short, we want to instill some “positive” reinforcement so your batteries do not have a “negative” effect on your golf cart’s performance. Don't forget to shop the E-Z-GO catalog for other genuine golf cart parts and accessories.







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