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Battery Maintenance (Lead Acid Batteries)

shop1There’s one thing we are all guaranteed when it comes to electric golf carts, you will enviably have to clean some type of corrosion
off of your batteries. Whether you like it or not it’s science! There are a few questions always asked when it comes to this part of maintaining your golf cart. Always wear the correct safety gear when maintaining your batteries. (Safety glasses, corrosion resistant gloves, corrosion resistant apron) I will list them all and then address each questions in this write up:

 

 

 

  1. How often should I check my water in my batteries?
  2. What type of water should I use to fill my batteries and how much water do I put in them?
  3. Automatic Battery Fill System information.
  4. What causes batteries to build corrosion?
  5. Is corrosion on the battery cables or terminals affecting my golf carts performance?
  6. How can I prevent corrosion from happening?
  7. What is the safest way to clean corrosion on batteries?
  8. At what point should I replace my battery cables?
  9. How long should I expect my batteries to last?

 

1. How Often Should I check the water in my batteries?

A-1 Golf Carts recommends checking the water in your lead acid batteries at least once a month. Even if you just purchased batteries it is a good idea to get familiar with the correct level of water right from the get go.

2. What type of water should I use to fill my batteries and how much water do I put in them?

Distilled water. Distilled water is regularly available at any grocery store. Distilled water has no metal ions in the water and will let electricity “Flow through” your batteries better and can increase battery life.

It is important to understand what you are seeing when you look down into the inside of the battery case. The battery has multiple lead plates and multiple cells. When you pop off the cap to one of your battery cells use a flashlight to help identify those lead plates. Remember that all cells are not all connected and you must open all the battery caps to properly fill with water. They will look just like the webbing of cardboard or honeycomb. These plates must have water covering them, at least one half inch above those lead plates. If a battery is charged without enough water to cover those plates it will result in damage that cannot be undone. It is also important to understand you can put too much water in the batteries and it will cause the water to boil out of the caps/vents and can shorten the life of your batteries. “One half above those plates and you are good to go.”

3. How to use my Automatic Battery Fill System.

Battery Fill Systems are a great addition to any electric golf cart. There are many to choose from and all work a little differently from each other with the same idea at hand. We sell and use a kit from Battery Watering Technologies.  Included in this watering kit is a main water jug, a quick disconnect attached to a clear hose with the correct amount of float valves attached for your batteries. This watering system will allow the user to fill all battery cells to the correct level at one time. No more pulling off all of the caps. This system replaces the original battery caps with float valves that are all connected through one clear tube. You will find on the top of each float valve a little clear lens with a white dot behind it. That white dot will be very white if the water level is correct. As the water dwindles away the white dot will go down and become lighter and lighter as the battery needs water. You should do this once a month just as a normal routine maintenance.

The steps are this:

  1. Fill the water jug with some distilled water.
  2. Connect the water jug to the clear hose via the quick disconnect.
  3. Place the water jug on the roof of the golf cart and watch the pin wheel start to spin.
  4. If your batteries are in great need of water the pinwheel will spin relatively fast. As it slows down you should pull the water jug down and disconnect if from the clear tubing.

**** It is important to understand that the pinwheel may not come to a stop completely as the batteries fill up. It is possible to overpower the float valves by using too much water in the jug and putting it too high to create too much gravity flow of water. Get familiar with the white dots so you know where full is!

  1. What causes batteries to build corrosion?

Corrosion on battery terminals is caused by escaping gas (hydrogen) from the vented battery, mixing with certain metals. As the gasses react to the ambient atmosphere, it begins to produce a corrosive environment. Other elements such as moisture and salts only accelerate this process.

  1. Is corrosion on the battery cables or terminals affecting my golf carts performance?

Most definitely!  You may not notice it but think of your battery cables as a garden hose with water flowing through it. In this scenario the garden hose will act as our battery cable and the water going through the garden hose will act as our electricity that is flowing through our battery cables. If you put your thumb on the end of the water hose and block some of the water we all know it will increase water pressure but it will limit the amount of water that comes out. A battery cable that has corrosion present in the cable will act the same. It will limit the amount of readily available electricity to the controller and motor. It may not be much at first, but after time it can completely block all electricity from flowing through those battery cables. At that point it is best to give our service team a call and possibly replace all of the battery cables.

  1. How can I prevent corrosion from happening?

The best way to prevent battery corrosion is to maintain those batteries every month and not let the corrosion get out of hand. You can do this in a few different ways.

  1. Properly clean the batteries monthly (next question will give you the proper cleaning methods.)
  2. Once batteries are clean, spray them with battery protective or coat lightly with grease. (we sell battery cleaner and protective spray.)

7.  What is the safest way to clean corrosion on batteries?

*** It is very important to do this portion of cleaning in the street or landscape that you are ok with pouring acid on. Doing this in your driveway will most certainly cause a stain to concrete or any finish you may have in your garage. ***

The correct cleaning method is to spray the tops and sides of the batteries with a solution of baking soda and water. Apply the solution with a plastic spray bottle. The solution is 2 teaspoons (10ml) sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) mixed with 1 quart (1liter) of water. Spray the solution on all metal components near the batteries also.

Allow the solution to sit for at least 3 minutes. Use a soft bristle brush or cloth to clean the top of each battery to remove residue that can cause the discharge of the battery. Clean the area with low pressure clear water.

At this point you should also tighten all battery terminals to ensure the best connection. (98-105 ft lbs)

  1. At what point should I replace my battery cables?

Closely inspect the battery cables each month. Look for corrosion on the cable ends. If corrosion is present further inspect the cables to see if any of the cable is swollen. If the cable shows sign of being swollen that means the corrosion is building inside the cable and slowly blocking electricity from flowing through the cable. If your cables are showing any sign of being swollen they should be replaced. I always replace my battery cables when replacing batteries. Even if they look clean I like to know that they started off good with my new batteries.

  1. How long should I expect my batteries to last?

This is a question we get asked on a daily basis, and is almost impossible to give one answer to. At A-1 Golf Carts we use Trojan batteries as we have had the best experience with them over the last 25 years. You can find batteries for less money than the Trojans, but it is very true to say you get what you pay for when it comes to batteries. I have had customers tell me they bought batteries for less than what we sell Trojans for with other battery manufactures, only to find out they lasted 2 years and then failed. Those customers had to spend more than double the amount on batteries to achieve the same length of time they would have received with Trojan batteries.

Typically our customers get 3.5-4.5 years out of their batteries depending on maintenance. As batteries get older sediment will build up in the bottom of the battery and can eventually short out the battery. As the sediment fills up it will take up the space needed to store electricity. If there is less room to store electricity then you will not be able to get the same range you used to out of your batteries. Now for most people that play golf with their golf cart this is important as you may need to use your cart for more than 4-5 hours at a time. With the batteries getting older and not having as much room to store electricity you will slowly loose that range. We also have some customers that use their cart to get around maybe 1 hour at a time between charges, for those customers they could see battery life anywhere from 3.5-5.5 years of use. Sometimes the battery can short out and go “Bad” and at this point we would not recommend replacing one battery unless it was under warranty. We almost always recommend replacing all batteries at once as your batteries are only as good as the weakest one!

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