Why Golf Cart Batteries Lose Charge, Die and Drain Quickly

golf cart battery losing charge


How to Check if your Golf Cart Batteries are Dead

There are four methods of checking whether your golf cart battery is dead.

  1. Use a multimeter to check the voltage of each battery in your golf cart.
  2. Use a hydrometer to check the gravity of the electrolytes in the batteries.
  3. Use the Load Testing method.
  4. Use the Discharge Testing method


Using a Multimeter

  1. Charge the battery rack of the golf cart fully to the maximum limit.
  2. Set the reading of the multimeter to 200 Volts DC.
  3. Use the multimeter across the battery posts of each golf cart battery individually. There is no need to disconnect one battery from the other.
  4. Check if the voltage of each battery is a little above 6 volts such as 6.1 to 6.3 volts. (This is for a 6-volt battery.) If you get a lower reading like 4.1 volts, it indicates that at least one of the batteries is shorted or dead.

You can alternatively use a digital voltmeter to check your battery’s health. However, this will help only if there is at least some electricity remaining in the batteries.


Using a Hydrometer

You can use a hydrometer with a thermometer to check the specific gravity of the electrolyte in the golf cart batteries. If this value lies between 1.1 and 1.2, you must consider recharging the battery.

Alternatively, if the value is between 1.225 and 1.265, you can continue testing your battery. It’s worth keeping in mind that the sulfuric acid to water concentration for a fully charged battery is 1.28 while it’s 1.145 for a discharged battery.  

It’s highly recommended that you wear a pair of safety gloves and safety glasses when you use a hydrometer.

  1. Pour the electrolyte into the hydrometer. You may have to do this many times so that the thermometer gets adjusted according to the electrolyte temperature. This step is essential if you’re using a hydrometer with a temperature correction chart.
  2. Note the temperature at which the temperature gets set.
  3. Observe the color of the electrolyte. Brown or gray color indicates that the battery is nearly dead.
  4. Position the hydrometer upright at eye level and observe the reading that shows where the float’s scale is at par with the electrolyte.
  5. Repeat the above step for all the cells in the battery.
  6. Compare each of the values noted above in Step 4 and Step 5. If there is a variation of 50 points (0.050) between any two cells of the battery with a specific gravity of 1.225 or more, it means that the cells with this disparity have a problem. It’s likely that you have a bad battery that needs replacement.

There is no significance in the specific gravity variation between cells if the battery is discharged or has a specific gravity less than 1.225.

Remember to follow the instructions that come along with your hydrometer to ensure that your readings are accurate. Also, you will have to repeat all the steps given above for each battery in the golf cart.


With Load Testing

When you opt for this method, make sure that the batteries are fully charged and at room temperature. It’s advisable to make use of a load tester that comes fitted with a digital voltmeter.

  1. Connect the load tester to the battery terminals and observe the voltage displayed.
  2. Press the button on the tester. A resistor in the circuit gets activated and applies a dummy load on the golf cart battery.
  3. Note the dip in the battery voltage. If the drop in voltage is only between 0.2 volts and 0.4 volts, the battery is in good condition. A bigger voltage drop is a sure sign of a failing or faulty battery.

A golf cart battery comes with a specific amp hour rating at 20 hours. This is usually mentioned in the battery information sticker.

When the load is applied, the voltage that each battery must retain for 15 seconds at the specified rating is one volt less than its actual value.


With Discharge Testing

This method involves the use of a discharge tester. However, this tester is often expensive and so this method is often used only in repair shops.

  1. Connect the discharge tester across the entire battery bank.
  2. Apply a resistance load to all the batteries.

You will get an indication of how much you can run your golf cart before it runs out of 3/4th of charge based on the decay rate.


Why Your Golf Cart Battery Keeps Going Dead

The reason why your golf cart battery keeps going dead may be due to loose connections, incorrect battery wiring, or having a faulty voltage regulator.

  • The voltage regulator is at fault and tends to affect the starter solenoid. Changing the voltage regulator can help to retain the battery voltage and in turn prevent the battery from going dead.
  • A load gets drawn when the engine is in off position. You can use a voltmeter set to DC amps to resolve this issue.
  • There is a loose contact between the terminal connections. Ensure that these connections are tight and clean always.
  • One or more dead cells in the battery can result in the battery going dead often. You can do a load test or use a hydrometer to determine this.
  • Incorrect battery wiring or connections can cause a problem. Check if these have been done properly and correct mismatches.
  • The fuel line has a vapor lock. Once this is cleared, you’ll be free of the problem.
  • There is a current draw. To check if you have a current draw, disconnect the ground wire of the battery. Connect an ammeter between this wire and the negative battery post. If you notice a reading, the battery is draining because of the current draw. You will have to disconnect each component one by one or pull the fuse to see where the draw is actually happening.


Why Golf Cart Batteries Lose Charge / Drain Quickly

The reason why your golf cart battery keeps losing charge or drains quickly, may be due to loose wires, corroded connectors or an insufficient amount of water in the battery.

  • The battery connections may have become loose or the connectors are corroded. In this case, tightening the connections or removing the corrosion can help.
  • The water level in the golf cart batteries is far below the desired level. Check the water levels of the batteries and top up the ones with low water levels.
  • The golf cart is kept in a very cold area. Batteries tend to drain faster in cold temperatures. You can consider moving the cart or at least the batteries to a warmer area when the golf cart is not in use.
  • The battery charger is at fault and not charging the batteries properly. Changing the charger can help in this regard.
  • The batteries are getting overcharged because the charger is continuously on. Consider using an automatic charger that turns off the charging once the desired charge has been achieved. Similarly, you should not wait to charge them until they have become very low.
  • The electric components in the golf cart are still on when it’s not in use. Make it a regular practice to turn off all electrical components like radio and lights when the cart is in idle mode.
  • The golf cart is used often for long distances and steep hills. Don’t use the cart for distances longer than it’s intended for and on steep surfaces.


How to Revive Dead Golf Cart Batteries

  1. Open the battery compartment and take out the golf cart battery.
  2. Clean the battery using a paintbrush dipped in a solution of two tablespoons of baking soda and one quart of water. This helps to remove any corrosion present, especially around the terminals. Follow up with a rinse using plain water. Take care to ensure that no water gets into the battery.
  3. Check for cracks in the battery case or any other defect. Replace the cracked case or fix any other defect.
  4. Remove the plastic cap covering each cell of the battery by inserting the end of a slot screwdriver below the cell cap.
  5. Connect the battery to a three-phase charger that can charge 6 volts batteries and let it charge overnight.
  6. Check the charger status in the morning. If it indicates a full charge, check the battery cells once again and add some more distilled water to the cells with exposed battery plates.
  7. Close the battery caps tightly.


If the charger does not show a full charge status, you will have to do the following:

  1. Tilt the golf cart battery to the side and drain about half of the battery acid from the battery to a plastic container.
  2. Follow Step 2 of the above procedure.
  3. Make a solution by mixing two quarts of warm distilled water with eight ounces of Epsom salts. Pour this solution into each cell until its plates are covered completely.
  4. Follow Steps 5 and 6 of the above procedure. If the battery doesn’t charge fully, it means that the battery cannot be saved.


Saving a Dead golf Cart Battery

This is how to save a dead golf cart battery:

  1. Remove the battery cables using a pair of pliers or a screwdriver.
  2. Remove the cell caps and drain the acid into a plastic container for use later.
  3. Pour a solution of Epsom salts and distilled water into the battery and flush it out. Redo the process.
  4. Pour the acid once again into the battery using a funnel.
  5. Replace the covers on the battery.
  6. Connect the battery to a charging station and charge the battery fully so that each cell has a voltage rating of 2.3 volts.

Always wear safety glasses, a face mask and gloves whenever you perform the above process.


Signs You Need to Replace the Battery

  • You have taken the golf cart for several long trips. With a fully charged good battery, you should be able to travel seven miles.
  • You find it difficult to take the cart up steep areas such as hills.
  • The battery shows cracks or bulges in the housing.
  • Liquid drips from the battery.
  • The battery takes double the time to get a full charge than when it was new.
  • The golf cart loses power fast or does not go as fast as it used to.
  • Read My Complete Guide: How to Charge Golf Cart Batteries



Ernie loves documenting interesting facts about golf.

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