Why Your Golf Cart Starter Generator is Not Charging
If your starter generator is not charging properly, it may be that the solenoid, voltage regulator or brushes are faulty. If you’ve ensured that all of these parts are working fine, the starter generator may not be drawing enough current to regenerate the battery.
DISCLAIMER: Please don’t attempt to fix your starter generator and any golf cart issues. Always consult with a electrician and mechanic when troubleshooting your golf cart.
A golf cart starter primarily serves two functions; turning over the engine to start the cart and act as a key link in getting the battery charged. The starter has enough current to crank the engine. The generator converts the alternating current to direct current and recharges the battery.
The starter generator is an electric motor that runs on the voltage drawn from the cart’s battery. After igniting and cranking the engine, when the starter generator is spinning at over 1200rpm, it starts converting the AC it produces to DC to regenerate the battery.
The battery regeneration part involves the starter generator brushes, Solenoid and Voltage Regulator. The solenoid has to remain energized at all times to ensure that the return path via voltage regulator to the battery remains open. This return path is the route through which the current is returned to the battery to recharge it while the cart is running.
To check if your cart’s starter generator is working as intended, you can perform this simple test below.
- Step 1 – Check the Connections
Loose wirings or improper terminal connections are the most common reasons behind the starter generator not charging the battery.
To ensure the starter generator is working properly, you need to check for any loose connections and fix them.
Always consult with a trained electrician/mechanic, and DON’T attempt fixing your golf cart yourself.
Also, you should conduct a thorough check of the terminal connections of the starter generator with other parts.
For reference, you can use the connection diagram available in the instruction manual of your model. The green wire is the most important in the functioning of starter generator.
When the green wire gets shorted on its own, the field current starts flowing directly to the starter generator circuit, therefore recharging the battery.
- Step 2 –Short the Green Wire Manually
If you’ve checked all the wires and they’re connected as intended, then it is time to manually short the green wire to ground. This is done to conduct the full field test. The full field test determines if the starter generator is working fine in terms of the voltage generated at the battery terminal.
- Step 3 –Apply Full-Field Current
After shorting the green wire to ground, you need to apply full-field current to shoot up the battery voltage to 15-16 volts.
You have to ensure that the full field current is applied only for the time taken to record the full-field voltage because the high voltage is enough to damage the battery.
If the voltage is 15 or 16 volts, the problem is with the voltage regulator. If not, the starter generator is faulty.
How to Fix a Golf Cart Starter That is Not Charging
The starter generator setup in a golf cart involves the solenoid, brushes and the voltage regulator. If the engine is turning on but the battery is not getting charged, the brushes can be removed from the suspects’ list as they’re doing their job as intended.
If the brushes can turn the engine over, they’ll have no problem charging the battery as well. Here is a step-wise check on each component that can be done to fix the issue of the starter generator not charging.
Not all of the materials listed below will be required to fix the issue. However, it would be better to have these handy as at least one of them will be required if the starter generator isn’t charging the battery as intended.
- New Wires
- Voltage Regulator
Steps to Fix Starter Generator Not Charging Issue
- Check and Replace Broken Wires
Wires are the first thing to check for in the case of an starter generator failure. Any loose or damaged wire is enough to prevent the cart from working completely.
To ensure the starter generator is charging the battery as intended, check all the terminal connections. If there are any damaged or loose wiring, replace them immediately.
- Check Solenoid
The solenoid is expected to remain energized at all times. If it is not energized at any point in time, the return path for the starter generator to charge the battery via the voltage regulator won’t be completed.
A simple voltmeter or a multimeter set at voltage reading should be enough to identify a faulty solenoid.
- Check Voltage Regulator
As indicated in the earlier section, conduct a full field test to see if the problem is with the voltage regulator or the starter generator itself.
If the starter generator is showing 15 to 16 volts during the full field test, replace the voltage regulator.
Yamaha G1/G9 Golf Cart Starter Generator Not Charging
The Yamaha G1/G9 has no additional components that can cause a problem in the starter generator’s function. The only difference is the wiring setup which can be found in the user manual. The ideal voltage output from the starter generator in these carts is around 14-15 volts.
The Yamaha G1/G9 has a forward solenoid and a reverse solenoid in place, which makes the wiring a lot more different from that in other golf carts.
The starter generator has six terminals, DF, D+, A1, A2, F1, F2. The D+ terminal is connected to the main switch through a red wire, while the D1 terminal is connected through the green wire to the voltage regulator.
Of the other four terminals, A1, A2, F1, F2, the terminal F2 is connected to the battery, while the other three terminals are connected to the solenoid. The battery rated 12 V 50aH has two more connections, one through a red wire to a fuse, and the other to the solenoid. The solenoid is connected to all the other components of the golf cart.
For conducting a full-field test, the green wire that connects the starter generator and the voltage regulator is to be shorted. Full-field current should then be applied to check the voltage at battery terminals.
If the reading reflects 15 V or more, then the starter generator is fine and as explained earlier, the voltage regulator is the thing to be fixed.
EZGO Golf Cart Starter Generator Not Charging
In most of the cases, a starter-generator that can start the cart will also be able to charge the battery. This is because of the configuration of EZGO Golf carts.
Almost all of the EZGO models have a setup that is foolproof to any generator failure. If the battery is not charging, it is usually the wiring or the voltage regulator.
The possibility of having an starter generator that doesn’t charge the battery is very low.
As the chances of wiring defects are more likely, here is a brief description of the terminal wirings of the EZ-GO golf cart. The same can be found on the cart’s user manual and may differ from model to model.
Usually, the starter generator has five terminals, A1, A2, DF, F1, and F2. The green wire that connects the DF terminal of the starter generator to the voltage regulator may be one reason why the battery is not getting charged.
To check if the starter generator is causing the battery charging issue in your EZ-GO golf cart, all you’ve got to do is short the green wire to ground.
Remember, you need to short the wire and not the terminal itself. After doing that, apply a full field current at the battery terminal. If it is above 15 V, the problem is with the voltage regulator. If it is below that, it is advisable to change the generator.
Pro Tip – Instead of replacing the generator, it might be a little cheaper to get the generator rebuilt. For rebuilding, you can look up for an electrical technician with good knowledge about motors and alternators.
Automotive service providers will cost more and may not be able to provide the solution that we’re looking for. Getting it tested and rebuilt by an electrical technician can be more economical than buying a new one.
How to Fix a Weak Starter Generator
A weak starter generator fails to produce enough current to turn the engine over. It will disrupt the battery charging cycle leaving you stranded in the middle of a ride. A weak starter generator won’t usually indicate a problem with the starter generator itself.
Here are a few steps using which you can ensure that your starter generator doesn’t fall under the ‘weak generator’ category. These steps help you identify if there is a problem in any of the8 starter generator components. Once the check is completed, the defective component can be fixed to get the starter generator working as intended.
- The nominal voltage of a battery at full charge is 12.72 V. This has to be confirmed first.
- If the voltage recorded at the battery terminals is over or below 3% of the nominal voltage, the problem is with the battery. There might be a few wiring issues as well. So before deciding that the fault is with the battery, you should check the wire connections.
- Next to be checked is the key plug. The voltage that should be recorded at the key plug terminals is12 V. Any different reading and it might be the key plug that is faulty.
- Next to check would be the footswitch by accelerating the cart. If the solenoid fails to click, the footswitch needs attention.
- During this footswitch testing, if a voltage can be seen through the solenoid, the problem could be with the solenoid instead.
- Next, check the brushes in the circuit.
- If there is any difference in the voltage levels, either the brushes are left open at some terminal or they’re damaged.