How to Add Water to Golf Cart Batteries
Part of golf cart battery maintenance requires you to add water from time to time. This is especially important during summer and during high temperatures. When the water inside the batteries evaporates, this results in a dry battery; resulting in reduced water levels.
To add water to golf cart batteries, you need to fill the battery cells with distilled water. Fill the water above the battery plates by 1/4 – 1/2 an inch, but below the level of the vents.
Correct water level
When you pour water, make sure that it does not overflow on to the battery. Keep in mind that the main purpose of refilling the batteries is to avoid exposure of the plates.
It is recommended that you fill water to the level just above the battery plates but below the level of the vents.
It is important to note that under-watering as well as overwatering your golf cart batteries can do them more harm than good.
While under-watering can cause sulfation because the plates get exposed to air, overwatering can prevent gassing. This can result in the electrolyte flowing on to different parts of the golf cart. As the electrolyte is acidic, it can corrode the metal parts of the cart.
Advice on refilling water
While you may be tempted to refill your cart batteries with water from any source, you must not do so.
Opt for distilled water for your batteries. This is because distilled water is the purest form of water and is free of contaminants, minerals, or chemicals that can hamper the chemical process that takes place inside the batteries.
The presence of contaminants, minerals, or chemicals in the water can damage the batteries.
Tips for refill
- How much you refill your batteries is directly related to how much you use your golf cart. The more you use your golf cart, the more water the batteries will need.
- Batteries must be checked to see if their water levels are low or not, only when they are in the fully charged state. Batteries must be refilled only when they are completely charged. Refilling them when they are discharged can result in leakage of battery fluids after recharging.
- Ensure that you fill water in your golf cart batteries only after charging them. Add water so that the water level remains about half an inch above the top of the battery plates.
- Use only distilled water so that there is no possibility of contamination.
- Service your golf cart batteries on a half-yearly or a yearly basis.
- Allow the water level to go below the top of the battery plates as it can reduce battery efficiency.
- Delay getting your battery serviced if you notice gray-brown or green-colored corrosion on them.
- Water the batteries when they are discharged as this can decrease the electrolyte level.
- Allow the water to overflow when filling charged batteries as this can use up the electrolytes of the required acid-water mixture.
Golf Cart Battery Low on Water
There are a few reasons why your golf cart battery may go low on water. Whatever may be the reason, you should make sure that the battery is once again topped up with water to the desired level. Some of the reasons for a low level are as follows.
- The battery was not filled to the required water level last time when it was refilled. The ideal water level is just below the battery vent and above the battery plate.
- The battery has not had distilled water poured into it for a long time. The battery must be filled regularly and the frequency will be more if you use your golf cart quite often. Ideally, you should check the battery water level once a month.
- The battery pack wiring may be incorrect. Check if the battery that is low on water is getting charged along with the other batteries.
- The battery caps may have acid mist accumulated on them after each charge. Replace the caps with new ones or clean the old ones thoroughly.
- The battery charger is at fault and your battery may not be getting charged properly. Try charging the battery fully with a different charger, add water to the required level and check again after two or three days.
Why Your Battery is Dry and Has No Water
The causes for a completely dry golf cart battery are also quite a few. Some reasons why you may have a golf cart battery with no water at all are the following.
- The batteries are completely discharged because the golf cart has been idle for a long time. Charge the batteries fully and fill the water to the desired level. You may want to first charge each battery partly and then charge the pack as a whole together fully.
- If the dry battery is a new one and is connected along with older batteries, the charger may be overcharging it to retain a specific voltage level for the old ones. This can result in the new battery getting drained out because the water tends to boil off.
- The batteries are getting overcharged and the charger does not cut off after the stipulated time because of a faulty OBC irrespective of the charge level in the batteries.
What Happens if Golf Cart Batteries Run Out of Water?
Golf cart batteries consist of sulfuric acid and several other electrolytes. The battery plates must be submerged in them so that the required energy is produced to get the cart in motion.
When the batteries are discharged, the level of the water that contains these electrolytes goes down. This is quite normal and there is nothing to worry about. The water quantity is usually restored to the optimum level automatically when the batteries are charged correctly.
However, it is a cause of concern if the water level dips even if the golf cart batteries are not discharged. They tend to run out of water during summer or if the cart is in a place that has a very high temperature.
Another reason for the batteries to have no water could be when the cart has not been used for a long time. In all these cases, the water level tends to become low or the batteries tend to run out of water completely because of evaporation.
The biggest problem that your golf cart will face if the batteries run out of water is sulfation. This happens because a lack of water in the batteries exposes the battery plates to the air for a much longer period than usual.
As a result, the plates begin to start drying out and it starts flaking. In other words, sulfation results in damaging the batteries. If this happens, you have no other option but to change the affected golf cart battery or batteries.
How to Check the Battery Water Level
It may appear to be quite challenging to check the level of water in your golf cart’s batteries. However, in reality, it is not as difficult as it sounds.
To check the golf cart battery water level, you should know what the right water level is. This can help you avoid underwatering or overwatering the batteries, both of which can cause damage to them as mentioned above.
The general suggestion is to ensure that the water is above the battery plates by only a quarter to half an inch. Of course, you will have to check your water levels more often when it is quarter an inch above the battery plates than when it is half an inch.
However, with half an inch, the battery tops are prone to more acid accumulation. You will have to periodically watch out for this.
The frequency of adding water to the golf cart batteries depends on how often you use your golf cart. If you use your golf cart only over the weekends, you may need to refill water only once every month. Ideally, you should check the water levels at least once in a month to avoid causing damage to them.
Why Your Golf Cart Battery Water is Boiling
One of the biggest problems faced by golf cart batteries is that the water in it tends to boil. This can be due to several reasons as given below.
- The charger used for your golf cart batteries is malfunctioning or is not working properly. It may be charging at a higher voltage than required because the optimal setting might have gone out of sync. This can result in the batteries getting heated up and the water in it starting to boil.
- You must consider changing your charger to one that does not charge rapidly and has a regulated flow. It is also advisable to invest in a charger that cuts off automatically once the batteries are fully charged.
- You may be refilling water in discharged batteries. In this case, the heat from the discharged batteries makes them expand. The vents in the battery caps will not be able to release the hydrogen produced by the acid charging in the battery, thereby triggering a boil-over. This is one reason why you must always refill water in your golf cart batteries only when they are fully charged. Overfilling batteries with too much water can also result in boiling.
- Water from other sources may have been used instead of distilled water for refilling the batteries. Tap water and other such sources may have contaminants that interfere with battery electrolytes resulting in the boiling. Always use distilled water to refill the batteries.
- The voltage rating for one or more batteries in the battery pack is incorrect. Check the voltage reading for each battery individually and replace the faulty battery or batteries. If only one or two batteries need replacement, it is recommended to substitute them with used batteries. This is because using a combination of old and new batteries can lessen the life of the new ones.
Golf Cart Battery Water Level Indicator
The frequency of water requirement for golf cart batteries varies from time to time. Usually, golf carts do not have a clear water level indicator to indicate the level of water in the batteries.
However, you can pour distilled water into the batteries up to the level mentioned above in this article. Ideally, you can check the water level once a month. If the batteries need water refill more frequently, then you will have to inspect the water level more regularly such as once in a fortnight or even every week.
Often, water consumption is based on several factors. One main factor is the age of the battery. Another one is how much the batteries are discharged between two charges. The temperature of the place also plays a vital role when the batteries need a water refill.
In a few months, you may need to add only a little water to the batteries. On the other hand, if some months are really hot, more water will have to be added.
It may be worth noting that not all the batteries will require water at the same time. For example, you may have to top up the water in just a couple of batteries during a regular refill inspection. If the battery requires more charging time, the chances of boiling are also higher.
However, if you have to fill your batteries with water every two to three days, then they may not be charging properly due to a faulty charger.
Can you Fill a Golf Cart Battery with Tap Water?
Most people tend to think that there is no problem using tap water to fill in their golf cart batteries. However, as already emphasized above, this can do more harm than good. Although tap water might appear to be pure, it need not actually be so. This is why many reputed battery manufacturers like Trojan, etc. discourage using tap water and clearly advise against it in their user manual.
Often, tap water contains various minerals that can damage your batteries. While the minerals may be present only in traces, using tap water continuously can result in it getting accumulated on the plates over a period of four to five years. These contaminants can prove to be harmful to your golf cart batteries.
Water softeners are one of the most harmful components in tap water. They come with chlorides that can affect the lifespan of your batteries greatly. As a result, you may have to go in for a battery replacement.
If the tap water contains calcium and iron, it tends to become heavy. When such water is used a few times, the battery lead plates get affected the most.
Tap water containing alkaline minerals like lime can also have an adverse impact on the lead plates. The minerals dissolve in the water and form a deposit on the plates. They can also react with the acid in the batteries and trigger problems as well as change the color of the electrolytes.
Tap water can also result in shot batteries. The batteries tend to bulge and start getting heated up and it will soon become unusable. The charging can also be at stake for batteries filled with tap water.
Can you Fill the Battery with Distilled Water?
The answer in one word to this question is – Yes. Almost all battery manufacturers unanimously agree that this is the best water you can use for your golf cart batteries.
Distilled water also plays a key role in contributing to the lifespan of your batteries. This water is a form of boiled water. The vapor from the boiled water is once again cooled to liquid form. Hence, it is very pure without the slightest trace of minerals or other contaminants. This is exactly what the batteries need for maximum life.
Although you may be tempted to use tap water or other sources of purified water, the battery life will be affected. Tap and purified water may still have some minerals even if they been filtered. As they accumulate inside the battery, the battery life gets affected.
This will eventually lead to spending a few hundred dollars to replace your batteries.
On the other hand, if you use distilled water, you will be making the golf cart batteries safe without burning a hole in your pocket.