What Causes Golf Cart Battery Cables to Melt
The battery cables of your golf cart are prone to occasionally melting just like the cables of the batteries in any other vehicle.
The main reason why golf cart battery cables will melt is because of too much current passing through the jumper cable; resulting in overheating and melting.
A poor contact connection or a missing ground strap between the chassis and the engine may also result in the melting of your golf cart battery cables.
Alternatively, corrosion of either of the above two can also be a reason for the battery cables to melt.
A third reason is that the motor of your golf cart has a bad starter. It must be drawing excessive current through the cable or its solenoid must have become short-circuited.
Poor quality of the cables may also be another reason for the melting, because of inferior quality copper plating of cables and low-quality wire connectors.
Why Do Golf Cart Battery Cables/Wires Get Hot
There is more than one reason why you are likely to experience your golf cart battery cables getting hot. I will tell you the main reasons for this and what you can do to fix the problem.
Continue reading as I’m now going to go further indepth to the different reasons why your golf cart battery cables can overheat:
- Bad or loose connections
- Low resistance wires
- Long wires
- Dust in the motor
- Low gauge thickness
- Cable Corrosion
- Short cicruit
Bad or loose connection
Typically, your golf cart will have more than one battery resulting in several cable connections between them and the motor. If you find a particular cable getting hotter than the other cables, check for the connection made with that cable. A bad or loose cable connection can cause it to get hot.
Ensure that the connection is intact and has not come undone or become loose. If this is the case, secure the cable firmly just like how you did when establishing the connection for the first time.
Another reason that your battery wire is getting overheated is its resistance. A low resistance wire tends to heat faster than one with high resistance.
Use a multimeter and check the resistance of the battery wire that you find is quite hot. If you find that it has a low resistance, replace the wire with one that has a higher resistance, ensuring that it is well within limits prescribed for the golf cart.
A very long wire indicates that it will take an equally long time for the current to pass through it. This results in the wire getting overheated.
Replace lengthy wires with ones that are as short as possible. Also, make sure that the connection is tight and clean.
Dust accumulation on motor
If the motor of your golf cart is relatively old, then there are chances of carbon dust getting accumulated on both its brushes and interior. This can lessen the motor’s efficiency, thereby causing a strain on the battery cables and heating them.
Get your golf cart’s motor cleaned from time to time and keep it dust-free as far as possible. This will not only ensure the maximum efficiency of the motor but also prevent overheating of the battery cables to an extent.
Low gauge thickness
High current cables with less gauge thickness tend to get heated up if they have a temperature of 10°F more than the ambient temperature.
All high current cables that you use for your golf cart should preferably have a thick gauge so that they are capable of withstanding the heat. When you replace a heated high current cable, you can consider replacing all such cables with at least 4 Gauge thickness.
Corrosion through cable ends
A leaking battery can trigger corrosion in the connected cable and eventually lead to overheating. The corrosion generally starts at the cable end and proceeds along the entire length of the cable.
Check if the battery is leaking and if so, clean it as soon as possible. If needed, you may even consider changing the battery. Replace the corroded cable with a new one.
Short circuit or fused connection
Two cable ends that accidentally happen to touch each other can result in a short circuit or a fused connection.
Remove the shorted cables and use new cables to reestablish the proper connection between the terminals. Ensure that there are no loose connections as this can cause a short circuit.
Your golf cart battery cables must be attended to as soon as you notice them becoming hot. In most cases, the best solution is to replace the faulty cable or wire as soon as possible.
What Causes Golf Cart Battery Terminals to Melt?
Just like the battery cables of your golf cart, the battery terminals also tend to melt. You must check them often and take the necessary measures to avoid damage to your golf cart.
Loose or dirty connections
With repeated use, the connections of the battery terminals would have become loose, resulting in arcing. In some cases, frequent use might have caused dust and dirt to get accumulated on them. There are also instances where both incidents would have taken place. This results in overheating and eventually melting of the terminals.
If it is a loose connection that is the problem, set the connection right by tightening it up immediately. Alternatively, if you notice dust or dirt on the terminals, wipe it off with a damp cloth and clean the terminals. You can also use a soft brush for dusting and cleaning.
A stalled motor can cause the terminals of a battery to have a meltdown. It happens when a motor receives enough power to get started but it fails to turn. This is common when the cart is over a steep incline or a curb.
It may be time to charge your battery and replace the melted terminals with new ones.
Excessive internal resistance
The internal resistance of the cables used to connect to the terminals may be very high, leading to overheating followed by melting.
Check the resistance of the cables with the help of an ohmmeter. The resistance between both ends should ideally be zero or as negligible as possible. Replace the cable with one that has a very low resistance and also replace the melted terminal.
The bolts on the terminals often melt because of excess heat and even tend to break. When this happens, the terminals are also affected. One main reason for the heat generation is a corroded connection. This corrosion increases the cable resistance and thereby the heat, which leads to melting.
As soon as you notice a corroded connection, replace the corroded cable with a new one. Make sure that you clean the surrounding areas after making the connection.
Wrong type or size of wire
Using wires of the wrong size, type, or both can also cause a meltdown. This often happens when you use automobile cables that are not intended for the continuous high current used in a golf cart.
Also, check the crimp and lug connections. Loose connections can result in acid entering into the crimp and corroding it while dust can accumulate in the lug.
Check the type of wire connection and replace all automobile cables with those specifically intended for golf carts. Tighten all the loose connections.
How to Repair Melted Battery Terminals
One main reason why your golf cart batteries get damaged is due to melting. As mentioned above, this can happen to either the cables or the terminals of the batteries.
Repairing the terminals may appear a bit more challenging than attending to the cables. However, it is not all that difficult if you have the right set of tools for fixing it. Here, I will tell you how you can go about doing it.
Things you will need:
- One 5/16-18 tap
- One 5/32 Allen wrench
- One 0.257” F drill bit
- One 5/16-18 nut (You will need one screw for each terminal you’re going to repair)
- One hand drill
- One 5/16-18 socket set screw (You will need one screw for each terminal you’re going to repair)
- One LOCTITE (This is optional)
- One lag screw
Steps to Repair the Melted Terminals:
- Disconnect all the connections that you have made to your battery packs. If you have used a Run/Tow switch to make the connection, then make sure that the switch is in the Tow position.
- Insulate the tools you will be using on your batteries. You can consider wrapping electrical tape around the handle of the tool.
- Use a center punch and mark the middle of the battery terminal. Make sure to be as precise as possible, that the hole is to the center of the battery terminal.
- Drill straight down by about 1/2 an inch or at the most 3/4 of an inch. Drilling too deep beyond that may result in the battery acid beginning to leak. Avoid using a bit that is as big as the threads. The hole should be just big enough to allow the thread to hold fast on to the lead.
- Turn the tap a few times and remove it. Blow out the lead shavings. Remember that lead has a very soft texture and can be stripped easily.
- Repeat the above step until there are no more lead shavings.
- Use the socket set screw and lock the threads in place by turning the screw in the clockwise direction. If you’re planning to use a thread locking compound, opt for one that you can disassemble later.
- Make sure that you don’t tighten the screw too much because it will become loose again due to the soft nature of lead.
- Spray a protectant on the terminals and reconnect the power connections.
How to Fix Melted Golf Cart Battery Post
The golf cart battery cables, terminals, and posts are all interrelated. So, it is almost certain that if either the cables, terminals, or both leaks, your battery post is likely to leak soon. A few reasons that could trigger a battery post leak are given below.
Over tightening of the nuts
If the nuts on the post are tightened more than they should be, then they could soon become loose and in turn, melt because of arcing. This could be due to frequent use of the golf cart that in turn results in excessive use of the batteries.
Use a torque wrench and secure the loose nut firmly in place like you would tighten a normal nut.
Also consider using lock washers to hold the posts in place. This is a good chance to check for all possible loose connections and tighten them.
Corrosion of battery terminals
If you have a leaking battery, then corrosion is inevitable and it will affect the battery terminals. This will eventually seep into the posts and melt them.
Check out for a battery terminal protector from your golf cart parts store. This is usually available in the form of a spray. Spray a protector on all the terminals to prevent them from getting corroded.
Poor quality cables
To save on money, you may have opted for less pricey cables or automobile cables for connecting the golf cart batteries. Automobile cables are not capable of withstanding the extra current requirements of golf carts.
To ensure that your battery posts don’t melt, replace the low-quality cables with cables that have at least 4 Gauge thickness and are specifically intended for golf carts.
Dirty terminals or drained battery
Dust or dirt accumulation on battery terminals can make the batteries operate at less than the expected efficiency.
Similarly, when your batteries are almost drained and run out of distilled water, they tend to overheat and eventually melt.
Check your batteries often and clean them regularly, including the terminals. Make it a point to check the distilled water level in each battery, every time you clean them.
Further Reading: Why Golf Cart Batteries Get Hot