Golf Cart Starter Generator (Getting Hot / Not Turning Over)

Golf Cart Starter Generator Overheating


Symptoms of a Bad Starter Generator

A bad starter generator might leave you picking up the pieces after it blows over, due to overheating. You might even find yourself stranded once it fails to turn over the motor and start your golf cart.

The starter generator generates current for the cart to operate on. It relies on the electromotive force supplied by the battery. It consists of a coil of wire, which when moved produces a current in the coil. The coil is connected to the main axle of the cart for the necessary movement of wires.

The starter generator doesn’t just generate current in the cart. It’s critical in charging the battery, starting the car, powering carts’ lights and also serve as a limited power source when needed.

Identifying whether your cart’s starter generator has gone out of order or your cart’s battery is not working, is often a tough task.

There are a few simple identification methods though that can easily tell you if you have a bad starter generator or not.

The following are four common symptoms that of a bad golf cart starter generator.


  1. Turning the Key Doesn’t Turn the Cart On

This can happen if either your cart’s battery or starter generator is out of order. Check if the lights on your cart are working. If yes, then it’s a bad starter generator. If no, then something is wrong with your cart’s battery.


  1. Cart Taking a Longer Time to Crank

If your cart is taking longer than expected to start cranking, then you probably have a bad starter generator. This might happen due to a battery issue as well. A simple check with the lights on your cart will help you locate the fault again.


  1. Starter Generator is Overheating

A bad starter generator gets hot quickly when the cart starts moving around. Within a short time, it might start letting out smoke as well. Once the smoke starts coming out of it, you know that your starter generator is damaged.


  1. Jammed Pulley of Starter

The pulley that connects the starter generator to the main axle of the cart can get rusted and jammed. This can impede its free movement. The rust may reach the starter generator as well making it necessary for you to replace the whole setup immediately.


Why Does a Golf Cart Starter Generator Overheat?

Overheating is one of the more obvious signs of a bad starter generator in a golf cart. A bad starter-generator can heat up to an extent that it starts letting out smoke after a short while.

A starter generator starts overheating primarily when the current it produces becomes more than what is needed to run the golf cart. The starter generator is usually enclosed, which means that there is no chance for it to cool down either on heating.

The starter generator is attached to certain other components like brushes and pulley of the starter. When the connection between these components becomes loose, the flow of current in starter generator coil gets disturbed. This too can cause overheating of the starter generator.


What Happens when Starter Generator Is Getting Too Hot?


  1. Cart Won’t Start

When your starter generator is getting too hot, your cart may get stalled and not start over again. This might happen if the power received by the starter generator is below the required 12volts from the battery.


  1. Damage to Other Components

An overheating starter generator is a constant threat to other components as well. The solenoids and voltage regulators attached to it can also get damaged if the overheating starter generator is not fixed in time.


  1. Battery Won’t Charge

Your cart’s battery may stop getting charged after your starter generator starts overheating constantly. You can check if your battery is getting charged or not by simply connecting a meter to it.


How to Prevent a Golf Cart Starter Generator from Overheating

To prevent a starter generator from overheating on your golf cart, you should check for loose connections and make sure all wires are connected correctly by referring to the user manual.

  1. Check for Loose Connections

Loosely wound or wires not connected properly are often the primary cause of an overheating starter generator. They cause a disturbance in the current generated by the starter leading to overheating. Checking regularly for loose connections can help you ensure that your starter generator is working fine and doesn’t get overheated now and then.


  1. Avoid Wrong Connections

Connecting wrong wires to the wrong terminals of a starter generator can also be the cause for an overheating starter generator.

Always make sure that the red wire is connected to the D+ terminal and the two black wires are connected to the D- terminal. The green wire should be connected properly to the DF terminal.


How to Fix a Golf Cart Starter Generator that’s Getting Hot?

7-8 hour long ride with an overheating starter generator is enough to cause a breakdown. Unless you take the necessary steps to fix the problem immediately, you can get ready to spend $120 on another starter generator.

When your S/G overheats, there are a few steps that you can take to restore normalcy. Here is a step by step guide you can follow when you encounter your starter generator is getting too hot in your golf cart.


  1. Check the Voltage and Replace the Voltage Regulator

The first thing you have to do when S/G starts heating up is to get a voltmeter and check for the voltage across the S/G. Clamp the voltmeter on the two terminals of S/G and accelerate the cart.

If the voltage recorded is more than the standard voltage for your S/G, you should change the voltage regulator at the earliest. For a standard 12v S/G, a 3-5 % excessive voltage won’t overheat the equipment much in the long run.


  1. Tighten the S/G Belt for a Perfect Fit

The pulley or S/G belt has to be a perfect fit. If the belt is loose, it may slip out. If it’s too tight, it may cause S/G to heat at a more rapid pace. A simple check by pushing the pulley with your hands is enough to identify whether it’s fit or not.


  1. Replace Damaged Wires

Even a single loose or damaged connection of the S/G is enough to blow it up. it’s advised not to operate your golf cart when the wires connecting the S/G to the other parts are damaged or loose. It not only causes the components to overheat but also poses a constant threat of damaging it.

Tips to Keep Your Starter Generator from Overheating

  • Replace the voltage regulator when installing a new starter generator.
  • Install a digital voltmeter to keep track of over-voltage.
  • Check regularly for loose connections.


Why Does a Golf Cart Starter Generator not Turn Over?

Apart from overheating, a bad starter generator may at times fail to turn over the engine. This again is a major concern and can cause serious damage to the other parts as well.

A golf cart starter generator will not turn over due to low battery voltage, misaligned rotation or mechanical damage to the pulley and brushes.

Although you may not be able to identify the exact reason, failure to turn the motor over could be due to any of the three reasons mentioned here.


  1. Low Battery Voltage

A 12v rated battery should operate at the nominal voltage of 12v and a full charge voltage of 12.72v. If the voltage is low, the starter generator will fail to turn the motor over as it will not be able to generate enough current required to do so.


  1. Misaligned Starter Generator Rotation

For an engine that requires the starrer generator to turn clockwise, the starter generator has to be aligned in such a way that it does turn clockwise. Any misalignment will prevent the engine from turning over.


  1. Mechanical Damages

Mechanical damage to any other part like the armature, pulley, or brushes can cause the generator to lock up. On locking up, the starter generator will fail to turn the motor over.

For instance, if the brushes get worn out, they might get stuck between the starter generator and lock it up and stop it from moving in any direction.


How to Fix a Golf Cart Generator that is Not Turning Over

Fixing a bad starter generator does not always involve work on the starter generator itself. When the starter generator fails to turn the motor over, the problem may also lie with the other parts.

There are a few steps though that you have to follow for the S/G to perform properly.

The guide below checks for a problem in all the 8 key components of S/G and helps you locate and fix the problem that is stopping it from turning the motor over.

  1. Check if the battery is working fine and the nominal and full charge voltage are as required, 12v and 12.72v respectively.
  2. If the two terminals connecting the battery do not record a nominal voltage of 12v +-3%, there might be an issue with the cable or battery.
  3. If the nominal voltage at the terminal connecting the key switch is not 12v, then there can be an issue with the fuse wire or key switch.
  4. If all that is working fine, next you have to turn the cart on and press the accelerator pedal.
  5. If the solenoid doesn’t create a click, there is an issue with the footswitch.
  6. If the wiring and footswitch are good and a voltage is reflected in the solenoid, then the issue may be with the solenoid.
  7. After that, check for the nominal voltages across the motor brush and armature brush.
  8. If the nominal voltage is not reflected across either of them, they must have been left open or are broken.


Safety Tips

  • Keep a check on the voltage across your starter generator
  • Bench test your starter generator every 8 weeks
  • Clean the starter generator and protect it from dust and rust.
  • Check for loose connections regularly.
  • Check for the serial number before installing a new starter generator


Ernie loves documenting interesting facts about golf.

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