Golf carts are used to transport both golfers and their playing equipment around golf trails. They usually cover small distances at a speed of less than 15 mph.
Electrically operated golf carts work using four-stroke engines and are powered by batteries for their functioning. Often, they use either lead-acid batteries or lithium-ion batteries.
Occasionally you may find your golf cart batteries leaking. In this article I will tell you why they leak, and the next step you should take to fix the issue.
Why do golf cart batteries leak? Batteries used in golf carts can leak overtime due to a damaged battery case. Leaking can occur from reckless driving and storing the battery in cold conditions. Another common mistake that can lead to leakage is adding acid to the water tank of the battery.
While lithium-ion batteries offer the golf cart better performance, these batteries are also more expensive. Since they do not contain sulfuric acid, you can be assured that there will be no leaks occurring. These types of batteries are pretty much maintenance free.
However, if you find that you cannot afford lithium ion batteries, you will have to go in for the affordable lead-acid batteries. This type of battery requires a high level of maintenance and a higher chance of leaking.
Overtime this can result in your golf cart becoming a leaking mess! You will find your battery leaking either acid or water. Please do not panic if you notice this!
Let me explain why leaks can occur and how to stop them from happening.
What Causes Golf Bart Battery Leakage
One reason why your cart battery leaks is due to not using the golf cart correctly. Rough driving and crashing into trees around the course can result in the battery case cracking. A crack in the battery case will cause the water inside to leak out.
Your battery may also leak if you leave the golf cart in extremely cold weather for long periods of time. The water inside the battery will expand and break the battery casing when it begins to defrost.
Water will then start leaking out which is never a pleasant sight. This scenario is more likely to happen if the battery is at least 12 months old however.
A battery acid leak is likely to occur when you pour acid into the battery along with water. This is a very common mistake. You have to remember that the water inside the battery will get evaporated and will need repeated refills. However, acid does not evaporate into thin air!
Filling the battery with acid each time you pour water can cause an overflow, which results in a leak.
Even if you have treated your golf cart with utmost care, the batteries tend to leak if their past their use by date. Furthermore, seeing visible damage on your battery is a clear sign problems will soon occur.
In either case, the battery will start expanding and the case will start bulging out. This is likely to be followed by a leak.
Types of Battery Leakage
There are 2 main types of battery leaks; water and acid. This is because both water and battery acid is stored inside the battery.
Both water and acid together provide the energy for the battery to operate. Whatever be the cause of the leak, you must attend to it immediately to avoid permanently damaging your golf cart
Over-watering the golf cart battery is a common mistake that people often make. You must not pour water into the battery when it is completely discharged.
When the battery gets charged after pouring water, the water will become warm. The water and acid levels will also become high and naturally cause a leak. I recommend that you pour water in your battery only when it is fully charged.
Charging the battery at a very high voltage can cause a boil over. To avoid this, the charger should operate between 43.2 to 44.5V when charging a 36V battery. For a 48V battery, the operating voltage of the charger should range between 57.6 and 59.2V.
Why Golf Cart Batteries Need Water
Golf cart batteries need water for storing their energy along with the acid. Lead acid battery operated cart needs water to prevent the battery from getting overheated.
When the battery is charged, the acid level tends to move up and release energy via the battery plates. The acid contact with the plates can cause corrosion.
Distilled water also helps in preventing the acid from remaining on top of the battery plates and thereby prevents corrosion.
Can You Use Regular Water in Golf Cart Batteries?
Using regular tap water is a common mistake made by a lot of golfers. Many people incorrectly believe that using tap water is suitable for batteries. You should always use distilled water to ensure the best performance of your battery.
Tap water usually has different types of minerals which may damage the battery even if the quantity of minerals present is very less. These contaminants get accumulated over a period of time.
One of the worst contaminants in tap water is water softener. The chloride present in water softener can have a damaging effect on the battery.
If this is the case, you will naturally end up buying new batteries for your golf cart, which can end up being quite expensive.
Remember to always use distilled water when filling your golf cart battery.
How to Stop Golf Cart Batteries from Leaking?
How do you stop your golf cart battery leaking? This is a common question that most electric operated golf cart owners have because replacing batteries can be costly.
One of the first things to remember is to never do a refill when the battery is completely discharged. This is because liquid levels will increase during the charging process and result in a leak.
Always remember to have your battery fully charged when performing a refill.
Extensive usage of the golf cart can trigger bubbling when charging because of the battery discharge. Because of this, water may leak through the top vents.
Take care to see that the batteries are not overfilled. Ideally, if there is a fill height ring kind of marking inside the battery, take care to not fill beyond the marking. This marking can be found about an inch below the battery top.
Also you should periodically check the battery box for cracks. Avoiding battery discharge during the winter season can prevent cracks in the battery case. This is because when the temperature is really cold, the battery electrolyte freezes and expands forming cracks through which the leaks take place.
Cracks can also happen if you accidentally hit your golf cart against some obstacle in its path. When there are cracks, it’s best to change the complete unit to stop the leaks from taking place.
How to Get the Best out of Golf Cart batteries?
Taking proper care of your golf cart batteries can help you get the best out of them and eliminate the need for their frequent replacement.
You can follow these simple steps to avoid spending a huge amount on replacing the batteries.
- When charging the batteries, ensure that they’re not overcharged. Overcharging them actually damages the battery rather than retaining charge for a longer time than necessary. Consider charging them using an automatic charger that turns off on its own when the charging is complete.
- In case you have to use a manual charger, set an alarm to remind you to check and turn it off when the batteries are full.
- Don’t wait for the batteries to get drained or discharged completely before charging them. It’s good practice to full charge the battery every time after using your golf cart.
- Check the batteries regularly for dust and corrosion. Always keep them clean by wiping them regularly. Look out for the water level each month and make sure that it’s always at the optimum level marked by filling them with distilled water.
- Avoid keeping the golf cart engine turned on for a long time. Light bulbs, radios and other electronic devices can drain the batteries very fast. Don’t forget to take them off after use, and remove key off before getting off the cart.
- Last but not least, use the golf cart only in areas it’s designed to be used. Avoid overloading the cart with items that are not really needed. Also do not exceed the recommended weight capacity by boarding extra passengers.
Golf equipment and accessories are generally not very economically priced. Hence, it goes without saying that golf cart batteries are no exception. Batteries can cost as much as 450 USD (£360).
As we have discussed, a common reason that you may find yourself changing a battery is due to a leakage. You should always take great care and preventive measures to ensure that leaking never occurs.
Keep in mind that all leaking indications do not call for a battery change.
For example, if the leak occurs because of overfilling the tank with water or acid, you can wipe off the spills outside and drain the liquid. You can also watch out for other signs that point out the need for a battery change.
Signs of other battery problems is a battery that takes at least twice the usual charging time to get charged. Another sign is when your golf cart travels less than the standard distance it covers with a fully charged battery.
Read More: How Much Do Golf Cart Batteries Cost