How to Repair Golf Cart Batteries: A Simple Guide
Golf cart batteries go through a lot of wear and tear, especially if the cart is part of a course's fleet. Constant discharging and recharging is hard on lead acid batteries and can result in a shortened battery life. You can take steps to repair and revitalize your golf cart batteries when they show signs of age.
Here's a step-by-step guide to repairing your golf cart's batteries if you've run into some issues.
Step 1. Open the Battery Compartment
Since golf cart batteries are generally under the front seat this requires that the front seat be lifted out of the cart. On some cart models the front seat is hinged and the front of the seat is lifted straight up.
Step 2. Clean Corrosion Off the Battery
Wearing gloves and eye goggles for protection, mix 2 tablespoons of baking soda into 1 quart of water and stir well. Dip a paintbrush into this mixture and liberally paint onto all areas where there is corrosion on the battery, especially on and around the battery terminals. Expect the mixture to bubble and fizz where the baking soda and battery acid come in contact with each other.
Step 3. Wash the Paintbrush and Dip Into Water.
Wipe all surfaces of your batteries with plain water until you have cleaned away all of the corrosion.
Step 4. Inspect the Battery
Check the battery for cracks or other defects. Remove and replace any batteries that have a cracked case, especially if it appears to be leaking battery acid into the battery compartment.
Step 5. Remove Plastic Caps
Remove the caps that cover the cells of the batteries. You may need to push the end of a slot screwdriver under the cell cap pry upward to remove the caps. Inspect each battery cell and use a turkey baster to add distilled water to any cell in which the plates are exposed to the air. Add enough water to cover all plates.
Step 6. Charge the Battery
Charge the battery overnight with a three-phase charger set to charge 6-volt batteries. On some chargers you will need to manually set the charge between 2.3 and 2.35 volts. Attach the positive wire (red) to the positive (+) pole of the battery and the negative wire (black) to the negative (-) pole of the battery. Plug in and switch on the charger after it is connected to the battery.
Step 7. Check the Charge
After a night of charging, check the charge in the morning. If the battery charger indicates that the battery has taken a full charge, inspect the cells and add more distilled water to any cells in which the battery plates are exposed to the air and then replace the cell caps. However, if the charger does not indicate that the battery has accepted a full charge, you need to take extra measures (see Step 8).
Step 8. Drain the Battery Acid
Tip the battery on its edge and allow approximately half the battery acid to run out of each cell and into a plastic container. Clean the battery with your paintbrush dipped in a baking soda solution as described in Step 2. Rinse your battery with plain water, making certain none of the water gets into any of the cells.
Step 9. Add New Mixture
Mix 8 ounces of Epsom salts into 2 quarts of warm distilled water. Stir thoroughly. Use your turkey baster to fill each battery cell with the Epsom salts solution until the cells are completely covered.
Step 10. Charge the Battery
Give the battery another overnight charge as described in Step 6. The Epsom salts should remove deposits on the battery plates which previously prevented the battery from taking a full charge. Check the battery in the morning. If the battery still won't take a full charge, it likely cannot be saved. If the battery has taken a charge, replace the cell caps and use your cart normally. Put a trickle charger on the batteries every night to keep the batteries in peak condition.
- Use only distilled water inside your battery. Never use tap water as the chemicals in tap water will destroy your battery.
- Do not get battery acid or the white/yellow corrosion on the batteries on your skin or clothing as this acid can burn and destroy material in a very short time.
- Always wear gloves and eye protection when working on lead acid batteries.
- Always be sure to properly maintain your golf cart.
It's important to keep in mind that golf cart batteries are not meant to last forever, and full replacement is inevitable. For fleet carts, replacement is needed about every 5-6 years. Personal golf cart batteries can last up to 10 years.