Congrats on your new golf cart purchase. You are well on your way to having some fun in the sun with a very mindful low impact on the environment with green house gases by choosing an electric vehicle for transportation over a gas engine. Electric vehicles are great! With very low cost of ownership and low maintenance. But with that said today we will be discussing How To Take Care of your new toy. Whether it be a basic EV or a cool golf cart you might have had custom built by Pete’s team or purchased new from a dealer near you or second hand. Regardless of the vehicle these basic things must stay in the back of your mind to ensure proper performance and general operation while you use or own your electric vehicle.
This how-to article will be focused more on the golf cart side of things but a lot of the same things will apply for all electric vehicles. Battery chemistry will vary in some application so if you are not currently using a traditional lead acid battery to power your vehicle you can disregard this section of the article. If you do have a basic golf cart it is probably a 95% probability it has lead acid batteries. (AKA – Flooded Batteries… nick named because each battery cell is flooded with electrolyte (acid/water solution) to create electricity via the chemical reaction that takes place between the lead and the acid. Hence the name – Lead Acid Batteries. ) Lead acid batteries are really dirt nasty things but can be maintained and taken care of to provide very affordable portable power. Which is really the only reason I can think of that they still exist and are so prevalent today in the 21st century. To some debate should the right person read this but I would go out on a limb here and say they are still probably the cheapest renewable portable power supply on the planet.
A Brief Discussion – Lead Acid Batteries in General
Most important fact of a lead acid battery! They like to stay fully charged! So charge your batteries back up to 100% after each use. Always store your golf cart or lead acid batteries in general fully charged. If you store your Ev or golf cart seasonally you will want a smart charger. Something to maintain the battery voltage while you are away. If you need a good golf cart battery charger? Pete stocks and offers more than enough golf cart battery chargers for any application under the sun. 36 volt golf cart battery chargers, 48 volt golf cart battery chargers, and even 72 volt golf cart battery chargers. Find your new smart charger today! All orders placed and purchased through this article and receive free shipping anywhere in the US of A.
This is because lead acid batteries in general lose about 10% of their capacity a month just sitting idle. Even faster is a slight load is still applied to the battery bank like alarm systems or stereo systems not wired correctly causing a parasitic drain to the battery bank. Once the battery is discharged to say 80% a chemical reaction starts to take place within the battery cells called sulfation. Basically it is a build up the starts slowly creating a layer of scum on the batteries internal lead plates. This build up will effect the performance of the battery as it limits the ability of the lead to interact with the acid to create electricity effectively.
As a battery ages it becomes more and more apparent. This process will happen no matter what you do – but properly maintaining your batteries and keeping charged and watered will allow you to see a long life span. Average life expectancy for a golf cart battery pack in South Florida climate is 3-4 years if used normally. This number is not the technical answer to battery life just a observation based on years of experience in the industry. If Pete was here he would say no, no no … battery life is very technical and is a combination of application used, climate and depth of discharge. So just to show Pete he has taught us well – the technical answer would be the life expectancy for a traditional lead acid battery is – 200 to 250 cycles and 50% D.O.D. “Depth of Discharge”.
The chemistry of a given battery will determine the cycle life or life expectancy. For example if you upgraded to an AGM battery which is still technically a lead acid battery just a high quality more advance version where a layer of fibrous material is placed between each lead plate to keep the lead plates saturated at all times and are totally sealed from the elements has a cycle life double that of a traditional lead acid battery at say 400-700 cycles at 50% D.O.D. and they actually like the idea of being deeply discharged whereas traditional ones struggle to keep up and seem to fail early in the cycle life if used in application where deep discharges are common. Then you have Lithium battery technology which is very fascinating for someone like Pete or even me.
Pete is all about batteries! Pete has an electric bicycle and boats, cars, motorcycle, and even lawn mower and weed eater. All thanks to lithium batteries… they are awesome… super light weight and pack a punch. Then there is the cycle life which compared to lead acid batteries is off the charts. The average lithium battery we manufacture for numerous applications today exceeds 5000 cycles at 50% depth of discharge. hence the cost compared to lead. Cost of ownership goes a long way especially when it is application driven. Some applications are just down right hard to get to when it comes time to maintain, service or replace. Like in a big boat or yacht or off grid location miles from civilization.
Golf Cart Lead Acid Battery Maintenance
You should check your golf cart batteries at least once a month. Most carts have the batteries located directly under the seat. You should be checking the water levels monthly as a rule of thumb. If you use the cart extensively every day I would say weekly or bi-monthly. As the more you charge /discharge a lead acid battery a chemical reaction is taking place which causes off gassing. Similar to boiling a pot of water and as the water boils some of the water is lost as it is converted to steam from the heat. Some like the idea of using a one point battery watering system to make the task easier. These systems save time and take the guess work out of re-filling the batteries properly and accurately. Checkout this article if you would like to learn more about a battery watering system for your application or just visit this section golf cart battery watering systems.
Periodic Checks Under The Seat
So while you are there under the seat you can also check the system over for any signs of wear or corrosion. If you notice your golf cart battery cables are cracked or showing exposed wire during your inspections they should be replaced immediately. Golf Cart Battery Cables. If your connectors are showing signs of corrosion they should be cleaned and protected immediately with a product like Battery Pete’s Corrosion Block. Or any other anti-corrosive spray or lubricant. Electricity will always take the path of least resistance. So in order to protect against breaking down, loss of performance or any issues that could damage your golf carts internal electrical system always make sure you have clean connections – corrosion free – and no exposed wires or terminals that could short out against something. Like the bottom of your seat or the seat hinges.
Next you will want to check all the terminal nuts to make sure they are tight. Pete swears by lock washers being used between ever cable lug connection to help ensure you have and keep a tight connection to the terminal. Think this is not important? Guess again – Remember when I mentioned when you have resistance in a circuit or electrical system it will generate heat? This scenario could be catastrophic to a lead battery terminal commonly found in golf carts. Let me give you an example – say you have only one nut you did not tighten down, just was finger tight when you replaced the batteries in your golf cart the other day. Simple forward and reverse testing to check and confirm you did the job correctly and to make sure it is operating properly after installation will make this little mistake go un noticed. As the battery system and circuit is complete. So it will be providing the approx. correct operating voltage to the motor/controller system.
But…… When you take it on a long run at W.O.T. “Wide Open Throttle” down the neighborhood street or try to pull a grade or hill the load you will place on the battery bank will be substantial. Great enough to actually melt the entire battery terminal completely off in severe cases! Either way this scenario will require you to replace the battery at that point. Unless you are lucky enough to know where you can have a professional re-connect / soldier that terminal back in place. Which is a possibility but not always possible. Here is a good How to article for someone if you are going to replace the batteries in your golf cart and have never done so before. How To Replace The Batteries In My Golf Cart
Periodic Checks Around and Under The Vehicle
Next up is the drive train. For the most part it will be maintenance free. Never have I seen someone tear up a rear end from to much power or acceleration, or burn out a transmission as they do not exist in a golf cart. All traditional golf carts have a motor that is directly attached to the rear-end (differential).Electric motors are also basically bullet proof with no service required unless a given circumstance would warrant. Examples of scenarios that will ruin and electric motor. Water damage via flood or driven in a deep puddle. It is an electric motor! Also stalling a motor under wide open pedal will ruin it. Well not always but will surely require service and most likely being rebuilt at the tune of $500 bucks or more… If you have a lot of weight (passengers) or load on the system and the vehicle cannot overcome it. It will come to a stop! – DO NOT CONTINUE TRYING TO DO SO WITH YOUR FOOT STILL HOLDING THE PEDAL TO THE FLOOR! If you do so you will be forever welding the internals of that electric motor in place.
Tires need to be checked for proper air pressure and alignment. Air pressure will be stated on the side wall of the tires on your vehicle. Adhere to those specification and load ratings. Proper alignment of the front tires will effect tread wear and tire life. If the alignment is off get it adjusted ASAP otherwise replacing tires on your EV will be in your near future. Checkout all the Golf Cart Tires and Wheels Pete offers maybe we can save you a few bucks vs buying locally. We ship nationally!
Brakes need to be checked as well. Usually it will be very apparent should you need to service your braking system. as the cart will not stop very well or will make a squeaking or grinding noise while under way. Depending on the make and model of the golf cart you may or may not have rear brake drums. As in the case of the Ezgo Rxv golf carts 2008 and Up which do not have brake drums in the traditional sense like other Ezgo carts. They utilize what is known as a motor brake See Image. These are actually quite good for numerous reasons in fleet maintenance where a golf course might have 200-300 carts to maintain. No need to replace pads or drums as they wear out. Just a simple few bolts and an electrical connection to swap out. Though in the event you let the batteries go dead from sitting. The cart will not move or roll as the motor brake is locked in position until electricity is applied to unlock again.
Last but not least is safety. Always use and operate your vehicle with due care. Always be mindful that your vehicle (Typical golf carts with a top speed in the 20-25 mph range) will not move fast enough to avoid traffic from other motor vehicles you will share the roadways or common areas in your community. Make sure your cart has seat belts for the kiddies. Also looking through a good windshield can help save the day from debris or the elements. Another must have for your golf cart if you plan to drive at night is lights! If you are looking for a simple easy to install complete light kit for your golf cart we got those as well.
Help is on hand
Stay tuned to learn more about your new toy. Feel free to drop us a line here with questions or give us a call at 772-247-4653