Generally, golf cart batteries can last 4 to 5 years if maintained correctly. Over time you may run into problems with them in the form of an increased charging time or decreased range due to insufficient voltage. A lot of people would assume that the battery needs to be replaced at this point, but fortunately, this is not always the case.
Golf cart batteries can be refurbished and it should be attempted before replacement because it is cost-effective and environmentally friendly. You can refurbish one by cleaning off the corrosion on the terminals and replacing the water inside with a solution of distilled water and Epsom salt.
Reading on will inform you on how to figure out if your battery needs replaced or refurbished and how to do the refurbishment on your own. Luckily, it is fairly easy and if successful will extend the life of your battery and therefore hold off the expensive replacement costs.
When To Refurbish your Golf Cart Battery
Although it is rare, sometimes the problem is with the charger and not with the battery. You can check for this by charging another battery.
If your charger is working fine, then your battery might be damaged or dying. You can tell a battery needs to be refurbished if the voltage is too low. Healthy batteries will read 50 to 52V on the voltmeter.
If it reads lower, like at 48V after a full charge, then the whole battery should be replaced or refurbished. The problem may be with an individual battery, but an individual’s failure usually means another one isn’t far behind. It’s best to replace every battery in the set when it’s time for refurbishment.
You probably have a battery that needs to be refurbished if you’ve noticed that it takes much longer to charge than it did before and if it doesn’t hold a charge as well.
Another sign that the battery is at a low voltage is a “shutter” while driving, which feels like the brake is being tapped repeatedly at a rapid rate.
Any or all of these signs mean you should check the battery cells for damage and ultimately decide whether or not to refurbish it. Refurbishing a battery reduces waste and avoids costly replacements, so you’re always better off doing so first before getting rid of it. Although refurbishing a battery can help, it is really not a long term solution and may band aid your battery for a year or so.
The Problem with Sulfation on Golf Cart Batteries
Every lead-acid golf cart battery will have sulfation at some point, which is a build-up of sulfate crystals. Too much of it will cause early battery failure and is usually the reason for the need to refurbish or replace. You can speed up the process of sulfation by overcharging, undercharging, or draining the battery too low.
The buildup can bring about early battery failure by decreasing the duration of a full charge, increasing the chance of acid overflow, and lowering the amount of active material in the battery itself. These problems not only shorten the lifespan of the battery but also greatly reduce its performance.
Luckily, the main goal of the refurbishment process explained below is to eliminate the sulfate buildup that causes the plates to touch, ultimately short out, and prevent the battery from being fully charged.
How to Refurbish a Golf Battery
Before you begin the refurbishing process, protect yourself with an apron, gloves, and safety glasses. You’ll also need baking soda, distilled water, Epsom salt, a wire scratch brush, a flathead screwdriver, a wrench, and a funnel.
If at any point you notice damage to the battery like in the form of acid leaking, your only option is to replace it completely and refurbishing it is impossible at that point.
Check the water level of the battery cells. If it’s not full, don’t continue with this process unless the battery has been filled.
Using a wrench, disconnect and remove the battery.
Create a paste using 2 tablespoons of baking soda and 1 quart of water. Using the wire brush, scrub the battery terminal posts and clean off the corrosion buildup. You can use sandpaper if the corrosion is especially hard.
Rinse off the battery as best as you can without getting any water in it and make sure it is completely dry.
Using a flathead screwdriver, remove the battery caps and drain the battery into an appropriate container.
Create a solution of distilled water and 15-17% Epsom salt. You can make the distilled water slightly warm to fully dissolve all of the salt.
Refill the battery cells with the Epsom salt solution. Put the battery caps back on and lock them into place.
Once the battery has been cleaned and refilled with fresh solution, connect it to a smart trickle charger. It should take around 12 hours to fully charge.
After the battery is fully charged, test it out using a multimeter, voltmeter, battery load test, or hydrometer. If it still isn’t at the right voltage, it needs to be replaced.
Unless there is damage to the battery that renders it useless, there is still a good chance that you can rejuvenate it and give it new life. Many people find the process of refurbishment relatively simple and a much better alternative to shelling out the money to replace it. New golf batteries cost anywhere from $800 to $1500, so it is highly recommended to check for the possibility of refurbishment before scrapping the battery.
To keep your golf battery lasting as long as possible, consider the following tips.
- Invest in good quality
Selecting the cheapest golf battery may have consequences later on, so a good quality battery will give you the highest chance for a long life.
- Use additional products
Purchase a sealant and use it on nuts, bolts, terminals, and wire lugs. Use submersible rubber tape to seal exposed wires. Also, layering the terminals with petroleum jelly provides extra protection from corrosion.
- Check water levels
Overwatering and underwatering decreases the lifespan of the battery. Exposing the top of the plates by underwatering causes additional damage.
- Charge at the right time
Experts recommend charging the battery once it reaches 50% and not to let it run until it’s empty. This limits the heat damage on the battery from charging and ensures a longer life.
Good luck and happy golfing!