With winter quickly approaching, it’s time to start thinking about putting your electric golf cart away for the season. While golf carts are useful, fun vehicles to use from spring to fall, they don’t do so well in the winter. There’s also a chance that keeping your electric golf cart unprotected during winter could cause serious damage.
The main focus when storing your golf cart for winter is to protect your batteries from the bitter cold. Freezing temperatures hurt batteries and kill the cells inside of them. Apart from protecting your batteries, you should also clean the cart, protect the tires, and cover it up for the season.
While preparing your electric golf cart for winter storage might not seem like a big deal, it’s more complicated than it looks. Leaving just one box unchecked could spell disaster for your golf cart and its batteries. However, if you want to learn how to properly store your electric golf cart during the winter, you’ve come to the right place.
How to Properly Store Your Electric Golf Cart for the Winter
Thoroughly Clean the Golf Cart
Step one is to give your golf cart a deep cleaning inside and outside.
- Remove any trash from the cart.
- Scrape away bird poop.
- Clean the tires, frame, and chassis.
- Check the motor and wiring for damage or debris.
- Wash the cart with warm water and soap.
Check Your Tires
The main thing to do when checking your tires is to fill them to the right PSI. Most golf cart tires should be between 18 and 20 psi, but you should check your owner’s manual or the tires themselves to be certain.
You should also ensure that the tires are tight and in good shape for the following year.
Take Care of the Battery
Because the battery is the main component to worry about with your electric golf cart, we’ll focus extra attention on it. Here are the steps and a few tips to prep and store your electric golf cart battery.
- Disconnect Terminals
The first thing you’ll want to do is access your batteries and disconnect the terminals from them. You should be able to do this with a ratchet set or wrench that’s the correct size.
- Thoroughly Clean the Battery
With the terminals disconnected, give the battery a thorough cleaning. It’s important to clean the surface of the battery and have it sleek and shiny, but it’s more important to clean the terminals connecting to it. These areas are prone to rust and corrosion, inhibiting the connection between the battery terminals.
To clean your battery terminals, you should use a soft brush and a mixture of water and baking soda. Scrub the terminals gently, and be patient. Cleaning them will take some time, but it’s essential for the health of your golf cart battery. Performing this step at least once a year could add several years of life to the battery.
- Check the Water Levels
You can perform this step before or after you charge your battery. However, checking your battery’s water levels is essential regardless of when you do it. Water helps keep the battery cells within the battery healthy and functional. If the levels are too low during winter, there’s a chance that some of the cells will die. When that starts happening, it’s only a matter of time before your battery dies.
You should use distilled water to refill the cells to their recommended fill level.
- Charge the Battery
Once the battery is clean and dried off, reconnect the terminals and fully charge the battery. It’s important to pay attention to your battery while you’re charging it so you can disconnect the charger when the battery is full. Overcharging a battery is just as bad as not storing it properly.
You should also ensure that the battery terminals are firmly connected and tight.
- Check the Charge Regularly
Even though your battery isn’t getting used during the winter, it will inevitably lose its charge throughout the season. This is especially true if you keep your batteries in a cold area or inside the golf cart. You should check the charge once or twice monthly to ensure it isn’t losing it too fast.
- Recharge as Needed
Anytime you check your battery and notice it’s lost its charge, you should plug it back in and recharge it as necessary. Keeping the battery charged regularly will ensure it’s healthy and ready for next year. Additionally, letting the battery charge get too low could kill battery cells and spell disaster for your electric golf cart.
We’ll go into a few more details later about whether or not you can leave your golf cart plugged in and where you should store your batteries.
There are three switches and levers that you’ll need to set to store your electric golf cart properly.
- On/Off Switch
While this might seem like a no-brainer, most people are so used to leaving their golf cart on the whole time that they forget to turn the key off during the winter. However, leaving the key turned ON will drain your battery and undo all the good you’re attempting.
- Forward/Reverse Switch
It’s also important that you put your electric golf cart into PARK if that’s an option. However, many golf carts don’t have a park option. If that’s the case, leave it in FORWARD, but ensure that the brake is engaged.
- Run/Storage Switch
Some electric golf carts also have a Run/Storage and Run/Tow switch. When you’re using the cart, it’s on Run/Tow. However, when you store it during winter, you should change it to the Run/Storage mode. Failing to do so will drain the battery and leave you dead in the water when spring rolls around.
Check for Rust
Checking for rust and corrosion on your golf cart is one of the most missed steps in the storage process. You probably don’t do this often enough during the summer when you’re using the cart frequently. However, it’s always a good idea to check for rust and corrosion before you cover your cart for the winter.
If you notice rust on the frame, chassis, around the wheels, or anywhere else on the cart, you should cover it with rust-resistant paint. You should also check the cart’s body for chipped paint and make repairs as needed. You can perform this step before or after washing and cleaning your golf cart.
Disconnect Battery Cables
If you haven’t done so already, go back to your batteries and disconnect the battery cables from the charger.
Cover the Cart
Covering your electric golf cart during the winter isn’t mandatory, but it’s an excellent idea. Covering the cart protects it from moisture, snow buildup, ice, debris, dirt, grime, and other objects that can damage it. Failing to cover your cart might undo all the cleaning and maintenance you performed before storing it.
While you can use a tarp or blankets, making a small investment in a golf cart cover is better. Golf cart covers are very affordable and will do the best job of protecting your golf cart during winter. While you want the cover to tightly protect the cart, don’t get too carried away because you’ll have to remove the cover periodically to check and recharge the battery.
Where Should You Store an Electric Golf Cart for Winter?
For maximum protection, storing your electric golf cart in a cool, dry place is best. If you have a conditioned shop, barn, or garage, these locations make the best options. If those aren’t an option, then under an overhang or roof is acceptable.
Protect Against Rodents
Rodents such as mice, rats, and squirrels often turn to vehicles as a source of warmth, and your electric golf cart is the perfect target. They are attracted to the battery and wires inside your golf cart and will chew and wreak havoc on them. Therefore, it’s a good idea to place rodent repellent in the golf cart or out around it to stave off these pesky pests.
Should You Take Batteries Out of Your Electric Golf Cart in the Winter?
It’s best practice to leave batteries inside your electric golf cart during winter. However, if you decide to take them out, you should never set batteries directly on the ground or floor. Instead, set them on a pallet or shelf to keep them elevated and away from moisture. You should also store them in a conditioned area to protect them from the cold.
You’ll still have to check and recharge them monthly, even if the batteries aren’t in the golf cart.
Should You Leave Your Electric Cart Plugged in Over Winter?
Whether or not to leave your electric cart plugged in during the winter is a point of heated contention. In most cases, we advise against leaving your cart plugged in year-round. Doing so could overcharge the batteries and ruin them.
However, if you have a drip, trickle, or automatic charger that turns off and on as needed, leaving the cart plugged in during the winter isn’t the end of the world.
How Often Should You Charge Your Batteries Over Winter?
You should check and recharge your batteries every two to four months during the winter. You should never let them get below 70 to 80% charge.
Can You Leave an Electric Golf Cart Outside During Winter?
It’s never a good idea to leave your electric golf cart outside during the winter. Doing so leaves the cart vulnerable to the elements and cold and could result in serious damage. It could also result in frozen battery cells, which will then turn into dead battery cells and a ruined battery. Therefore, if you leave the cart outside during winter, you should remove the battery and store it in a conditioned area off the ground.