How to Test Golf Cart Batteries
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How to Test Golf Cart Batteries (Step-by-Step Guide to Load-Testing Batteries)

Pushing the golf car around the whole span of the course. You certainly did not sign up for that when you decided to buy a fancy new golf cart for your fun, relaxing rounds of golf. But you know you might start pushing one around in the case of failing batteries. On that note, how to test golf cart batteries to prevent this tragedy from ruining your day on the golf course?

It may seem time-consuming, but so does pushing the cart around the property in case the batteries are in poor health. So how about we tell you what needs to be done and how? Let’s start with the basics, and then figure out how to get the job done.

So how do you know when it’s time to recharge your golf cart batteries?

When Charging Takes Too Long

It’s only natural for rechargeable batteries to deteriorate over time in terms of performance. After all, they are made of chemicals that have an expiry date. And this shelf life is bound to inch closer at a faster rate if used more frequently.

So, at such times, what happens is the battery takes a longer time to charge after every cycle. So you know it’s time to buy a new one from this list of top golf cart batteries that deliver long-lasting, continuous performance.

When A Full Charge Runs Out Too Quickly

Likewise, if your old battery is running out of power before you even finish a single round of golf, then also it’s time to get a new one. Your cart battery not giving you enough distance is a clear warning sign that you need to replace it.

Golf cart batteries, in the prime of their lives, cover at least 7 whole miles before re-fueling. So if you’re not getting this distance out of the current ones, then eliminate the trouble of always getting interrupted by the dying battery.

When the battery begins to weaken after just 9 holes, it’s not in the best of health. Period.

When There’s No Acceleration

Getting up and just moving - that’s the simple job of a good cart battery. The cart should be able to whizz off pretty fast once you press on that gas pedal. Yes, it should go forward gently when the pedal is pressed softly. But when you wish to reach top speed, the cart has to be able to do that too. And if it doesn’t, then you know it’s time to replace those batteries.

When batteries begin to lose some of their original strength, then it’s only common for them to not make way for proper acceleration. So you don’t get to drive the golf cart at the speed you desire. And this means difficulty in climbing hills.

A fully-charged, fully-functioning battery, on the other hand, ought to take you across greens as well as over hills without any troubles at all.

Signs of Wear and Tear

Now, how about actual physics signs of wear and tear? Batteries that take too long to charge, batteries that, even on a full charge, exhaust too quickly, and batteries that don’t allow the golf cart to attain top speed, etc. These are all signs that, more often than not, come with visual evidence.

Generally speaking, batteries like these expand, bulge, or start to show cracks. So what do you do when that happens? Handle them with gloves and extra care.

Keep in mind that a battery with corrosion along its sides or at the top demands a thorough cleaning or replacement. Corrosion leads to spotty connections, which are easily noticeable when cleaning the battery or when you gain/lose power.

Another very discernible sign of deterioration is the battery leaking acid. Now, this is very dangerous as it can cause serious damage. Whenever leaks are observed, it’s best to replace the batteries altogether because the lead-acid type of battery is an environmental threat as well.

How to Check If Golf Cart Battery Is Still Good?

Just because testing your cart batteries is the right way of checking if they’re good and haven’t gone bad doesn’t mean everyone knows how to do it. Also, if it’s your first time testing the battery, then it’s only natural to feel confused. But the great news is that the process is not that complicated, or even time-consuming as a matter of fact.

And there is more than one way to get the job done.

Using the Digital Voltmeter or Multimeter

It’s the best method of checking voltage as well as the power circuit. Touch the negative probe of the voltmeter to the negative terminal or ground of the battery. And then do the same on with the positive end.

When the battery is healthy, you get a 50-52 volt reading on that voltmeter. The majority of batteries hold at least 48 volts. And if it’s lower, then you know what that means, replacement.

Keep in mind that a digital voltmeter is only going to determine whether or not the batteries contain electricity. To confirm power, as a whole, you have to inspect the battery bank. And then check the individual battery using the voltmeter to figure out if just a single battery is the problem or the whole bank.

The same can be achieved using a multimeter.

Using the Hydrometer

You can check, using a hydrometer, the specific gravity of the electrolyte. If this value is between 1.100 and 1.220, then recharging the battery is what’s required. If it’s between 1.225 and 1.265, it means you can test the battery. And after testing, if the value is around 1.280, then breathe a sigh of relief in knowing it’s a good battery.

Does the hydrometer have a temperature correction chart? If yes, then accordingly adjust the battery temperature reading. You should also remember that difference in the specific gravity isn’t significant in the case of discharged batteries.

And if there’s a 50-point variance in batteries with the specific gravity reading of 1.225, then know that they’re bad and demand replacement.

Using the Battery Load Test

When the batteries are fully charged, you get to complete at least 2-3 rounds of golf before you recharge them. Even after a single round, expect the battery bank capacity of a 48-volt golf cart to be above 48 volts. Simply because the start and stop loads aren’t too demanding in comparison to the total, continuous starts and stops.

Also because fully-charged golf carts (48-volt in this case), with 8-volt and 6-volt batteries, have a battery bank threshold of 51 volts, not 48 volts.

Using this particular load tester method gives you a real-life battery simulation. You can see the voltage of the battery change as the test is in process with the load. But a 0.5-volt or higher change points in the direction of a bad, need-to-be-replaced battery.

Step-by-Step Procedure to Load-Test Golf Cart Batteries

Here’s how to test your cart batteries using the most effective, hence most common method.

What You Should Know Before Testing

It’s most advisable to load-test golf cart batteries when they’re at room temperature. This also means avoiding it if the weather is as cold as -1 degrees to prevent the release of any toxic fumes and the possibility of explosions. Speaking of which, put on protective gear like thick gloves and eyewear.

work in a room that’s well-ventilated. So you’re safe from potential battery leaks. Also, once you get that accurate reading, turn off the load tester immediately.

Step 1 - Connect the Load Tester Clamps to the Battery Terminals

The clamps of the load tester connect to the battery terminals. So begin with the red one by flipping up the protective cover and finding the lead screw of that particular battery terminal. Now clamp the tester’s probe around this terminal.

Once both the terminals are securely and firmly clamped, then turn on that load tester.

Step 2 - Hit the Battery with Amperage for Checking the Voltage

How much amperage to use? It should be half the battery’s CCA (i.e. cold-crank amperage). You’ll find this information printed on the battery. More often than not, it’s between 600 and 700 in the case of golf cart batteries. This means you can use 300 to 350 amps.

Turn the dial of the load tester to reach the required amperage.

Step 3 - Check If the Voltage and Original Voltmeter Reading Are Close

It’s common for there to be a drop between 1 to 2 volts at the time of performing the load test. But if this drop is more than 3 to 4 volts, then know that those batteries cannot maintain voltage during the passing through of the current. Even though they are more than capable to achieve the desired voltage! In that case, replace the batteries.

For instance, you get an 11.9-volt reading with a voltmeter. And the load tester shows 11.1 volts, it means the latter contains sufficient amperage. But if the latter is under 8, then it’s only natural for the battery to fail to operate properly.

Most Useful Tips for When Load-Testing Golf Cart Batteries

  • Don’t forget to charge those batteries completely. Because a full charge is a pre-requisite for achieving an accurate reading. And if that’s not happening, it means you need to get new batteries. Or maybe the battery charger isn’t working properly.
  • Before load-testing, check the voltage of the battery using a digital voltmeter.
  • Apply the load based on your battery’s specific capacity. 6-volt golf cart batteries have an Amp Hour (Ah) rating between 210 and 225. 8-volt have between 165Ah and 170Ah. And 12-volt golf cart batteries are 150Ah. The information is listed on the battery itself.

Most Common Reasons for Battery Failure

Overcharging and Undercharging

You’re not charging enough or you’re charging for too long. These are some of the most common causes of cart battery failure. When you overcharge, you’re making way for excessive heat, which tends to dry out the battery and sometimes even lead to electrical fire hazards.

On the other hand, when you undercharge, because of a low-quality charger or because you’re in a hurry to get it over with, the battery isn’t getting the required amount of amperage and volt for re-charging.

When You Drain the Battery Life Completely Before Recharging Them

This in itself is a warning sign for you to replace cart batteries if you do it very often. Driving the golf cart until the battery dies or even becomes super-low just increases the possibility of battery replacement. Because this way, their chances of getting damaged are very high. It’s just as detrimental, in the long term, as overcharging those batteries.

You need to understand that all kinds of batteries have their own weaknesses and limitations. So it’s best for you to prevent both overcharging and draining. Just have a look at the regulations provided by the manufacturer to avoid causing any damage on your own.

When You’re Always Using the Radio and/or Lights

Do you always turn on the radio or even the lights of your golf cart? Or any other extra electrical component? If yes, then maybe that’s why your cart is not operating as it should.

It goes without saying that electrical parts, be it a golf cart or any other car, demands energy from the battery to work. And this applies even when the engine is not running. So it can be possible that you or someone else, like your golfing buddy, is using up all the power because they like keeping the radion on throughout the game.

When the Battery Has Expired

Everything has an expiration date, we’re sure you know that. And this includes batteries of course. Batteries aging is a common issue, which means it’s only natural for your cart batteries to slow down and then eventually lose all power.

When You Don’t Maintain or Care for the Batteries

Not giving any importance to maintenance is inevitably going to lead to battery failure over time. When it comes to batteries, it’s only necessary for you to ensure the fluids inside them are at a proper level. At the same time, cleaning off corrosion is also a must. Failing to do all of this means accelerating the aging process of the battery.

Improper Installation

Forget about maintenance, it’s something that comes later, what about installation first? When batteries aren’t installed properly, damaging the terminals is only unavoidable. And that, in turn, results in both permanent destruction and poor performance.

Unsuitable Use

Needless to say, different sizes serve different purposes. Meaning you can’t expect a small-scale battery that has limited juice to power a large golf cart, and vice versa. Only a generous-capacity cart battery can take your golf wagon up hills and across greens.

Even repeated misuse is likely to cause permanent damage.

Conclusion

So now you know how to get the job done. When you make sure your cart batteries are running properly, you’re paving the way for an uninterrupted round of golf. Batteries cannot maintain themselves. Also, batteries don’t last as long as humans, which we’re certain you already know. Yet most people neglect caring for and even testing batteries.

But now that we’ve explained how to go about it in the most straightforward manner, you don’t have to worry about the procedure being complicated. Just figure out which method you wish to adopt in order to test the batteries in case they start to give you warning signs.

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