Golf cart batteries are the most expensive part of an electric golf cart.
Understanding the life of your golf batteries will help you to budget for your replacement set.
Let’s take a look at how long golf cart batteries last, signs they are failing, and how to extend the life of them.
How Long Do Golf Cart Batteries Last?
Properly maintained golf cart batteries will last on average about 6-10 years for private owners.
For properly maintained fleet golf cart batteries that get used for 2-3 rounds of golf everyday, you can expect them to last 4-6 years.
Fleet golf carts are generally used for golf courses or in maintenance facilities.
These carts are used many times a day.
They are often charged halfway through the day and then used again.
Owners who use their cart in this manner tend to see shorter battery life spans.
How Do You Know When Golf Cart Batteries Are Dying?
These are the most common signs that it is time to replace your golf cart batteries.
Although some other issues could come up depending on your particular cart, these are all good indicators.
If you have a combination of these things starting to happen with your cart, start preparing to replace your batteries.
10 Signs Your Golf Cart Battery May Be Failing
1. Charge Times
If you have owned your cart for quite some time, then you will know about how long it takes to charge.
If all of a sudden, you see your batteries are taking longer and longer to charge, they could be on their way out.
Certainly, as batteries age, there could be an increase of a half hour or so here and there when it comes to charging.
However, if you notice you have your cart plugged in all day and it still won’t get to a full charge, this is a problem.
Charge times vary depending on the size, age, and type of battery you have.
Generally, it is considered good practice to keep your batteries well charged.
Don’t let them keep running to zero and charging just a little.
Keep it at full charge whenever possible.
2. Slow Acceleration
When you put your foot on the pedal of your cart, you should feel an instant response.
If your cart feels like it struggles to get itself moving, chances are your batteries are starting to fail.
Other problems can lead to slow acceleration, but anytime your cart feels as though it hesitates or holds back, it is likely a battery issue.
Sometimes when you get started rolling, things get better, but slow acceleration is a good warning sign to make yourself aware of.
3. Decreased Distance Travelled
Most golf carts can go for miles without needing to be recharged.
Many can hold a charge for 10-15 miles.
If you know, your usual trip to the grocery store is two miles, and by the time you get there, your battery is down to the halfway point, you may soon need a replacement.
Throughout their lives, batteries will naturally lose some of their strength.
When you start to notice the decreased distance in travel, it will likely be extreme.
You will almost be able to watch the battery indicator deplete as you are driving.
Sometimes this will mean that all of your batteries are going bad; other times, it could just be one or two that needs replacement.
4. Struggling to Climb
Even if you can get your cart moving, you will have trouble going up an incline.
You may notice that when you have more than one person on the cart, it gets really slow as it climbs a hill.
Carts will naturally slow down when climbing.
When your batteries are going bad, the slow down will be very noticeable.
You will feel almost as though you will have to get out and push the cart up the hill.
It is a good idea to inspect your batteries from time to time visually.
You will be able to see if any issues stand out.
One of the major issues is when a battery casing cracks.
This can happen for several different reasons, but it is not a good sign.
This battery should be replaced immediately as it can cause more significant problems for you.
You will also want to see what it is that caused the casing to crack. (Corrosion, Poor Battery Design, etc.)
You may potentially be able to keep the casing from cracking on other batteries if you look into this issue.
6. Corrosion at Terminals
The only way that your golf cart batteries power your cart is through the terminals that are attached to the cables.
The terminals tend to get quite a bit of corrosion around them.
This is something that should be cleaned often.
However, the larger problem is when the terminals themselves start to detach from the battery.
If terminals are left with corrosion for long periods without ever being cleaned or cared for, they can come off of the battery.
Even if your battery has plenty of life in it, there is no way to attach the terminal back to the battery.
This is a very unfortunate and costly mistake to make.
Battery terminals should be looked at often and cleaned with a baking soda and hot water solution.
7. Won’t Support Accessories
Many people run accessories off of their golf cart batteries.
These accessories can include additional lights and radios.
If all of a sudden, your golf cart won’t seem to play the radio or turn the fan on, the batteries might be starting to go.
Accessories can strain batteries overall, and you should always make sure they are turned off before leaving your cart.
8. Low Voltage Power
To determine how much life your batteries have left, you will have to test their voltage power.
If you notice there are some inconsistencies or that they are all lower than they should be, it could very likely be time to replace the batteries.
You can have a local golf cart mechanic do this for you.
Make sure it is someone you trust and that you can see the results of how much life the batteries truly have left in them.
Do you ever pull your cart out of your garage and notice that acid has leaked.
This is a significant problem.
If your batteries are leaking, they are certainly almost done.
In fact, you are lucky that you were even able to pull the cart out of the garage.
One thing to check is to make sure that it is battery acid, as it could be something else leaking.
If you just cleaned your cart or if you used a solution to eliminate corrosion, that could be what you see on the ground.
Overall, batteries get messy when they get to this point.
Have your cart looked at immediately.
A bulging battery is a battery that is on it’s way out.
There will not be much that you can do to fix this once it starts happening.
If you have ever looked at the batteries in your cart, you will see that they are all very close together.
When one battery starts to bulge, it will undoubtedly affect another battery.
The best thing to do is to remove the faulty battery as soon as possible.
You would have likely not seen this issue if you were not doing weekly or monthly inspections of your batteries.
Although this may seem like an added chore on your list of things to do, we can’t stress how important this is.
6 Ways To Extend The Life Of Your Golf Cart Batteries
Now that you know all the signs that your golf cart batteries may be starting to deteriorate, it is good to know how to keep your new ones healthy.
There are several tips and tricks that can add years to the life of a battery.
With the cost of the golf cart batteries and the fact that you need several just to power your cart, this is information worth listening to.
1. Water The Batteries
Your golf cart batteries need water to operate.
When you look at the top of your battery, you will likely notice a few places where water needs to be poured in.
You should check your batteries at least once a month to see if they need to be topped off with water.
When pouring water in your batteries, make sure that you do not spill the water all over the terminals.
Only fill to the proper line that you should be able to see when looking at the battery.
Letting your batteries run dry is going to cause them to have issues, and it will significantly reduce their lifespan.
This is not something that you need a golf cart mechanic to do.
The process is about as simple as watering your house plants.
Just be sure always to use distilled water.
2. Open While Charging
The batteries on a golf cart are placed below the seat of the golf cart.
Depending on where you keep your cart, it may get quite warm in this area.
While your cart is charging and the seat is down, you may generate even more heat in the battery compartment.
The problem with leaving the seat closed is the heat, and potential fumes could cause your batteries to deteriorate much faster.
When you charge your cart, try and leave the seat open.
You can do this yourself with a simple wedge that just lets some air into the area where the batteries are.
Although this is not a commonly discussed tip, you will be surprised at how much less corrosion you get letting some air into the area.
The casing on the batteries also tends to remain in much better shape.
3. Charge Fully & Often
Each time you use your golf cart, you should charge it.
Even if you just go for a quick ride around the neighborhood, its’ best to charge it when you get home.
If you let your cart sit without charging, it could be bad for the battery.
Also, make sure not to run your batteries down to no charge continually.
It is not great for the batteries to completely die and need to be recharged.
Instead, just get in the habit of plugging the cart every time you get back from a ride.
As a general safety tip, it is not a great idea to leave a cart plugged in overnight.
Try and charge your cart when you are awake and can inspect in case there are any issues.
There have been instances where improper charging procedures or golf cart issues have started fires.
4. Buy Quality Batteries To Begin With
We understand that golf cart batteries are expensive.
This is just an unfortunate truth of being a golf cart owner.
When it comes time to replace them, you may be looking at anywhere from $600-$1000 to put new batteries in your cart.
Although this is a lot of money to spend, we still recommend buying quality name brand golf batteries.
These batteries are designed better, can hold up to more difficult situations, and will last much longer.
Think about the longevity of the batteries when you purchase them.
If a cheap battery gives you five years, but a high quality gives you eight years, the high quality will likely be the better buy.
All you are trying to do is prolong the time you have in between battery replacements.
Another thing worth mentioning about high-quality batteries is their performance.
You must remember that the way your golf cart is powered is your batteries.
If you want something that delivers consistent high speeds, you must buy a quality product.
There are certain accessories and products for your cart that it may be worth buying the cheaper version.
Maybe an off-brand set of seat covers, or an aftermarket windshield, but when it comes to power, it is not the time to understand.
5. Clean and Inspect
Since you now understand how vital the batteries are to your golf cart, you must also consider the maintenance involved.
Batteries should be cleaned and inspected at least monthly.
When you look to see if the batteries need water, you should also be cleaning and inspect them.
When you inspect a battery, look for corrosion.
Also, look to see if the battery is bulging or cracked.
Make sure the cables look like they are appropriately attached to your golf cart battery as well.
Take a look to see that the terminals are securely attached to the battery itself.
When it comes to cleaning, you will want to use a baking soda and water solution to clean the corrosion off the battery.
Make sure to do this while you have some protection under your golf cart.
When the corrosion and the solution starts to come off the batteries, it will run onto the ground.
If this is in your garage, you will have quite a mess to clean up.
You can either do this outside in an area where you can clean quickly or place something underneath to contain the mess.
Make sure your cart is completely dry before you move it back into your garage.
Sometimes you will need to use a toothbrush to scrub the terminals in addition to just pouring the mixture on.
6. Anti Corrosion Lubricants
After cleaning your battery terminals, you will now be starting with a clean slate.
Batteries tend to develop quite a bit of corrosion, and it adds up fast.
Using an anti-corrosion lubricant can be a good idea to protect the corrosion from even starting.
The only thing to remember when using these lubricants that it is still a good idea to clean your batteries.
When you are finished cleaning, just add more lubricant on to make sure it is protected until the next cleaning.
You don’t want to let the lubricant sit on there for years without cleaning and inspecting the battery from time to time.
Can I Replace Just One Golf Cart Battery?
Golf carts have six batteries.
Sometimes these are six-volt batteries, and other times these are eight-volt batteries.
Depending on the price of the batteries, this can add up to be quite a bit of money when it comes time to replace your batteries.
Most people will replace all batteries at once.
The reason behind this is that if you only replace one battery, it will wear down much quicker.
Let’s say all of your batteries have about 25 percent of life left in them.
If you replace just one of them and it is operating at 100 percent, it will be pulled upon the most to make up for the weakness in the other batteries.
So that battery will not have the potential to last as long as a battery would if all were replaced at the same time.
There will very likely be times when replacing all the batteries at once does not make sense.
Let’s say your batteries are only a year old, and one happens to go bad because of a warranty issue.
If that is the case, it is entirely acceptable to replace it with just one new battery.
Overall you want just to make sure that your batteries are all around the same age so that one does not have to work harder than another.