When you buy some brand new golf cart batteries and get them rigged up and ready to roll, you expect everything to operate smoothly. Fresh batteries, fresh start. However, you might find yourself asking the question…’ do new golf cart batteries smell when charging?
Once you start charging your new batteries, you may find yourself faced with the distinctively un-fresh smells of sulfur, burning, or rotten eggs. Nasty!
The good news is that it (usually) doesn’t mean that your new batteries are faulty. As we’ll explain in this article, it’s a natural chemical reaction that tends to occur in deep-cycle batteries. We’ll also advise you on how to deal with, and get rid of, that awful smell.
Why Do My New Golf Cart Batteries Smell Like Rotten Eggs?
Deep-cycle Flooded Lead-Acid (FLA) batteries incorporate a specific kind of technology that produces certain chemical reactions. Within the battery, there are lead plates submerged in an electrolyte solution. This solution consists of sulfuric acid and water, and once you plug in the charger, it begins a chemical process, causing by-products to be released.
A by-product of sulfur and water is hydrogen sulfide (H₂S). And unfortunately for us, hydrogen sulfide smells precisely like a sizable batch of rotten eggs.
Is It Dangerous?
If the smell isn’t reason enough to keep well away from it, then the fact that it is poisonous, corrosive, and flammable should be. Avoid open flames and ignition sources whenever hydrogen sulfide is present in the air.
Due to its moderate levels of toxicity, the gas is also not particularly good for the lungs. Avoid breathing any of it in, especially if you have pre-existing respiratory issues.
How To Get Rid Of The Rotten Egg Smell?
Ventilation is your best weapon against the attack of hydrogen sulfide. At golf courses, golf cart fleets tend to be stored in places with air circulation systems installed. These will periodically exchange the air in the ‘cart barn’, keeping it fresh and preventing the build-up of hazardous and combustible gases.
At home, your best bet is to simply leave the garage door open when charging, or park it outside. As long as the gas can be replaced by air from outside, it shouldn’t linger for too long.
Under normal circumstances, this smell will start to taper off after the initial charging cycles. After roughly ten cycles, give or take, the smell should be gone. If the smell persists long past this mark, there may be a fault with your battery, in which case you should consult a mechanic.
Why Do My Golf Cart Batteries Smell Like Burning?
Golf cart batteries may emit a burning smell due to damaged wiring or a low level of water. If batteries are lacking water, they tend to give off a smell of burning plastic due to the lack of electrolytes. This should be the first thing you check if you can smell burning.
If the water level looks fine, then it could be an issue with the wiring, or something else.
What To Do About The Burning Smell?
First of all, assume that your golf cart isn’t safe to drive. The burning smell could be indicating a problem that needs immediately addressing, and attempting to drive your cart will only make the situation worse.
If it’s a water issue, you’ll be able to solve this yourself. Using distilled water (not tap water), fill your battery to the point where the plates are fully submerged. Note that you should only refill batteries when they are fully charged.
If you suspect that it’s a wiring issue, or anything else, then it’s highly recommended that you leave this for a mechanic to sort out. Dodgy wires can quickly result in serious injuries if mishandled.
Deep-cycle flooded Lead-Acid batteries are designed in such a way that they may emit hydrogen sulfide the first few times they are charged. As unpleasant as it smells, it does not necessarily mean that your batteries are faulty. It is just a chemical process that will even itself out after a few charge cycles, after which you will no longer have to deal with the smell.
If the smell persists, however, then you should consult a mechanic. Unless you know what you’re doing, attempting to fix a battery yourself is a bad idea.
If your batteries smell like burning, it could just be that the water levels are low. Topping them up with distilled water could solve the problem. But if it’s something other than the water levels, then again, you should take it to a mechanic.
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Nick is the founder of GolfSpan and an avid golfer. He's not quite a pro but has over 15 years of experience playing and coaching golfers worldwide. His mission is to bring the golfing community a better experience when it comes to choosing the right golf gear and finding the right setup for your game.