Signs of Bad Golf Cart Batteries – What To Look Out For

When you’re cruising around the golf course, enjoying some leisure time with your pals, the last thing you want to happen is your golf cart battery suddenly packing in. Pushing it all the way to the parking lot wouldn’t really be an option, and you can’t just abandon it – so you’d have to arrange for it to be towed. This would be annoying, expensive, and, let’s face it, embarrassing. 

But you can prevent this from ever happening. Your golf cart batteries will usually give off signs and signals that they are going bad, giving you the chance to act upon them before the worst happens. Here are the signs of bad golf cart batteries that you should look out for.

Irregular Charging Times

Deep-cycle batteries are designed to go through regular cycles of discharging and charging. For the most part, the amount of time it takes to fully charge your batteries will be consistent, assuming that you always use the same charger. Over time, however, the constant charging will inevitably take its toll on the chemical processes of the batteries, causing them to charge up slower than before. 

This will probably not be immediately noticeable. But when you notice that the charging time has become significantly slower, it’s a pretty good indication that the battery is going bad. 

Less Power

Golf carts are a blast, aren’t they? You just squeeze the gas pedal and you’re away, making light work of those lengthy treks down the par 5s. They’re designed to move slowly when you gently press the pedal and to hit top speeds when you floor it. We’re not expecting them to zoom off at crazy speeds, but we do enjoy driving around at a nice sporting pace.

It’s a problem, therefore, if you find that your battery is starting to kick out less power. Not only does it make the experience of driving your cart far less enjoyable, but it also indicates that your battery is starting to fail. You’ll particularly notice it when going up hills – in some cases, your golf cart may really struggle to get to the top. 

Sadly, this is common among aging batteries. If you notice it happening, it might be time to start looking for a replacement. 

Less Distance

At the very least, your golf cart battery should easily last you for 18 holes. Most batteries last even longer than this, with some lasting for as long as 36 holes, and more. 

Once the battery is past its peak, the amount of distance it can cover on a single charge may gradually start to diminish. If it continues to lose its distance capability, to the point where it can barely last longer than 18 holes, then it becomes a real problem. When they can no longer go the distance, it’s probably time to replace the batteries.

Faster Discharge Rates (When Idle)

When not in use, golf cart batteries will naturally discharge – slowly. If a battery is going bad, then this may start to happen faster than it should. This would create problems when, say, you leave your cart unplugged overnight, and then come to use it in the morning, only to find that the battery has fully discharged.    

Visual Signs

In many cases, you should be able to determine if a battery is going bad by giving it a quick visual examination. Dodgy batteries may bulge and expand, and oftentimes show cracks. There may also be signs of corrosion along the top or sides. In worst-case scenarios, there may be leaking battery acid. 

Make sure to always wear protective gloves whenever you’re handling damaged batteries. If your battery is bulged or cracked, then sadly it may be damaged beyond repair. If there’s just a bit of corrosion, then you can clean it, which may solve the problem (here’s a guide on how to clean golf cart batteries). If there is leaking battery acid, however, then sadly there is nothing you can do about it. You’ll need to get rid of it – handle it with extreme care.

Low Voltage

If you’re unsure about whether or not your batteries are kicking out the right amount of juice, or are generally functioning as they should, the best way to know for sure is to test their voltage. 

Using a digital voltmeter, you can quickly and easily find out if your batteries are producing the correct amount of voltage. Following that, you can carry out more in-depth tests with a hydrometer and a load tester to gain a more comprehensive reading of the health of your batteries. Here’s an in-depth guide on how to test golf cart batteries with a voltmeter, a hydrometer, and a load tester.

Time For a New Battery?

If it’s charging slower, producing less power, not lasting as long, or is visibly damaged, then yes, it’s probably time to replace your batteries. The good news is, we’ve got you covered. Here’s a roundup of the best golf cart batteries for longevity and price. Hopefully, this will take most of the strain of finding the perfect golf cart battery replacement. 

Final Thoughts

Lead-acid golf cart batteries, no matter how good their quality, will eventually go bad. It may not happen for a good ten years, but ultimately it is unavoidable. The best thing you can do is to look out for the signs that they are going bad. If you catch them early, there may be something you can do to prolong your batteries’ lifespan. 

But if you spot the signs and decide that it’s time to replace them, at least this will spare you the annoyance and embarrassment of your golf cart packing in mid-round.    

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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.

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