In terms of maintenance, the most important thing you can do for your golf cart battery is to ensure that its water levels are good. Without enough water, your batteries will eventually dry out and suffer irreversible damage.
Fortunately, adding water to your batteries is pretty easy and won’t take too much of your time. In this guide, we’ll provide some more information on the importance of water maintenance, before explaining how to add water to golf batteries.
What Happens If Golf Cart Batteries Run Out Of Water?
The plates of a deep-cycle battery must be submerged in a solution of sulfuric acid and electrolytes (water) in order for the electrochemical reaction to occur, which is what delivers voltage to your cart. When the batteries are discharged, they will consume the electrolytes, causing the water levels to drop. This water evaporation is a normal part of deep-cycle battery functionality, and when you recharge the battery, the water quantity is usually restored to its optimal amount.
However, after a number of charge cycles, or if the cart has not been used for a while, you might notice that the water levels are low even when the battery is not discharged. This happens particularly in the summer, or in places with regularly high temperatures. The heat causes the water to evaporate, diminishing your batteries’ access to the crucial electrolytes.
When the water levels are low, the battery plates will be exposed to the air for longer than they should be, which will cause them to dry out and flake off.
This results in a condition called sulfation. Once sulfation takes hold, your battery will no longer hold a charge, rendering it useless.
How To Add Water To Golf Cart Batteries?
The first thing to be aware of is that you should not necessarily refill your golf cart battery every time the water level is low. When a battery is discharged, the water level will be low by design. If you refill it, and then charge the battery, it will overflow. This will leak battery acid everywhere, which will then cause corrosion. Never add water to a battery when it is discharged.
An equally important thing to consider is the type of water you should use to refill your battery. Regular tap water is no good. It contains minerals, chemicals, and other contaminants which will disrupt the chemical processes that take place inside the batteries. Instead, you must use distilled water. This is because distilled water is essentially pure water, free of any contaminants that will harm your battery.
Now for the process. With your battery fully charged, check its water levels. You are basically looking to see if the plates are covered or exposed. If they are exposed, you’ll need to add water. You can do this simply straight from the bottle, but it’s recommended that you use a funnel as well. You could even purchase a battery water filler, which is designed to automatically stop when the battery is full.
Fill the water above the battery plates, but below the level of the vents. You should aim for a level of ¼ – ½ an inch above the plates.
Take care not to overfill it. An overfilled battery will leak acid, which can be harmful to both you and your battery.
How Often Should You Refill A Golf Cart Battery?
It mostly depends on how often you use it. The more you use it, the more often it will need to be refilled.
For the average user, who may use their golf cart two or three times per week, it’s recommended that they check their batteries’ water levels once every month or so. However, if you can spare the odd minute here or there, it’s a good idea to check them a bit more frequently than that.
If you use your golf cart more often, say every day, then you should be checking your water levels two or three times per month.
Another factor that affects how often you should refill your battery is the quality of the battery itself. Quite simply, better quality batteries are more effective at retaining water, and will thus need refilling less frequently.
The season, and your local climate, also have an influence. The hotter it is, the quicker your battery will dry out. During a long hot summer, you will probably have to refill your battery more often than usual.
Do You Need To Refill Your Battery With Sulfuric Acid?
Under normal circumstances, you should never have to worry about refilling your battery with sulfuric acid. Unlike water, it doesn’t evaporate. You are only required to refill your battery with water in order to maintain the chemical makeup of the battery.
However, accidents can happen, and a battery may be tipped or dropped, causing the acid to spill out. If this happens, you will need to replace the sulfuric acid that has been lost. This process is a bit more complicated than adding water, and also quite risky, so you are better off consulting a mechanic.
Periodically refilling your golf cart battery’s water levels is an essential bit of maintenance that can’t be neglected. Luckily, however, it is not an overly complicated process. Before you check the water levels, make sure the battery is fully charged. If the plates are exposed, you’ll need to add water. Make sure you use distilled water, not tap water. Fill it to a level above the plates, but below the vents.
The more you use your cart, the more you’ll have to refill it – the average golf cart user should be fine doing it once a month. If the weather’s been particularly hot, consider checking your water levels more often.
That about covers it. Happy driving!
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Nick Lomas is the founder of GolfSpan, an avid golfer, not quite a pro but has over 15-years of experience playing and coaching golfers from all over the world. His mission is to bring the golfing community a better experience then it comes to choosing the right golf gear, and finding the right set up for your game.