A blast from the past - Replacing the Batteries in Golf Cart

Last week Deb and I went to Kemah and took some of the items that we had in storage out to move over to where we are now in Louisiana.

One of the things we decided to go ahead and move was the golf cart. It's been sitting up in the storage shed for almost 2 years now, so as you can imagine the batteries were definitely dead. We trucked it back on a u-haul utility trailer and started the work on it. We disassembled the 48 V battery bank into three banks of 16 V each. This allowed me to use a standard car charger to get the batteries at least up to about 14 or so volts. The interesting thing is the golf cart battery charger must recognize a charge that exists in the batteries before it will kick on and bring them up to full capacity.
So, after 24 hours of charging across the three different banks, it finally looks like I finally have the voltage up enough for the large 48 V charger to actually start putting some juice back into the bank. Before I went to bed last night the lights and stereo were all working. Yeah!!

Today I will measure voltage and see if there is anything else wrong. I expect that the speed controller will have issues too but need it charged to know for sure.

I was pleasantly surprised when after charging all night long the batteries were up at over 49 V for the bank. I got fairly excited, pulled it off the trailer and attempted to drive it and it still has this jerking sensation as if the speed controller was a problem.

I went to a local golf cart shop with it and unfortunately with it being memorial day weekend they didn't have the time to look at it right away but suggested that it sounded more like a voltage problem then a speed controller problem. The guy was really helpful and told me how to go about troubleshooting to see if my issue was low voltage. He suggested that I put my foot on the brake and the gas and put it under a load and then check to see what my voltage is at that point. He said anything less than 7 V per battery or a combined total of 42 V on the system it would be an issue. He told me that this indicates a low voltage problem in at least one of the batteries. I went ahead and ran this test and I'm sad to report that under load the system only read 36 to 38 Volts.

So now it looks like it was time to go ahead and explore replacing the batteries. Normally I don't spend the money on namebrand items because in the case of batteries many times it's the same company that manufactures the battery, and just labels them different for each company they make them for. I am not sure how true this is however I was told by rep at Battery World (which is a battery supplier near me) that Trojan batteries truly were a class above others for manufacturing and quality. Given that the Trojan batteries were only $10 more per battery, I did go ahead and decide to purchase a whole new set of Trojan batteries.

The batteries where $109 each. Obviously each one has a core charge which I get back when I return the original old batteries that I'm replacing. I did go ahead and get an acid terminal cleaner spray to clean all the contacts really well, as well as a corrosion preventative to keep them from corroding in the future.

Because we drive this golf cart quite a bit and it is subjected to a little bit of rain from time to time, I didn't want to chance that my connections may not be clean and therefore reducing the current going to the cart motor itself.

We then removed all of the old batteries from the golf cart. This is a rather dirty job because they had leaked a little bit of acid down the sides of them and I overflowed one when I filled them trying to get the old ones back to life. There was quite a bit of corrosion on the aluminum frame at the base of the center set of batteries so I had to utilize rags and towels as I pulled them all out of the golf cart to avoid getting any kind of acid on my hands.

I cleaned all of the terminals and used a little bit of sandpaper to make sure that there was good electrical contact between the terminals and the wires.  I also took the time to clean and prep all the wires with the corrosion proof spray.

It was then time to add all the batteries back in to the golf cart and tighten all of the connections before getting ready to test it out.

During installation I decided to go ahead and correct a few of the wires and connection points that were on the cart when we bought it. For example the radio and headlights just were raw wire wrapped around the battery post and tightened down.  They didn't have a ring connector or even a spade connector under the nut on the battery post. I installed ring crimp connectors and fixed them to the battery banks for better connections.

After that, it was time to take a little test drive. I am happy to report everything was working good she got up to about 18 or 19 miles an hour which is just a mile an hour so slower than it used to, so I am very happy with the results.  How did we celebrate.  I looked at google maps and figured out how I could go from the Marina through neighborhoods and one bike lane to cross the highway and take the girls over to Sonic for ice cream !!