What Happens if Golf Cart Batteries Run Out of Water?
The performance and power of electric golf carts depend on their batteries.
So, understanding how the battery works and learning how to care for it is of great importance if you want your golf cart to work properly.
A bit of regular maintenance can go a long way in ensuring that the battery lasts longer, reducing the need for repair, and, ultimately, optimizing the performance of the entire golf cart.
While they look similar to standard car batteries, golf cart batteries operate differently.
They do, however, also contain an electrolyte solution of acid and water, so making sure that the water levels are good is essential to avoid any damage to the battery.
Below, I’ll explain what happens if golf cart batteries run out of water and what you should do to prevent it from happening.
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What Happens if Golf Cart Batteries Run Out of Water?
Lead acid batteries are the most common type used in golf carts.
This means that they’re deep-cycle batteries with positive and negative plates dipped in a mixture made of electrolytes (provided by water) and sulfuric acid.
After a certain number of discharge/recharge cycles, the water levels will begin to drop even when the battery is still charged.
Running the golf cart in hot summer weather further speeds up the water level dropping, as the heat helps water to evaporate much quicker.
Once the water (or electrolyte) level inside the battery decreases, the plates become exposed to air.
The dried-out part of the plate no longer participates in charging and starts to corrode and flake off.
When this happens, the battery enters sulfation, meaning it can no longer carry a charge, making it useless.
The damage in these cases is irreversible, so you’ll have to replace the battery with a new one.
Why is Water Important for Golf Cart Batteries?
The sulfuric acid and electrolytes solution allows for the chemical reaction inside the battery to occur.
This reaction is necessary for delivering voltage and powering the cart.
Plus, having battery plates submerged in the water helps them perform at a maximum and provides sulfate ions necessary for the recharge cycle.
Electrolytes help the battery gets recharged once it’s discharged, meaning that every discharge consumes electrolytes.
This results in decreasing the water level.
However, you don’t need to worry as this is a part of the normal deep-cycle battery operating process.
When the battery is back to full charge, the water level usually returns to optimal, unless it already has gone through numerous recharge cycles.
This is why you should make a habit of checking water levels in the battery from time to time to ensure that it won’t be ruined due to the low water levels.
When to Add Water Inside the Golf Cart Batteries?
As I already explained, you won’t need to add water every time the level in the battery is low.
The water level will be low by design when the battery is discharged.
Adding water in these cases can have the opposite effect and cause overflow. This also causes battery acid leakage and results in corrosion.
So, the first thing to remember is to never refill the battery with water when it’s discharged.
You should check the water levels only when the battery is fully charged.
Simply remove the battery caps and look inside to see if the plates are covered with water or exposed.
The water level should be by a quarter to half an inch above the plates.
The exposed plates when the battery is fully charged mean that you should add some water.
The more you use the cart, the more frequently you should check the battery water level.
How to Add Water Inside the Golf Cart Batteries?
To maintain the optimal water level in the battery, you’ll have to learn how to properly perform the refilling process.
Once you found out that the water level in the battery is too low, use a bottle of water to fill the battery up.
The amount of required water may depend on the type of battery, but, as explained, look to get the water level to around a quarter to half an inch above the plates.
You can pour the water into the battery directly from the bottle, but this is not the most precise way to do it.
To make sure you don’t overflow the battery, use a funnel or purchase a battery water filler, specifically designed for these purposes.
It will help stop the water once the battery is full.
This is important as the water overfill can cause acid leakage, permanently damage the battery, and jeopardize your health.
What Type of Water Should You Use to Refill the Golf Cart Battery?
Using the right type of water to refill the golfing cart battery is critical, as too high of mineral content can damage battery cells, affect its performance, and even permanently damage it.
It’s important to remember that you should never use regular tap water.
Water from the tap commonly contains high levels of various chemicals, minerals, and ions that can disrupt the sensitive chemical processes going on inside the battery and negatively impact its performance and durability.
Plus, tap water can also contain debris and traces of sediment which can further damage the battery plates.
Therefore, instead of tap water, you should always top off your cart battery with distilled water, free of any contaminants.
You can make your own distilled water by heating the tap water and collecting the vapor after it condenses, but it’s much simpler to simply buy it in any store.
How Often Does a Battery Need to be Refilled?
The frequency with which you will refill a cart battery with water depends on several factors.
The main thing to consider is how often you use the golf cart.
If you’re an average user, taking the cart to the course two or three times per week, you should be fine with checking the water level in the battery once a month.
For more heavy-duty users, it’s recommended that the checking is performed at least a couple of times a month.
You should also take into consideration the quality of the battery and the climate in your area.
The high-quality and more expensive batteries tend to be better at maintaining the water level inside of them and will need less frequent refills.
Also, remember that the hot weather, as expected, will cause batteries to dry out more quickly.
Golf cart batteries are rather easy to maintain and don’t require much work or occupy a lot of your time.
However, that little work that has to be done is essential and shouldn’t be neglected.
A little effort will go a long way in helping you get the most out of the battery of the electric golf cart.
Of course, everyone will remember to regularly charge the battery, but the most important thing for the health of your battery, optimal performance, and its long life is to diligently monitor the water level inside of it.
Checking the water level a few times every month can save you a lot of trouble and money, as dried-out battery plates can cause a lot of damage and often render the battery useless.
So, make it a habit and never forget to perform a check, especially if you use your golf cart often.