Golf Cart Maintenance 101

Everything You Need to Know About Golf Cart Maintenance

Just like with your other vehicles, golf carts also need to be regularly maintained in order to give you the best ride possible; especially considering all of the uses, other than just golf , that they can be used for!

Everything You Need to Know About Golf Cart Maintenance - New EZGO Golf Car Models

Before you can begin any sort of maintenance or repairs on your golf cart, you first need to identify which type of golf cart you have. The two main ones are gas and electric. It's probably a pretty obvious observation that one runs on gas and the other on battery. However, there are a few more differences between the two that one should be aware of.

Gas carts typically use an "on demand" engine. This type of engine starts when you step on the gas pedal and shuts off when you take your foot off the pedal. This allows for fewer emissions, saves on gas, and also helps to cut down on noise. Gas golf carts can reach higher speeds than electric ones, and can also haul heavier loads. If you're looking for a custom-built option, gas powered carts would be the way to go. They can be fitted with more powerful motors, four-wheel drive, and improved suspension!

Electric golf carts are a great choice for those looking for a more environmentally friendly option. They are also much quieter and more affordable than their gas-powered counterparts. Maintenance costs and requirements are also lower and less demanding for electric golf carts.

Types of Manuals for Your Golf Cart

No matter the type of golf cart that you have, it is highly recommended that you have the proper manuals on hand for maintenance and troubleshooting purposes. The different types of manuals you should consider include:

Golf Cart Maintenance Manuals

1. Owner's Manual: Included with the purchase of a new golf cart, it includes instructions on golf cart operations, general maintenance, and, sometimes, solutions for easy repair problems.

2. Golf Cart Parts Manual: Many of the online golf cart parts stores will provide parts information

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3. Golf Cart Repair Manuals: Not typically included with the purchase of a golf cart, it can be purchased separately if you wish to make repairs to the cart yourself. Your service manual will be a lifesaver when it comes to maintaining and repairing your golf cart, so make sure to keep it in a safe place!

Maintenance Checklist for Gas Golf Carts

When it comes time for your scheduled maintenance or when an issue suddenly occurs, here is a condensed checklist that may come in handy for what can and should be inspected:

  • Inspect the engine for any signs of oil leaks.
  • Regularly check engine oil levels and change oil at proper intervals.
  • Check and adjust valve clearance on motors that allow it.
  • Inspect drive, starter, and generator belts for excessive wear. Replace if needed.
  • Check starter belt tension. Tighten if needed.
  • Inspect linkages from the accelerator pedal to the carburetor.
  • Check engine compression.
  • Check spark plug for wear.
  • Clean or replace the air filter.
  • Replace the oil filter.
  • Check the fuel filter for debris.
  • Look for starter/generator brushes wear.
  • Check the points and condenser on older models.
  • Check and adjust timing, as needed, if running rough.

Golf Cart Maintenance Checklist, Make Sure You Have All Your Parts Before You Start the Mainenance

Battery Maintenance for Electric Golf Carts

The batteries are the brains of your electric golf cart and must be properly maintained in order for your cart to run smoothly and prolong its lifespan. Unkempt batteries are the most frequent source of problems for electric golf carts. Therefore, it is highly recommended that regular inspections and tests be done on your cart’s batteries to ensure they are in tip-top shape!

The two most common types of batteries used in electric golf carts are deep cycle and lithium-ion.

Deep cycle batteries are made up of two cells with lead and lead oxide, and are maintained by a water and sulfuric acid solution. This solution then produces an electrical current.

These types of batteries are the most economic choice for electric carts. However, they do tend to require routine maintenance and consume a considerable amount of water over their lifespan.

Lithium-ion batteries have recently become the most preferred choice. They are made up of cells in which during the charging cycle, ions move back and forth between the negative and positive electrodes. When the ions reach the positive electrodes, that’s when the energy is produced.

Lithium-ion batteries allow for prolonged use in between charges and, unlike deep cycle batteries, are free from any fluids, which require more maintenance and monitoring.

Charging Your Golf Cart’s Battery

Here are some tips for safely charging a deep cycle battery:

  • First, read the battery charger manual for any recommendations.
  • Recharge the batteries after every use.
  • Charge the batteries in a well-ventilated area.
  • Inspect the charger connections for debris, dirt, and wire fraying.
  • Make sure the lead plates are submerged in water.
  • Make sure all vent caps are tight.
  • Make sure the charger connector is firmly connected to the receptacle.

Golf Cart Battery Maintenance for Electric Golf Carts

If after all of this you still find your charger is not working, consult a professional; for troubleshooting battery issues can be quite difficult at times. Safety First!

Before you begin working on your golf cart’s batteries, make sure to put on your protective clothing – including gloves and goggles!

Most newer golf carts should have a Run/Tow switch. If your cart happens to have this feature, flip the switch to the “Tow/Maintenance” position and the key switch into the OFF position before beginning work on the batteries.

Equally important is to make sure to wrap your tools in vinyl electrical tape to prevent a shorting out of the battery, and possible explosion.

Cleaning and Neutralizing Your Golf Cart’s Battery Acid

Batteries release water, hydrogen gas, and acid droplets into the air during charging cycles. These fluids then land on other components. If not treated, the droplets will cause damage to the components it comes in contact with.

In order to prevent this, you can spray a battery acid neutralizer made of 2 tsp. baking soda and 1 qt. water onto the batteries. The following are the steps you can take to clean the batteries yourself:

  1. Cover other electrical components before you spray.
  2. Make sure all vent caps are closed tightly.
  3. Spray the mixture and allow it to sit for at least 3 minutes.
  4. Use a cloth or soft bristle brush to wipe down the batteries (top and sides).
  5. Rinse the batteries off with clean water to remove the neutralizing solution.
  6. Dry with a cloth.
  7. Clean the battery terminals with a battery post and terminal cleaner.
  8. Spray terminals with a battery terminal protector.
  9. Reconnect the battery terminals.

Checking Your Golf Cart’s Battery Water Levels

Checking Your Golf Cart’s Battery Water Levels

It is the combination of electrolytes and water that creates the electricity that powers your golf cart. Because of this, batteries consume a large amount of water over its lifespan.

Having too much or too little water in your battery cells can have a negative impact on the batteries. Too much water will cause the electrolytes to overflow and too little water will cause sulfation, which will cause permanent damage to the lead plates.

In order to prevent either of these from happening, we recommend using a battery watering system or a watering gun. These automatically stop filling the batteries once the correct water level is reached.

If you find you need to fill the cells with water, the correct time to do so is after the batteries have been charged, unless the plates are not covered by water. If they are not covered by water, add just enough water to cover the plates, completely charge the batteries, and then continue to add water to the correct level. Also do NOT use tap water as it will damage the batteries.

Testing Your Golf Cart’s Batteries

If you need to check the state in which your cart’s battery is in, we recommend using a hydrometer. A hydrometer measures the density of a liquid by way of its gravity. A higher gravity indicates a higher state of charge.

Golf Cart Battery Replacement

If you find it’s time to replace a battery, it is best to replace them all at the same time. Older batteries will reduce the life of the new battery and, since older batteries take a longer time to charge, the new battery will get overcharged and become damaged in the process.

Engine Troubleshooting

If your golf cart’s engine isn’t starting, follow these steps to see if any of these common issues are the cause:

  • If the engine does not turn over when you try to start it, first check the gas.
  • Check for fraying or corrosion on the battery cables. Make sure they are tightly connected.
  • Look for cracks or moisture in the distributor cap. If there is moisture, let it dry out and then replace.
  • Check for breaks, cracks, or disconnects in the spark plug wires. Replace if any are frayed, blackened, or burnt.
  • Check that the air filter isn’t clogged.
  • Finally, check the fuel lines for leaks and to see if the filter is clogged.

Everything You Need to Know About Golf Cart Maintenance - Kansas Golf and Turf

If the issue still persists, call a trained technician for an inspection.

Regular Maintenance and Troubleshooting Checklist

Tires

Partially deflated tires consume more energy, limit the distance in which your cart can travel, and wear down the tires much more quickly. This is why frequent tire pressure checks, along with alignment checks, should be done on a scheduled basis.

If you own a street legal cart, you should also make sure that your cart is equipped with street legal tires that have a tread on them.

Brakes

Most golf carts can reach speeds up to 25 mph, so just like with any other vehicle, brake inspections are absolutely critical in order to reduce injury. The brake shoes, cables, and brake fluid should all be inspected semiannually.

Lights & Mirrors

If your golf cart is street legal, it should be equipped with side mirrors and a light package. If this is the case, make sure to check your brake lights, headlights, and turn signals frequently and that your mirrors are securely fastened. If you find a light isn’t working, check your owner’s manual for the fuse location.

Lubrication

Golf carts also require regular suspension lubrication. Your steering wheel rack and pinion also need to be greased regularly. The frequency of these services varies by make and model, so check your owner’s manual for the recommended timeframe.

Gauges

Your golf carts gauges allow you to monitor the amount of charge left in your batteries. When the batteries start to get older, the gauges become less accurate. Use a battery load tester to obtain an accurate reading.

Annual Maintenance

While preventative maintenance can be handled by most cart owners, we recommend annual maintenance services be handled by trained technicians to assure that no underlying issues have been missed or forgotten.

Golf Cart Storage

If you're one of the unlucky ones that live in an area that actually has a winter season, you're probably going to need to store your golf cart somewhere for the season. Before you put it in storage for the winter season, some of the things that need to be done include cleaning the batteries, fully charging the batteries, airing up the tires, and more.

Or, if you’d rather, bring it into a trained technician and they’ll winterize it for you!

Regular Maintenance and Troubleshooting Checklist

Kansas Golf and Turf

Following a routine maintenance schedule for your golf cart, whether it be for recreational or utility purposes, is vital for its performance. We get it - regular golf cart maintenance can become time-consuming and, at times, a headache. That’s why our professionals at Kansas Golf and Turf are here to help! We can handle any job you throw at us, no matter how small or large the task!

Come in for a visit or give us a call today to discuss your golf cart needs!