Golf Cart Batteries: Is Yours A Ticking Time Bomb?

By: Christine Harrell

There's been a lot of media coverage about the Sony laptop battery and its associated potential fire hazard. Like a lot of media publicity, there is more hype than threat and the probability that your Sony laptop battery will burst into flames isn't next to nil, but there is a chance that this could happen to your golf cart battery.

Golf Cart Battery Dangers
The danger with golf cart batteries is that many golf cart batteries require distilled water to be constantly added to keep the leaded plates submerged in the battery's sulfuric electrolyte. The other factor in this equation is that most owners don't realize that their golf cart batteries need constant attention. The average cart is powered by lead acid batteries which are positioned underneath the seat. It isn't uncommon to fold back the seat of the cart and find all 6 batteries desperately in need of fluid.

When batteries run dry, they can smoke and even explode. With each battery packing the explosive power of a grenade, the potential danger is a real threat. In order to prevent this, it is essential to check your golf cart batteries on a regular basis. First, there should be no corrosive phosphorus should be growing around the terminals.

Next, you'll need to remove the caps and check the water level. The water level in your batteries should be just below the filler cap's opening, if it's too low, use a funnel to fill with distilled water only. If your golf cart batteries are completely dry, you should probably take them for maintenance. If levels get too low and remain low, there is a chance that the battery won't hold a charge or that it could be a potential fire hazard.

The other option is to replace golf cart batteries with maintenance free sealed electric golf cart batteries. This type of battery, called an Absorbed Glass Mat or AGM battery, doesn't require that distilled water be added. The acid in an AGM golf cart battery is absorbed by glass mat separators located between the lead plates. Because of their design, AGMs are maintenance-free, leak proof, and designed against terminal corrosion because there are no discharge tubes or filler caps.

Additionally, AGM batteries are more resistant to heat, vibration, and have a slower discharge rate, meaning that they last longer than traditional wet golf cart batteries. AGM batteries are more expensive than a wet cell battery at the counter, but when valued over a lifetime are more cost effective because of their longer shelf life and lower cost of maintenance.

If you're using wet cell batteries, be sure to develop-and stick to-a regular maintenance program. The odds are fairly low that one of your golf cart batteries will explode under your seat, but more likely than that of the largely publicized Sony laptop battery. More common is that you can dramatically shorten the life of your wet battery without proper care and maintenance.

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