Check your freakin' battery water!
The first mistake that I made with our new golf cart was ignoring the water level in the batteries. I mean, we've all had car batteries that you'd check every six months or so, so what's the difference, right?
Well, in a golf cart these are "deep cycle" batteries, and they need to be checked with a regular frequency. When I first got our cart, I didn't know to check them that often, and so I let them run dry which caused a problem, including some expensive replacements. I now check the batteries at the first of every month and if they're low at all, top them off with distilled water until the fins are covered. Don't overfill!
This is important - ONLY USE DISTILLED WATER when filling the battery cells, no matter what anyone tells you. I had an experienced mechanic tell me that he used city water right out of the faucet to fill the batteries, and he always had, but there's too much evidence that distilled water is the way to go. And after all, it's only about a buck a gallon at the local grocery store. Why distilled water? For one, the minerals in ordinary tap water will eventually reduce a battery's capacity. Also, though, most tap water contains chlorine these days, which (in theory) could de-gas into the battery and combine with the hydrogen gas that is a normal byproduct of a lead/acid battery. If these two gasses in the proper concentrations come into contact with an ignition source it could (again, in theory) result in an explosion.
And speaking of explosions, remember the gasses in the batter and NEVER, EVER, NEVER check your battery water level with a cigarette lighter. And don't smoke while you're messing with your batteries!
When I'm just rambling around the web, I often look for golf cart videos on youtube.com. I found a few concerning battery water, and thought that I'd share them with you:
This first one is How To Install A Golf Cart Battery Fluid Level Sensor. It's an interesting product, that gives you a dashboard light indicating battery water - green means okay, red means time to refill. Blinking red means that it's REALLY time to refill! The only kind of confusing thing about this video is that it doesn't tell you where to get the product. I found there website, and to be honest, it was a little confusing regarding the product that I saw on youtube. Still, an interesting concept.
This next video shows How to add water to golf cart batteries using a Battery Filler Bottle, something that a lot of cart owners swear by.
And finally, here are a couple of videos showing golf cart battery watering systems. There seem to be a number of them, but to sample a couple, click
here, and then here.
Okay, another late night surfing for golf cart products, and I ran across something called the "Battery Life Saver" electronic desulfator. You can read all about the product by clicking here for their website. So what is it? Well, according to their site this is a U.S.A. product that can double or triple the normal life of the batteries. So why do you need the The Battery Life Saver electronic desulfator? 80% of lead acid batteries fail prematurely because of the buildup of lead sulfate crystals on the battery plates. This buildup causes the battery to become unusable at approximately one-third of its natural life. The Battery Life Saver electronic desulfator dissolves this buildup, keeping the batteries in an optimal condition.
Of course, this sounds too good to be true, but as I continued surfing, I found Super Street magazine's article on "Battery Desulfators - Fact or Fiction?". They actually put a couple of desulfators to the test, and present their findings.
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