Golf Cart Batteries Not Charging

Golf cart batteries not charging? That indeed has happened to my lead acid batteries on several occasions over 25 years of golf cart ownership. The question is....

Is it the Battery Charger or the Batteries?

After owning my 1985 electric Club Car for 20 years, for the first time the golf cart battery charger would not click on. 

golf cart batteries not charging

It was easy enough for me to drop the golf cart charger off at a golf cart repair shop on my way to work to have it tested. I thought I might as well rule it out since it was so old. It tested that it worked intermittently and that the electric cord needed to be replaced.

Even if the charger wasn't the problem, I was happy to get a new electric cord since the old one was showing signs of wear and tear.

Troubleshooting Batteries for Golf Cart

Most often the problem is not the charger, but rather the outlet, electric cord, circuit breaker or the batteries.

If your golf cart batteries are not charging, there could be several potential reasons for this issue. Here are some steps you can take to troubleshoot and potentially resolve the problem:

  1. Check the Charger:  Ensure that the charger is plugged into a functioning outlet and that there is power going to it. Inspect the cables for any visible damage or loose connections. Test the charger with a multimeter to ensure it is providing the correct voltage output.  My charger has a green light that flashes on my cart and on the charger when it's charging. 
golf cart battery problems

  1. Inspect Battery Connections:  Check the battery terminals for corrosion, loose connections, or damage. Clean the terminals if necessary.Make sure all cables are securely attached to the battery terminals.
  2. Test Battery Voltage:  Use a multimeter to check the voltage of each battery individually. A fully charged 6-volt battery should read around 6.3 to 6.4 volts, and a 12-volt battery should read around 12.6 to 12.8 volts.
  3. Check Water Levels of Lead Acid Batteries:  If you have lead-acid batteries, ensure that the water levels in each cell are at the appropriate level. Use distilled water to top them up if needed.
  4. Inspect Battery Health:  If the batteries are old or have been in use for a long time, they might be at the end of their lifespan and may need to be replaced.
  5. Test for Dead or Weak Cells:  Use a hydrometer (for lead-acid batteries) to test the specific gravity of the electrolyte in each cell. If there is a significant difference between cells, it may indicate a problem.
  6. Check for Blown Fuses or Circuit Breakers:  Some golf carts have fuses or circuit breakers that may have tripped or blown. Inspect and replace any blown fuses or reset tripped circuit breakers.
  7. Inspect Charging System Components:  Check the wiring and connections between the charger, batteries, and any intermediary components (like a charge controller or voltage reducer) for damage or loose connections.
  8. Test the Charger on Another Golf Cart:  If possible, try using the charger on a different golf cart to see if it functions properly. This can help determine if the issue lies with the charger or the batteries.

If the batteries have sat for a lengthy period of time, the voltage is completely depleted or discharged. Chargers for deep cycle batteries need to detect some voltage to start charging again.

Check the voltage of each battery with a voltmeter to see if there is a nominal charge. Batteries need to be continually charged - letting them sit for a long period of time can irreversibly damage your golf cart batteries.

electric golf cart batteries

If the golf cart has been driven and used so that the batteries are completely depleted it may not have enough voltage to trigger the charger. Driving a golf cart until the batteries die can shorten the life of deep cycle batteries and cause permanent damage.

If the batteries are depleted of water. Check the battery cells to see if the plates are covered with water. There should be a marker showing the maximum level for adding water. Use only distilled water, not tap water.

While it would certainly cost less to replace a golf cart charger, in most cases the problem is that the deep cycle batteries do not have enough voltage to get the charger going. Some dead batteries can be revived while in other cases the whole set of batteries will need to be replaced at a cost of several hundred dollars.

Battery Hydrometer

Battery hydrometers measure the specific gravity of the electrolyte solution in your golf cart batteries. The higher the specific gravity the higher the state of the charge of the batteries.

Here are some safety precautions when working around electric golf cart batteries:

electric golf cart batteries

1. Do not let any of the battery acid drip from the hydrometer onto the the golf cart body. The battery acid will damage the it - so if you do make a couple of drips, wipe it off immediately.

2. Turn key switch off, remove key and place forward and reverse switch into neutral position

3. Wear a full face shield when working around batteries

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4. Keep sparks, flames and cigarettes away as their are explosive gases

5. Do not wear any metal jewelry nor have any metal objects, tools or wires that can cause sparks when "shorted' across a battery Proper pH levels need to be maintained for your batteries to be in good condition.

The hydrometer measures the specific gravity of the electrolytes in your cart to determine your battery charge condition.

However there is a "right time" to test and a "wrong time" to test to get an accurate reading.

According to the Club Car Service manual a fully charged battery should read between 1.250 and 1.280. Find out what condition your batteries are in - good, weak or replace - with this simple test.

There are three colors on the hydrometer. Here is an easy way to remember what the colors mean:

Green - Good - The batteries are holding a good charge

White - Weak - Not bad, but not great

Red - Replace the batteries

For instructions on how to use a hydrometer watch this video:

Get your hydrometer here from Amazon and free shipping with Prime:

E-Z Read SP101 Battery Hydrometer

  1. If you've gone through these steps and still haven't identified the problem, it may be best to consult a golf cart technician who specializes in golf cart electrical systems.

Remember to prioritize safety while working on electrical components. If you're not comfortable or experienced with these tasks, it's advisable to seek professional help.

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