The game of golf gains popularity rapidly all over the world. While in some corners of the globe, golfers can enjoy this excellent game all year round, in other places, the severe climate does not allow playing in wintertime. This fact brings up questions about this period, such as do we need to winterize an electric golf cart for the winter.
An electric golf cart needs to be winterized during the cold months of the year due to the vulnerability of its battery pack to cold temperatures. Low winter temperatures slow down the charge, and discharge rate, of your golf cart batteries.
If you are an avid golfer or even an amateur keen on this fascinating game, you would like to continue playing golf after the wintertime and use your golf cart the same way you have used it so far. You can achieve this goal, but first, you need to take some precautions while storing your cart during the cold, and most likely, snowy months of the year. These precautions known as winterizing will keep your golf cart in good condition and ready for future use.
Golf Cart Shelter
Although driving a golf cart in the snow is possible, golf is not a Winter sport, so you rather store your cart for the cold period. However, do not wait for the snow to fall but prepare your electric golf cart for long-term storage when the leaves start falling and temperatures drop significantly. Proper maintenance and storage will prolong cart service life by preventing damage caused by the harmful low-temperature effects and weather conditions.
There are plenty of golf guides that recommend following different steps to winterize your electrical golf cart properly. Some of them advise starting with cleaning, others with battery maintenance. These are, for sure, the correct steps, but the first primary step should be to find a shelter for your golf cart to decide where you will keep it during the long-period storage.
Of course, shelter options vary depending on what kind of facilities you have available at your place or what you can afford to use or buy for golf cart shelter during the winter. The list below presents some types of shelters that golf cart owners use most often.
- Car Garage
- Storage Unit For Rent
- Portable Carport
- Golf Cart Cover/Enclosure
In any case, the shelter you choose for your golf cart should be cool and clean. It would be the best solution for you if you had enough room inside the shelter to conduct the preventive maintenance required for winterizing your small electric vehicle. (1) However, if you have a small portable carport like in the picture below, you may need to conduct preventive maintenance before getting the cart under the shelter.
Basic Winterizing Maintenance
After finding a shelter for long-term winter storage, it is time to maintain and prepare your golf cart just as if you would do that with your family car or SUV, for example. Of course, procedures are different and more straightforward, especially if you drive a gas automobile. One thing is common for sure – the complete detailed cleaning.
Golf Cart Cleaning
When winterizing your electric golf cart, it is a good idea to start with a thorough cleaning first. You can use regular cleaning agents such as water, soap, degreaser, and other appropriate cleaners to wash away any dirt and sand remains. However, depends on how often have you cleaned your cart and under what conditions it has been driven ultimately, you should look for and clean the following:
- Dried Mud
- Sand Grim
- Bird Poop
- Dirty Rugs/Carpets (if you have any)
- Cut And Polish Scratches
- Dirty Mirrors
- Air Filter
List 2 Source 2
Any cleaning product that is good for metal and plastic surfaces will work for cleaning your golf cart. Renew Protect, for example, is a very appropriate product for recovering your tires, cart body, plastic parts, and cracks. (2) Batteries, however, require separate maintenance, so that we will pay them special attention later on.
The next important step of preparing your golf cart for winter storage is checking and regulating the tire pressure. During the extended stay, the tires will typically flatten under the weight of the golf cart. You have to pump them up and keep a tire pressure between 15 and 25 psi, according to your cart brand manual.
Be careful not to over-inflate your tires if they have low tire pressure. Over-inflated tires often explode and are less stable on the road. Of course, this factor is not so crucial during storage time but still avoids over-inflating your golf cart tires.
While over-inflating your golf cart tires is not so dangerous during winter storage, underinflation is. The tires do not revolve during this period, and the extended stay under the weight of the cart on the same tire area can damage their structure. Under-inflated tires can cause tire damage and cartwheels damages if they are not pumped up correctly for a very long period.
Keeping the tires inflated is essential for protecting your golf cartwheels. Additionally, adequately maintained tire pressure during the long storage will prolong tires’ lifetime. Cleaning the tires should be part of the overall cart cleaning process.
The braking system also needs to be checked while preparing your golf cart for hibernation. You should not leave your golf cart’s parking brake locked because locking can cause the brake cable to strain. You had better use wood logs behind the tires to secure their immobility.
This step is usually taken after fully charging the batteries and before dismounting them. If you leave the batteries in the cart, make sure you have disconnected any possible sources that power the battery set or draw energy from it. Turn off the key and check for forgotten headlights or radio, for example.
Then, you need to set the switches correctly. As already mentioned, the contact key should remain in the off position. If you have a Run/Tow switch on your golf cart, it should be set in Run/Storage position. If you forget to make this setting, you may find your batteries wholly drained the next time you check them.
Many specialists highlight that when you winterize your electric golf cart, the most critical maintenance is battery care. The battery pack for the electric motor in the cart is like a blood source for the heart in the human body. Good care and proper storage of the cart batteries will guarantee the trouble-free function and usability of the golf cart for the next golf season.
Battery And Cable Condition
The first important battery check is the examination of terminals and connections. They must be clean and free of corrosion, also well-tightened. If there is corrosion on the terminals, it may cause voltage drop or any cable failure. It would be best if you replaced any bad or corroded cable before charging the battery for storage.
Thorough battery maintenance requires cleaning not only its terminals but also the overall body. During its normal functioning and charging, the electrolyte vaporizes, so some acid will most likely; amass on the tops of batteries, causing corrosion and frame damage. A DIY solution of baking soda and water in a ratio of 50/50 will effectively clean the accumulated acid preventing further damage.
Use a brush to rub the acid away and then a clean cloth to dry it. Then rinse the battery surface with tepid water and wipe it again with a dry clean towel. Finally, it is an excellent idea to use an anticorrosive spray to spray the battery terminals.
A regular anticorrosive treatment of the terminals after cleaning prolongs the battery life expectancy. To save the anticorrosive effect for a longer time during the winter storage, you need to cover your golf cart batteries’ terminals and metal cable connections. (5)
If you do not have anticorrosive spray near at hand, you can use silicone gel for the same purpose. Petroleum jelly is another alternative to prevent your golf cart battery from corrosion.
While such a cleaning operation is highly recommended once per month during the regular operation of the golf cart, it is mandatory before long-term winter storage. You can use any coarser towel or brush with the backed soda solution to eliminate any acid remains from the battery surface.
Battery Water Levels
You need to leave your golf cart battery in winter storage fully charged; however, before doing that, you have to make sure that the water level is up to the top of the battery plates. Charging your battery at a lower electrolyte level will damage it and decrease its capacity and life expectancy.
If your battery cells need refilling, pour distilled water about ¼ inches above the battery plates. Most electric golf cart models have an automatic watering system that prevents overfilling the cells. However, when you refill your batteries, be careful to avoid acid overfull, and if it happens by chance, clean the battery again. (3)
The last procedure of batteries’ pre-winter maintenance is their complete charging. Double-check all the cables, connections, terminals, and water levels, and plug your battery set for charging. Leave the batteries charging and make sure the cart remains motionless until the battery set is charged fully.
Complete charging of an electric golf cart battery pack lasts about half a day or less, depending on how much your batteries have been depleted. Be careful not to overcharge the batteries because it would affect their lifespan. If you use an automatic charger, it will take care of charging time instead of you.
Battery Self-Discharge Rate
According to the specialists, a golf cart battery self-discharge rate is 1% a day. If a full discharge is logically 100%, then the battery will be empty in 100 days. For this reason, charging your batteries once per month during the winter storage is highly recommendable. (4)
Battery Winter Storage
You have two options to leave your batteries for long-term winter storage. You can either dismount them and disconnect all cables or leave them in the golf cart, with connected cables, but unplugged from the charger. Providing that you will check and charge your cart once per month, the second option seems more appropriate.
Golf cart winterizing is related to some maintenance operations that require taking special safety measures. It is not a secret that working with electricity and acid is not safe if you do not follow some safety requirements. A careless approach to any power source can cause fire or even death, while acid can burn you seriously.
It may sound a bit extreme, but one of the main precautions while working with electricity is to remove any jewelry from you. Working with acid may damage your valuable accessories, so better take them off. Additionally, the metal is a conductor, so keep it away from the batteries to avoid undesired reactions.
The maintenance of your golf cart, and especially the service of batteries, require protective clothing. If you do not have a special protective outfit like coveralls or preferably a chemical-resistant apron, make sure you wear clothes with long sleeves. Wear shoes with rubber soles and put on acid-proof gloves and glasses, primarily when you work with electrolytes. (5)
Golf Cart Covers
Once the preventive maintenance is done and you double-checked your golf cart batteries, wiring, and connections, plugs, tire pressure, braking system, etc., you may think it is time to leave your small electric vehicle in peace for the winter. Of course, you are ready to do that. However, you can take one more preventive step to make sure you have taken the best preventive measures to winterize your golf cart.
The last recommendable step to winterize a golf cart is to buy or put a cover on it. Investing in such a relatively cheap purchase like a golf cart cover will prevent your small vehicle from accumulating dust and other dirt and will additionally protect it from any possible external actions. Below we present to you the top 10 golf cart covers for 2020, widely popular among golf cart owners.
- Explore Land 600D
- CoverMates Elite
- 10L0L Sunproof
- Formosa Deluxe
- Classic Accessories Fairway FadeSafe
- Kayme Outdoor
- Himal 400D
- Leader Accessories Deluxe
- Doorworks Enclosures Hinged
- Formosa Premium Tight Weave
List 3 Source 6
Most of the offered models are covers, whose purpose is to protect the golf cart. Others are enclosures, which have a double function – to protect passengers and drivers on the one hand and the vehicle on the other. Of course, enclosures are fancier and more expensive.
Some people may consider this information irrelative, but in fact, lessons learned from golf and any other vehicle long-term storage prove that rodent menace is real. Golf cart wiring is a favorite dish for rodents, such as mice and rats. In most cases, they do not eat the cables but chew them, and this is enough to destroy the cart’s electrical system.
Leaving your golf cart unattended for the long winter period will encourage rodents to attack the wires of the small electric vehicle. It is recommended when you winterize your cart to install at least one anti-rodent repellent device near the vehicle. It will be safe for you a lot of trouble if you have rodents in the area.
Can I Use an Electric Golf Cart In Winter?
Generally speaking, you can, but it is not recommendable due to various reasons. First of all, most of the electric golf carts do not have a heating system built-in, and even if you use an enclosure, it will not be enough to save you from the cold and wind. Second, cold and wet weather negatively affects the batteries since they do not have conductive pathways to discharge and are susceptible to corrosion. Last but not least, winter driving requires special winter tires, which of course, you can find and buy but only if you use your cart for purposes other than golf.
Can I Leave My Electric Golf Cart Outside In The Winter?
If you do not have appropriate shelter for your electric golf cart, or you do not have enough space in your garage, you can leave it outside in the winter. However, it would be best to protect the cart from the weather conditions as much as possible because the snow or rain will cause corrosion and other possible damages. Use a portable carport or at least a cover, and do not forget to leave the forward/reverse switch the neutral position.
Should I Disconnect Golf Cart Batteries For Storage?
Different specialists advise differently, so you would better follow the cart owner’s manual. In any case, it is better than cables do not touch terminals at any point. If the cables are still connected to the batteries, any parasitic loads from the golf cart may discharge them faster than you expect.
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- WHEELZ Custom Carts. “How to Properly Winterize Your Golf Cart: Golf Carts, Golf Tips, Golf Cart Batteries.” Pinterest, www.pinterest.ca/pin/548946642075855694/ Assessed June 16, 2021
- Golf Cart Garage, “7 Fundamental Steps that will help you keep your cart in the best shape to survive the winter.” Milled.com, https:// https://milled.com/golf-cart-garage/7-steps-for-storing-golf-carts-for-the-winter-3srNCkwFkM_u4Ux1 Assessed June 17, 2021
- Brown, T. “How Should an Electric Golf Cart Be Stored for the Winter?” Quora, www.quora.com/How-should-an-electric-golf-cart-be-stored-for-the-winter Assessed June 17, 2021
- wikiHow. “How to Maintain Golf Cart Batteries.” WikiHow, www.wikihow.com/Maintain-Golf-Cart-Batteries Assessed June 17, 2021
- Ezvid Wiki. “Top 10 Golf Cart Covers of 2020: Video Review.” Top 10 Golf Cart Covers of 2020 | https://wiki.ezvid.com/best-golf-cart-covers Assessed June 17, 2021