This is a very common question. Let’s first start with some general figures to estimate how long your golf cart batteries will last. Your batteries could last up to ten years (note: this is not very common) – and as few as three – if your cart is privately owned, which implies that you will use your cart less than, say, the average cart on a popular public golf course.
While estimates peak at ten years of steady, but not constant use – say, a round of golf two to three times a week with proper maintenance in the meantime – the duration will increase as you take your cart out for a ride more often or maintain it with less care. How long the battery might last if you use it to drive to work every day in your gated community depends on the two basic factors, amount of use and level of care, as well as the third factor, which is damage caused by extreme conditions or carelessness. Battery lifespans are affected the most in hot weather. On the opposite end, keeping your batteries outside all winter is NOT the worst thing you could do to your batteries.
What can affect your golf cart batteries’ lifespan?
1) Overcharging the Batteries / Battery Maintenance
Number one on the list of what not to do is to not overcharge your batteries. This is something that can accidentally be done if you have an older, manual battery charger. This refers to a charger that does NOT sense when the battery is becoming fully charged and either shuts down at the right time or slows down to a trickle charge as the battery approaches saturation point. Newer battery chargers either close down or slow down as the battery becomes fully charged since they have a built in algorithm that knows when the batteries are fully charged. A lot of the time a manual charger will come with a built in timer that you set. However if this is not the case, it is highly recommended you get a kitchen timer or set an alarm clock, because over-cooking your batteries is a sure way to sacrifice longevity.
Another obvious way to lose your batteries quickly is by not properly maintaining them. Golf cart batteries need to be watered on a regular basis. By regular basis, I mean checking them AT LEAST once a month and then adding DISTILLED water if needed (Do not use tap water. It will hurt your batteries.). When checking them, make sure they are fully charged. You do not want to fill them if they are discharged as this could cause overfilling.
One of the biggest “battery killers” is not properly maintaining them with water, so be sure to check them on a regular basis.
2) Battery Brand / Quality
It also matters, needless to say, what brand of batteries you choose to purchase. However, this is not an article for a product review of one brand over another. To read an overview of what we think are some of the best batteries on the market, click here.
3) Golf Cart Features
A lesser factor – but a viable one, at that – is how many features your golf cart has. If you have headlights, a horn, fog lights, upgraded motor and speed, then your battery’s longevity could well be diminished.
To give you some kind of comparison factor, fleet golf cart batteries, are used for two to four rounds of golf every day and they may only last four to seven years, while private golf cart batteries might last six to ten.
The obvious advise on maintenance is follow the recommendations from the manufacturer as religiously as possible. Generally, this means cleaning terminals and checking water levels every month and keeping the batteries recharged after every use. We have recommended cleaning procedures for golf cart batteries here.
That means, make sure, if possible, that you allow enough time for the batteries to get fully charged between trips. If you must interrupt a charging without completing the charge, so be it. However, fully charging batteries before reusing the cart is recommended.
That said, lead-acid batteries don’t last as long if you let them drain down to zero before recharging them. And, remember, top quality chargers are recommended, so that recharging is safer and the charging is steady and fully automated.
So, now that we have covered a lot of ground…
How long should your batteries last in your golf cart?
In the worst case scenario, your batteries may only last you three years. In the best case scenario, they may last you ten years. If your batteries only last three years or less, then it means a combination of factors. It usually entails a few of the following items:
- Hot weather
- High speed cart (25+ MPH or modified from the manufacturer specs)
- Improper battery maintenance
- Low quality batteries
- and/or Defective charger
Those are the basics. In a nutshell, battery duration is certainly a major concern and a major expense for golf cart owners. Taking the recommended maintenance steps very seriously will lead to extended life and keep costs down.