How to Test Golf Cart Batteries

Last updated: February 18, 2021

Golf cart batteries are one of the most critical components of your cart. Your cart’s performance is directly dependent on battery health. That is why it is absolutely vital to check the batteries and see how they perform. 

Batteries usually have a lifespan of 5-6 years, although some users claim to use a battery for up to 10 years. However, before you go out and purchase a new battery for your golf cart, you might want to consider testing it thoroughly. 

There are three primary methods to test a golf cart battery and each one of them involves different tools. These tools are a voltmeter, a hydrometer, and a load tester. 

Before testing your battery with any of these methods, it is important to take all the necessary safety precautions as batteries are corrosive and dangerous. Make sure you are wearing protective gloves and eyewear while working with the golf cart battery.

How to Test Golf Cart Batteries Using a Voltmeter

A voltmeter is a device that measures the voltage of any device. You can also use a multimeter if you have one. Also, golf carts use a battery pack, and you’ll have to test each battery in the pack separately.

Follow the below instructions to test a golf cart battery using a voltmeter:

  • Make sure the batteries are charged. Testing a battery without charge is one of the most common mistakes people make. 
  • Identify the negative and positive terminals of the battery you want to test. They are mostly marked as black (negative) and red (positive). Remove the rubber caps on top to expose the metal screw.
  • Take out the voltmeter and clamp the red probe to the red terminal (positive) of the battery. 
  • Repeat the same procedure with the voltmeter’s black (negative) probes.
  • If you don’t have a clamping mechanism with your voltmeter probes, touch the probes to the battery’s terminals and try to hold still as much as possible.
  • Keeping the probes steady is crucial for getting an accurate reading. 
  • Once you get stable readings, note them down. Then, look for the listed voltage on the bottom or side of the battery. 
  • If the difference between the reading and the listed voltage is 1 volt, then your golf cart battery is working fine. 
  • If not, repeat the process again after 6-7 hours of charging. Repeat the entire process for each individual battery.
  • If the readings are not within 1 volt of the listed voltage, it is time to replace the battery.

How to Test Golf Cart Batteries Using a Load Tester

This procedure is more dangerous than testing golf cart batteries using a voltmeter. We recommend you to wear protective eyewear and gloves. In addition, avoid performing this test in extremely cold temperatures as the battery can release toxic fumes in those circumstances.

Here is the step by step procedure to test golf cart batteries using a load tester.

  • Make sure the battery is at room temperature before beginning the test.
  • Take the battery on a hard surface like concrete as the temperature can rise dramatically during the test.
  • Take out the load tester and make sure it is off. A load tester will test how your battery works when there’s a current flowing through it. 
  • Load tester will have two clamps, red and black, similar to a voltmeter or a multimeter. Avoid bringing these two together under any circumstances.
  • Connect the red clamp to the red terminal in the battery, and repeat the same procedure with the black one.
  • Don’t turn on the load tester unless both the negative and positive terminals are firmly connected to the battery. 
  • Your battery should have a listed Cold Crank Amperage (CCA) which is typically in the range of 600 to 700 amps.
  • You need to hit the battery with half of CCA, with roughly 300 to 400 amps.
  • Note the voltage readings and compare them with the listed voltage. 
  • A drop of 1 or 2 volts is expected during a load test. If your battery is showing this much drop, there’s nothing to worry about.
  • If the drop is more than 3 or 4 volts, you might want to head out to purchase a new golf cart battery. 
  • Load testing generates massive amounts of heat, so it is absolutely necessary to turn the load tester off as soon as the test is over. 

How to Test Golf Cart Batteries Using a Hydrometer

Hydrometers are technical devices used to measure the specific gravity of liquids. We’ll show you how to use a hydrometer to test the specific gravity of the electrolytes in your golf cart battery.

We suggest that you perform this test in a well-ventilated area and wear long-sleeved clothes, gloves, and protective eyewear for maximum protection from hazardous fumes.

Follow the instructions below.

  • Look for 2-4 plastic caps on top of your golf cart’s battery. These are water-filled cells that use electrolytes as a conduit. 
  • Carefully open these caps and get a hydrometer that will fit in those holes.
  • Check the plates under each hole and assess the water level. If you cannot see the plates, it means the water level is high enough. A dry or moistened hole would suggest that the battery is in poor condition.
  • If the water level is not too low but lower than optimum, carefully add distilled water to it until it barely covers the plate.
  • Carefully place the tube of the hydrometer in the first cell. Squeeze the rubber ball on the top of the hydrometer to draw some in some water. 
  • Do not remove the tube from the hole as you want to put the water back into the battery once you get a reading. 
  • Note down the hydrometer’s reading and squeeze the water back into the battery. 
  • The readings you’ll get will range from 1 to 1.2 in most golf cart batteries.
  • Repeat the same process with all the other cells in the battery and note the readings.
  • The readings of all the cells should be within 0.1 of one another. In some cases, a difference of 0.2 might occur if the battery is older.
  • However, if the difference between any cells exceeds 0.3, it means that the battery is not generating enough power, and you should replace it immediately.
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