Understanding Your EV Golf Cart Batteries: Age, Performance, and Replacement Signs

Like fruit, seafood, and sheets, fresh is best for golf cart batteries.

They’re also the life of your EV golf cart – and its most expensive part. So it pays to understand a little about your batteries and how to recognize when they’re starting to fail.

First, find the date stamp

It’s a good sign when golf cart batteries look brand new and clean. But you can identify the actual date of the battery’s manufacture with a slightly closer look.

All batteries will have a date indicator stamp somewhere – embossed on the terminal, on a sticker, or on the battery case somewhere. It’s typically a letter-number combination, like I-0.

  1. “I” is the ninth letter in the alphabet. The ninth month is September. So “I” means September.
  2. Logically, the number 0 refers to 2020 and probably not 2000. A relatively clean battery with a readable date stamp is likely not more than 10 years old. On some batteries, it’s a lot clearer: You might see a “20” instead for “2020.”
  3. So, a battery with an “I-0” stamp was manufactured in September 2020.

Here’s a breakdown of the months by letter:

  • A – January
  • B – February
  • C – March
  • D – April
  • E – May
  • F – June
  • G – July
  • H – August
  • I – September
  • J – October
  • K – November
  • L – December

How long should my batteries last?

Properly maintained golf cart batteries will typically last 6 to 10 years on average for private individuals. For business use – on the golf course, traversing campuses or communities – where carts are used all day long, require a charge halfway through the day then are used again, batteries are likely to last half as long.

Individuals who put their carts through extensive use like this can expect to see shorter lifespans for their batteries.

What kind of battery is in my EV golf cart?

Golf cart batteries are deep-cycle batteries – robust rechargeable batteries built to endure repeated deep discharges without losing performance. They provide sustained power over an extended period, making them ideal for applications that require prolonged energy supply.

They’re widely used in golf carts, RVs, boats, renewable energy systems, and backup power setups due to their:

  • High capacity
  • Slow discharge rates
  • Efficient rechargeability

(Marine deep-cycle batteries are different from EV golf cart deep-cycle batteries, but that’s for another post.)

Unlike other battery types, such as starting batteries used in vehicles, deep-cycle batteries are optimized to deliver a consistent, low-level current over a longer duration rather than providing a high burst of power for starting engines.

What are signs my golf cart batteries are dying?

These are the most common signs of failing golf cart batteries. If several of these start happening at the same time, it’s a good indicator that you should prepare to replace your batteries soon.

Charge time is getting longer and longer

Keeping batteries charged is a good practice. It’s best not to overcharge them or let them get too drained.

The time it takes to fully charge golf cart batteries can vary depending on several factors. The main factors that determine charging time are:

  • Battery condition: The overall quality and condition of the golf cart batteries can affect the charging time. Newer batteries or batteries in good condition may charge more quickly than older or degraded batteries.
  • Depth of discharge (DOD): If the batteries are deeply discharged, meaning they have been drained to a low percentage of their capacity, it will take longer to recharge them. Batteries with a higher DOD will require more time to reach a full charge.
  • Charger quality and efficiency: The type and quality of the charger being used also play a role. Higher-quality chargers with greater efficiency can charge batteries more quickly compared to lower-quality or lightweight chargers.

It is difficult to establish a standard charging time for golf cart batteries since it depends on these variables. However, as a general guideline, if the batteries are new or in good condition and have a low DOD, the charging process can take around 1 to 3 hours with a high-efficiency charger. On the other hand, if the batteries are deeply discharged and older, charging them with a lightweight charger may take around 10 hours or more.

Acceleration slows down

An EV golf cart from Ultimate Carts – whether it’s ICON®EPIC Carts™, or Atlas Carts – is known to be responsive. If it’s struggling to get up to speed, your batteries may be at fault. Even if speeds seem normal once the cart gets going, the initial slow acceleration is the issue to watch.

Decreased travel distance

Your cart’s deep cycle batteries are designed to withstand charge after charge, but they slowly lose power over time. If you notice you’re not getting as far as you used to per charge, it may be time to consider replacement for one or more of your batteries. As it gets more extreme, you’ll start to see the power depleting on your battery indicator.

Climbing becomes a struggle

With proper torque and perhaps some upgraded wheels and tires, hills shouldn’t be much of a challenge in one of our EV golf carts. Other golf carts tend to show a little bit of slowdown when they go over an incline. Even if you can get your cart moving, if you’re having trouble getting up an incline, it could be your battery.

The battery is visibly deteriorating

Inspect your batteries from time to time. If there are visual indicators of age or damage – like a cracked casing or corrosion – and performance is dropping as well, we highly recommend looking into battery replacement.

If your battery is leaking or bulging, have it looked at immediately by your trusted EV golf cart dealer. One leaking or bulging battery will start to affect another, so it’s best to address it as soon as you notice it.

Corrosion becomes unmanageable

Unfortunately, batteries get corroded around the terminals over time. Cleaning should be a regular part of your battery maintenance. If the corrosion can’t be cleaned or is getting so bad it’s making terminals float off the battery, it might be the end for your golf cart batteries.

Accessories stop working (well)

Everything from running lights to your soundbar is powered by your golf cart’s batteries. If the technology on your cart starts acting up (radio won’t play, fan is spotty, etc.), the culprit might be your batteries. This is also why it’s a good idea to double-check that all your accessories are powered off before leaving your cart.

What should I do if my batteries are failing?

It is generally recommended to replace all golf cart batteries at once to ensure consistent performance. If you replace only one battery, it may wear down faster due to the mismatched capacity and workload. However, in certain situations, such as a warranty issue with a new battery, it may be acceptable to replace a single battery. The goal is to have batteries of similar age and condition to avoid imbalances in performance and lifespan.

You’re the one most familiar with your cart. If you start noticing performance issues or see visible deterioration, have your EV golf cart dealer test your batteries’ voltage and performance. They’ll be able to give you a more precise timeline of a potential battery replacement. If you’re lucky, you’ll walk away with great advice about how to revive your ailing golf cart batteries.

About Ultimate Carts

Ultimate Carts is the EV golf carts arm of the Ultimate family of luxury vehicle dealerships in greater Central Florida and its coasts. The business group includes Ultimate Auto and Ultimate Marine, offering a highly personal service model that includes in-house custom manufacturing capabilities and a white-glove delivery experience. All are overseen by CEO Joe Labon, who started the first Ultimate Auto shop more than 30 years ago in Orlando. 

Service areas for Ultimate Carts include Orlando, Winter Park, Tampa, New Smyrna Beach, and The Villages. Ultimate Marine serves Sarasota to Clearwater on the West Coast, and Cape Canaveral to Jacksonville on the East Coast. Ultimate Auto is headquartered in Orlando.