It's that time of year again. Summer is hot on our heels and our snowbirds are preparing to fly back north for the season. One thing on many of their minds is what to do with their golf cart while they are away. While we never recommend leaving a cart unattended for long periods of time, we do have some tips to help minimize the damage.
Long term storage will negatively impact the batteries most of all. Deep-cycle lead acid batteries will self-discharge when not in use for an extended period of time. This can happen in as little as 30 days in the heat of a Florida summer. When the battery is deprived of a full charge it causes sulfation; a buildup of lead sulfate crystals, which is the number one cause of early battery failure. Adequate charging throughout the storage period avoids this situation.
You may think leaving your charger plugged in is a good solution, but if you have a standard charger it will not turn back on by itself and could pose a fire hazard. Smart chargers are the better option because they actually monitor the batteries, and if left plugged in for more than 30 consecutive days, act as a trickle or maintenance charger and come on and off as needed. These can greatly extend the life and performance of your batteries, and can be purchased directly from us for only $400+tax. There are also many golf carts on the market these days that include onboard smart chargers and are a very attractive option when you're looking to upgrade, such as the ETECH models that we stock. If you only have the standard charger, you will want to make sure you fully charge the batteries up prior to storage. All electrical accessories and anything that might draw off the battery pack should be disconnected. The TOW/RUN switch should be set to TOW in order to fully shut the cart down. If left in RUN mode, the electronic speed controller will stay energized and continue to monitor for a roll away situation and draw power from the batteries. The key switch should be turned to the OFF position and the forward/reverse switch should be left in NEUTRAL. Ideally, you would have someone who you trust to check the water levels and charge the batteries at least once per month.
Unfortunately, batteries are not the only thing to consider. There are other issues that can arise due to long term storage as well. For example, if a golf cart is left sitting in one spot for an extended amount of time it can cause flat spots on the tires. This can be avoided by having someone periodically drive the cart or by jacking all 4 wheels off the ground and placing a block under the frame.
Immediately before storage, it's a good idea to thoroughly clean the cart. Start with the battery packs using a battery acid neutralizer (baking soda & distilled water,) then treat battery terminal connections with a battery terminal protector spray. If your vehicle is equipped with a single point watering system, make sure to place the fill tube on top of the battery to allow any water in the tube to drain back into the batteries. Wash dust and dirt off of the body and wax if desired. Treatments can also be applied to seats and tires. Storage covers may help protect the cart but be sure to choose a breathable option as plastic ones will hold moisture and cause mold.
Although we do advise against leaving your golf cart unattended, we hope these guidelines will help to minimize repair costs and protect your investment. Of course, there are other options available such as hiring housesitters, entrusting friends or neighbors, and perhaps the most optimal solution - taking advantage of our Concierge Cart Storage service. For a very affordable monthly fee, we store and maintain your golf cart while you're away, giving you the ultimate peace of mind and ensuring your cart is ready to ride when you are!