Although not the most complex machines, golf carts still have a good amount of moving parts and static components.
Sometimes, those components present defects, and we need to resolve them.
In this article, we will be looking at golf cart batteries, and figuring out whether they can freeze, and what a frozen battery would mean for your golf cart.
Can Golf Cart Batteries Freeze?
Yes, in cold temperatures, batteries can freeze, since they are filled with liquid in their battery cells. To the surprise of many, charged golf cart batteries are much less likely to freeze than discharged batteries.
In fact, a charged golf cart battery freezes at a lower temperature than a discharged battery because a charged battery has more sulfuric acid (H2SO4) molecules than a discharged battery.
Charging a battery generates sulfuric acid inside of the battery. Sulfuric Acid lowers the freezing point of a golf cart battery.
Because of this sulfuric acid buildup phenomenon, fully discharged batteries will freeze at around 32 F, while fully charged batteries will not freeze until -70 F to -80 F. Batteries only partially charged will proportionately freeze between 32 F and -70 F.
As the temperature gets colder, the battery will lose capacity. It has been scientifically determined that battery capacity goes down as temperature goes down, as shown in the graph down below, from ResearchGate:
In cold temperatures, golf cart batteries may be less efficient because the cold will increase the electrical resistance of the liquids inside the battery, meaning the battery can transfer less electricity per second.
How Does Freezing Impact Golf Cart Batteries?
You may be wondering if your golf cart battery is dead if it has frozen. Like for most things in life, the answer is nuanced.
If your golf cart battery is completely frozen, and the liquids inside have expanded so much that they have popped out of the battery case, the battery is dead. When the battery unfreezes, the liquids meant to be inside of the battery will leak out of the cracked case, destroying the battery, on top of making its use dangerous.
If the battery is partially frozen, but the liquids inside of it have not expanded so much that they have deformed the battery case, it may be able to save it after being thawed. However, it is unlikely to work.
What To Do When Your Golf Cart Battery Is Frozen?
It is fairly unlikely that you will be able to save a frozen golf cart battery, so the easiest thing to do would be to buy a new golf cart battery. This course of action will save you much time, as well as technical challenges, but it will be the most expensive option financially.
If you are hoping to save a frozen golf cart battery that has frozen so much the frozen liquid inside has expanded outside of the casing, there is no hope. Throw that battery away in a dedicated dump for battery waste.
If you want to save a frozen golf cart battery in which the liquid has not expanded out of the casing yet, you should bring it to a professional battery repair person. If you do not wish to that, and wish to do things at your own risk, you can bring the battery inside to warm and thaw out at room temperature. Wait until the battery is fully unfrozen before proceeding to the next step.
You can test the voltage of the golf cart battery with a voltmeter, and it should hopefully read something close to the nominal rating of your golf cart battery voltage in the technical sheets, but it will probably be lower.
You can try charging the battery with a charger with the same amperage that the battery is designed for. Only charge the battery for one hour, let it rest for 30 minutes, then use the voltmeter again. Check to see if the voltmeter reading has increased close to your battery’s nominal voltage rating.
Keep charging the battery in 1 hour intervals, followed by 30 minute intervals of rest; do this a few times. If the voltage goes higher each time, the battery can probably be salvaged; keep charging until it reaches nominal voltage. If the voltage does not increase, your battery is dead.
Be cautious when you perform any manipulations on the battery, and take all precautions. You are doing things at your own risk, and we take no responsibility for any injuries or accidents that may occur, no matter how severe.
You should do your own research, and preferably, bring the battery to a trained professional who can perform manipulations for you.
How To Prevent Your Golf Cart Battery From Freezing
There are many ways and considerations to keep in mind to prevent your golf cart battery from freezing in cold weather.
First of all, during the cold months, you should store your golf cart battery inside, in a temperature controlled environment, such as a closed garage that has some heating in case it gets too cold. You can park your entire golf cart inside.
If you do not have a space to park your golf cart inside during the cold months, then you must absolutely disconnect the battery from the cart and bring it inside.
We have established earlier in this article that a charged golf cart battery freezes less easily than an empty battery, so you should keep your golf cart battery charged in cold weather. Charged batteries tend to freeze at around -70 F (-55 C), while discharged batteries freeze at around 32 F (0 C).
In addition, if you own an automatic golf cart battery charger, keep it plugged in, making sure the battery is in a decently warm space. The automatic charger needs to turn on when the battery starts to discharge naturally, in order to keep it charged.
You could also charge the battery until it is full, then bring it inside of your home. Do not leave your battery to charge overnight if it is in a cold place putting it at risk of freezing.
It is important to note that if your golf cart battery charger is not automatic, do not leave it plugged in, because it will overcharge the battery and damage it.
Furthermore, you should verify the distilled water levels in the battery before winter starts. Keep the levels high enough to cover the plates in the battery cells. Do not use regular water or tap water. You need to use distilled water; distilled water prevents damage to the battery.
You need to open the battery to add distilled water or verify if there is already enough present. Keeping the distilled water levels high enough allows for a full battery charge, which lowers the freezing point of your battery.
Finally, keep your batteries dry and cleaned, free of dirt, and signs of corrosion. Clean the battery well because anything foreign on the battery case can conduct electricity and discharge the battery, even if slowly. A discharging battery will be more likely to freeze than a clean battery.
There you go! After reading this article, you have learned that golf cart batteries can indeed freeze, and why they do. You have also learned how freezing affect the performance of golf cart batteries, and what to do in case they freeze.
Remember to let a trained professional perform any manipulations to save your frozen golf cart battery. If you decide to perform manipulations yourself, you do so at your own risk, and we take no responsibility for any injuries or accidents that may occur, no matter how severe.
Have you ever had to replace your golf cart battery? Let us know in the comments down below!