Why did my golf cart battery terminal melt? Why isn’t this a warranty issue?

Why did my golf cart battery terminal melt? Why isn’t this a warranty issue?

I own and operate a golf cart dealership with two locations. We see customers with puzzled looks on their faces and hot tempered steam rising from their foreheads concerning a new or relatively new battery that has melted terminal damage thinking that this issue is a warrant-able one. That’s understandable when they are facing the fact of having to spend another hundred bucks or more on a replacement battery when they just did that not too long ago.

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Here’s an example of a good battery gone bad. This rascal became so hot that she melted a hole right thru her top. We were amazed that there wasn’t an explosion with the rockets red glare…!!! And the battery bomb bursting in the air…! Even though at the time the customer didn’t think so we assured him that he was a very fortunate (blessed) individual for escaping such a certain calamity. So what happened? Why did the terminal melt? Surely that has to be a manufacturer’s defect? Isn’t it? Believe it or not it isn’t their fault. They didn’t make an inferior product nor use “cheap China crap” as one customer so eloquently stated. No, unfortunately for them, it’s an installer and or maintenance issue.

Golf cart batteries and golf cart battery cable connections  require continual, scheduled, routine maintenance in order to prevent battery failure.

Golf cart batteries and golf cart battery cable connections  require continual, scheduled, routine maintenance in order to prevent battery failure. golfcartbatterycables.com states: “If you’re a golf cart owner, you enjoy the benefits you derive from your vehicle every day. These small, versatile vehicles are both affordable and easy to maintain, and for many players they can make the difference between being able to enjoy the wonderful game of golf and staying at home. Unfortunately, problems with golf cart battery cables can sap the fun out of these vehicles very quickly.

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Like any other type of vehicle, these little powerhouses require a certain amount of maintenance. This is especially true for the electric-motor vehicles which are powered solely by their batteries. And when it comes to batteries, one of the most important, and often overlooked, components are the golf cart battery cables.” emphasis mine.

The battery cable connections are so important that we have one of the chapters in our book “Five Secrets Every Golf Cart Owner Needs To Know About Their Golf Cart’s Batteries” dedicated just for those. The golf cart’s battery cable connections are just as critically important as keeping the proper fluid level maintained. They rank right up there with proper charging techniques, safe air pressure in the tires and adequate safety seat belts and so on and so forth.

At our dealership  we advise folks to check their battery cable connections for proper tightness at least twice a year. “June and December because it’s easy to remember” is what I teach them. In addition I try to get them to buy my book on how to take care of their golf cart’s batteries. Some do, some don’t and some will and most won’t. Seriously! They’ll spend seven hundred bucks on a set of batteries and not six bucks on a book that will help them to understand how to properly take care of their investment and receive a great ROI (return on their investment).

Not only should you clean the battery corrosion from the battery cable connections but you NEED to test each battery cable for a secure connection. You do this by using a torque wrench. We use the 1/4” size but the larger 1/2” drive will work just with a much smaller torque specification setting. This is what a typical torque wrench/ratchet looks like.

Before you begin you are going to need to know the torque specifications for the battery cable connections from the manufacturer of your golf cart’s batteries. Here is what Trojan Battery has listed on their site:

“Check all battery cables and their connections.

  • Look closely for loose or damaged parts.
  • Battery cables should be intact; broken or frayed cables can be extremely hazardous.
  • Replace any cable that looks suspicious.

4. Tighten all wiring connections to the proper specification (see below). Make certain there is good contact with the terminals.

Proper Torque Values for Connection Hardware

Flooded
VRLA

Automotive
50 – 70 in-lbs
Button
90 – 100 in-lbs

Side
70 – 90 in-lbs
LT
100 – 120 in-lbs

Wingnut
95 – 105 in-lbs

LPT
95 – 105 in-lbs

Stud
120 – 180 in-lbs

LT
100 – 120 in-lbs

WARNING: Do not over tighten terminals. Doing so can result in post breakage, post meltdown, or fire.”

The golf cart’s battery cable connection tightness needs to be just right. Too loose or too tight and you’ll have problems making your investment last.

The golf cart’s battery cable connection tightness needs to be just right. Too loose or too tight and you’ll have problems making your investment last. If you leave the battery cable connections too loose they will become more loose and have resistance to the MASSIVE current flow from the golf cart’s batteries to the power solenoid and controller assembly. We all know that resistance creates heat and this excessive heat leads to…

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The opposite is true as well. When you over tighten the battery cable connections you stretch the threads which will eventually become loose and this will lead to resistance and then resistance leads to heat and this excessive heat leads too, well you know….

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Keep your golf cart battery cables clean and keep them tight. Properly torqued tightness with a specific torque setting from a 1/4” torque wrench/ratchet. I hope that I answered the question as to why the battery terminal melt down is not a manufacturer’s warrant able issue and why the terminals melt to begin with. Bedside's a good torque wrench one of the best investments you can make is to read the book I wrote for golf cart owner’s in understanding how to take care of their golf cart’s batteries. Proper cable connections, how to adequately fill and maintain the proper fluid level and how to properly charge the batteries are just a few of the industry trade secrets that I share on how the pros get their golf cart batteries to last as long as they do. You can purchase the book at either one of our locations, from our website or if you prefer, the book is also available from Amazon. You can even borrow it for your Kindle! Either way, read it, learn from it and take care of your golf cart’s batteries and get out there and enjoy your golf cart. After all, isn’t that what you bought it for? See you next time, MKR.