What Happens If Golf Cart Batteries Run Out Of Water?

Batteries are an important part of all golf carts. For gas powered golf carts, they usually have one battery that supplies the power for engine ignition while for electric golf carts they supply the power to run the motor that drives the wheels. Batteries for golf carts mainly are deep cycle batteries made of lead plates, positive and negative, electrolyte which is water and acid mixture. The electrolyte is very important in the operation of the battery. It helps in chemical reactions that generate electricity for powering of the golf carts. Over time the electrolyte decreases in level and therefore needs continuous topping to make sure that the battery remains efficient in supplying the needed power to operate the golf cart. A lot of problems are experienced if the golf cart batteries run out of water, an important component of the battery electrolyte as explained below.

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Why Do Golf Cart Batteries Run Out of Water

Golf carts batteries uses water and acid as an electrolyte and with time these run out necessitating replenishment as they get consumed during the operation cycles. Every cycle of charge and discharges consumes a small amount of water. If you observe the battery during recharging you will notice that there may be fumes which contains both water and acid being lost. After a number of these cycles you will notice that the golf cart battery water level has dropped. This is the main cause of that and is normal in these batteries. However, allowing the golf cart battery to run out of water should be avoided. A simple inspection schedule that must be religiously followed will help address this problem.

Gas Powered Golf Carts Starting Failure

The most apparent effect of batteries running out of water in gas powered golf carts is start up failure. This is due to the fact that there will not be enough chemical reaction to give adequate charge to start ignition process for combustion engine. The engine may show signs of trying to start but it will fail to run the engine. The water helps in the reactions at the cathode and anode plates of the battery which creates a difference in potential between these two plates. When the two plates are then connected to an external circuit in this case the engine ignition circuit electricity moves thereby initiating ignition process. Without water in golf cart batteries this will not happen.

Electric Powered Golf Carts Will Not Run

Electric golf carts rely on the batteries for their operation. The battery supplies voltage enough to turn the electric motor which in turn drives the wheels making the golf cart move. Without water, the batteries will not work. They will not produce the required voltage to run the motors and drive the golf cart. The golf cart batteries without water are useless as they cannot do anything. In most of the battery powered vehicles, battery maintenance is very key and the inspection is done periodically to make sure that water level is kept at optimum levels with all plates fully submerged under the electrolyte containing water. However, overfilling is also not recommended. Always keep to the stipulated levels as per your golf cart battery manual.

Golf Cart Electricals Will Not Work

The battery in all vehicles including golf carts provides power for all the electrical functions including lights, indicators and music players. If batteries run out of water they cannot power these functions and hence they will not work. The lights, indicators and radio will all not work due to power unavailability. This shows that it is important to always make sure that the batteries have enough water always to ensure efficient operation of golf carts. The conditions above will negate the road worthiness of your golf cart and so golf cart battery water should always be monitored and necessary topping up done.

The Battery Does Not Recharge

When a golf cart battery runs out of water, the battery will not recharge. The recharge process requires the electrolyte of which water is also a component of the electrolyte. This facilitates oxidation and reduction reactions at the cathode and anode respectively. These reactions build up a potential difference between the positive and negative plates which is the required battery voltage. Without water this reaction won’t take place. Refer to battery maintenance manual for proper battery care and maintenance.

The Battery Will Be Damaged

The design of deep cycle batteries for any use including in golf carts is such that the plates be immersed in the electrolyte, acid and water solution. If the golf cart battery water runs out, the plates will be exposed and resultantly they dry out. If battery water for golf carts runs out, the lead plates and the acid inside the battery will simply oxidize causing the battery to break down. Water inside the battery also is important for cooling the battery. The chemical reactions inside the batteries are exothermic and therefore increases battery temperatures. Water helps to cool the temperature and increase the battery service life. The importance of maintaining an optimum water level can never be overemphasized. Leaving golf cart battery water running out is very dangerous and may be costly. Dried battery plates due to water shortage flake off and gets damaged permanently. The battery will no longer work and the solution would be to replace with a new battery which would cost a significant amount.


Proper golf cart battery maintenance is key to ensure that batteries do not run out of water. Most of the golf cart suppliers do provide manuals that guides on how to care from charging, recharging and maintenance of these batteries. Electrolyte refilling instructions are also enclosed inside the manuals and they should be red, understood and applied. Generally, a battery inspection checklist and schedule is required to make sure that at a specific interval say monthly or weekly you inspect your battery water level and do the top up if levels fall or drop to minimum recommended levels. Consultation with battery specialists or dealers is recommended.