How to Test Golf Cart Batteries with a Multimeter (Guide)

One of the most common problems with a golf cart is when the battery of your golf cart gives out. In this guide, we teach you how to test it and if it needs replacement.

Open Circuit Test

Step # 1 – Put Safety First to Avoid Unwanted Incidents

Safety first is something that most people have been taught since they were kids. The same is true when it comes to testing golf cart batteries with a multimeter. There are some basic safety precautions that you need to take before you begin. These include:

  • Make sure that the multimeter is set to read DC voltage
  • Don’t touch the probes directly on the battery terminals as this will cause a spark and could cause harm
  • Always wear eye protection and gloves
  • Make sure the vehicle is turned off, the parking brake is on, and the keys have been removed from the ignition

Step # 2 – To Test a Power Cell, Inspect it

The next step is to physically inspect the power cell to be tested with a multimeter. The physical inspection of the battery should include checking for any cracks or holes in the case, damage to the terminals, and other defects that may appear on the external part of the battery.

If there are any cracks or fissures in the external casing, this can be a sign that there is internal damage and could lead to a more serious problem later on.

Step # 3 – Prepare a Battery for the Test

If you have a battery that is difficult to reach or is otherwise awkward to get at, the best thing to do is make sure that it’s fully charged. A battery that isn’t at full charge will give a false reading and make it appear as if the battery were dead when in reality it isn’t.

If you don’t think the battery needs to be charged, then check its state of charge with a hydrometer, which will tell you how much of its capacity is available.

If the hydrometer indicates that there’s less than 50% of the total capacity left, then you should charge it before proceeding with the test.

Step # 4 – Accurate Readings Can Be Achieved by Configuring the Device Correctly

To get an accurate reading of your battery’s capacity, you must first configure your multimeter to read DC voltage. This can be done by selecting the appropriate setting on the device’s dial. Once configured, connect the leads to the battery terminal posts. The positive lead should be connected to the positive post and vice versa.

Next, look at your multimeter display window to see what reading is indicated. A reading of 12.6 volts or higher indicates that a fully charged battery is present while 12.4 volts or less indicates a discharged battery.

If a lower than normal reading is noted, try charging your battery for 24 hours and retesting it with the multimeter to see if this brings its voltage back up again.

Step # 5 – Connect the Probes to the Battery

In this step, you will make sure that the two probes of your device are correctly connected to the battery. You need to connect the red probe to the positive terminal and the black probe to the negative terminal. The positive terminal is denoted by a “+” sign, while the negative terminal is denoted by a “-” sign or a “–” sign. You can also identify them by their colors; red color indicates positive and black color indicates negative.

You need to use crocodile clips for connecting your device with the battery terminals. If you do not have crocodile clips, you can use small jumper wires for connecting your device with the battery terminals. However, it is recommended that you use crocodile clips for connecting your device with the battery terminals as it is more convenient and less prone to errors. (1)

Step # 6 – To Test the Battery, Put it Under a Slight Load

In order to get a reading from the multimeter, you need to put a load on the battery. This can be accomplished by simply turning on the headlights of the golf cart. With the meter set to DC volts and the negative lead connected, touch the positive lead with the other hand. The voltage should be between 6 and 8 volts. If not, the battery may need recharging or replacing. (2)

If your batteries are wired in series (the positive of one battery is connected directly to the negative of another), you will have to do this for each individual battery. If they are wired in parallel (all positives together and all negatives together), you can check any single battery.

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References
(1) crocodile – https://www.britannica.com/list/7-crocodilian-species-that-are-dangerous-to-humans
(2) golf – https://www.britannica.com/sports/golf

Video References

Deep Cycle Battery San Diego

South Atlanta Golf Carts LLC

DIY Golf Cart

About Sam Orlovsky

b1d87d2ee85af3e51479df87928bdc88?s=90&d=mm&r=gI realized early on carpentry was a huge passion for me and I’ve stayed in the industry for over 20 years now. This gives me a unique ability to really be able to tell you what the best tools and recommendations are. I’m not only a carpenter but I also like machinery and anything to do with electrics. One of my career paths starting off was as an apprentice electrician so I also have a lot of experience with electrical products and anything related.