Tucking in your boat or golf cart for the winter can be sad as we say goodbye to warmer weather for now. But you should take the time to ensure everything is taken care of before you lock them up in storage, especially when it comes to their batteries. Proper battery maintenance for storage maintains the performance of your batteries and extends their life.
Taking the time now to store your golf cart or boat battery properly, and to maintain the vehicle itself during the off-season, puts you in a better position to quickly head back out again when the weather does start getting nice outside. If you want to minimize issues like battery sulfation, there are some essential things you'll need to keep in mind about winter battery storage.
What is Battery Sulfation?
Sulfation occurs in a lead acid battery, like those found in golf carts and boats, when it is deprived of a full charge for extended periods of time. In sulfation, lead crystals build up on the surface of the battery's lead plates. This can lead to poor performance and rough starts, and eventually, the battery will likely stop working and need to be replaced.
To check for sulfation, take out your battery tester and check the battery's voltage. If you find that the voltage measures less than 12.6 volts after a period of inactivity, this means that it is undercharged. This could be a clear sign that battery sulfation is taking place.
Golf Cart Winter Battery Storage Basics
When storing your golf cart for the winter, you'll want to begin by moving it to wherever it will be stored for the off-season. Once in place, fully charge the vehicle’s battery, water it with distilled water, and make sure that everything is clean for the coming months.
Next, check all the terminals and cables connected to the battery to look for signs of corrosion or other issues. These problems should be properly addressed before the golf cart goes into storage, as they will only worsen over time.
Once this routine maintenance has taken place, you can verify that your battery is charged and put the golf cart into storage. You should also check water levels at least once a month (if not more frequently) throughout the season to make sure you don't have any surprises waiting for you when spring rolls around.
Boat Winter Battery Storage Basics
When it comes to your boat batteries, the winter storage process is a bit different. First, charge the battery one last time before your boat goes into storage. Then, disconnect the negative cable from the battery terminal. In a few hours, you should check both the gravity and voltage to make sure that the levels are in line with the original manufacturer's specifications.
Disconnect all terminals and remove the boat battery for the winter. Be sure to store it in a cool, dry place so that the battery doesn't freeze up on you.
With a boat battery, you'll want to trickle charge it at least monthly, if you can, during the off-season. This will help prevent the battery from automatically discharging itself, extending its overall lifespan.
At that point, all you have to do is wait it out. When spring finally arrives, you can reinstall your battery, get your boat back into the water, and enjoy some time outdoors once again.
Storing boat and golf cart batteries for the winter isn't a difficult process, but it is specific. However, putting in the effort today can help avoid potential issues tomorrow. If you do make it to spring and worry that your battery is failing, you should take it to a professional and have it checked out right away. It may need to be replaced.