How to Ensure Your Cart Starts During Spring

Repower Article - 02/03/08

Ensure Golf Mowers or Carts Start Up When Spring Comes

Golfers are proud of their golf mowers and carts during the summer and late fall, pleased that these small engines do the job they’re supposed to do. For as long as they function like clockwork, we don’t think twice about caring for these small engine vehicles.

Small engines used by golf carts and mowers need as much care as a brand new car.  Owners tend to overlook this when summer’s almost over. So many carts are stored away in some corner of the garage without much thought given to how well they will start up when spring comes around and golf season picks up again. They figure that hiding them away in a shed or garage, clear from the winter elements is sufficient.  Not quite.  Even if your golf cart or mower is new, they still require some maintainance.  In fact, getting them to start up trouble-free from season to season requires you follow a few points of due-diligence to keep them in tip top shape. 

For starters, gather up the equipment you will need to properly put your golf cart to bed for the winter. You should have a wrench, a few bottles of distilled water, some cleaning rags, gloves for you, goggles for your eyes, a hydrometer (it measures the gravity of the electrolyte solution) and a voltmeter (to measure voltage).  You may want to throw in some baking soda and vaseline as well.

The following are a few steps you can take to make sure your golf cart or course mower starts up again as spring comes around.

1.  Read your manufacturer’s maintenance guide
Keep that maintenance manual within reach and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.  Don’t try to tinker with the small engine if you’ve never handled one before.  If you notice anything unusual, take your golf cart or mower to the nearest dealer for an inspection.  Don’t wait until spring to have your small engine checked.

2.  Put the battery in a cool dry place

Before storing your golf mower or cart for the winter, don’t forget to remove the battery and disconnect it from the battery cable.  Store your battery in a safe place, away from heated elements, gas or furnace.  Wipe it clean and brush off the battery terminal with a metal brush.  If the manufacturer recommends special cleaning solutions for your battery, purchase these cleaning solutions.  Usually, however, distilled water should do the trick.  Avoid using corrosive cleaning chemicals.
Most golf cart or mower problems are due to poorly maintained batteries.  This is why there are companies that specialize in golf cart service programs which are supposed to guarantee longer life for your cart’s non-sealed, lead-acid deep cycle batteries.  You’ll notice advertisements offering this kind of service.  But if you maintain your cart the way your manufacturer tells you to, perhaps there is no need to purchase this type of service.
When you remove the battery and before you put it back in, check that there are no cracks or broken elements in the batteries and that the vent caps are shut tight. 
3.  Find a nice, dry and safe spot for your cart
Again, keep your golf cart or mower away from danger areas – usually heaters, furnaces and gas containers.  Also ensure that it is not place near any open windows where water damage may occur.
4.  Clean your mower or cart before storing it away for the winter
Before putting your cart or mower in storage, make sure that it’s clean.  This means you have to rid it of leaves, grass, residual soil, dried or wet mud, and moisture pockets.  When you clean your mower, unplug the spark plug lead wire, wound it up gently and tape it together.  Look for dirt under your mower or cart by carefully tilting it upwards.  If you see any grass or dirt present in between the blades, wipe it off with a stick or long-handled brush.  Do not use your bare hands!
5.  Watch that fuel!
Do not put away your mower or cart when it has half a tank of fuel.  You should finish off the fuel or at least add a fuel preserver.  Before adding the fuel preserver, read the directions or the instruction label.  After adding it plug your mower or cart and let the engine run for a few minutes.  This should give the fuel preserver enough time to go through the carburetor.  One good thing about fuel preservers (also called stabilizers) is that they keep the fuel fresh in the engine for as long as half a year.  You can now turn off the engine.  Fill the gas tank completely; this should prevent moisture and rust from forming in the tank.
These few simple steps will ensure your cart or mower will start without any snags this spring.

-Ben Anton 2008
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