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Unread 03-05-2011, 04:26 PM   #1
Not Yet Wild
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 1
Default Many problems with '81 club car.

Hello, all! I come here seeking information on an 81 Club car my grandfather just purchased.

He has a vacation home in Florida, and one of the common types of transportation for the island is by golf car. In previous years, he has rented; however, this year he came across a seemingly irresistible deal. An '81 Club Car for $150. He also got a charger with it.

I am down here with him for a few weeks, and therefore I told him I would help him figure out what all is wrong with it. He purchased it yesterday. Here is the information I know about the cart:

Model: A8144
Batteries: 6x Trojan T-605 (Unsure how long ago they were purchased.)
Charger: Lestronic II
Speed: I had a car following me to test max speed. Fastest I got it on flat pavement was 11-12mph

Questions I have:

Steering: One of the first things I noticed about the cart is that the steering has a lot of play in it, from about 11 - 1. I realize that the golf cart is 30 years old, but is there anything I can do to fix this? I am already used to it; however, I would like the steering to be a bit tighter for my grandfather.

Lights: The first thing I tested on the cart were the front lights. They were both working, so I flipped them off. When it got dark out, I decided to take it for a spin to test it out after a "full charge." When I turned the lights on, the driver side front light was not working. After about 10 minutes of driving, the other front light went out as well. I find it hard to believe that both bulbs went out so close together. Could this be an electrical problem? How could I trouble shoot this problem?

Batteries/Charge life: As stated above, I have no idea how long ago the batteries were purchased. Visually, they seem to be in pretty good condition; however, I have no idea how well maintained the previous owner kept them. The proper amount of distilled water was put in them before it was charged for the first time while in our possession.

When he first acquired the cart, I decided to charge it up fully. It charged for about an hour before the charger turned off. I used the cart for about 15 minutes that evening and parked it for the night. Today, the cart got about 30-45 minutes of driving time before it started moving painfully slow (2-3mph).

This seems like a pretty short battery life. I do know that the previous owner had not used it all in the past year, so the batteries were just sitting in the cart unused for 8+ months.

And since I don't really know the lingo, here is how the charge process goes:

The charger has a meter that goes from 0-30amps. Whenever I plug it in to charge, it goes up to 20 amps, ALWAYS. Even when it was nearly drained, moving 2-3 mph. It slowly moves down to 10, then it sits around 10 for awhile before shutting off. Yesterday I was curious and after it had a complete charge, I unplugged it and plugged it back in. It still went up to 20 amps. Is this normal? As I write this, it has been charging for about an hour and the needle has made its way down to 15 from 20.

Also, the car currently only has seats two. My grandfather was interested in possibly getting a rear bench to expand seating to 4. Is it possible to do this? If so, where can I go to look at different prices for something like that?

Thank you in advance!

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Unread 03-06-2011, 09:24 AM   #2
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Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Tennessee
Posts: 5,643
Default Re: Many problems with '81 club car.

Batteries: 6x Trojan T-605 (Unsure how long ago they were purchased.)
Date is stamped on the flat part of lead at the base of the + POS battery post , at best batteries are good for 5-6 years AT BEST

If U own a sparky (electric cart) , U must own a digital volt meter (one which can measure both Volts and Ohms) $20 at Lowes. And a battery hydrometer which has the number read out , not just colors green red yellow Good Bad ...etc. $7-$8 bucks at auto supply

I am posting a link to a table which shows state of charge readings.
Read this State of Charge Readings

Make sure batteries have distilled water 1/4 to 1/2 above plates.
Clean all battery surfaces, clean and tighten all battery cables
Charge batteries (if the charger is an automatic shut off) until the charger shuts off
Wait 8-12 hours after charge completes then take voltage readings on each battery and another reading across the entire pack of batteries
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Unread 03-06-2011, 11:26 AM   #3
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Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: South Texas
Posts: 2,391
Default Re: Many problems with '81 club car.

I will adress your questions etc in order
#1 existing battery age covered by GLEEMO. If needed I would replace with higher amp rated batterys T-605 is 210 amp rated, better yet would be T-105 is 225 amp rated or even better T-125 is 240 amp rated.
#2 question for you is Lestronic 11 charger automatic or timer operated, made both ways?
#3 after blocking rear wheels from moving in either direction, jacking up front suspension and blocking with jack stands under frame in front, WARNING BE SURE ITS HELD SOLID AND CANNOT FALL as you have almost 1000 pounds with batterys. This allow suspension to hang free to check condition of tie rod ends, straightness of tie rod itself, check spindle bushings for vertical and horizantal wear, remove and repack wheel bearings and replace seals. Then check condition of rubber bushings at spring ends and shock ends, and upper control arms, while looking for fluids outside of shock housing. If all looks good and tight lower front to ground and while some one rocks steering wheel back and forth you look under body at suspension for any lost travel and check rack and pinion assembly for wear or loosness. While wheels are off look at tread and side walls for cracks or cuts. Often tires are cracked and can blow out causing wrecks that especially old people dont need.
NOTE any repairs or parts are needed forum members can help with needed info.
#4 WARNING ELECTRIC GOLF CARTS CAN NOT USE FRAME AS GROUND. Lighting bulb damage depends on how power sourse is gotten from battery pack? Most lights are 12 volts while your cart should be 36 volts total. To get 12 volts there are two ways- A-tap off 2 6 volt batterys in series ( negative to positive with large cable between to negative to positive ), B-better yet a voltage reducer that takes whole pack voltage of 36 volts and drops it down to 12 volts. If voltage sent to lights is more than 12 volts bulbs will burn out fast, and also if frame is used as ground cart operation can cause voltage surge back through lights burning them out. You need some basic test and maintenace items that are listed at end of this.
#6 and #7 Very much sound like your batterys are at end of there usable life BUT you must test batterys first for condition before spending unneeded funds. Tests are done with digital meter and hydrometer as shown below.
#8 and #9 Automatic Chargers normally dont go to max on meter on front and do cut back as charge in being completed. Depending on each "individual charger" the way they test and cut back on charge is different, but what you want is a fully charged bank of batterys when charger has stopped on its own. Testing with meter or hydrometer will confirn amount of charge completed. Reconnecting can put some chargers back into a start mode that will run tests and adjust charge high rate over a peiod of time.
#10 Rear seats-- conversion kits are available from forum sponsors so check with them first. Often when adding that much extra weight ( seat and passengers ) you will need to add heavy duty springs on rear to keep tires from rubbing on body so take the costs of springs and installation into seat price. Seat kits are normally well covered with enclosed literature so with some basic tools anyone with knowledge of basic tools can install, NOW SPRINGS may be best farmed out unless you have shop with things like cutting torches or air chisels, as some times spring mounts have to be heated or cut to remove?
Auto type jack ( at least rated for 1000 pounds, 2 or 4 jack stands ( again at least 1000 pounds rated ), pair of wheel chocks, DIGITAL Volt AMP Meter, Single float hydrometer with temperature correction scale ( NOT ANTIFREEZE MULTI BALL FLOAT TESTER ), Distilled water in gallons jugs, Way of adding water to batterys without waste ( I made a cap for juice bottle that had plastic hose and shut off from a hot water bottle GRAND PARENTS KNOW WHAT THEY ARE ), Box of house hold baking soda ( WARNING DONT ALLOW INTO CELL AS RUINS BATTERYS ) to clean corrosion off, small brass brissel brush to clean battery cables, can of battery anti corrosion spray to cut down on corrosion, low pressure tire guage ( cart tires only need 5-20 ponds ), basic SAE end wrench set for cleaning and repairing as needed ( good idea to wrape handles, etc with electrical tape to avoid shorts and possible battery explosions?? and body burns "YOUR BODY" and whenever working on cart REMOVE ALL watches, rings, jewlery of any kind, studs, etc ), a set of bladed screw drivers.
Well I hope I covered all issues if not let forum know.
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Unread 11-24-2011, 06:54 PM   #4
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Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Youngstown, Ohio
Posts: 90
Default Re: Many problems with '81 club car.

I realize this is a little late but, as for your steering issue. In 81 the used a relic of a steering system. The main component is called a ross box. It is a very very simple thing. Messy as all get out but simple. to eleviate the play is an easy process. Take off the front cowling (not necessary but makes it a ton easier). Once it's off you will see the steering box. On top of the box is a threaded pin. It has a locking nut on it. loosen the nut. Now move the steering wheel back and forth while your tightening the pin. Once the play is out of it tighten the nut back down.
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