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Unread 12-27-2012, 01:43 PM   #1
Not Yet Wild
Join Date: Dec 2012
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Default Battery Exploded

Have 1996 Club Car. 48v. Was working okay. Batteries were fully charged. Took cart out for a ride. Stopped to talk. When ready to go, stepped on pedal, cart gave a little lurch, the nothing. I waited a minute, stepped on pedal and held it down trying to see if it would go. All of a sudden there was a loud bang like a car backfiring. Lots of "smoke" coming from under the cart.

Luckily it was night so I towed the cart home. Since it was dark I did not look at it until morning. Raised the seat and #3 (or #4 depending on how you are looking it) had exploded. Blew the cap off the battery and part of the case top and side had also blown away.

My question is: do you think this was caused by the battery failing or something that caused the battery to fail? Since the exploded battery was in the middle I am thinking that it was a failed battery and I could put a new battery in place to see what happens. Or is there some other test(s) that should be done first?
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Unread 12-27-2012, 06:06 PM   #2
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Default Re: Battery Exploded

Are all the cables tight? Can you check the terminals on the exploded battery?

Batteries give off explosive gases when being discharged and especially when being charged. However, those gases won't explode without an ignition source, such as a spark or very hot surface.

I'm guessing, but my thinking is that you had a loose battery connection, it showed up when you pressed the pedal and the cart wouldn't go. Now, if a connection is "bad", but not totally disconnected, there can be some sparks and/or welding when you attempt to draw current. IE: drive away.

If you press on the pedal and your cart won't go, you really should NOT try again, you should investigate. Also, you should periodically check your terminals for corrosion and tightness. I picked up a 9/16" socket at a flea market, used a piece of 3/8" square stock and another hunk of 3/8" round rod, all brazed together to make a 'T' wrench. The handle is maybe 4" long, the stem also about 4", and the thing stays in the glove compartment. When I water the batteries, I check every battery connection with that wrench. Or, if I notice a drop off in power, I'll do a quick check; I've found loose connections a couple of times over the years.
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Unread 12-27-2012, 06:08 PM   #3
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Default Re: Battery Exploded

Loose cable + sparking = bang.......
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Unread 12-27-2012, 09:09 PM   #4
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Default Re: Battery Exploded

Also corroded battery cables. This can even be internal to the cable, and not show on the outside. I had this happen to me right after I bought my cart.

The battery cables were worn internally, causing LOTS of resistance. By pressing on the GO pedal, the current, or amperage, has to go somewhere, and it is like trying to push it thru a straw. The top of the battery connector exploded.
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Unread 12-28-2012, 12:08 PM   #5
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Default Re: Battery Exploded

I have seen batteries explode for no apparent reason! I have a theory after examining a few that exploded. First, I don't believe it was anything you could have prevented ( unless you did find a loose cable connection ). I noticed that the internal connectors had severely corroded! The Positive ones seemed the worst. Here's my theory: The connectors get smaller and smaller until they break and create an open circuit ( or nearly so ) When you try to move the current can't flow and an arc is created. Since all the connectors are above the electrolyte, they are surrounded by a hydrogen - oxygen mixture. The arc ( no matter how large or small ) sets off an explosion in the space above the plates! Now remember, this is only my theory! I've seen batteries explode when being charged, but the most common occurrence seems to be when a load is applied to a defective battery!
I have a question for you. Did you happen to smell anything odd before the battery exploded? I have had batteries that while charging would emanate a ( rotten egg ) smell. I removed the caps and one cell would be giving off this visible steam or smoke and the very pungent rotten egg odor. These batteries tested bad, so I'm going to say that they also had the corroded connector issue and I was fortunate to have been there to stop the charge process! I hope this will help explain what may have happened!
Also ( if you haven't already ) cover your electronics and wash carefully everything that got acid on it! If the electronics got acid on them, I'd take wet rags and wipe off what you can. Getting acid into things like your controller plugs will eat them away if left there!
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Unread 12-28-2012, 01:11 PM   #6
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Default Re: Battery Exploded

A low battery will do this if has a broken plate in it. Spark inside battery when put under load.
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Unread 01-07-2013, 08:34 AM   #7
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Default Re: Battery Exploded

Sorry for the delay in getting back.

No I did not notice any rotten egg smell - the cart just quit - then boom! (after my trying to get it going)

What I thought was smoke coming from under the cart was probably fumes from the battery acid. I tried to wipe off/clean up the cart later but who knows where the acid got to.

It did eat some paint off of my garage floor because it was late at night xmas eve and it sat there for a while until I could look at it.

I ended up replacing the battery and about three days later another battery failed (no boom), I thought about replacing all of the batteries but they are less than 3 years old so I bought another single.
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