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by Rod Matthews (Attica Golf Cart Sales)and Dave Duncan

Spring is the time of year when most golf courses come out of their winter hibernation mode. Although some courses have play all year round, the play is not substantial, and as the cart storage areas are opened up, many golf courses come to find that a good portion of their fleet is not ready for the coming season.

Golf carts are just as important as any other piece of golf course equipment. They need to be serviced. This servicing should start in the fall of the previous year. Many golf carts lie dormant in the winter months. If proper care has not been taken in servicing of the vehicles, problems are almost certainly going to occur in the spring and summer of the following year.

Most of the post season maintenance is simple enough to accomplish and does not take many man hours (labor) to complete. Managers should weigh the cost of preventative maintenance of their fleet, as opposed to scrambling around at the beginning of the season trying to get golf carts up and functioning properly.

Here are a few suggestions to keep in mind when servicing and preparing any cart fleet for winter storage or reduced winter use. Most of these items are time and money savers if the manager is to look at the big picture.

1. Make sure all vehicles are thoroughly washed of mud, grass clippings and old sandwich wrappers. The abrasive nature of mud will corrode engine and steering parts. Acids in grass clippings can eat away at hoses and even metal components. Old sandwich wrappers give small rodents a perfect winter meal, or create mold and mildew. Use a cleaning solution (Citrus Aid - environmentally friendly, CLR, etc.) to keep the fleet looking extra clean for the following year.

2. The golf cart manual is obviously an invaluable tool: USE IT!!!!!!! Too often we (as in industry) think we know, but we forget. The manual reminds us where to grease, lubricate and oil. This is very important to avoid spring seizures of any kind. Remember not to over use lubricants. This leads to grease in the cart storage area, and potentially onto the golf course.

3. Tires are a huge expenses, especially with the amount of tires is a golf cart fleet. Fill the tires with 20 psi. When winter rolls around and the outside temperature drops, so does the tire pressure. If the tire pressure is only at 10-12 psi the tires will become flat over the winter. This leads to unnecessary wear on the tires with the weight of the cart sitting on the rims. Carts can also be put up on blocks to avoid flat tires, if the carts are not in use at all during the winter. The weight of the cart is on the blocks and not the ground, creating less stress on the tire itself. Finally, Armour-all restores the "new" look of the tire, but also preserves the tire for a longer period of time than when it is not used.

4. Blocking the tires once the fleet is parked is also a great idea. This avoids unnecessary wear on the brake cables. Avoiding the spring time "sloppy brake" feeling when the fleet returns to a heavier workload.

5. Gas fleets should have their oil, fuel and air filters changed. The gas tanks should be topped up to avoid condensation in the tank, and a fuel stabilizer should be added.

6. Electric fleets should have all batteries removed and cleaned before replacing in the golf cart. Corrosion that has built up on the terminal of the battery should be thoroughly removed and protected for the winter with WD-40 or any other corrosion-inhibiting product. Insure the battery cells are topped up with distilled water, as evaporation will occur over the winter. If the fleet is not being used during the winter, charge the entire fleet. Unplug all chargers and then replug the chargers into the receptacle for a top up charge. Unplug and disconnect the red positive wire and the black negative wire to prevent discharge of the whole battery pack.

Golf cart maintenance is as important to a successful golf operation as maintaining the turf care equipment. Down time in the prime months of any operation costs money and affects the customers experience at any facility.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure (and less headaches for any mechanic).

Dave Duncan is the Mechanics liaison for the WCTA. He can be reached for problems, questions and SUGGESTIONS at (604) 945-0804 or fatmagicd@hotmail.

Turf Line News June/July 2000

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