Can You Use a Car Battery in a Golf Cart? (Explained)

My golf cart runs with traditional golf cart batteries. Usually, carts are powered by electric motors. The batteries are located inside the cart itself.

If you want to charge these batteries, plug them into an electrical outlet. But they usually die faster the older they get, and you will need replacement batteries. 

You can use car batteries in golf carts, but it is not recommended. Regardless, it can be done with a little finagling.

Let’s dive into what must be done to use a car battery in a golf cart. 

Can You Use a Car Battery in a Golf Cart?

Electric golf carts have a motor that works at 36 or 48 volts.

The golf cart batteries will pull roughly 50 to 75 amps of power when they hit the max speed of 15 miles per hour.

Suppose you are the owner of a car battery. Could you throw that battery in my golf cart and be ready to rock?

It is not that simple, as a car battery is 12 volts.

You can string them together through the positive and negative terminals to get to the requirement in voltage to power the golf cart. But I would recommend not doing it. 

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Can you use a 12V battery in a golf cart?

The standard car battery is 12 volts. While it may seem complex, you can combine three to four batteries in a series. The connection of multiple 12-volt car batteries can get the golf cart motor to the voltage you need for power.

Golf cart and a golfer practicing his swing at sunset.
Wondering if the Golf Cart Motor needs a voltage reducer? Click this to read my other article: Does My Golf Cart Need a Voltage Reducer?

The way you would work the 12-volt batteries with the golf cart is that you would make a connection. Using negative to positive connectors, you link them together to form one large battery pack.

You will want to investigate the golf cart’s battery tray to ensure you have the batteries securely. Adjustment of the plate may be necessary to hold down the batteries.

The golf cart will require a constant release of electricity from the batteries to keep it running strong. For this reason, you need deep-cycle batteries, but more on that later.

Are golf cart batteries the same as car batteries?

Car batteries have a design that works differently than golf cart batteries. The design of a car battery is such that you get massive surges of power over a short period.

Think about what your car battery does. It kicks on to start the engine. Once the engine is going, the alternator in the vehicle uses the power for electronics and everything else.

What is the difference between a car battery and a golf cart battery?

Car batteries are starter, while golf cart batteries are made of lithium or acid. The problem with the car batteries in a golf cart is the lifespan. Draining a car battery below 50% will wear out the battery multiple times over.

You will find that you frequently replace the standard 12-volt car batteries to keep power to the golf cart.

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The Concept of Deep Cycle Batteries

To understand the best-case scenario for powering a golf cart, you must differentiate between starter and deep-cycle batteries.

A 12-volt deep cycle battery is what you get with a standard golf cart lithium battery. Deep cycle batteries come with a design that provides a steady flow of power or current. The steady flow lasts over a long period.

The design of a deep cycle marine battery is also such that it is fine with completely draining. Once the draining is done, you recharge them over a short time.

Usually, a quality deep-cycle battery will be fine with 5,000 full discharges and then recharges of power.

Starter batteries are different because they are designed to provide a short burst of power. A car battery falls under the category of a starter battery.

Lead-acid batteries are usually what you find with a car battery. The trick with starter batteries is they lack a design that can handle draining and recharging over multiple instances.

You can do damage to the battery when you drain it fully and then recharge it.

Do you recommend using a car battery in a golf cart?

We now know you can use a series of car batteries within a golf cart, but should you? Just because you can do something may not mean you want to.

It is not wise to take three or four 12-volt batteries and string them together to power a golf cart. In a bind, this can work. Over the long term, though, you want to go with deep-cycle batteries to power a golf cart.

When you go with the replacement and put the car batteries in the golf cart, it will not run the same as when you had the standard golf cart batteries.

On top of that, since they are not deep-cycle batteries, you will never make it fully around an 18-hole golf course.

Beyond the reality that the batteries will not last long, they die out quickly. Just a few cycles of using the batteries and trying to recharge them will begin to call for more frequent replacements and a higher price tag.

Experimenting With a Car Battery in a Golf Cart

You can experiment and get a golf cart running with a series of 12-volt car batteries. Building the connection bridge when all batteries have full power will get you up and running.

Flooded Lead Acid batteries
Gel Lead Acid Batteries
AGM Lead Acid Batteries
Lithium-Ion Golf Cart Batteries
Batteries you can use for your golf cart.

You need to understand the difference in the golf cart battery, yes, though, and why this may not be a great idea for the long term.

While it may help you get by with your golf cart temporarily, car batteries are not an ideal long-term solution for consistent power.

Golf cart in a cement road going downwards.
To avoid damaging your golf cart, read more safety tips here: What Kind of Water Goes into Golf Cart Batteries? 


We should consider two things when considering whether car batteries can be used in golf carts.

The first is that golf cart batteries are designed to run golf carts, not cars.

This means they are built differently than regular car batteries so you will have an issue lining up stuff.

The key thing to remember is that this can be done but is not recommended.

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