Golf Cart Maintenance Tips for Property Management Teams
Recent growth in apartment occupancy and demand is increasing the dependency on golf carts from the front office to the maintenance staff, according to some dealers who work closely with property management companies. And now more than ever, it’s a good idea to maintain the fleet.
“Currently, service sales and parts sales are up,” says Steve Sappington, general manager for Golf World, Inc. in Fort Worth, Tex. “I am seeing an increase, and I can’t quantify that, in sales from apartments. I’m getting more business out of them.”
Nationwide, demand for golf carts is on the rise. IBISWorld Market Research, an independent market analysis firm, forecasts that U.S. sales will increase at an average annual rate of 3.2 percent through 2016.
Apartment properties are spending more on golf carts for maintenance purposes, as well as service. Until now, Sappington said, the majority of leasing offices would purchase a new cart and give the old one to maintenance. That’s different today.
“I’m actually seeing more maintenance cars purchased than in the past, and also an increase in multi-passenger vehicles.”
About 50 percent of Georgia-based Top Dog Golf Cart’s business is from the property management industry, which typically depends on used golf carts rather than new ones to minimize costs. Denny McClelland encourages apartment properties to maintain their most mobile marketing tool beyond just an occasional washing by sending out quarterly newsletters that cover a range of topics.
Here are four routine maintenance tips for property managers to keep their golf carts in tip-top shape:
Maintain Golf Cart Batteries
Since electric golf carts are more commonly used on apartment properties than gas-driven ones, monthly battery maintenance is essential for extending battery life to its maximum (four to five years) and keeping costs in line (golf cart batteries can run upwards of $800). There art two main areas of maintenance for golf cart batteries: adequate water levels and properly tightened connections.
When performing battery maintenance, always observe safety precautions and wear safety glasses and rubber gloves. When in doubt, contact an authorized golf cart dealership or qualified mechanic.
1. Check the Water Levels
Check water levels once per month and fill only with distilled water – add just enough water to cover the plates. However, Sappington says there is more to battery maintenance than just filling the reservoirs with water. An improper fill can result in severe damage.
Because the byproducts of the electrochemical reaction that charges the batter are sulfuric acid and hydrogen gas, a battery without water can start to smoke and catch fire. Or explode with the force of a hand grenade.
“All you want to do is cover the plates so you leave room for the gases to expand,” he said. “If you fill it up to the top, the gases will try to escape, and then you have a mess.”
2. Check the Connectors
Check connectors for corrosion and to be sure they are tight. Also, make sure connections are free of dust and debris. Squirting a 50-50 solution of baking soda and water over battery connections minimizes corrosion and, along with properly tightened connections, ensures that the maximum available charge is drawn when plugged into an outlet.
Maintain Proper Air Pressure in the Tires
Just like on regular cars and trucks, an under- or over-inflated tire can wear unevenly, as well as hinder the performance of your golf carts. The air pressure should be checked monthly and filled to the manufacturer’s recommended specification, usually between 18-22 PSI.
Inspect the Brakes and Rear Differential
Bad brakes can not only be expensive but endanger a property’s staff and guests. About every six months, depending on use, the brakes should be cleaned and pads, drums, cables, and pedal adjusted. If the brake pedal is low and/or the brakes are squealing, get the golf cart checked out by a qualified technician.
The oil level on the rear differential, which drives the golf cart, should be checked every 12 months. Puddles of oil under the golf cart could mean that the differential is leaking and should be repaired.
Keep Your Golf Carts Clean
A clean, shiny golf cart not only makes a good impression with prospective residents but also helps ensure the life of the vehicle. Wash the exterior and also underneath, including behind each tire and wheel were muck and mud can collect. Also, clean off the battery compartment, ideally with air pressure. A water hose can be used but ensure that essential electrical components stay dry to avoid a short.
Does your apartment property maintain its fleet of golf carts beyond just plugging in the electric cord? Do you have an annual maintenance budget and schedule that you follow?