I apologize if this is covered before. I searched through the other threads and didn’t see it, but honestly a little overwhelmed with HOW much info is on this site!
We have a 2001 GEM e825 2 seater with the flat bed. It came with the house when we purchased in 2018 and the owner said then he ‘recently’ put brand new batteries in it…No idea what ‘recent’ means.
It first did not work and we found rats had made a nest in it. Cleaned that out and it worked great for about 1 year then started throwing a -15 which I am aware is a low battery fault. I’d charge it and it’d throw the fault. We stopped using it. It has now sat for over a year collecting dirt and black widows and generally annoying me I can’t use it.
Question for the forums then is - what is the best way to start here? What I have done so far is I independently charged the batteries - got all 6 to 12V, drove it 100 yards and it threw the -15 fault and died. 2 batteries were reading 12v, the other 4 were all sub 10. I’m a little nervous dropping $800-1000 on batteries and potentially having other issues. Any tests I can run to be certain it’s just a battery issue? How do we rule out charger issue (a little concerned about the rodent issue but it did charge OK for a while after the nest was cleaned out)? As far as I know everything is original. The OG owner doesn’t strike me as someone who would have modded it.
Its current batteries are Duracell SLI31MDC Group 31 12 volt deep cycle marine, boat and RV battery (came with it). I don’t want to go down the rabbit holes of upgrades and different batteries and chargers. I just want this nice little ranch cart to be back in operation!
TIA for any advice you can provide. And again, apologies if this is a redundant question.
I would agree with @Inwo you need a full set of new batteries. Trojan flooded lead acid are the OEM install and run around $200 a battery. If rodents have nested, you’ll need to check under dash for any wire damage, and confirm the make of the onboard charger, and it’s algorithm setting must match the batteries you install. Any other types of FLA batteries will never work as well or last as long.
All the power cable connections need to be clean and bright when you install the new batteries.
It sounds like the motor brushes aren’t frozen if you can run it, that’s an issue some times when they sit and decay.
I have done two 2001-2002 carts in condition as you mentioned. First time I went thru two sets of Trojan FLA batteries and once I converted to lithium (with the help of members on this forum) I never went back to FLA. They are a maintenance nightmare and so easy to ruin (mainly by inadequate water level maintenance) as well as the acid eats anything and everything it fumes on or contacts.
On my second cart went straight to the lithium batteries and have had no issues. If you want to keep the cart and use it (letting them sit idle is very bad, they need to move just like a human) I would strongly encourage you consider conversion.
If you take it on the highway, I also strongly suggest you do a disc brake upgrade since stopping is as important as going.
Finally run your VIN at nhtsa.gov and confirm the recalls have been completed for the parking brake and DC/DC converter. Polaris will do for free if not.
Thanks for the responses. Will work on batteries. I was able to individually charge each battery and drive it a very short distance before it died so it does move! I have never taken it on a major road and don’t foresee needing too.
When it was working we used it quite often just not for long distances and not daily. I used it for grabbing hay bales to fill feeders every other day, moving jumps in the arena or on weekends moving stuff around the property.
My back has definitely missed it for those applications but we’ve made do without it for the past year. I am at this point that if we can get it working without an enormous amount of effort and significant investment I’d gladly do that because it is super useful as a ranch UTV. Once these vehicles are up and running are they relatively easy to maintain? or are we looking at something that’s always in need of something?
Every other day is fine, depending on weather here in So Calif I drive ours 2-4 times a week, on the street and range out 2-10 miles. Can certainly understand how on a ranch it would be useful. (In the “old days” didn’t the animals do the work?) it’s sitting for weeks and not being charged that will get both batteries and mechanical equipment.
Can understand also not wanting a money pit. Maintenance wise a set of compatible gel or AGM cells maybe your best option. It won’t have the water level issue that FLA batteries have. You will need to have the charger algorithm changed (depending on the charger can be quite wonky but not impossible for you to do), there’s good info on how to on this site caveat being what brand of charger you have and what algorithms are available.
Thanks for the responses and advice. And yes! I’m the work horse on this ranch. The horses have it WAY better than those in the old days
We weighed swapping to a different kind of battery and reprogramming etc. but decided to start with FLAs since we sourced those easily locally and weren’t as expensive. We aren’t against regular maintenance and leaving things to sit for a year is not our MO. There were a lot of things the old owner left for us that ended up being a huge headache so it became something neither of us wanted to deal with! Our game plan is do the routine maintenance with the FLAs and see how it goes with the use of the vehicle. Love the flat bed, range and speed aren’t an issue, so when batteries are up we will make decision to keep and upgrade or sell it.
This weekend we took it apart and cleaned all the cables and wires, vacuumed and cleaned every nook and cranny. Surprisingly only 3 wires were damaged. Got those replaced, got the FLAs in and it charged and runs! Two days in its working great and looks almost new.
A few more questions: I read you always plug it in after use. But is that the case even if I’ve driven it like 1/4 of a mile and still reading 100%?
I want to put it on a timer to charge (we have the EV charging rate) and I have a 3 prong timer but my husband was concerned the car may try to pull too much current and fry the timer/my barn. Recommendations on a timer setup?
Then final stupid issue: The side mirror popped off the mount. Anyway way to get the ball joint back in the mount??
I just lubed mine with some oil and jammed it back on.
Good luck, let us know how it goes this summer and be sure to watch the water levels on the batteries, replace with distilled water and don’t let the plates get exposed.
Don’t know what type of charger you have. Label on our QuikQ says it pulls 12a @ 120v. If you use an extension cord, a 12 gauge 3 wire is recommended. Never had an issue pulling too much on our circuit but what else is connected can make a difference. They don’t require much power.
Duracell SLI31MDC is an East-Penn Deka battery. It’s the same battery as the NAPA 8231, O’Reilly Auto 31DCM. Deka sells it as the DC31DT. Good battery for the coin. Rodney swears by them. Not a Trojan, but nothing else is either.
15 amp heavy duty timer would work to cycle the charger on once every 7 days or so to top off the batteries during the seasons where the cart sits. A number of people do this. As for a timer to stop the charge, all of the GEM chargers shut off and a few go to trickle once they are done.
Hi, sorry I’ve been meaning to respond back but it’s been a busy two weeks for us. I looked at the charger, and from the pictures I saw in other threads, I do not appear to have the dial on top of our unit to change anything. But admit I am way out of my depth when it comes to batteries. We replaced them with what was in it. The original owner said he had replaced them within the past 1-2 years. They are FLAs.
Little update - so far it’s been going well. Really like having it back in service bc moving hay bales and jumps is SO much easier now. That said even with using it daily and finding excuses to drive it to the neighbors or letting my son learn how to drive it, we don’t put much drain on it at all. At all, at all. I’ve charged it twice in 20 days when it finally dipped below 95% (I read on a thread somewhere on here that said not to charge it above 95%). Is this ok?
Also anyone have experience putting a hitch on these? I found one that says it will work. I’m getting a small 4’x8’ trailer to hold my jumping poles that says it can be pulled by an ATV. I have a hitch for our tractor, but it would be neat if the GEM could pull it bc then all the standards (vertical part that holds the poles) go in the bed of the GEM and the poles go on the trailer. It won’t be a ton of weight or going out on open road.