2008 eL Yellow Turtle after FULL CHARGE 6 miles

I’ve got a '08 eL that started doing this a few weeks ago. The vehicle had mixed gel and wet batteries in when I got it a year ago and never had this problem. I go 3 miles at full speed 26mph and then after a FULL CHARGE when I started out I get the yellow turtle and a red bar and I barely make it home. I disconnected all batteries and put a load test on each replacing two recently with 31 marine deep cells wet. Full charge same thing. It’s got the stock charger in I’m sure. How can I fix this problem?
Thank you VERY much for any assistance.

PS: I’d just as soon be done with it and bring it to someone in my area to fix it, but I’m in the middle of nowhere in Central Wisconsin and can’t find anyone reputable with knowledge of the GEM to bring it to or call.

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Thanks for the reply! I’ll check the date codes on the gel bats and see what’s up. I’m sure they’re original and since it’s an '08 that would put them at 5 years old.

I just wasn’t sure if using the stock factory charger made any difference because there is a mix of gel and wet bats in the GEM, or if it was some kind of regulator.

Why would the batteries test good under load test if they are no good? Just being old they won’t hold a full charge anymore?


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I’ll throw my $.02 in here as well.

I agree with GTMO-GEM on replacing all 6 batteries at one time. I once had a set of 2 1/2 year old Interstate Marine batteries and one cell in one battery died one day and left me stranded on the road. I replaced just that one battery ($125) to save money and continued to have problems with other batteries in the string. When the 2nd battery died just a few weeks later I decided I wasn’t going to nickel/dime this and replaced all of them with new Trojan 30XSH and have been happy ever since.

I think what happens is when you have one weak sister in the string, it puts an undue load on all the other batteries in the string.

My rules are:

  1. I won’t use marine grade batteries any longer even if they’re labeled “deep-cycle”. I think they’re just not up to the demand placed on them by the application. That’s just penny wise and pound foolish.
  2. When one goes, replace them all. I don’t want any weak sisters.
  3. I personally use Trojan batteries (they’re expensive but “industrial grade”) but others have success with other brands and Trojan batteries aren’t available everywhere.
  4. Recharge after every use.
  5. Don’t run the batteries below 50%.
  6. I use flooded lead acid batteries and religiously check the fluid levels every month.
  7. When not using for extended periods of time (over the winter), every two weeks I unplug the charger, wait a couple minutes and re-engage the charger - even though the charger has a “maintenance charge”. This step forces the charging cycle to restart which helps eliminate stratification and sulfation which shortens battery life substantially.


I’m impressed with the concise help that I’ve been given here. I sincerely appreciate it. One question though, if I have all wet deep cells do I have to change the charger algorithm? I presume since some of the original GEM gels are in there it is set for Gel?

Thanks for all that extremely valuable information. It’s really helpful to me. I think I’m going to find the best battery I can get in my area and take your suggestion and buy 6 with the same date code.
I also appreciate the tip on unplugging every two weeks during winter storage. We have long winters up here in Central Wisconsin and it’s on the charger for at least 4-5 months.

[quote=Grumpy;17132]I’m impressed with the concise help that I’ve been given here. I sincerely appreciate it. One question though, if I have all wet deep cells do I have to change the charger algorithm? I presume since some of the original GEM gels are in there it is set for Gel?

If you have a Zivan charger the answer is yes you’ll have to change the algorithm. However, I don’t think that’s something you can do, it will have to be sent somewhere to have it done.

I’ve sent mine to be upgraded to Electric Conversions, here’s the link.


They do great work and have a quick turn around.


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You posted your yellow turtle/ red bar problem 4 months ago. Did you ever find out the problem. I know there was a lot of discussion on the batteries. I was wondering if it needed a new charger? Because when mine had these symptoms, the problem was the charger and not the batteries. But I’m the original owner and knew the battery history, which was that I had replaced my batteries with GEL just like the original GELs. O’Reilly’s Auto Parts gave me a deal at $1000 for all 6. By the way I have an GEM '08 with 5600 miles and original batteries. The batteries are now 5 1/2 years old and still performing well, I just don’t get as far of a range out of them. Range now is about 23 miles, but I rarely go as much as 17 miles before getting back to an outlet. Mostly, I’m home after 7 miles and I plug it in. Like ARandall said above, I charge my GEM every time it is not in use. His advice to recharge after every use is my habit and I like his advice about not letting them go below 50%.

Hello, I am having the same issue as mentioned above. I have a 2007 GEM e4 with only 345 miles on it. The previous owner replaced the batteries last April to Polaris gel batteries. Since I have purchased this I have had nothing but headaches. I make it about 4-5 miles before I see the turtle icon. Thinking it was a battery issue from not properly being maintained I took all six of them to a Polaris dealer and had them run test. Turns out one failed the test. Problem solved right? WRONG! I literally just drove 6 miles and BOOM here we go again with the turtle. I’ve check every connection on the batteries and all looks good. No heat, everything’s shinny and looks to be correct. I even popped the dash open to see if there was a loose connection causing the quick drop in voltage. Once again I don’t see anything out of the ordinary. Does anyone have any suggestions on what this could be? I hear the factory chargers are not the greatest and I have no problem upgrading to the better version but I’m not so sure that’s the issue. I don’t need a 25 mile range but I should clearly have a better range with this vehicle. It’s in perfect condition with batteries less than a year old…. Any help is greatly appreciated. Thank you

Don’t know if you took the batteries out or not but you did verify that the batteries are connected end to end (+ to -) correctly? If you get one battery backwards, it subtracts from the overall voltage and you’ll end up with something less than a nominal 72v and THAT will give you a turtle for certain.

Assuming they are all installed correctly:

  1. I’d try charging the batteries overnight using the onboard charger. Verify that you don’t have any error indicated on the charge after doing this step.

  2. Using an inexpensive hydrometer from an auto parts store, I’d check the specific gravity on all 36 cells to verify they are all fully charged. If more than a couple are not fully charged, I’d question the charger.

  3. I’d wait a couple of hours (to see if they self-discharge over time) and then using an inexpensive voltmeter test the voltage on each battery. They should all be 12.7 volts more or less.

  4. Assuming all the batteries are showing 12.7v more or less, I’d use the voltmeter again and check the entire string end to end. It should be 72v to 76v more or less. Anything less could indicate a broken battery wire, corrosion, etc. You’ll get the Turtle when the voltage drops too low [B]ON THE ENTIRE STRING[/B] be it due to a bad battery, corrosion, broken wiring, etc.

If the hydrometer or voltmeter shows that one battery is “bad”, I’d try charging just that one battery using an automotive charger on it for an hour or two and repeat the tests.

If all else failed or the results are inconclusive I’d take my GEM to the dealer (not just the batteries) and have them test all the batteries again. In general I’ve found that when you replace one bad battery, another is sure to follow shortly thereafter.

By the way unless I had a dated receipt for the “Polaris GEL batteries”, I’d take the previous owner’s story with a grain of salt. Given the expense of new batteries ($1000-$1200), I’d be very suspicious, especially when the guy is trying to sell the vehicle to me. Some people aren’t above telling a good story to get top dollar.

Good luck,


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Hello and thank you for responding. Yes I took out all the 70 pound batteries ha ha. I believe I have them wired properly. I took pictures before I removed them. By chance so you have a wiring diagram?
When I take a pack voltage reading I’m pulling a surface reading of 79.8v
To address the battery’s they were purchased April 24th 2013 and was provided a receipt from the dealer. They are truly less than a year But! I don’t think they we left plugged in and properly maintained.
So far I have done everything by the book including running a separate 15amp outlet with a 12 gauge extension cord for charging.
I will dig into the hydrometer to see what that generated for results.
No error codes displaying other than the turtle after 4-6 miles.
I do drive on the high speed setting but I know I should get a better range than that.
With a 2007 that literally was hardly used (less than 400 miles now) I don’t understand how I’m having these issues.
I really appreciate the help AL. Thank you

I’d unplug after charging, leave it set with nothing turned on and wait maybe 8 hours and then read the pack voltage again. It shouldn’t be much less than the voltage after charging (though 79.8v seems high unless read [U]immediately [/U]after charging). Something like 76v would be more normal. If it’s dropped quite a bit (less than 72v), then something is discharging the pack incorrectly even when you’re not running down the road. Your pack should hold a charge for a couple of days before self-discharging becomes an issue.

Assuming it’s not a failed battery, then something is obviously drawing too much power and running down the batteries. If you have any accessories like a heater or radio, I’d physically disconnect them (not just turn off) those as well to eliminate the possibility that one of these accessories is drawing power from your pack.

You might want to measure the pack voltage when you get the turtle to see what it reads to eliminate the possibility that it’s an invalid error code sensing low voltage rather than an actual problem with low voltage.


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No, I never DID get it fixed. ALL of the dealers, self admitted, in my area feel “unqualified”. Why are they Polaris dealers then.

What I’ve done since this original post, is to replace ALL 6 batteries with deep cell wet marine batteries. I changed the charger algorythm to the correct charge mode, and I still get the same thing. I load tested each battery and they’re all fine. I’m getting 2 red error blinks on the charger intermittently, but whether I get a charger error or not, I still get the same results.

Shows full charge then less than a mile or 2 later, red bar and turtle.
No error codes on the LCD.
I’ve been through all the main power breaker off, key on routines etc, none of it works.

Does anyone have a picture of the batteries hooked up so I can double check cable routing? Or a schematic. If someone does, I would like to know WHERE to test with multi meter for 72V. Everywhere I test I get 38.*v.

I checked continuity on all cables and they’re good.

I don’t know if my controller or charger is crapped out, but I’m suspecting it’s one of them.

It’s been a year now since I’ve been messing with this thing. If I had a reputable dealer that could service it nearby I would just bring it there. I’ve had it with this thing.


You should be able to measure the entire pack voltage under the dash near the fuse block. In my car, there are two heavy gauge wires; one is the plus side and the other negative. I can measure the voltage across those wires and it should be 72v plus or minus when the charger is not plugged in. When the charger is plugged it, it measures a few volts higher than that. If it’s something substantially other than that, something is amiss. 38v is way too low of a reading.

If you have a battery in the string backwards, that would subtract the battery voltage from the pack and cause a low voltage reading. All the batteries should be wired in series with the plus side of one battery connecting to the minus side of the next. I’ve seen a wiring “picture” showing a rough schematic of how the batteries are wire and positioned. It is posted somewhere on this website.