Ok, so I bit the bullet and bought six new gel batteries for my recently-purchased 2005 Gem. I learned something, so a report is in order:
The two outside front batteries were easy enough to extract by removing the hold-down bar (had to remove one side of each battery handle hinge to get it out, then replace them so as to use for lifting), tilting the battery vertically and with a little wiggling and muscle pull them up and out. It had been suggested that the two middle front batteries would come out in similar fashion. However, a couple tries showed that method not too workable, as I found it impossible to get the two middle front units up or out past the brackets, stays, chassis structure, brake cables, etc. And, even if they had, the hold-down bar for rear two was almost inaccessible, requiring reaching around the rear wheels/tires into a very small space to unbolt and then extract the hold-down bar. And the fight to somehow push the two rear batteries forward into the space where the two middle front batteries would have been (if they had come out the front) looked to be, well, a long shot at best, and then they still would have to be wrestled out with the same difficulties as enjoyed in extraction of the two middle front ones.
But after staring at the scene for a few minutes (as in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance) I suspected that it would be easy to remove the rear ‘spat’ (it was…10 easy-to-remove bolts), which then allowed open space and easy access to the rear battery hold-downs and the bar and so made it very easy to remove the hold-down and get the two rear batteries out the back. Then I lifted a little bit and pushed the two middle front batteries back through the rear space where the 2 rear batteries had been–again, relatively easy.
Then I reversed the process and installed the new set without difficulty. And I was off at full-speed, no error messages, no problem.
Until I ran the car about 5 miles and was going along at maybe 30 mph when I heard some weird noises up front, lost about 1/2 power and saw a yellow wrench on the lcd display and what I think was the code 81 at the top of the display (no more speed readout). I limped back home, shut it down.
The manual says code 81 is a problem with the the tachometer. But would that result in loss of power and weird noises coming from the motor area? When I insert the key and turn it on now, there is no wrench, no error code, the display looks normal. But as I start out (in R, L or H), the car loses power completely and displays the yellow wrench and the code 82, which reads “armature current exceeds 280 amps for 3.5 seconds and the accelerator pedal is calling for maximum performance in the control mode”. Huh?
So–has anyone experienced anything like this? I can’t really describe very well the noise I heard when this happened except to say it sounded kind of metallic and it was clear something was wrong. I don’t see anything unusual in that area now to report.
Any suggestions for the next step in trying to figure this out? Thanks.