Newbie Battery Question

Newbie 2008 GEM e2 owner (inherited it from my Papa who recently passed)

It sat for the last 3-4 months (winter) and being the EV virgin I am, I didn’t know I was supposed to keep it charged. Therefore, the car is dead (shocker).

I left the Maintenance Switch on all winter, and now when I try to charge it, there’s no charging - no lights, nothing.

I turned the switch to ‘Off’ and checked the voltage of the batteries (gel) under the seat and in the back. They all say 5.35 volts. I checked the front battery under the hood (or whatever it is where all the batteries feed into) and it read on the voltage meter from 0 all the way up to 178 and back down again, which we thought was odd (is that normal?).

[B]Bottom line: Are the batteries dead, or can they be saved?[/B] I can’t afford to buy new ones so this very well may determine if I can keep this car or not.

I will be calling the place who originally sold my Papa the batteries on Tuesday, but I’m very interested to get your perspectives as well.

Please be kind, I’m new at this. :slight_smile:

Hi, try charging the batteries individually with a separate 12 volt car charger. The charger in the car doesn’t like to charge the batteries if they are to low or high. Then plug the car in to see if it will do a final charge. The screen on the dash should come on while charging and turn off when done. Make sure the "on off switch is off when charging with the outside car charger, and on when charging with the GEMs charger. There are some lights on the GEMs charger that may also help, but that’s for after you try charging. Good luck! Barry.

Check that front battery again - also the connections.

The only GEM servicer in the state (which happens to be 2 hours away - ugh!) recommended the same thing about charging each battery individually with a 12V car charger. If that doesn’t work, we’ll have to get new batteries. We’ll try that tonight and see what happens.

Cross fingers!!!

Just to clarify, the “on/off” (master) switch discussed is under the seat. It is NOT the keyed switch on the column.

You’ll need to individually charge each battery for a couple of hours (maybe more) to bring each one up to a “reasonable” state of charge before the onboard charger will work correctly.

wait, what?

  1. Turn [U]off[/U] the master switch (under the seat). This breaks the battery to battery (i.e. the pack) circuit so each battery can be charged individually using your 12v charger (assuming these are 12v gel batteries).
  2. Charge each battery individually for a couple of hours (or more) to bring each battery up to “near full charge”. Make sure to get the ± connections correct!! When I did this once it took a couple of iterations over several days to bring the batteries up to full charge.
  3. Turn [U]on[/U] the master switch (under the seat).
  4. Plug in the onboard charger and let it cycle through a charge cycle. You should see some lights on the dash OR the charger flashing to let you know all is working.

The onboard charger won’t engage if the total voltage of the pack is too low. Charging each battery individually should bring the pack voltage up sufficiently (somewhere near 68v-72v) to allow the onboard charger to take over and finish the charging process.

I see you’re in Lakewood, CO. If batteries freeze (i.e. not charging and temperature gets below freezing), they’re toast and will need to be replaced. Also if they not charged regularly, they will self-discharge over time and if the master switch is left on, their is some drain from the onboard circuitry which will hasten this discharge. I live in a cold-weather state and personally keep my GEM plugged in all winter and cycle the charger a couple of times per month. Want to keep the batteries warm and “bubbling” all winter to prevent sulfation, stratification and freezing (also checking fluid levels in my FLA batteries). Battery life and replacement costs are big issues to me.

Incidentally if you need to replace the batteries, you can do it yourself if you’re reasonably handy or know someone who is. Mechanically it’s not too challenging as long as you get them hooked up correctly in sequence and tied down (suggest taking pictures and make good notes before removing the old batteries). Save you hauling your GEM to the dealer and paying “top dollar” if you can find the correct batteries locally.


I believe the master switch is in the middle of the lower white dashboard in the locked compartment where the fuses are located. I have a 2007 E2 and the 2008 should be the same. Earlier models may have the switch under the seat. You should turn the switch to off if you are working under the seat near the batteries. Safety first. Barry🚄

Ok, the switch I know about is the one in the low part of the dash near the fuses. Is that the same one you’re talking about? I don’t know of any master switch under the seat and there isn’t anything mentioned in the manual.

I stand corrected!! On my 2001 GEM, it’s under the seat. Concept is the same in either case.


Ok cool - thanks Barry!!

Yes! None under the seat.:bullettrain_side:

I charged one battery last night. It started at 5.74v around 8pm and I charged it using 12v Low on my charger. This morning around 7:30am it was at 12.24v!! Not sure how a 12v battery can be above 12v, but I’m not complaining!

It looks like this procedure should work. I’m charging the second battery today - it started at 4.7v this morning, so we’ll see what happens.

Thanks everyone for your advice! Cross fingers that the other batteries recover the same way!

Keep in mind that these batteries are meant for high input/high output. I’m not sure if charging them on a lower (less than 8amp) charge will do any harm if done once, but it will hurt them if you are continuously recharging at this low setting. If you have to do again, I would recommend charging each at the higher charge setting on your charger (8 amp or higher).

Once I charge the batteries back up to normal, I’m going to use the plug-in charger. The low-volt charge is just to bring the batteries back up to normal. The GEM service guy recommended that to protect the batteries from too much voltage and shocking them or something.

Just curious if you go back to the battery that was charged last night, is it still holding approx. 12v?

Since it will take you a few days to run through all 6 batteries individually, by the 6th day, the first battery might or might not have “run down”. If it’s no good for some reason, I’d expect it wouldn’t hold a charge. If it’s good but just discharged, I’d expect it to hold something close to 12v after you’ve charged them individually.

Good luck with this process.

FYI a fully charged 12 volt battery can be 13.8 volts

I’ll check it when I go home tonight and keep checking the charged ones as I work my way through all 6 batteries. I’m keeping a spreadsheet of my progress.

Thanks for the FYI on the voltage.

We’re 2 of 3 so far. The first battery that charged up has decreased a little, but is holding steady around 11.5.

The second battery charged all day (starting at 4.7) and it hasn’t increased, so that one might be dead. We’re going to charge the rest of the batteries and maybe it’ll kick into gear when we charge it legit on the plug instead of the charger.

The third battery is charging seemingly successfully (my hubby didn’t document the starting voltage). I checked it after 2 hours on the charger and it was up to 9.6 or so, so if we can get that up to 12 tonight, we’ll move on to battery #4.

Thanks everyone for your advice!


I was able to charge the car overnight using the plug-in in the front! Only the 1 battery didn’t charge up.

I’m going to drive it tonight to make sure it works, but I think we avoided a major financial impact!

Thanks everyone so much for your advice!