Here I will combine various posts on important safety issues encountered when operating and repairing GEM NEVs.
Battery acid is dangerous. Batteries can explode if shorted or badly overcharged. If a battery feels hot to the touch, is leaking acid, smells like rotten eggs, or is making a noticeable hissing sound, you should turn off the charger and open the master disconnect switch. Always wear safety goggles and protective clothing when working around batteries. Use insulated tools to avoid shorting the terminals. 72 volts is enough to cause electric shock, especially in damp conditions. Flooded batteries will leak if tipped over. Do not attempt to charge batteries if the acid is frozen. Allow them to completely thaw out. Better yet, keep them charged to prevent freezing. Battery terminals contain lead. Wash hands after handling. Do not replace the battery cables with thinner cables, such as those used on golf carts. These thinner cables will overheat.
Throttle and switches:
Any electric vehicle should have at least two ways of disconnecting power in the event of a runaway. These include the key switch, parking brake interlock, and the master switch. If the foot pedal spring breaks, the GEM will take off at full power. Always be ready to react in the unlikely event this happens. We have had two spring failures on four GEMs over ten years and 20,000 combined miles. Test the parking brake interlock by pulling the brake while applying throttle to make sure the power shuts off. Be sure the charger interlock is working by attempting to drive with the charger plugged in. The GEM should not move. Do not bypass safety switches. If this is necessary to diagnose electrical issues, raise and support the front wheels to prevent runaway.
The GEM parking brake requires frequent adjustment. A GEM cannot be stopped by putting it in gear, so the brakes must work. The hydraulic wheel cylinders will eventually leak, so check the brakes if more than usual pedal effort is needed. Due to age, check the flexible brake hoses. The front hoses on newer disc brake models are most susceptible to UV damage. After more than a decade, the brake fluid will need to be flushed out and bled. Wear eye protection around brake fluid and keep containers sealed because brake fluid will absorb water. Use only DOT 3 brake fluid in the GEM. DOT 5 fluid is not compatible. The GEM brakes were not designed for high speeds. A modified GEM driven faster will take longer to stop than many automobiles.
Tires and suspension:
Some GEMs are now well over ten years old. Inspect the rubber suspension bushings. Most of our four GEMs have had them replaced. These bushings are now available from the dealers. If your front tires are crooked, have the suspension repaired as this makes the GEM handle poorly at speed. Inspect the steering and suspension parts for wear. Remember that 12" tires can be hard to find at most auto repair shops. A spare is a good idea.
Towing and storage:
Rule number one is to only tow the GEM facing forward on the tow truck or trailer. If the GEM is reversed, air pressure created at high speeds will blow out the windshield. Also, I suggest removing the links back and securing this inside the GEM. Jacks are for lifting and not for supporting the GEM while repairing. Don’t let the GEM sit all winter. Exercise is important for several reasons. The charger should be cycled to keep the batteries charged. Check this even if your charger cycles automatically. The brakes should get used to prevent frozen parts and fluid leaks. Block the wheels and release the parking brake during storage. This will prevent the cables from stretching.