One of the essential components of a golf cart is the Solenoid. They are responsible for providing power from the battery's electrical current to the entire vehicle. Moreover, because of their dynamic nature, they need frequently replacing for proper functioning.
Using a bad solenoid may cause immeasurable problems irrespective of whether your golf is new or old, with the standard-issue being starting the vehicle. Bypassing solenoid can save you from starting and other issues related to power. This article takes you through how to bypass solenoid on a golf cart for uninterrupted and reliable functionality, but first things first.
What Is Golf Cart Solenoid, And What Does It Do?
A golf cart solenoid is a device that can make mechanical energy out of electrical power. It uses a magnetic field to create linear motion with electric current help. The device comes in the form of an electromagnet coil wire, with one of its main applications being powering a switch, the way a starter applies in any vehicle.
It acts as ignition in gas golf carts and as an electrical motor power circuit in an electric golf cart. Solenoids are essential to a golf cart's operation because they are the go switch that starts the vehicle moving.
How a Golf Solenoid Works
If you are using an electric golf cart, the inductive throttle sensor gives a signal that activates the cruise control and solenoid valve the minute you step on the pedal. The process works via a relatively low-power circuit that runs on the lower side of the solenoid, activating the solenoid steel rod and creating a circuit between the engine and the golf cart’s control systems. As soon as you let go of the pedal, the solenoid will shut off after a set time, saving battery life.
The process works relatively the same if you are using a gas golf cart. However, an inductive acceleration sensor has a microswitch that lights up when you press down on the accelerator pedal, sending power to the solenoid. The solenoid then takes advantage of this and connects the battery and starter by creating a circuit that activates the engine into getting the cart moving.
The Symptoms of a Failed Solenoid in a Golf Cart
You will know firsthand when you have a bad solenoid on your golf cart. Just like a dying a dying golf cart battery, the signs are worrying. The presence of a bad solenoid could only mean that you have a damaged solenoid coil. Ignoring the symptoms could lead to even worse issues that include the magnetic switch becoming defective. Reviving the solenoid would be useless at this time, and you may end up purchasing a new starter for your golf cart.
The symptoms of a bad solenoid in an electric golf cart are not as adverse as those of a gas golf cart are. However, that does not mean that the few problems you encounter are not worth worrying about.
The most apparent bad solenoid sign is the cart not starting after initiating the ignition process. Another sign of a bad solenoid on an electric golf cart is the overheating of contacts. Damage to them is also a sign of a bad solenoid.
If you use a gas golf cart, the first symptom that confirms the solenoid is bad if the engine fails to turn over because of the start failing to engage. The starter disconnects immediately after activating the cart's flywheel.
If the starter remains active after turning the engine off, it means that the contracts are not releasing because they have come together, which is an indication of a bad solenoid. Another sign that you have trouble with the solenoid is if the springs fail to get the pinion to its original working position.
Read next: How To Test Golf Cart Batteries
How to Test Defective Solenoid Valves on Golf Carts
It is relatively easy to check the solenoid valve failure on the golf cart, especially for DIY enthusiasts.
Step One: Obtain the right tools
First, prepare the appropriate tools needed for the process. The tools include a pair of gloves, safety glasses, tape, a voltmeter, and a wrench.
Step Two: Disconnect the wire from the solenoid valve
Disconnect the wire connected to the solenoid valve terminal from the starter or controller. Be sure to cover the ends of the wires with electrical tape to avoid accidents in the circuit, turn off the engine, and put the golf cart on neutral.
Step Three: Check each terminal
Take a voltmeter on the resistance level and touch each large terminal with a test wire with the key turned off. What you expect to find is a null value. Try the same operation with the access and forwarding settings enabled.
Step Four: (For the gas golf cart): Step on the accelerator and listen for a click
Step down gently on the accelerator and listen keenly for a click. Once you hear the clicking sound, check if the reading is less than 0.4 ohms. If the reading is higher, the valve will not work, and you will need to replace it. However, if it is less, you can relax because it means that it is working just fine.
Step Five: (For the electric golf cart): Check the voltmeter on the electric golf cart
If the solenoid does not click and makes no noise, use a voltmeter to measure the DC voltage in the 200 range. Turn on the ignition switch and observe the reading on the terminal at the same time. If it jumps up and shows full tension, the problem is with the magnet.
Read next: How to Arrange Golf Clubs in a Cart Bag
What Are The Causes Solenoid Failure?
The high current generated can cause arcing at the circuit board connection points inside the solenoid. As a result, over time, the plate or wire wears out, sometimes even breaking. A click made by the solenoid valve is the surest way to recognize this. At times, it usually works, while at other times, it does not work, which indicates complete failure occurring in the not too far future.
If the battery power or voltage is not enough to activate the solenoid valve, the solenoid valve will also stop working. The solenoid needs a specific voltage, and without that, it will not work.
Another reason the solenoid stops working is that the current power source cannot reach the coil. This happens if micro switches or limit switches and rocker switches (located on gas and F&R controls) or connecting cables prevent current from flowing to the solenoid valve. Current must flow through the switch to reach the coil for the solenoid to work.
Other types of solenoid valve failures include internal magnet pins and antifreeze plates. The solenoid valve is still working normally, but when the shift lever is in the R or F position, the vehicle starts to move on its own- referred to as "solenoid valve stuck."
It is potentially dangerous to fail to correct this problem in time because it can lead to the resistance coil turning red. When the golf cart reaches this state, ensure that it is in neutral each time you come to a stop. After that, you can correct the situation as soon as you possibly can to prevent further damage.
How To Bypass Solenoid On Golf Cart
Not every golf cart owner owns a voltmeter/multimeter, and some are not even willing to invest in one because they do not come too cheaply. It is completely fine if you do not have one because you can bypass solenoid via other methods. Before bypassing the solenoid on a golf cart, ensure that it is an actual problem and not the other components of the golf cart.
The simplest other methods besides using a voltmeter that works best are connecting two large wires to the solenoid terminals and then attempting to operate the golf cart. If this does not work, you can rest assured that the solenoid is not the problem but something else in your cart. The first culprit could be the ignition system, so it should be the first component to test.
Other parts you need to check to include the microswitch and key switch. Checking the faults is not a walk in the park, so you have to maintain patience. If nothing works, your next best bet is to go off and get a multimeter. If your golf cart is electric, do not start jumping other components besides the solenoid and key switch.
Bypassing anything else on an electric golf cart is dangerous, and if you do not do things right, you might end up damaging several things in your cart. A multimeter is also necessary if you have an electric golf cart because it is safer to use than connecting wires.
It is also imperative to stay safe during the bypass process.
- Ensure that you stay safe during the testing and bypass process by taking the following measures:
- Before testing the solenoid, raise the rear wheel of your golf cart, ensuring they are entirely off the ground with stable support.
- Ensure that you have a working fire extinguisher nearby to prevent any accidental fires on your cart
- Accidental shorting of the wiring connections will very possibly lead to burns. Prevent this from happening by avoiding high voltage cars.
- When testing the solenoid for effectiveness or damage, ensure that you do it in a well-ventilated space and pay maximum attention to hydrogen gas and batteries. The two are prone to causing fires because even the slightest spark or flame can ignite the gas.
- Protect your hands from battery acid by wearing protective gloves the appropriate eyeglasses or goggles.
Read next: How Long Do Golf Cart Batteries Last
Where In The Golf Cart Are Solenoids Located?
Before testing and bypassing the solenoid, you need to know beforehand where to locate it on your golf cart. Solenoid comes with four-wire connections, referred to as terminals, and its location is under the seat of your golf cart. The four wires are made up of two large and two small wires.
When power or battery voltage goes to the two small terminals, they activate the solenoid, connecting the two large terminals. If there is a malfunction of the large terminals, you should replace the solenoids because it could be a sign of exhaustion.
Wrapping it up
How to bypass a solenoid on a golf cart might look like such a complex and expensive process, but it is straightforward, and a solenoid is one of the cheapest components of a golf cart. A malfunctioning solenoid will lead to your golf cart breaking down or malfunctioning. If you cannot do the bypass by yourself, do not hesitate to call an expert to do it for you to avoid any accidents or further damage to your cart.