Why Do Golf Carts Have Windshields? (Explained)
I was riding in a golf cart yesterday and noticed that it didn’t have a windshield. Where before, almost all golf carts I had been on previously had windshields.
But why do golf carts have windshields?
As a general rule, golf carts are manufactured as open-air vehicles for the occupants to enjoy the breeze when driving but can also protect occupants from the extreme sunlight or bad weather conditions.
But beyond protection, there are a few other reasons why golf carts have windshields. Let’s dive in.
Essential Facts About Golf Cart Windshields
I’m accustomed to a certain type of windshield on vehicles and other automobiles. However, there’s a growing trend of equipping golf carts with windshields for different reasons. Here are some interesting facts about golf cart windshields;
Why Do Golf Carts Have Windshields?
Contrary to popular opinion, federal regulations to equip golf carts with windshields have been in place since 1998. Most golf carts have a top speed of less than 15 miles per hour which is relatively safe (even for dogs) for golf course use.
But there has been a growing use for golf carts, especially for short trips such as shopping, social and recreational. Driving them on the roads creates a significant risk than driving on flat golf courses.
Some golf cart users have also modified the vehicles with bigger tires and speed governor removal to increase speed. With the golf carts attaining top speeds of up to 25 miles per hour, they become low-speed vehicles.
Low-speed vehicles are under the category of ordinary automobiles, with the 1998 NTHSA requiring them to have speed belts and windshields, among other things.
Golf carts are relatively affordable, depending on the material. Polycarbonate windshields are the most expensive compared to acrylic ones.
The volume also matters, with thicker windscreens being more expensive than the thinner ones. Hinges, too, can determine the windshield prices depending on whether they are low quality or high quality.
But keep in mind that cheap is always expensive.
Most Window Cleaning Products Aren’t Suitable for Your Golf Cart Windshields
Eager to keep my golf cart windshield clean, I bought a couple of fancy window cleaners. I ended up doing more harm than good.
Some windshield materials like Plexiglass are tough but vulnerable to scratching. Commercial window cleaner brands corrode and weaken the acrylic sections of the windshields.
Next time you clean your golf cart windshield, a solution of warm water and a mild soap will do. Dry with a chamois or soft cloth after rinsing.
How Many Types of Windshields Are There?
If you were wondering why golf carts have windshields, you must also want to know the types of windshields. Golf carts are classified according to their mode of installation and customization.
The following list explains five types of windshields in detail:
Roll-up windshields are “instant” windshields because they are highly portable. They are easy to install and pull down and, when folded, easily fit into your golf bag.
Roll-up windshields are made of clear vinyl. I love bringing one along during golf cart excursions because it makes the ride more comfortable, providing an instant shield from rain and wind.
Roll-up windshields are also cheap to top it all.
Split/ Hinged / Folding Windshield
Split windshields are more permanent compared to roll-up windshields. Depending on your taste and preferences, you can fold them down or leave them up.
Typically, they are divided into two equal sections and joined with hinges allowing the user to open the lower section while leaving the upper section.
One-piece windshields are similar to the hinged ones, only that, in this case, they are not split in the middle. You can open or close it as one piece because it is only hinged on one end.
Like most windshields, they are made of either polycarbonate or acrylic, or a combination of both. Often, they will outlast the split windshields because they have no hinge in the middle, which the sun’s ultraviolet rays can easily damage.
Winged windshields are engineered to deflect more air protecting both the driver and the passengers. Featuring additional side wings by up to 1/4 inch, winged windshields deflect more wind and rain, assuring the passengers a comfortable ride.
Due to their complex details, they only come as a single piece or fold down.
Sport windshields are fancy golf cart windshields made from clear or tinted materials supported by stainless steel, aluminum, or chrome posts.
One rule to apply during purchase is that windshields come in different materials and sizes depending on the golf cart model and year of make. Additionally, you can get one specifically tailored to suit your golf cart.
What About Hinges?
Golf carts aren’t manufactured with windshields like traditional automobile windshields. Therefore, golf cart windshield manufacturers add hinges for easier attachment and removal. These hinges pair well with sashes or struts which attach to either side of the windshield.
One disadvantage with hinges is that they break apart from wear and tear due to heat and sun exposure because they are made of PVC. If you live in extremely hot states, you better invest in high-quality hinges for your golf cart windshield.
Good hinges feature pre-drilled holes and other accessories, including clips for easier installation and operation.
What Are Golf Cart Windshields Made Of?
Golf cart windshields are composed of 3 different basic materials, some more durable than others. They include;
Acrylic is a strong plastic you’ll find in most golf cart windshields. The best part is that it’s the hardest material of all windshield materials and is very cheap to manufacture.
While acrylic is cost-effective, it has a much lower shatter resistance, making it vulnerable to golf balls, rocks, and other hard flying projectiles. A golf ball went through my first acrylic windshield.
However, acrylic has excellent scratch resistance capabilities, which is perfect for parents with smaller children.
This type of acrylic is more scratch-resistant and safer compared to pure acrylic. Rubber is mixed with plastic during the manufacturing phase, resulting in a more scratch-resistant variant.
The procedure isn’t fail-proof but results in a safer windshield. It will still crack on impact but will not shatter, making it a much safer option.
However, the added rubber softens the overall windshield structure, which calls for careful cleaning and maintenance to avoid more scratches. It will also cost a bit more than pure acrylic, and it is upon the user to make a wise decision about whether it’s worth it.
Polycarbonate is the most expensive golf cart windshields materials because it is durable. Polycarbonate windshields are safer than acrylic and impact-modified acrylic because it doesn’t break on direct impact from a golf ball.
The non-breaking capabilities lie in its softness, which ensures it doesn’t shatter following a direct hit. It is also expensive compared to the previous two options.
High-quality golf cart windshields combine acrylic and polycarbonate plastics, making them scratch resistant and harder to crack.
How Wide Are Golf Cart Windshields?
There are several types of golf carts windshields depending on model, year, budget, driving conditions, and other personal preferences.
Generally, golf cart windshields have a top half-width of 39 3/8 inches at the widest point and 38 1/2 inches at the narrow end.
The bottom half is always slightly wider, with 41 1/8 inches at the widest point and 39 3/4 inches on the narrowest side.
Typically, the thickness is between 3/16 inches and a quarter-inch, and the height is approximately 31 inches.
Windshields on golf carts are not necessary, but it does make life easier when facing the elements.
When you are golfing, they always remind you that they serve no protection from a errand ball flying in on you, so always be aware of that.
You can check out some windshields that fit most golf carts here on Amazon.