Buying a golf cart can be great decision. They’re safer for the environment, fun to drive, and generally safer for you. However, there are a lot of things to consider before investing in a golf cart. Here are 11 things to know before buying a golf cart.
- 1. What do you need from it
- 2. Gas vs electric
- 3. Golf Cart vs Car
- 4. You’re Not Going Anywhere Fast
- 5. You’re Not Going Anywhere Far
- 6. Where can you drive it
- 7. Friends can tag along, but not for long
- 8. Maintenance costs
- 9. Weather becomes a bigger factor
- 10. Insurance
- 11. You will need a towing vehicle
- 12. Warranties
- 13. Bring your own tunes
- 14. Cost of a golf cart
- 15. You can customize your golf cart
- 16. Brands to consider
- 17. Where do I get replacement parts
- 18. New vs Used
- Final considerations
1. What do you need from it
This is the first and easiest consideration. Obviously, this is entirely dependent on you. Do you just want to scoot around your community, go off-roading, use it on your land, or some combination of those three? Maybe you have something else entirely in mind.
It’s important to know exactly what you’re expecting from the golf cart you plan on purchasing. My advice is to get something that can go a little beyond those expectations. This way, you have the option of taking your golf cart further than you originally planned.
2. Gas vs electric
Now that you know what you’re wanting, it’s time to move on to the harder questions. The first, and hardest to answer, is the age old debate of gas vs. electric. Both have their pros and cons, but ultimately it’s really up to you which is better.
- Longer range with ability to carry extra fuel.
- Generally more power.
- No charging downtime.
- Not environmentally friendly. While they use less fuel than a car, they have fewer emissions control devices, so they put out a lot of pollution. They also are noisy causing unnecessary noise pollution.
- Gas is more expensive than electricity.
- Frequent maintenance.
- Environmentally friendly with zero emissions and almost no noise.
- Little to no maintenance.
- Electricity is usually cheaper than gasoline.
- Not as long of a range, and carrying extra batteries is crazy expensive and much more dangerous than fuel.
- Lots of charging downtime.
- Usually not as much power as gas powered carts.
3. Golf Cart vs Car
This is an important consideration regarding the purchase of a golf cart. There are a lot of places a golf cart can go that a car cannot, and if living in a community, it is often easier and more economical to use a golf cart than a car. This again depends on you.
Maybe you’re already happy with your car for long trips, but you’re tired of buying all that gas for your short trip to the grocery store. Of course, you could get a fully electric car, but what about when you want to drive around your golf course? It’s important to decide if a golf cart is practical for your needs before buying, as a golf cart can cost just about as much as a cheaper car.
Check where the golf cart can be driven in your neighborhood. If your golf cart could be your grocery getter and daily driver for in-town trips, then it may be good for your car and wallet to go ahead and get that golf cart.
Maybe you just want to use it on your land as a tool. A golf cart has a smaller wheel base and slimmer profile than most cars, meaning it could get into tighter places than most other vehicles. A golf cart can usually carry and tow a lot more than a four wheeler as well. There is a reason you always see golf carts on construction sites, they can do a lot of things that a 4 wheeler or 4X4 truck can’t.
4. You’re Not Going Anywhere Fast
This probably isn’t an issue, but if you think you can get anywhere fast in a golf cart, then this might not be the vehicle for you. We like using it to cruise through music festivals or stroll to the beach from our campgrounds. And on the weekends, we use it to ride up to our favorite sports pub to meet friends.
5. You’re Not Going Anywhere Far
These are meant for short, leisure distances, so don’t think you’ll be able to go very far with your golf cart. If you choose the gas version, you’ll be able to go about 250 miles (with usually a 6 gallon tank). And with a fully charged set of batteries for the electric version, you can expect 25-40 miles.
6. Where can you drive it
This is a really good question since every city, town, county, and state has different regulations regarding golf carts. There are also different age restrictions for driving the golf cart. Most the time you can drive it on roads with low speed limits, in parks, on golf courses (obviously), around communities, and along trails that allow motorized vehicle use.
Always check your community’s/city’s regulations before driving your golf cart on streets or in parks, but if you plan on only using your golf cart on the course or on the trails for hunting and fishing, then there isn’t much to worry about.
Please use your golf cart responsibly on trails, however. Not doing so can lead to the banning of motorized vehicles on that trail, and everything you do in nature has a lasting impact. Make your impact a good one. Or at least a small one.
7. Friends can tag along, but not for long
Especially with the electric golf carts, the more weight you have on the cart, the slower it will go. It will also go shorter distances because of this. But the great thing is you’ll have friends tagging along for the ride.
8. Maintenance costs
Whether you buy a gas or electric, E-Z-GO, Yamaha, or Club Car golf cart, there will be maintenance costs. Tires, brakes, electrical components, battery maintenance, oil and other engine maintenance, lights, along with multiple other items that require replacement or repair relatively frequently. We detailed the top maintenance tips to for your golf cart .
These maintenance costs will be less on an electric golf cart, but they will still exist. You may have to replace controllers or batteries periodically, and that cost can run up pretty quickly. Thankfully, you can usually find remanufactured parts that are less expensive and better for the environment.
With a gas powered golf cart, you’re looking at all of the same maintenance and repair items as a car. Oil, filters, spark plugs, and gaskets will all have to be replaced from time to time to keep your golf cart in proper operating order. It should be noted that the maintenance costs will be drastically lower than that of a car, however. Tires are typically less than $50 each, and oil is basically the same price, but you use a lot less of it in such a tiny motor. Expect the same maintenance items as a car, but about half the cost.
9. Weather becomes a bigger factor
Unless you have a golf cart enclosure for your cart, you’re more at the mercy of the weather. Even if you do have a golf cart enclosure, you probably don’t have an AC so it can get stuffy in the cart. Especially in the hot Florida summers when it rains in the afternoons.
While insurance is generally not required for a golf cart, it can still be a good idea to purchase it. Golf carts are usually only involved in minor accidents, but in the rare occurrence that you accidentally damage someone’s property, or worse, injure someone, you’re obligation of reparation would be covered.
Similarly, if some strange occurrence like a storm or rogue falling branch causes accidental damage to your golf cart, your repairs would be covered further than a warranty that only covers manufacturing defects.
11. You will need a towing vehicle
You’ll likely want to tow the golf cart to the beach or the music festival, so you’ll need to make sure you have a vehicle that can tow it or a truck that you can fit the golf cart inside the bed.
Which brings up warranties. As with any large purchase, warranties are nice because they guarantee proper operation for a set period of time. Definitely consider getting the best warranty you can, but make sure the warranty is worth it.
Some companies will offer a limited lifetime warranty that doesn’t really cover very much and is dependent on strict adherence to maintenance guidelines. Go ahead and pass those up, but if you can get a warranty on a certified pre-owned golf cart, take it in a heartbeat. These will usually exceed the factory warranty if it still exists and guarantee proper operation of the cart for the life of the warranty. A great deal if you’re not a handy mechanic.
13. Bring your own tunes
There are plenty of after market accessories to outfit your golf cart and you’ll need them because most golf carts don’t come with a music system. The good thing about the accessories though is you’ll have your pick on how to mount the stereo. Many people for the easy to remove types that play music via bluetooth or easy to plugin to your phone.
14. Cost of a golf cart
We have covered the cost of the golf cart in greater detail here, but you should expect to spend at least $2000 on a decent, if very basic, used golf cart. Any less than that is usually a short-end-of-the-stick type deal. Of course, if you’re a good mechanic you can usually find a golf cart out of repair for less than $2000 and fix it up, but if you want a road ready golf cart, don’t go much lower than $2000.
In the $5000-$7000 range, a lot can be found. You can go anywhere from a really nice, if basic, new golf cart, to a really cool used golf cart full of bells and whistles. If you take it up to $10,000 you can get pretty much anything you need, including lifted, 4X4 golf carts with camo paint jobs, two row seating, and a small cargo bed.
It goes up from there to about $15,000 for a ridiculous golf cart with a front tool attachment or 3 row seating or something like that. Of course you can get all of those features used for less, but new gives you a great warranty and a lot more control over the maintenance life of the vehicle.
15. You can customize your golf cart
As with adding a music system, you can also add lights, enclosures, extended trailer system in the back. There’s so much you can do with your golf cart to personalize it. You can even think about painting it or adding golf cart wraps with your favorite colors. Many people like to change out the seat covers or add a flag to the roof.
16. Brands to consider
There are lots of brands for golf carts, but the big three are E-Z-GO, Club Car, and Yamaha golf carts. Club car has been in the game about as long as there have been golf carts, so they are no joke. You’re not just paying for a brand either, nobody stays in business for as long as they have without earning their reputation. Added to this, they are the only brand that has all aluminum frames. Aluminum means no rust. If you live near the coast or the great lakes, this is a great bonus.
E-Z-GO is their biggest competitor however. E-Z-GO owns the market in affordable quality, rugged suspension, and ease of repair and maintenance. They may not have as much power as some Club Car golf carts, but this can easily be fixed with aftermarket upgrades that are a dime a dozen for this brand. If you like modding, and don’t like the sort of classy, snazzy feel of Club Car golf carts, E-Z-GO’s sweet looking, and easily tunable golf carts might be the way to go for you.
Lastly is Yamaha golf carts. They’re a little new to the game, especially as being part of the big three brands, but they are a force to be reckoned with. Every bit of design from chassis to engine to interior is done in house by Yamaha, and if you don’t know, they are a respected brand in every outdoor recreational vehicle market. Their expansion into golf carts was well received, and they continued their legacy of high quality and ease of repair coupled with unmatchable affordability.
17. Where do I get replacement parts
No matter how well you take care of your golf cart, you will eventually need parts, even if only for routine maintenance. When that time comes, you’ll need to be sure that those parts are easily available to you. Most of the time, you can go to the dealership in an emergency, but buying online can be cheaper if you have the time.
Make sure you’re buying from a reputable source, however. Don’t buy from anyone online without doing some research. Try to find some negative reviews and look for trends. There are a lot of great resources for checking out online stores, but one of my favorite is reddit forums. On the other hand, you can always just try an online marketplace like Amazon if you’re willing to pay a little extra for the added security.
18. New vs Used
The final consideration. Should I buy new or used? Each has its pros and cons, but neither is really the better way to go. Very similar to anything else, golf carts are cheaper used, but it’s hard to tell what wear and tear has done to a used vehicle, and almost impossible to know what kind of service life and maintenance records a used golf cart has had. On the other hand, a new golf cart comes fresh to you, giving you complete control over the entirety of the golf cart’s service and maintenance life, but it’s way more expensive and requires a wear in period before heavy use. You can also get golf cart financing to help with the expense.
New golf cart pros
- Has no existing issues that won’t be covered by warranty.
- You have complete control and knowledge of the entire service and maintenance life of the vehicle.
- You can get the exact model, brand, and upgrades you want on your golf cart.
New golf cart cons
- Crazy expensive.
- Requires a wear in period to bring all the parts into the proper clearances before it can be put to heavy use.
- Newer model parts are more expensive.
Used golf cart pros
- Less expensive.
- You can often find one that already has multiple aftermarket upgrades.
- Replacement parts can be found much easier and less expensive.
Used golf cart cons
- Harder to find exactly the golf cart you’re looking for.
- It’s hard or impossible to tell what this golf cart has been through
- It may not come with warranty, leaving you on the hook for anything that goes wrong on you.
I hope this guide helped you narrow down your choices and consider a few questions you maybe hadn’t thought of yet. I hope you do decide to buy a sweet golf cart and hit the trails or putter around your community in an eco-friendly tiny vehicle. Best of luck in finding the right golf cart for you, and remember that the right golf cart for someone else isn’t necessarily the best for you.