Whichever upgrades you use to increase golf cart speed, be sure to use good judgment and utilize proper safety equipment.
High-Speed Gear Set
Increase Motor RPM
Upgrading the controller
Adding a heavy-duty forward reverse switch
Upgrading the existing motor
installing a solenoid
Removing unwanted items from the golf cart
Any of the items will have an effect, therefore boost the speed
A new battery will increase a golf cart’s motor output, therefore increasing the speed
Replacing the electronic speed control will enable more voltage to pass to the motor
Removing unwanted items in the golf cart. Losing the excess weight will make the golf cart lighter, which will help to increase the speed
Increasing the surface area of the drive tires increases the distance they will roll for each revolution of the axle, thus increasing the speed your cart will go
Electric Low-Speed Vehicles vs Golf Carts
Electric Low-Speed Vehicles (LSV’s) are becoming tremendously popular these days for a number of reasons. They are quiet, fun, and relatively comfortable to drive, but more importantly, they do not use fossil fuel. New LSV’s like the GEM and others can be very expensive though and not a practical purchase for those who would only use them occasionally or on weekends.
Welcome the “lease turn in”, out of warrantee, golf course Fleet Vehicles (golf carts) to the rescue. Three-year-old Club Car, EZ-Go, and others show up by the thousands at auctions across the US every year. Some end up in neighborhood classified ads or used car lots after a quick cosmetic makeover.
How can I make my EZ Go golf cart go faster?
One way to increase the speed of EZ Go golf carts is to incorporate an octane booster when you fill the tank. The cart will have more pick-up, and it could gain as much as 5 mph. A different approach is to take out the throttle linkage governor on the carburetor.
Many of them make their way to “chop shops” where they are stripped of their original golf paraphernalia, jacked up, fitted with showy wheels, carbon fiber dashboards, plush upholstery, and satellite radios.
The one thing under the fabulous makeover these vehicles usually have in common is the old batteries and components. The other thing is; they typically are set up to operate at really slow speeds (12 mph or so). You guys that have rented golf carts at your local course know why they do that.
To operate on public roads and be categorized as an LSV, many municipalities require the vehicle to go 20 mph and must be equipped with lights, seat belts, and a horn. The lights and belts are pretty easy to deal with but getting your cart to go 20 mph is another story.
Even if you are not trying to make it street legal, most users want the extra speed capability just to add more usefulness and enjoyment. 12 mph is just too painfully slow for most users. If you think that 12 mph is fast enough, give it a few weeks.
So, you are ready to do whatever it takes to make that baby fly. Well maybe 20 mph isn’t exactly flying but it will sure feel like you were if you get dumped out at that speed. Safety belts are a good idea at any speed.
The first thing to determine is how fast you really want to go and how are you going to use the vehicle? Is the terrain flat or hilly? Will you be hauling a cargo of any substantial weight. For hills and/or heavy loads, you will need to also increase the torque of the cart.
This means a more powerful motor and probably an upgraded motor controller to handle the extra current demands of the motor. There are several vendors that can supply such upgrades, but they can get expensive. Be sure to do your homework and shop around. If you have just a standard cart and use it on basically flat ground, you have a few more options.
Popular High-Speed Golf Cart Options
Increasing the diameter of the drive tires increases the distance they will roll for each revolution of the axle, thus increasing the speed your cart will go. You first need to know how fast you can go with the standard 18.5-inch tall tires. Most portable GPS units can be used as a speedometer to find that.
If you don’t want to crunch the math, there are several free online calculators to help you determine how much speed you will gain with the new taller tires. Although increasing the tire size will increase your speed, the torque will suffer somewhat.
Tire size is also limited by the wheel opening. Most large tires require the cart be “lifted” which may not always be desirable and can be costly. The speed gain is relatively small (a couple of mph increase)
High-Speed Gear Set
In the differential housing or rear axle, resides a gear reduction system. The motor has a small gear that drives the axle’s larger gear. Typically the motor rotates about 12 times for every one revolution of the axle. This is how the relatively low-power motor gains a mechanical advantage to propel the cart.
Like the gears on a bicycle, it is easier to pedal when the drive sprocket is on the small diameter one. To go faster, you need to advance to the larger drive sprocket. The bike goes faster, but it is harder to pedal.
In a golf cart speed gear set, the ratio is similarly changed by increasing the drive gear diameter, and the cart runs faster. Like the bicycle though, the motor has to provide more force “torque” to the axle.
This type of modification is great for speed but will sacrifice low-speed torque and is not recommended for hilly areas. Installation can be messy due to the gear lubricant and requires some skill and know-how.
Increase Motor RPM
Increasing the Revolutions per Minute or RPM’s of the motor is one of the most popular techniques for increasing a golf cart’s speed. This type of modification does not sacrifice low-end torque like the two previously mentioned ones.
Golf cart electric motors are designed to operate at a certain maximum RPM (typically around 3600 RPM) at either 36 volts or 48 volts and provide a good balance between the speed and torque of the end product. Aftermarket motors have their field and armature windings redesigned such that they achieve greater RPM than the stock ones.
If the motor spins at twice the original RPM, a 12 mph cart could reach as much as 24 mph. The motors are safe and reliable but can require the addition of a high current Controller to operate at full potential. Aftermarket “speed motors” are available from a number of vendors but can be rather expensive due to all the copper wire in the windings.
Carting can be fun and functional for everyone and has many applications. Be safe enjoying your fast golf cart.
4 Popular Top Speed Golf Carts
Yamaha UMAX Rally 19.5 mph
Club Car Onward 19 mph
EZ Go Shuttle 8 EFI 16.5 mph
Cushman Hauler 800 14.5 mph
Buying Golf Cart – What to Look for
Many people have discovered that buying a golf cart is a great way of transportation when traversing shorter distances or at least those that are too far to walk but not quite worth starting up the car. But if you are new to the world of golf carts instead of vehicles, then it might feel somewhat overwhelming when you go to purchase one, especially if you are choosing to buy a used or refurbished one!
Here are few things to keep in mind:
Do you want a gas-powered or electric one? Electric carts will cost less, and there are fewer moving parts, which makes it ideal for the person who doesn’t want to be concerned about major repairs. However, you will need to be sure that you have the electric golf cart charged and ready to go.
Is it used or refurbished? Obviously, used doesn’t mean that it has been overhauled, while refurbishing implies that it has. It is always a good idea to ask the age of the golf cart if you are buying used. Ideally, you don’t want one that is more than 15 years old.
What does it mean when the golf cart is refurbished or remanufactured? This, sadly, depends on the seller. In some cases, it means that the cart has been completely overhauled with all new parts, while for less reputable sellers, it can mean that only “surface-level” repairs have been made.
This is where it is important, do your due diligence and learn all you can about the seller. If possible, borrow the cart for a day or two and have it checked out by someone else.
What is the return policy? Be sure you know if there is a time limit that you can return a golf cart within. Also, be certain that you ask if there are any reasons that a returned cart would not be accepted.
What about the features? Golf carts can have a myriad of features ranging from padded seats to cup holders and tints. Think about which ones matter most to you and determine if that works within your budget.
Buying Used Golf Cart – Guidelines
Buying a used golf cart can be a very confusing undertaking. There are many variations and types of carts available these days, from the very basic to wildly modified. Buyers have many options, but caution should be used to ensure you don’t inherit someone’s albatross. Knowing what to look for, could save big expenses later.
The first decision to be made is whether you want a gasoline or battery-powered cart. Each has its strong and weak points.
Gasoline-powered carts can be more powerful, making them well suited for utility service or hauling loads. They do consume precious fossil fuel though and can be noisy with an undesirable exhaust odor.
Battery-operated carts are stealthy quiet and odorless but have a limited range between charge cycles. When the batteries are drained, you’re done until they can be recharged, which can take 8 hours or more.
After you decide which fits your needs the best, and you’ve found the candidate, determine if it is really what you are looking for. Know what you are buying before you write that check.
Take a general assessment of the tires and their condition. Are they all the same brand and do they have similar and even wear? Uneven wear can be indicative of serious alignment problems, a bent frame, or worn-out steering components.
Tires of mixed brands are an indication that the cart may have seen excessive use or be a rebuild of junk parts. This may not necessarily be the case, but keep it in mind as you continue looking over the candidate cart.
Never buy a cart without taking some time to drive it. Take it over some rough terrain as well as a solid concrete driveway. Sloppy steering should be an immediate concern for you. Worn “rack and pinion” steering boxes are expensive to replace.
If the rack and pinion are worn, you can reasonably expect the steering “rod ends” and spindle bushings also, need attention. None of these components are necessarily cheap to replace. The steering wheel, pulling to the left or right can be caused by uneven pressure in the tires or unmatched sizes.
If the cart pulls, check the tire pressure first to see if the problem corrects. If it does not help, the spindle (on the same side that it pulls to) may have a bad wheel bearing causing dragging. You can jack up that corner of the cart and see if the wheel rotates freely.
Most golf cart battery manufacturers stamp the date of manufacture on the top of one of the battery posts. Be aware that batteries that are more than three years old will require replacement sooner rather than later.
Never assume that the batteries are of the same vintage as the model year of the cart either. Also, batteries of mixed years in the same cart could be a clue that the cart has seen some serious use in a fleet environment.
Be sure the brakes are firm and stop the cart quickly without grinding or squealing. Brake shoe replacement is not usually a big deal unless service has been neglected to the point where the brake drum is gouged or otherwise damaged. Excessive rust and corrosion around the brake backing plates behind the rear wheels can be an indication of possible neglected maintenance.
The Integrity of the Frame
Steel frames are very susceptible to rust and corrosion, especially under the battery compartment. I have seen carts that otherwise look great, actually break in half due to battery acid seeping on, and eating the frame.
Some manufacturers, like Club Car, are now using fully welded aluminum frames that do not rust but are still susceptible to corrosion in the form of aluminum oxide (instead of iron oxide). Corroded aluminum has a heavy layer of white fuzzy powder, which is equivalent to rust. Stay away from any cart that you suspect has a frame problem. The cart could end up being totally useless to you later.
A well-maintained cart should roll along smoothly and quietly. A wobbling or lumpy motion when driving on a smooth solid surface indicates a problem. A bent wheel, or worse, a bent axle will cause the cart to bob up and down with a frequency proportional to the speed. An “out of round” tire can also cause a similar symptom but is usually not the case. Worn front-end components will exaggerate the symptoms dramatically.
Wiring should be neatly routed and protected from chaffing with factory clamps and terminations. Be wary of modified wiring if it does not look professionally done. Cobbled-up wiring can cause you big headaches if you are not savvy with electrical systems. A shorted wire on an electric cart can be devastating.
The tremendously high current capability of the batteries can turn a shoddy wiring system into a giant cigarette lighter. Look for splices and taped-up connections that do not seem to belong, and then pass on the purchase.
Odd Noises from the Drive Train
Turn off any radios and the like when you take your test ride. Listen for any odd noises that may be present. Grinding, excessive whining, or clicking sounds can help you identify problems with the cart. The sounds a vehicle makes can tell you quite a bit if you take the time to listen.
Be sure to look at the engine. Although you may not be an engine mechanic, you can still evaluate a few things easily. Gross saturation of the engine with oil and grease probably indicates a leaking crankcase or gearbox, or worse, a cracked crankcase or gearbox. Check for large amounts of sooty residue in the exhaust pipe, which is indicative of an oil burner (worn-out piston rings).
Be sure to let the engine warm-up before you take a test ride. An engine will only reveal if it smokes a lot after it is sufficiently hot. Take your time and check it out.
Popping sounds in the exhaust or backfires can be caused by poorly adjusted carburetors, but more commonly by burned intake or exhaust valves in the engine. An engine rebuild can cost you dearly if you need one down the road. Be sure to give it the appropriate attention.
A well-maintained cart can literally offer decades of reliable service. Taking time to select the right cart to fit your needs now will pay dividends later. After you purchase your cart, visit some of the vendors that offer great aftermarket products to personalize your vehicle.