How Does A Golf Cart Work? – Complete Guide To Understanding It (2023)

How Does A Golf Cart Work?

Last Updated on September 19, 2023 by Chuck Wilson

How does a golf cart work? Golf carts are also known as golf cars. The term “cart”, in its purest sense, refers to a vehicle that does not travel under its own power. Golf cars, however, are most commonly referred to as golf carts.

A Cart, not a Car
A Car, not a Cart

A golf cart is a type of vehicle that has been used on golf courses for many years. Golf carts are not allowed to use public roads unless they are converted to comply with local ordinances governing speed and safety equipment. They are perfect for farm and industrial use and are the best way to cover large distances in a short amount of time.

golf cart (alternatively known as a golf buggy or golf car[a]) is a small motorized vehicle designed originally to carry two golfers and their golf clubs around a golf course with less effort than walking. Over time, variants were introduced that were capable of carrying more passengers, had additional utility features, or were certified as a street legal low-speed vehicle.


A golf cart works using two methods of propulsion – gas and electric.

What Is The Difference Between The Gas And Electric Type Of Golf Cart?

A gasoline-powered cart uses a battery to actuate a solenoid switch that causes a starter to turn the engine over until the ignition begins. Push the gas pedal and the vehicle moves on its own. The alternator/generator recharges the battery for the next time it is needed and provides power for the lights and other golf cart accessories.

Electric carts use golf cart batteries voltage to turn the electric motor and it begins moving on its own. The batteries for these carts are charged from a battery charger using household outlets or solar panels energy and they do not need gasoline as fuel.

Advantages of the Gas Golf Carts Over The Electric Vehicle

Many advantages come with a gas-powered golf car. One being they tend to be less expensive to own and maintain – the annual cost of fuel for gas carts is typically cheaper than the cost of replacing the battery pack of an electric golf cart.

Another advantage is the extended range you get when using a fuel tank versus an electric cart’s single charge. Running low on the golf course while far from home? Just add some gas from a convenient gas can and keep going. No long time (8 to 12 hours) waiting for a full charge.

A gas golf cart’s top speed is usually higher than an electric cart unless the electric cart has been upgraded with third-party parts, such as a beefier motor and controller.

An electric cart has an average life of 5 to 7 years for deep cycle batteries, and the deep-cycle type of battery is expensive. While gas carts have their own maintenance points, electric carts must have the golf cart batteries’ water levels checked and maintained. Electrical components such as the golf cart speed controller, inductive sensor coil, and electric golf cart motor are not cheap either. These components and cable connections are not common issues you have to deal with but do happen from time to time.

Disadvantages Of The Gas Golf Carts Compared To The Electric Golf Carts

A golf cart’s motor has many more moving parts and these areas require regular maintenance, such as a spark plug replacement, and oil changes.

The electric-powered golf carts may be better when it comes to environmental impact, but they will not always have as much power as a gas engine and can cost more upfront.

The common problems with a gas golf cart are not much different than an automobile. The maintenance requirements are no different than what we would do to a car that has gas. Older models require more attention to the combustion engines and fuel pump.

Finally, should you be in the market for a used golf cart, it is a good idea to consider the different ways golf carts work. If you are more inclined to tinker with your car’s engines, then you might not mind spending some of your time reducing maintenance costs by investing in a gas cart. If you like the idea of only worrying about a major expense every 5 to 7 years and don’t like gasoline fumes then you should consider an electric model. I split the difference and got both.

Chuck Wilson

With years of expertise in both electrical and mechanical drafting, Chuck Wilson brings a unique skill set to the world of golf cart maintenance and documentation. This dual background allows for a deep understanding of the intricate systems that make golf carts run efficiently. Leveraging this knowledge, Chuck has spent several years specializing in golf cart upkeep, from routine servicing to complex schematic documentation.

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