If you have recently bought a golf cart or want to upgrade the look of your ride, one of the first questions you might ask is: What kind of wheels do I need? Golf cart wheels and tires are an important part of your ensemble and can make the difference between a relaxing day on the green and a frustration slog with a poorly equipped cart.
As self-styled experts on golf carts, we are here to help you figure out how to equip your golf cart. We put together this comprehensive guide on golf cart wheels and tires so you can make an informed choice.
Are golf cart wheels universal?
Golf cart wheels are universal between EZ Go, Club Car, Yamaha, or anything with a 4×4 bolt pattern. Some larger carts such as limousine carts will use a 5 lug pattern which will not be universal. The only difference between the brands will be the wheel studs which may require a different lug nut.
Golf cart wheels differ in material, finish, size, and bolt patterns. Tires differ in terms of size, thickness, and tread pattern. The kind of wheel/tire setup you should get depends primarily on how you use your golf cart and what kinds of surfaces you will be driving over. Specifically, the kind of wheels and tires you get depends on whether you use your golf cart solely for driving or whether you also use it on the street or off-road on trails.
There is more to the story so read on if you want to know more about golf cart wheels and tires.
Common Golf Cart Wheel/Tire Terms
Before we get into the meat of this article, here is a quick glossary of some common terms related to golf cart wheels and tires.
- Tread – The tread refers to the rubber pattern that the tire has for gripping the road.
- Sidewall – The sidewall of a tire refers to the part of the tire on the sides that is between the bottom and the part where the tire meets the rim. Sidewalls do not have any treads on them.
- Crown – The crown of the tire refers to the part that is directly in the center of the tread. The crown is typically the thickest and toughest part of the tread.
- Bead – The bead of a tire refers to the grooved area that holds the tie tire on the rim.
- Flange – The flange of a wheel refers to the part of the wheel that surrounds the bolt pattern and is closest to the tire.
- Bolt Pattern – The bolt pattern refers to the arrangement of bolts on the wheel that attaches to the wheel hub.
- Rim – “Rim” is just another word for wheels and can be used interchangeably.
- Wheel hub – The wheel hub is the center part of the golf cart wheel that attaches to the cart itself.
Golf Cart Wheels
Like all types of vehicles, golf carts need wheels. Finding the right wheel size is just as important as finding the right tire type, or else your chosen tires will not fit properly. You can also get wheel caps that protect your rims from wear and tear and things like mud. Properly sized wheels can also improve the lifespan of your tires.
In general, golf cart tire rims are made out of a light metal such as steel or aluminum. Steel tends to be less expensive and is more common, but it is heavier than aluminum. Aluminum rims, in contrast, are more expensive but they tend to offer more customization options such as color or patterns.
Most golf cart rims measure anywhere between 8” to 14” and have anywhere between 4 to 14 spokes.
Most stock size golf carts can fit a 12″ wheel with low profile tire.
Golf Cart Wheel Bolt Pattern
In general, golf cart wheels have a 4-on-4 bolt pattern with 4 evenly spaced holes that is about 4” across when measured diagonally. Lifted carts usually require a taller wheel while low-riding carts require a smaller wheel as a larger wheel will not fit in the wheel well.
Some larger carts such as limousine carts will use a 5 lug pattern which will need different wheels than a 4 lug cart. Many people use automobile wheels for these applications.
Golf cart wheels are specifically designed for low speed on golf carts and so should not be used for high-speed travel. The aluminum or stainless steel frame cannot handle the high speeds of highway travel. Also, you are unable to balance golf cart wheels so if you were to go fast as in 25+ mph there would be some wobble.
Do car rims work on a golf cart?
Car wheels will work on a golf cart as long as the bolt pattern is the same. Sometimes the bolt pattern may be a bit off which can lead to some bounce at low speeds, but they will still work as long as they are not too large to fit in the wheel housing without rubbing.
Choosing Golf Cart Wheel Offset
Wheel offset is one of the most important wheel measurements. The wheel offset refers to how far the centerline of the tire rests from the hub mounting. This figure is usually measured with two numbers in this form “A+B.”
The first number refers to how far the wheel is from the brake side and the second number refers to how far the wheel is from the street side. If the first number is larger than the second number, then the wheel has a positive offset and if the second number is larger than the first, then the wheel has a negative offset.
So for example, a 3+5 offset on an 8” wheel would be a negative offset as the hub is closer to the brake side. A 5+3 offset would be a positive offset as the hub is closer to the street side of the tire. A 4+4 wheel has a neutral offset as the hub is equidistant from both sides of the wheel.
It is important to make sure that your wheels have the proper offset. Otherwise, your tires can wear down faster and there is an increased risk of blowouts.
Another reason is that when you turn with the wrong offset your tires will rub against your golf cart. One way you can tell what your wheel offset is to look at the factory wheels your golf cart came with. Most of the time, the offset measurement will be printed on the wheel next to the letters “ET.”
So for example, if you have a golf cart specifically for offroad use, then you will probably want a negative wheel offset as you will have a larger diameter tire. This will ensure that your wheels have appropriate stability and do not rub against the frame or body of the cart. Conversely, if you use your car for more low-impact uses, a positive or neutral wheel offset will work.
How to Mount a Golf Cart Tire on a Wheel
The very first thing you should do before mounting a wheel is give it a thorough scrubbing with a degreaser. This will make sure the tire goes on properly and seals completely with the tire. From there, slowly place the wheel within the tire and tire iron to tuck the bead of the tire under the flange of the wheel. Make sure you do this slowly so you do not damage your rims.
Next, you need to attach the wheel to the actual wheel hub. It is very important that when you put the tires on the wheel that the treads are facing the correct direction, or else they will not be as effective when you mount the wheel. Like we said earlier, most golf cart wheels have a 4-on-4 bolt pattern.
You are going to want to use an automobile jack to lift the side of the cart you are placing the tires on. Make sure that you do not put the full cart weight on the wheel until you fully tighten the bolts, or else this can bend the wheel lugs and damage the wheel and tire.
Golf Cart Tires
Choosing an appropirate tire for your golf cart is just as important as chosing a wheel that you like.
Are golf cart tires universal?
Golf cart tires are universal as long as the size fits the particular rim. The two factors that matter are the rim diameter and the width. The height of the tire doesn’t matter as long as it will clear the fenders on your golf cart.
How to Choose Golf Cart Tires
Wheels are important but so are tires. Without the right tire, your wheels are pretty worthless. Here is a quick rundown of the different uses of golf carts and the kind of tires you should look for.
- Golf course: If you use your cart primarily for the golf course then you should look for turf or street tires. These kinds of tires have a softer and shallower tread that will not damage the grass on the course. They usually work best with a positive wheel offset.
- Street: If you use your cart for driving on regular street roads then you should invest in radial tires. These kinds of tires have a tread pattern arranged 90-degrees relative to the road so they deliver good traction without being too thick.
- Off-road: If you use your cart primarily on dirt roads and gravel rods, then you should invest in a thicker tire. Tires for off-road uses tend to have thick, grooved treads that get good traction on loose and irregular ground. They usually work best with a negative wheel offset.
How to Measure Golf Cart Tires Size
Now we will go over how to go about measuring the proper tire dimensions. Tire dimensions are a bit more complicated to read than wheel sizes and they are notated a bit differently depending on if they are an off-road tire or a street/turf tire.
Off-road tire measurements are almost always in the format AAxAA-AA where the “A”s are replaced with numbers.
The first number always refers to the height of the tire. The second number corresponds to tire width and the third number refers to the total diameter of the rim needed for the tire.
So using this scheme, say your off road tire is 22×10-12. That would mean those tires are 22” tall, 10: thick, and have a diameter of 12”. Keep in mind that offroad golf cart tire dimensions in the US are almost always measured in inches, not feet or centimeters.
Turf and street tires are a bit different and their measurement format looks like BB/BB-BB. The first number for this measurement stands for the width of the tire in millimeters. The second number stands for the ratio of the sidewall to the width of the tire and the third number is the wheel size that the tire is compatible with.
So here is how this would work. Say your street/turf tires have a measurement 215/50-12. That would mean the tire is 215 mm wide (21.5cm) and the width would be about 8 inches. The 12 refers to the size wheel that will fit the tire. It is very important to make sure that your Wheel size matches your tire size, or else the tires will not fit.
For the most part, golf cart sizes are fairly standard and most vehicles will require the same-sized tire. For example, most standard golf carts need a tire that is 18” tall and 8” wide. However, the required measurements can differ depending on the characteristic of the specific cart. For example, lifted carts may require a taller tire because they have taller wheels. Conversely, shorter golf carts may need a shorter tire due to the shorter wheels.
These measurements can get a bit tricky to calculate on your own so here is a quick rundown of common measurements and the respective heights, widths, and wheel sizes.
|Tire Measurement||Tire Height||Tire Width||Wheel Size|
So, for example, if you have a low-profile cart, then you will want a shorter tire, so possibly a 205/30-12 or a 215/30-12. Alternatively, if you have a lifted golf cart, then you may want to go for something like a 205/65-10 or a 205/30-14.
Golf Cart Wheel/Tire FAQ
What size wheels does a standard golf cart use?
Standard golf carts typically use wheels that are between 8”-14” in diameter. They will need a 4×4 bolt pattern if they are a Club Car, EZ Go, or Yamaha.
What size wheels does a lifted golf cart use?
For the most part, a lifted golf cart needs wheels that are 12” in diameter or taller. You will also want a taller tire to fill the gap from the lift to provide a smooth ride while off-roading.
What size wheels does a low-ride golf cart use?
Street or low rider golf carts that are closer to the ground typically need wheels that are around 10”-8” in diameter. Larger wheels will fit, but you will need to check the clearances to make sure they don’t rub.
How can I tell what size wheels my golf cart needs?
One way to tell what size wheel your golf cart needs is to look at the factory installed wheels. Most of the time, you can find the info directly on the wheel or tire itself. You can also measure the size of your current wheels and tires and try and match that with your new set.
When should I use an offroad tire on a golf cart?
You should get an offroad tire if you primarily drive your cart on dirt or gravel roads. Off road tires will be a bit rougher on the asphalt and make more noise, but may be necessary if you need additional traction.
When should I use a turf tire on a golf cart?
Turf tires are best suited for use on paved roads or on golf courses. Turf or street tires are best suited for all around use and still offer good traction.
How long should my wheels last on my golf cart?
Golf cart wheels can last a lifetime as long as they are regularly cleaned and protected. The only damage you could do would be to bend or crack a rim which would make it unusable.
How long should my golf cart tires last?
If you regularly rotate your tires and perform regular pressure checks, golf cart tires can last many years as typically they don’t see a lot of mileage. What will happen is they will start cracking or dry rotting due to age and then you will want to replace them.