Can You Use Synthetic Oil in Your Gas Golf Cart?

Many golf cart manufacturers advise against using synthetic oil in their gas-powered carts. However, it’s important to understand the type of oil that you can safely use.

If you recently invested in a gas golf cart and are scratching your head over the type of oil to use, fear not. We’re going to discuss this common question and provide you with the answers you need.

Synthetic oil can be used in a golf cart as long as it is the same viscosity. Some manufacturers recommend non synthetic oil only, so make sure to check with your golf carts manual to determine the correct type of oil to use.

Synthetic vs Non-Synthetic

Here’s the thing: manufactures like Yamaha recommend that you only use non-synthetic oils in their gas golf carts. This is largely due to the splash systems used in their line of golf carts. However, I’ve found that you can essentially use any kind of oil as long as it has the right viscosity.

Oil like 10W-30, for example, is suitable for use in any of Yamaha’s golf carts.

Any oil with a viscosity range of 10W-30 is suitable for any Yamaha Golf Cart though. Citing the splash systems used in these golf carts, Yamaha recommends using only non-synthetic oils.

A splash system eliminates the need for an oil pump thus creating a simpler engine to maintain.

For that matter, synthetic oils really don’t make much of a difference due to their ability to hold their own viscosity. In golf carts, both perform the same function as the other. Just keep that viscosity range in mind and you should be in good shape.

How Often You Should Change Your Golf Cart’s Oil

Although all makes and models are different, the average lifespan of engine oil is somewhere between 150 and 250 hours or 6 months of use. Of course, if you’re a heavy user (read: frequent user), you may need to change your oil sooner than others.

Many golf carts are equipped with a meter for their total running hours. However, if your cart doesn’t have a functional time meter, you can always check your oil level using the old-fashioned method.

To do this, first ensure that your cart is parked on a level surface. Doing anything on an uneven surface can result in inaccurate readings and improper filling.

It’s best for your engine to be slightly warm before checking its oil. Remove the dipstick, clean off any visible oil, and reinsert it into the oil reservoir.

If the oil level appears below “safe”, it’s crucial that you change the oil at your earliest convenience. Failure to do so can result in damage to your golf cart. The same is true for a golf cart that wasn’t used over the winter months.

It’s important to change the oil come springtime to avoid any potential harm to your engine. Changing the oil serves to remove any moisture that may have accumulated over the winter.

Allowing a golf cart to run without a timely oil change can lead to all kinds of problems with the engine. To ensure that your golf cart is operating at its very best, you should always take the time to routinely check its oil level, as well as the health of the oil currently in it.

How Much Oil Does a Gas Golf Cart Hold?

Most gas-powered golf carts have an engine oil capacity of around 1 liter (1 quart). When adding oil to an empty golf cart, it’s important that you don’t overfill it. Adding too much oil can result in damage to the engine.

Running a golf cart that has too much engine oil is just as dangerous as running it without any oil at all. When there is too much oil in your golf cart, there’s a risk of the crankshaft coming into contact with the oil, leading to air in the oil flow system.

Always be sure that you are referring to your golf cart’s owner’s manual. This should tell you how much oil capacity you’re working with so you can avoid accident overfilling. Furthermore, a good rule of thumb to go by is to never add more than 90% of the oil capacity.

If you accidentally added too much oil, simply place a pan under the drain cap and drain the amount needed for safe operation.

Choosing the Right Engine Oil

There are many excellent oil options available that should suit your gas golf cart well. Mobil-1 makes a non-synthetic engine oil that seems to complement gas-powered golf carts.

Yamaha also makes their own brand of oil for use in their carts. It is always best to look at your manual and use the exact oil specified from your manufacturer.

Before settling on an oil brand, it’s important to determine the workload that your golf cart usually sees in any given week. Although you should be able to use either synthetic or non-synthetic oils without issue, the latter has the ability to hold its viscosity for slightly longer.

The difference is indeed negligible, but it is enough to give the favor to non-synthetic engine oil. 

Changing the Oil in a Golf Cart

This is a pretty straightforward affair and can usually be completed in just a few minutes. After determining how much oil needs to be added, all you need is the proper amount of oil at the ready, along with a clean cloth.

Always remember to check your owner’s manual for the specified amount and stick with the type required.

As golf carts have a splash system with no oil pump or filter, it is important to mind your hours on your golf cart and change accordingly. It is also just as important to use the recommended weight of oil so you don’t do permanent damage.

Begin by draining the remaining oil in the engine. Do this by loosening the drain plug located underneath the engine.

Next, open the oil cap located at the top of the engine. Now, fill around 1 quart of oil preferably non-synthetic into the oil cap opening at the top of the engine.

Using a clean cloth, check the dipstick a couple of times to ensure that you have filled to the proper level. One way to make sure you are staying within the correct limit is to watch that you don’t fill more than 1 inch above the safe level.

Points to Remember

Always remember to ensure that your gas golf cart is parked on an even surface when performing anything associated with the engine oil.

Never mix more than one type of engine oil. Once you have used a specific type, that’s the one you want to stick with. Furthermore, just because two oil types share the same viscosity, it doesn’t mean that they are safe to combine at any time. 

Almost all golf carts involve the same procedure for changing their engine oil. If you know how to change the oil in one, you shouldn’t have any issues changing the oil in others.

Most golf carts’ oil drain plug is located just below the driver’s seat. Oftentimes, a 17mm drain bolt will allow you to easily remove the drain plug.

After ensuring that you have safely removed all of the engine oil, tighten the drain plug back into place.

It may be necessary to change your oil plug washer to ensure a tight fit to prevent oil drips.

Make sure that the engine is warm prior to proceeding with an oil change.

Try your best to avoid spilling any oil on the engine. This could result in a burning scent while operating the gas-powered golf cart.


For the most part, checking and changing your golf cart’s engine oil is quick and painless. As long as you invest in the right viscosity, you shouldn’t run into any issues. However, if you want to play it safe, only use non-synthetic engine oil in your golf cart.

By following your manufacturer’s recommendations and using the correct oil, you can look forward to your golf cart providing you with years of service and use.