Owning a own golf cart can come with certain issues, especially when it comes to maintenance, such as, do the wheels need to be balanced? Maintaining the overall function of your golf cart’s wheels and tires will allow for longer use and a smoother ride, as well as less money in the long run. But does that mean that the wheels on your golf cart really need to be balanced?
Balancing the wheels on a golf cart is generally viewed as an unnecessary expense considering imbalance cannot be detected at the speeds of which golf carts are capable. Balancing machines also lack the ability to properly provide balance on a tire and wheel as small as the types used for golf carts.
While you may not have to worry about whether or not your golf cart wheels have been balanced, there are other circumstances that may cause issues similar to that of an unbalanced wheel. If you are experiencing any wobbling, shaking, or bouncing coming from the tire and/or wheel, you may need to factor in other causes. These factors could include, but may not be limited to, tire size, out of round tire, damaged axle, over inflation, and it could even just be the type of terrain you are riding on. Even though golf cart wheels do not, and generally cannot be balanced, this does not mean that your tires and/or wheels cannot or will not be the cause of other issues. Staying up to date on similar issues will always be recommended when it comes to maintaining a smooth and safe ride for your golf cart.
Other Maintenance Issues That May Resemble An Out Of Balance Wheel
Tire and Wheel Size:
The standard wheel and tire size that comes stock on a golf cart is 8 inches. The smaller the tire and wheel are, the rougher the ride will be. If you are experiencing any wobbling or a ride that is not quite as smooth as you would prefer and your golf cart has 8 inch tires and wheels, it may be a good idea to upgrade the size to something larger. Even just moving up to a 10 inch tire and wheel will smooth out your ride to some degree.
Out of Round Tire:
Tire runout, or an out of round tire, can also be a culprit when it comes to how smooth your golf cart rides. Out of round simply means that the tire is no longer perfectly round, this can result in a rough and bumpy ride and may feel similar to the way an unbalanced wheel feels. This phenomenon can be caused by several circumstances, which include, but may not be limited to:
- Incorrect installation
- Poor quality
- Manufacturing flaws
- Lack of proper maintenance, ie. rotation, PSI inspection, and out of round testing
- Lack of use for long periods of time
If you store your golf cart in the winter, try and rotate the tires by moving the cart around once a month. This will eliminate flat spots.
By spending the extra money and purchasing a higher grade tire and ensuring appropriate maintenance is done regularly, you will give your golf cart tires their best chance at lasting you an extended period of time, ultimately saving you money in the long run.
If either of your axles have taken any hits that caused damage, this could be the cause of the wobbling and/or resemblance to a wheel that needs to be balanced. Your axle(s) may have taken a beating that caused damage without you knowing or realizing, along with average wear and tear, a replacement may be in store to smooth out your ride again. There could be several reasons for any one of your axles to need replacing due to damage, including but not limited to:
- Average wear and tear on the metal or mechanism as a whole
- Weight overload, for example, carrying too many people on one cart
- Cart collision, for example, colliding with a tree or even another cart
- Hitting a curb or pothole in rough terrains
If you are suspecting that your problem could actually be a damaged axle or multiple axles, it would be best to have them replaced right away to avoid any additional damage or an accident. A damaged axle can mimic and wheel that is out of balance but that is not the only way you can tell if it is a bad axle. Other signs you may need to replace your axle(s) include but may not be limited to:
- Heavy vibrations, similar to the wobbling you would feel with an out of balanced wheel
- Loud noises, such as clanking and/or clicking
- Grease leaking from the axle area
- Failure to move, ie. golf cart starts and goes into gear with ease but will not actually accelerate forward or backward
Each tire, whether for your golf cart or your personal car, will require a certain amount air in order to properly inflate. This air pressure is measured in PSI, or pounds per square inch, and is a crucial part in maintaining your tires. If you have overlooked, ignored, or just did not know how much pressure you were putting in your tires and have accidentally over inflated any one of them, it can cause a wobbling while your golf cart is in use. However, there are other factors that play a role in the fluctuation of tire pressure, including but not limited to:
- Incorrect tire pressure, ie. accidentally over or under inflating your tires
- Weather, ie. the heating and cooling of the outside temperature can cause the air in your tires to expand or contract resulting in fluctuating tire pressure
- Simple wear and tear from extended use or lack of use
- An air leak in the air pressure valve on the tire
- Improper mounting of the tire on to the wheel
It is always important to check your tire pressure before use of any motorized vehicle, even your golf cart, especially if it has been sitting still for quite some time as the tires are likely to leak air and settle without regular use.
Terrain Type vs Tire Type:
Certain tires are specifically made for certain terrains, and depending on where you are using your golf cart, you could quite possibly have the inappropriate tires for the type of terrain you are cruising. There are three types of golf cart tires:
- Street and Turf
Each tire type is specific to its own style of terrain. If you are using the incorrect tire for the type of terrain you are traversing with your golf cart, then you may need to look into replacing your tires with ones that are meant for that specific terrain.
- Street and turf tires are the most common style of tire and usually come stock on golf carts, these are used on paved or concrete trails or paths and golf courses.
- Off-road tires are used for off road purposes, such as on a farm or any other rural area; the use of off-road tires on pavement would result in quick wear down of the tread and a rather bumpy ride.
- All-terrain tires have the ability to be used just about anywhere, street or off-road, if you are in need of a tire that does a little of both then you will need an all-terrain tire; the use of an all-terrain will be prohibited from golf course use.
Understanding the type of terrain you will be navigating will play a huge role in the type of tire your golf cart will require. Using the incorrect tire for whichever type of terrain you will be on can result in a less than smooth ride and cause additional wear and tear on your tires.