How To Buy A Used Golf Cart: 10 Things To Look For

Buying a used golf cart can be a stressful event if you are unsure of what you need to look for in order to make the most educated decision. It is completely normal to have some worry when looking to purchase anything that is used because nobody wants to be taken advantage of, especially on such a large purchase such as a used golf cart. Whether you want your own golf cart for leisurely activities or work on the farm, there a few tips you can take with you on your search for the perfect used golf cart.

Buying a used golf cart can be an enjoyable experience if you remember to bring along certain tips and ask the right questions. By learning what to look for, which questions to ask, and the different styles of golf carts, you are giving yourself the best chance to find exactly what you want and need while getting your money’s worth and avoiding a possible scam.

Going on the search for a used golf cart that will provide everything you need, and maybe some things that you want, can bring about feelings of nervousness and unease as you maneuver through the world of used golf carts; but it doesn’t have to. Below you will find ten things to look for when searching for a used golf cart that will make your search easier and less stressful. It is important to remember to always ask as many questions as you can think of when looking at a used golf cart to ensure you are getting the best deal for your money and will not have any surprises later on down the road.

10 Things To Look For When Buying A Used Golf Cart

Check the Tire Condition:

One of the easiest things to check when looking at a used golf cart is the condition of the tires. While the tires do not necessarily have to be a deal breaker when it comes to purchasing a used golf cart, they most certainly can sweeten the deal some. Tire replacement is simple, but after making such a large purchase like a used golf cart, you may not have the funds or the want to change the tires. When it comes to checking the condition of the tires, some things to look for are:

  • Tread – If the tread is deep, the tires are likely newer or have seen little use. Little to no tire tread will ultimately require an immediate replacement as tires with no tread will have no grip and are extremely dangerous.
  • Damage – Look for any visible damage, such as warping or rubbed away places which may indicate the golf cart has been driven rough and may have seen some accidents. Test for any hidden damage by checking for air leaks or small holes, you can do this by pouring soapy water over the tire.
  • Wear – Look for any uneven wearing on the tread of the tires, this could indicate that the golf cart is out of alignment.
  • Feel – Take the golf cart for a test drive and pay attention to whether or not the golf cart rides smoothly or if it is rough
  • Style – If you want the current tires on the golf cart to last you a while, at least a year would be a great start, then make sure the tires are the style you would need for the type of terrain you will be traversing, ie. street tires for turf and paved paths, off-road tires for country or rural use, and all-terrain tires for a mixture of the two.

The condition of the tires will tell you a lot about how the golf cart was cared for; you just have to know where to look and what to look for. By inspecting the tires you are getting a small look into the history of the golf cart, ie. how it was driven, how it was maintained, how long it remained sitting, all important things to consider when purchasing a used golf cart.

Deciding on Gas or Electric:

Before you go looking and test driving used golf carts, it is important to decide whether you want a gas powered golf cart or a battery powered golf cart. Understanding the differences between the two can assist tremendously with your final decision.

  • Gas Powered: Gas powered golf carts have combustion engines and require gas in order to run. Depending on where you are planning using your golf cart, this may not be the right choice for you as they are banned in many places. If it’s for use on your own personal property then this would be a fine choice for you. They are also much louder than the battery powered golf carts. As with any combustible engine, gas powered golf carts require regular maintenance in order to keep the engine running properly.
  • Battery Powered: Battery powered golf carts require batteries to run; usually 6 batteries go in a single battery pack. Battery powered golf carts require a specific amount of time to fully charge and can usually run for about 7 miles before they need to charge. Battery powered golf carts require little maintenance to function properly and are much quieter than their gas powered counterparts.

One major factor to consider between gas vs electric golf carts is that on a gas cart you can simply fill it and keep going. If an electric cart is empty, you may need to charge it for several hours.

Considering the pros and cons of each type of golf cart before you purchase will allow you to enjoy your golf cart the way you want to enjoy it. If you will be using your golf cart on a golf course or in state parks or around your community then a battery powered golf cart may work perfectly for you. If you plan on using your golf cart on your own property to help with farm work or outdoor chores, a gas powered golf cart may be more appropriate. In the end, it is your decision to make.

Does it Offer the Features You Want:

Once you make the decision on whether you want a gas powered or a battery powered golf cart, you can start deciding which features you want the golf cart to offer. Golf carts come in a wide variety of options, from laid back and leisurely to decked out and flashy, it all depends on what you are looking for in a golf cart. Some tips when it comes to choosing which features you may or may not want or need on your used golf cart include:

  • Test drive some different options and styles, not all golf carts ride and perform the same. For example: A EZ Go TXT was designed with utility in mind whereas the RXV was designed for better ride quality. You will want to feel comfortable and confident behind the wheel. Test driving will also assist in checking for any motor or battery issues and/or driving problems the golf cart may have, especially for a used one.
  • Determine which style of golf cart would be best suited for your lifestyle. Some golf carts are better equipped for lazy, Sunday afternoons while others are more equipped for a rough and rugged country lifestyle. By purchasing the golf cart more suited to who you are as a person and where you live, you are ensuring that you will make great use of your golf cart.
  • Decide what kinds of accessories you are looking for. If you are a hunter, you may opt for a golf cart already fitted with a gun rack and winch. If you just enjoy cruising around your community or the golf course, you may want a golf cart with an ample amount of storage and a rear seat.

Your possibilities are almost endless when it comes to how you want your golf cart to look or what types of accessories you want your golf cart to have. It is important to decide on what would make you the happiest with your purchase and would get great use for years to come. By searching for a golf cart that is already fitted with all of the things you want, you are saving money and there will be no wait for it to be how you want it to be.

Is it New or Refurbished:

During your search for a used golf cart you may have come across the term “refurbished” instead of “used”, and this can cause some confusion. Refurbished golf carts are generally golf carts that have been used strictly on golf courses and have been fixed up to sell to the public. Whereas used golf carts are being sold as is by the current owner. It is important to decide which type you are more interested in and to know some key things to look for.

  • Refurbished: Is it being sold by a reputable dealer or someone who currently owns it? If it is being sold by the current owner and marked as refurbished, you may be looking at a scam in progress, especially if it hasn’t been done by a proper refurbishing company. When it comes to refurbished golf carts, your best bet at finding one that has actually been upgraded and repaired would be to find a dealer that specializes in refurbished golf carts.
  • Used: A used golf cart will be sold as is with no upgrades or repairs made to better it for the next buyer. While there is nothing wrong with buying a used golf cart, you will have to ensure that everything is in proper working condition. A plus side to buying a used golf cart is they usually go for a much cheaper price than a refurbished golf cart.

Keep in mind the differences when looking for a second hand golf cart because refurbished and used are not the same thing. Some golf cart sellers will put a refurbished sign on their golf cart when no real improvements have been made just so they can sell it for more money. In order to avoid any possible scams with a refurbished golf cart, even at a dealership, ask to see any maintenance records that have been kept on the golf cart, as most golf courses will keep records on their carts.

Is the Asking Price Appropriate:

When it comes to looking for a used golf cart, you may run into a lot people attempting to sell their second hand cart for an outrageous price. It is important to do your research on the make and model of the cart that is being sold so you are better equipped to negotiate the price or know when to walk away because the price is just not worth it.

When we purchased our golf cart, we paid $1,800 as it was used on a golf course as the lease was up. The cart had two year old batteries and was in fairly good condition. Other golf carts just like it sell for $3,500-$4,000 from private sellers. Instantly we got a steal on a golf cart that was great quality. It never hurts to ask your dealer if they have some golf course lease returns they want to get rid of.

Unfortunately, there are people who will jump at the chance to take advantage of you and by doing your research you are ensuring that does not happen and you get your money’s worth. It is also important to understand that you are likely to pay more for certain customizations, accessories, and features as well, and it is perfectly acceptable to negotiate the price to where you think it would be fair.

If, after your research on the golf cart you are looking at, your instincts are telling you that you should keep looking, it might be wise to listen. Not all sellers will reasonable or honest and it is important to keep that in mind while looking for a used or refurbished golf cart.

Check the Age and Manufacturer of the Golf Cart:

While there is absolutely nothing wrong with purchasing an older golf cart, you may run into difficulties finding replacement parts when the time comes. Older golf carts may require outdated parts that are no longer manufactured and it may be difficult finding someone who knows how to repair or help with the maintenance of the older golf cart.

Here are some tips to find the year of golf cart.

It is also highly recommended to request to see the number of hours or cycles that are on the golf cart. If the person selling the golf cart is reluctant to show you this information then it may be a good idea to pass on that specific cart as they may be trying to run a scam. This is typically only for gas golf carts.

You will also be able to better dictate whether they are selling the golf cart for a fair price or not by checking to see how often the golf cart has been used. By checking to see who manufactured the golf cart, you are ensuring that the cart was manufactured by a reputable company and that you will have no trouble finding any replacement parts when the time comes.

Check the Condition of the Steering:

Taking your potential purchase for a test drive is always a good idea as it can tell so much more than the seller may be willing to divulge, for instance, whether or not the steering is in optimal condition. The steering condition of the golf cart is extremely important as the steering is what influences the overall maneuverability of the golf cart. Some things to look for when inspecting the steering include but may not be limited to:

  • Is the steering loose? This would be cause for concern as it could indicate that the golf cart will need replacement parts to fix or tighten the steering, such as the pinions or bushings.
  • Does the cart pull to one side or the other? This would indicate that the golf cart is in need of an alignment. A cart that is out of alignment is just like a car that is out of alignment, it could be a sign of the cart receiving abuse while being driven, such as hitting curbs or potholes.
  • Does the steering wheel turn one way but not the other? This could be caused by rough terrain and would require adjustments in the spindle arm in order to re-center the steering wheel.

The condition of the steering can give you a certain insight into how the golf cart was cared for and maintained. To avoid spending more money in the long run, remember to look for any issues with the steering; if there is a problem with the steering then there could be a problem elsewhere on the golf cart.

Check the Condition of Batteries (if it is battery operated):

If you are considering a battery powered golf cart, it is important to check the condition of the batteries that are currently on the cart. Batteries are not a cheap replacement and considering the condition of the batteries, it could become an added expense you weren’t expecting. While inspecting the batteries on the golf cart, there are a few very important things to look for, which include:

  • Corrosion: Battery corrosion could be a sign of overcharging, bad batteries, and a leak in battery acid (which is highly flammable and toxic). Clean batteries could indicate that they have been properly cared for so even if they are not brand new, they could still be in very good condition.
  • Manufacturer Warranty: By checking the brand for a manufacturer warranty you could save some money down the road if the batteries go bad before they should. Better brands will offer warranties on their products which makes for an added plus when buying a used golf cart and will give you more insight into the reliability of the manufacturer.
  • Battery Age: Asking the age of the batteries is always a good idea. Batteries that are only a year or two old can last you for a few more years as you can usually get around 5 years out of golf cart batteries if they are cared for properly.
  • Question: Never be afraid to ask as many questions as you can think of to ensure you are getting the best deal possible for the amount of money you are spending.

Check the Overall Condition of the Golf Cart:

While taking a look at the used golf cart of your choice, it would be wise to take a look at the overall condition of the golf cart. Not only will this tell you how the golf cart was cared for and maintained but it will also prevent any surprises that may arise later. A thorough inspection should always be done when buying a golf cart second hand; a few things you should look for are:

  • Wiring: When looking at the wiring on the golf cart, it is important to take note if the wiring looks professionally done or if it looks like the current own may have made modifications themselves. If you know your way around the wiring and terminals on a golf cart then wiring that is less than perfect may work just fine for you, however, if the wiring looks to be duct-taped or a cluttered mess, it would be wise to keep looking for a different golf cart. This could mean a difference in your confidence in your purchase and another possible expense later on to have the wiring fixed.
  • Frame Type: Steel frames could indicate an older cart and are more disposed to rust easily and damage from corrosion from either outside forces or battery acid leaks. Aluminum frames have replaced steel frames in newer Club Car golf carts as they are lighter to use.
  • Frame Condition: Checking the condition of the frame is extremely important to reduce the risk of buying a golf cart that will ultimately be worthless in the future. Look for any warping, dents, bends, or cracks in the framework to ensure you are not buying something that won’t last you very long.
  • Body Condition: A used golf cart is liable to have some dents and dings in the body, which are no cause for alarm. If you happen across loose paneling, flimsy repairs, or serious damage to the body, it might be wise to pass on that golf cart because those repairs will run you more money than the golf cart is worth in its current condition.
  • Interior: The interior may not be the most important part of the golf cart but if you have decided to spend the money on one, you may not want to have to worry about completely replacing the seating or any storage areas on the golf cart. 

Finding a golf cart that has everything you need and want that is in decent condition requiring little to no repairs can be found; you just have to be willing to remain patient while on your search for the used golf cart you have in mind. If the golf cart does not seem like it is worth your money then it most likely is not.

Does the Golf Cart Run Smoothly or Not:

The overall look of the golf cart is important but not near as important as how it feels when you take it for a test drive. It is important to note that a red flag here would be the seller being hesitant or refusing to let you test drive the golf cart. If this happens it would probably be best to walk away and move on to the next one. Things to look for during your test drive include:

  • Brakes:  When looking for a golf cart, used, new, or refurbished, safety should always be top priority. Do the brakes squeak or squeal? Do they grind when you press the brake pedal to stop? Does the golf cart come to a stop smoothly or does it jerk? These are important questions to ask yourself when you test drive the golf cart to ensure you will not have to replace them any time soon. It is also recommended that you check for any corrosion or damage to the brake plates which could indicate that other parts of the golf cart have not been maintained properly during its use.
  • Ride: When test driving the golf cart you will want to pay attention to how it rides across different surfaces. If it has street tires and rides roughly across turf or pavement then there may be an underlying issue if you have found no damage to any of the tires.
  • Cranking: If you turn the key to start the golf cart and it has trouble starting or makes any loud noises, then it would be wise to try a different golf cart. You should have no issues starting the golf cart; otherwise, it will need repairs that could quickly become expensive.
  • Acceleration: Acceleration issues can be caused by a wide range of different things. For gas-powered golf carts, it could stem from issues with the gas line; battery-powered golf carts could have a bad battery in the pack or need a total replacement. They should both closely accelerate with the same amount of speed. Any delay or issue with the acceleration would call for further inspection and possibly some repairs.

Final Thoughts

The golf cart should have no difficulties remaining started, idling, or cruising around. Be sure to pay attention to any discrepancy with the overall function of the golf cart in order to ensure you are getting a deal that is worth your money and will not cost you even more money later to fix. Remember to ask every question you can think of and to follow your instinct when it comes to your final decision on a used golf cart.