What is Tow Mode on a Golf Cart?

Whether you are a long time owner or a recent purchaser of a golf cart, there may be some confusion surrounding your vehicle’s tow mode. This confusion is entirely common. In fact, occasionally golf cart owners are never even introduced to the vehicle’s tow mode upon purchasing their vehicle from a licensed dealer. If you received your golf cart second hand, confusion surrounding the vehicle’s ‘tow’ mode is even more common. Frequently asked questions regarding a golf cart’s tow mode include what it is, how to utilize it, and when to use it. All of these questions and more regarding a golf carts tow mode will be discussed and explored below.

Tow mode is a mode golf cart manufacturers allow users to enable in case they need to work on the electronics of their golf cart or tow their golf cart. Tow mode will deactivate the computer which cuts voltage to sensitive electronics and any roll away function that will enable the brakes for towing.

The Tow Run Switch Explained

In general, a golf cart’s tow mode is activated via a tow run switch, which occasionally is referred to as a tow/ maintenance switch. This switch is common among modern golf carts and is rarely present on older models. The reason for this variance is that tow run switches are only installed on golf carts with a separately excited motor. Normally, a golf cart with this type of motor also possesses the ability for regenerative braking and roll away protection.

To properly function, a golf cart with a separately excited motor will store a very small amount of data through the use of an electronic speed controller. In order for this electronic speed controller to continue to work even when the cart is not in use, your golf cart will continue to draw a small amount of energy from the battery. The only way to disable this continued drain on the battery is by flipping the tow run switch to tow.

If you are ever performing battery maintenance or working on your solenoid, you will want to make sure your tow run switch is switched to tow to protect the electronics in case of a short.

Where is the Tow Run Switch Located

Most likely, the tow run switch for your golf cart is located in the battery compartment. As you are probably aware, this compartment is almost always under a golf cart’s seat. The tow run switch should be in plain sight. Normally the switch will include a diagram that displays which side of the toggle is designated for ‘run’ and which side is designated for ‘tow’. If you are having trouble locating the switch on your golf cart you can look for a ‘warning’ label which is occasionally printed around the tow switch by the vehicle’s manufacturer.

When to Use Your Golf Cart’s Tow Mode

Now that you know what tow mode is and where to locate the tow run switch on your golf cart, you are probably wondering when you should utilize this feature. The most obvious time to activate your golf cart’s tow mode is when you need your golf cart to be towed. Activating this mode while your golf cart is being towed is important to ensure your vehicle doesn’t automatically trigger its roll away protection feature. This roll away protection feature protects the golf cart in the event a user forgets to lock their parking brake while parked downhill. However, when towning you will need to disable this roll away protection via use of your golf cart’s tow mode.

Another proper situation to utilize your vehicle’s tow mode is when you are going to be storing or not using your golf cart for an extended period of time. Leaving your golf cart’s tow maintenance switch on ‘run’ while you store your golf cart will almost always cause your golf cart’s battery to drain. This is because of that electronic speed controller we previously discussed. Therefore, when you are leaving for vacation or otherwise storing your golf cart, you should always completely charge your vehicle and then flip the tow maintenance switch into tow mode. This will prevent your battery from receiving an unnecessary drain from the constantly active electronic speed controller. Depending upon the amount of time you are away, your golf cart’s battery could still be drained upon your return.

If you are ever working with your battery cables, you should ensure tow mode is activated to cut voltage to sensitive electronics. Some will refer to tow mode as storage mode.

Will a Golf Cart Charge in Tow Mode?

The simple answer to this question is, yes, your golf cart will charge while tow mode is activated. Yes, activating tow mode will disable your cart’s computer, but it does not affect your battery or its charging capabilities. However, you can also charge your golf cart while it’s tow maintenance switch is toggled to ‘run’. The difference between charging a golf cart in ‘tow’ mode or ‘run’ mode is very minimal, but it is worth exploring.

Charging your vehicle in tow mode is the most efficient way to charge your vehicle. This is because, as we previously discussed, your vehicle will not experience any drain on its battery when tow mode is activated. Therefore, your golf cart’s battery will charge faster and more efficiently. Now, this charging difference may be very minimal between ‘tow’ and ‘run’ mode, but if you are becoming annoyed with your vehicle’s tendency to constantly need charging you may find charging in ‘tow’ mode to alleviate some frustration.

Recap: When to Toggle Your Cart’s Tow and Run Mode

The following chart explores various situations when the tow and run modes of your golf cart should be utilized.

Standard use of your golf cart, driving around, working with the cartRun mode should be activated
Performing maintenance or towing your golf cartUtilize tow mode to prevent damage to your vehicle’s computer or electronic speed controller
Charging your golf cart overnightEither mode can be utilized. Utilizing tow mode will allow for the most efficient charging practices
Storing your golf cart for an extended period of timeUtilize tow mode to prevent battery from draining.

In summary, your golf cart’s tow mode disables the vehicle’s electronic speed controller and its roll away protection. Disabling these features on your golf cart is necessary and important when storing your golf cart for an extended period of time, performing any type of maintenance, and when having your golf cart towed. Overall, your golf cart can be charged when either ‘tow’ or ‘run’ mode is activated. However, charging your vehicle while tow mode is activated will be the most efficient.