Modern golf carts tend to be more electric than gas, but the gas-powered cart is still popular as they tend to have more power and don’t rely on charged batteries to get up and go.
Gas-powered golf carts mostly use 87 octane for their engines and will not benefit from higher octane as they are not high compression engines such as a car engine. The best fuel to find is ethanol free and make sure to add fuel stabilizer as golf carts tend to sit around a lot.
It’s important to use the correct octane gas in your golf cart, but this also depends on the altitude you live at, and there are some maintenance measures you can take to ensure your cart has a long, happy life.
What Gas Do Golf Carts Take And Why?
Gas-powered golf carts require at minimum 87 octanes for the engines. This is because 87 octane has less than 10% ethanol, and most (if not all) manufacturers recommend 87 octanes for their carts and advise against using any other grade of fuel.
Higher ethanol content will lead to the deterioration of fuel lines, rubber components, and pumps, which will lead to mechanical issues and breakdowns and the risk of the cart not working at all.
Unlike cars, which can handle and perform better with the higher octane fuels, golf cart engines are only designed to operate at a max speed of around 30mph-35mph if they are street legal and if being used on residential estates for errands, don’t need a lot of power from the engine, so fuels that deliver more octane will potentially damage the engine function.
What Fuels Do You Use For Yamaha, EZGO And Club Car?
For most of the major manufacturers, the recommended fuel is ‘unleaded’ and is essentially the same as you would use in your car, so this would be either 87 or 89, and if you are at altitude, you may need higher octane.
Many users of these carts advise that they have been using 87 octane for many years without any issues, but have kept the maintenance up as well.
Whether you are buying a new cart or secondhand one, make sure you get accurate information regarding the best fuel to use.
Always add a fuel stabilizer such as our favorite here to your golf cart when filling as golf carts tend to sit around a lot and a tank of fuel can last 6 months for some users. Stabilizer will protect your fuel lines and carburetor from getting gunked up.
When Could You Use A Higher Octane Fuel In A Golf Cart?
The only time you could use a 93 octane or higher is when you are using the cart at altitude or if you have installed a high-performance engine. This is because where there is less oxygen, the fuel burns slower, and using a lower octane fuel like 87 could lead to a loss of power from the engine as there is less oxygen to fuel the ignition process.
Is 87 Octane The Best Fuel For Golf Carts?
Since 2017, increasingly more opinions have been expressed that 87 Octane may not be the best fuel for golf carts. This has come around due to mechanical issues seen in golf carts like stalling, exhaust smoke, clogged carburetors, damaged fuel pumps, and dissolving of rubber components.
Ethanol found in 87 octanes attracts water, and if your cart doesn’t burn through it within about three months of filling, the ethanol can be corrosive in the engine, and this can cause performance and mechanical issues.
Not only that, but when the water suspended in the gas experiences rapid temperature changes and does separate from the gas, it lowers the octane level by around 4 points, so can 87 octane is now only an 83 octane.
Smaller engines with carburetors like golf carts were not designed to work with the 10% ethanol (E-10) content, reducing fuel efficiency considerably. It affects efficient combustion in the engine, causing stalling and a rough-running engine.
As ethanol in the fuel tank ages, it promotes the build of gum, leading to clogging in the carburetor and fuel filter, which will decrease the power and performance.
With the development of more efficient fuels and the various additives that can prevent engine performance issues, some cart manufacturers and technicians advocate the use of 89 octanes or higher for better overall performance and lower risk of mechanical problems.
Once again, to prevent this, use a high quality fuel stabilizer.
What Problems Can Additives Prevent In Golf Cart Engines?
Over and above the fuel octane levels, there are additives like Sta-bil and similar other products that are designed to assist engine performance as they can:
- Stop corrosion in engines
- Prevent rust build-up
- Prevent varnish in engines
- Prevent and reduce gum build-up
- Cleans the carburetor
- Removes any water
Adding these products to your golf cart engine will certainly improve the performance and reduce the risk of clogged fuel filters and carburetors in golf cart engines.
It’s always advisable to use the manufacturer-recommended octane grade to keep your cart in warranty, so check with your supplier or directly with the manufacturer if you have any concerns around the correct fuel for your gas-powered golf cart.
How Can I Keep My Golf Cart Fuel System In Good Condition?
Aside from the fuel itself, you can take some other preventative measures to ensure that external factors don’t affect your cart’s performance.
Start by keeping your cap and lid area on the fuel tank clean as you don’t want to have dirt, dust, leaves, grass, or any other possible items getting into your fuel system as that will cause problems.
Another element is to maintain the services on the cart. This will prevent future issues caused by neglect. It is best to get it serviced by a reputable provider with good experience with golf carts and your brand of cart in general.
Check the gas and oil after every 100 hours of use to make sure they are clean and clear.
You should also make a note to check your oil every month or so, and if you see it’s become sludgy, you should change it immediately, and even if you haven’t been using your cart regularly, you may still need to change it.
The oil sitting for a while can cause your engine to perform poorly, as can a dirty air intake, so both should be checked regularly.
This is why the electric cart is much more popular than the gas-powered ones, as the maintenance and potential mechanical issues are far less in the electric carts.
As for gas-powered golf cart owners or buyers, you should always be advised which grade of fuel would be preferable in your cart, and the older carts would still probably run best on 87 octanes.
Newer models and revised analysis of cart engine issues may lead to revising recommendations around fuel octane levels, so it would be best to get first-hand advice from either the manufacturer or supplier on this before you use your cart.