Why is My Golf Cart Motor Getting Hot and How to Fix It?

Electric golf carts are handy and a lot of fun, but they’re also prone to problems. One of the biggest issues that electric golf carts face is the problem of overheated motors. There are a number of reasons why your electric golf cart motor might overheat, and finding the problem and dealing with it is crucial to getting peak performance out of your cart. 

Electric golf cart motors get hot and overheat is because of overuse, aftermarket larger tires, hilly terrain, and extra weight towed. However, there are also possible mechanical issues such as dirty fins, shrouds, or faulty bearings. Diagnosing issues with overheating can be difficult to pinpoint.

While it’s sometimes difficult to know why your motor is overheating, it’s extremely important to find out. An overheated motor on an electric golf cart can be dangerous and costly to fix. In this article, we’ll look at some of the most likely causes for a hot motor and what to do about them. 

Reasons an Electric Golf Cart Motor Overheats and What to Do 

Dirty Cooling Fins 

As their name indicates, your cooling fins are tasked with keeping your motor cool while you’re driving. If, however, these fins get too dirty, they’re no longer able to do their job and won’t keep your motor cool. 

How to Fix Dirty Motor Cooling Fins on a Golf Cart

If you check your cooling fins and they’re dirty, start by trying to clean them. Use a cloth, compressed air, or a brush to get them cleaned out so they can properly cool the motor. If they’re beyond the point of repair, however, you’ll have to replace them to get your cart working again. 

Blocked Shroud 

The shroud on your golf cart has a job similar to that of the cooling fins. It’s responsible for keeping air circulating throughout the engine compartment and for ventilating hot air away from the motor. If the shroud is dirty or blocked with mud, dirt, a mouse nest, or anything else, it won’t be able to do it’s job and your motor will overheat. 

How to Fix 

As with the cooling fins, you should start by removing and inspecting the shroud. If it’s dirty, try to clean it with a brush or rag and water. If the shroud is too dirty to repair or damaged in any way, replace it with a new one. 

Tank Vent Issues 

The tank vent is similar to an exhaust on a gas engine in that it lets pressure out of the motor to keep it from overheating. If, however, the vent is blocked or damaged in any way, pressure won’t be released and your motor might overheat. 

How to Fix 

Check the tank vent to make sure that it isn’t blocked in any way. If it is, remove the blockage and your cart should start working smoothly again. 

Driving Too Fast or Too Hard 

You can overheat your golf cart motor by driving too fast, going over too many hills, accelerating in stop/go traffic too much, or carrying too much of a load.

How to Fix

If your motor overheats doing this items, try accelerating slower, removing some weight from your cart, or simply giving it some time to rest and cool down before driving again.

Faulty Bearings 

Another possible reason for an overheated motor is because your bearings are rubbing against other parts of the motor. This can create friction, like rubbing two sticks together to start a fire. This friction will create extra heat and put more wear on your motor.

How to Fix 

Check the bearings and make sure they’re not rubbing against anything. Lubricate and repair them if they are. 

Your Breaks are Stuck 

If you’re driving your golf cart around and the breaks are stuck or rubbing together, it’s going to case extra stress on your motor causing it to heat up.  

How to Fix 

You’ll have to fix your breaks by loosening them to get your cart working again. Jack up the rear of your cart and make sure the wheels are able to freewheel when the emergency brake is off.

Using Your Golf Cart for Things They’re Not Meant for 

One of the biggest issues that people run into with their golf carts is that they use them for things outside of golfing. Golf carts are machines specifically designed to drive on flat terrains and even surfaces. Attempting to use them as all-terrain vehicles or work carts will definitely overheat the motor. 

How to Fix 

If you do decide to use your golf cart for anything besides golf, be careful. Avoid overworking your cart by driving up big hills or hauling trailers. You should also avoid going over big bumps or driving on surfaces that will overwork the engine and possibly jar it loose. 

Overworking Your Golf Cart 

People also have the habit of trying to personalize their golf carts or soop them up with things they aren’t designed to handle. Putting a hitch or bigger tires on your cart might look cool, but it will most likely cause your motor to overheat. 

How to Fix 

The easiest way to avoid this problem is to keep your golf cart as the way it was when you purchased it. If, however, you’re determined to modify it and make it your own, make sure to install a motor and speed controller that’s big enough to handle the upgrades. 

How do You Cool a Golf Cart Motor? 

The first, best, and easiest way to cool down your golf cart motor is by turning it off and giving it time to rest. It may need several hours to cool down, especially if it’s hot outside and the sun is shining. Try finding a shaded place to park the cart while the engine cools to speed up the process. 

You can also make a  system where you have copper tubes sitting on top of the motor with water flowing through them. As cool water is flowing through the copper tubes, they act as a conductor for the motor. Doing this while your cart is resting will definitely speed up the cooling process. 

What Happens if a Golf Cart Overheats? 

The biggest risk you run with an overheated motor is that it could damage other components of the cart. The engine compartments on golf carts are tight and the motor is often in contact with other internal components. If it’s too hot and touches any wires or plastic components, it can melt them and cause serious issues. 

The windings on an electric motor will go bad over time if you cause them to have excessive heat which will lower performance on your motor.

An overheated golf cart motor is also prone to breaking itself down from the inside out. As the motor heats, anything connected to it will also get hot. This could lead to irreparable motor damage where you have to replace the motor or get a new golf cart. The engine compartments on electric golf carts are designed to handle temperatures of up to 200 degrees Farhenheit. Anything hotter than this can start to cause issues. 

How do I Know if My Electric Golf Cart Motor is Bad? 

Depending on how old your electric golf cart is, however, you may not have a temperature gauge that tells you how hot the motor is. Therefore, you need to know what to look for to detect an overheating engine before things get too serious. 

  1. The first and most obvious sign that your motor is too hot is when you touch it. Your motor should be warm or even hot after using it, but if you burn your finger when you place it on the motor, there’s a good chance it’s overheated. 
  2. If you notice wires or parts around the motor that are melted, your motor was definitely too hot. 
  3. When the engine gets too hot as you’re driving the cart, it will shut down. 
  4. Before your golf cart shuts down completely, it will start moving slower than normal. A slow-moving cart is one of the first signs that your electric motor is being overworked.