Golf carts are an ideal accessory for anyone who enjoys golfing. At the same time, even people who don’t golf can benefit from owning a golf cart. These handy vehicles can be driven not only on a golf course but also in housing communities and even on some public roads. They are very reasonably priced, and there are so many models to pick from that one should have no problem finding a cart that suits his or her exact needs and specifications.
Electric carts do not produce emissions and are thus more eco-friendly than gas-powered golf carts. Furthermore, electronic carts are quieter, easier to maintain, and more affordable to purchase than their gas-powered counterparts. Electronic carts can get up to 40 miles on a single charge; what is more, it costs less to charge an electronic cart than it would fill the tank of a gas-powered golf cart.
Electronic golf carts are certainly a great investment. Nonetheless, it’s a smart idea to get to know the options before making a purchase. The following comprehensive guide to buying an electric golf cart provides all the information a buyer needs to make wise shopping decisions.
Golf Carts and Their Variations
There are four main types of electronic golf carts. These are regular golf carts, golf cars, low-speed vehicles (LSVs) and neighborhood electric vehicles (NEVs).
A golf cart is powered by a four-stroke engine and goes no faster than 15 miles per hour. Golf carts can be used for general transportation but are specifically made for use on a golf course. In some states, teenagers as young as 13 are permitted to drive a golf cart.
Unlike golf carts, golf cars are fully enclosed. The added protection is not only a vital safety feature for users who intend to drive their golf cars down a city street but also enables a user to drive a golf car in inclement weather. Additionally, golf cars are built with features that one would need to drive on a city street. These include brake lights, windshield wipers, and turn signals.
It should be noted that local and state regulations for golf cars are often different than those for golf carts. In some areas, a driver with a golf car will have access to more roads than a driver with a cart.
LSVs and NEVs
Low-speed vehicles include a wide range of vehicles that travel no faster than 25 to 35 miles per hour. LSV cars and vans are made by various manufacturers, and one might not be able to immediately tell the difference between an LSV and a regular vehicle at first glance.
However, there are legal classification differences between LSVs and other vehicles. Federal law states that an LSV must weigh less than 3,000 pounds and only be driven on roads with a maximum speed limit of 45 miles per hour.
New and used LSVs for sale must have a 25 mile per hour speed limit; however, an owner can modify the vehicle so that it reaches up to 35 miles per hour. LSVs that have been modified to go faster than 25 miles per hour must meet additional federal requirements before being driven around town.
NEVs are a specific type of low-speed vehicle. They are so popular in many states that some housing communities will actually build separate roads for NEV drivers to use when travelling around the community. NEVs are available in numerous sizes and models, with the GEM NEV and Renault Twizy being some of the most commonly purchased options.
A Short Peek at the History of the Golf Cart
J.K. Wadley was the first person to use an electronic cart on a golf course. His inspiration for the idea came from seeing senior citizens being transported to a nearby store in an electronic cart. Unfortunately, as Mr. Wadley quickly discovered, the electronic carts used to transport the elderly did not work well on a golf course.
An electronic cart customized for use on a golf course was first built in 1932. Other, similar models were built soon afterwards. However, only the disabled used them. It was not until the 1950s that it was considered acceptable for able-bodied people to use a golf cart to get around the golf course. Even so, golf carts did not become popular until the 1970s.
Golf Carts are made by numerous manufacturers, including a few that date back to the 1950s. These include:
- Ingersoll-Rand PLC
- Club Car
- Polaris GEM
- American Custom Golf Cars (ACG)
- Gulf Atlantic Vehicles
Harley Davidson manufactured golf carts in the 1960s. The company no longer makes and sells these vehicles; even so, its carts are highly sought after by aspiring golf cart owners and collectors around the nation.
Which Cart is the Best?
There are a variety of factors to take into account when choosing a golf cart. First of all, consider what the cart will be used for. If you intend to primarily drive the cart around town, a golf car, LSV or NEV will most likely be your best option as you would have the amenities needed to get around town safely; additionally, you will have legal access to numerous roads in your area. On the other hand, a golf cart is best for those who want to drive mostly on the golf course and around a local housing community.
What about Gas-Powered Golf Carts?
There are several good reasons why gas-powered golf carts are a popular alternative to electric ones. It’s faster to fill up a gas cart than it is to wait for an electric one to finish charging. What is more, gas-powered carts can go further on a full tank than electric carts can on a full battery and they are faster than electric carts to boot.
On the other hand, it usually costs more to purchase and maintain a gas-powered golf cart than it does to buy and maintain an electronic one. Gas-powered carts, unlike their electric counterparts, need regular oil changes, filter replacements, belt changes, and more. Furthermore, gas-powered carts are noisier and far less eco-friendly than electric carts.
New or Used?
The main advantage of buying a new golf cart is that you know the cart is in good working order. Additionally, the cart will be covered by a warranty, and you won’t have to worry about replacing parts for a long time. A new golf cart costs anywhere from $4,000 to $10,000; however, some specialized models can be as costly as $17,000 to $20,000 apiece.
Used carts are cheaper than new ones. They may cost anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000, and some even come with an extended warranty. What is more, buying a used cart gives you the freedom to customize the cart as you see fit without having to worry about voiding the warranty.
A growing number of golf cart owners and even dealerships are opting to buy used electric carts and then strip them down and completely refurbish them. Popular modification options include adding extra seats, putting in an audio system, selecting unique wheels, and installing premium LED lights on the cart.
What to Look for in a Used Golf Cart
Naturally, you’ll want to inspect a used golf cart more carefully than you would examine a brand new one. Be sure to have a look at the serial number to see how old the cart is. You’ll want to check the entire cart for signs of rust, scratches, and dents. The battery should be checked for leaks and signs of corrosion. Ask to test-drive the cart to make sure it runs well and be sure the owner has a battery charger to go with the cart.
You can find used carts for sale by checking the classified ads section of local newspapers or looking on sites such as Craigslist or eBay. Used carts are also available for sale at various dealerships. If you opt to buy a cart from a dealer, be sure to research the dealership beforehand to ensure that it is reputable and offers good value for your money.
What to Look for in a Refurbished Golf Cart
The main difference between a refurbished cart and a used one is that a refurbished one is guaranteed to work properly. Such carts often come with a long-term warranty even though they are not brand new. Various golf cart dealerships sell refurbished carts and many of these carts come with handy amenities such as Bluetooth, LED lights, windshield wipers, etc.
On the other hand, refurbished carts are usually more expensive than their used counterparts. What is more, not all refurbished carts are a good buy. Some dealers charge a high price for amenities that you may not want or need while others do not offer a worthwhile warranty. Check the cart carefully, test-drive it to make sure it works, and make sure the dealer you purchase it from has a high average online review rating.
What to Look for When Buying a New Cart
Choose a new golf cart seller with care. Check the internet to make sure the seller is reputable and honest. Alternatively, ask someone you know who has purchased a new electronic cart recently to give you a referral to a good seller.
Make a list of specifications that are important to you before buying a cart and then check potential new carts to find one that meets your needs. It’s also wise to test-drive a new cart before buying it to make sure that you will be comfortable driving it later on.
Ask about warranty terms and conditions. It is especially wise to do so if you are considering modifying your new cart in any way. Adding amenities to your cart on your own could void the warranty.
Buying an electric golf cart is a great investment. These versatile carts are not only hardy and durable but can also be used for a variety of purposes. Even so, it’s wise to do careful research before shopping for a cart if you want to get the best possible deal. Consider what type of cart would best meet your needs and then take a look at the available options. Consider the pros and cons of each new, refurbished, or used cart you look at carefully, and then buy the one that offers the best value for the money spent.