Golf Cart Buyers Guide
Our guide is developed for the Australian second hand golf cart market. Our goal is to make you an informed buyer and give you the best experience in golf cart ownership.
General advice on what to buy:
When looking at used golf carts our advice is to start with any of the 3 major USA brands. Those are Yamaha, Club Car and EZGO. The reason why we suggest these 3 brands is that they have a strong level of support, ensuring if you need parts to repair it, they are usually available. Typically the 3 major brands have a high level of quality, although later in this guide we will cover which models to avoid as even the 3 major brands have some less reliable models in their range.
In short, you cant really go wrong with the major brands (E-Z-GO, Yamaha, Club Car), even their worst models are pretty good and there are plenty of people around that know how to work on them.
If you are looking at second hand models outside of the 3 major brands, make sure there is an active distributor that will have parts available to repair it if something goes wrong. We have seen quite a few cases of imported golf carts having to be scraped because fairly basic items are simply not available, making it impossible or very expensive to repair the vehicle.
Please read on for our more detailed guide on what to buy and what to avoid.
Where do you buy it?
This is a tricky one.
Buying from a Dealer - What nobody in the industry wants to tell you is, almost every second hand golf cart from a Dealer is an ex-fleet golf cart. An ex-fleet golf cart isn’t always a bad thing, it really depends on which golf course it’s come from. Some golf courses are harder on their golf carts than others and some have better maintenance schedules than others. If you are buying a golf cart from a Dealer, ask where it came from, ask about maintenance history and what has been done to refurbish it before you take delivery. The reality is, fleet work is often hard on the vehicle. Many golf courses run their golf carts like taxi’s and often they are abused. Bushes, shock absorbers and suspension components usually take the brunt of the hard work and almost certainly need replacing before beginning it’s second life, even if it’s only a few years old. There are a few cases where top level private golf courses take exceptionally good care of their golf carts but this is rare. This is why it’s so important to ask the question about the golf carts history. Golf courses usually lease or rent their golf carts for 3 or 4 years so it’s a 3 or 4 year old golf cart being sold by a dealer, you can be absolutely certain it’s an ex-fleet golf cart. If you are buying from a Dealer, definitely ask about warranty.
Buying Privately – Obviously buying privately can lead to a very good or very bad experience. If you are buying from a first owner that bought it new and know the history, you are probably on to a good thing. This is a rare case where you can get a second hand golf cart that is not an ex-fleet car. In our opinion, you are better off paying a little bit more for a privately owned golf cart if you can confirm with absolute certainty that it is not an ex-fleet golf cart. If the seller doesn’t know much about it’s history, you might want to steer clear of it.
Location – This ones important. Consider local support - If you are buying a golf cart from another region from a Dealer, providing support will prove difficult, even if you have a warranty, regardless of what the dealer tells you, it won’t be easy for them to look after you if they are 100+ kilometres away from you. We always recommend buying locally from a Dealer as close as possible, even a small reseller. These smaller dealers put the time into second hand golf carts and because they are local to the area, they simply cannot risk their reputation. Paying a little bit more from a local dealer is usually worth the extra money and if something goes wrong, you have someone local to call and help you. They'll also be able to do any general servicing or upgrades you want.
How much should you spend?
You get what you pay for. If you are buying a golf cart for a few thousand dollars, don’t expect it to be reliable. A lead-acid battery set is around $2,000, just for batteries. A replacement charger is $500 or more. If you are paying $2,000 for a golf cart, it’s very unlikely to be in good working order. If it’s Electric, you can be almost certain the batteries will need replacing in this price range. Nobody spends $2,000 on batteries a few months before selling the golf cart complete with batteries for the same price as a set of batteries. Buying an older, cheaper model is usually risky and you may spend more than the purchase price keeping it running. Our advice, buy something no older than about 10 years old, preferably less although just remember, almost every 3 or 4 year old golf cart is one that’s just come off a golf course lease. Golf carts, electric in particular, are pretty simple mechanically so buying one that is 5 or 6 years old but privately owned is often going to mean it’s had less use than a 3 year old ex-fleet golf cart.
Our advice is, spend a bit more than the entry level stuff, around $5,000 at a minimum but usually around $7,000 for something of good quality. Spending more on the vehicle up-front will mean spending less maintaining it. It also means that if you want to sell it, you are going to get more money back. If you want a really nice second hand golf cart, around $10,000 will get you a fully re-furbished golf cart with Lithium Batteries. This might sound like a lot of money initially but Lithium batteries are going to last a lot longer than lead-acid batteries and eventually you will save the money.
On a budget?
If you are on a budget, we have some advice you. Buy either a E-Z-GO TXT, Club Car DS or a Yamaha G16, G19 or G22. These are all quality golf carts that are getting a bit long in the tooth now but there is still plenty of support for them. The next most important consideration is batteries – if it’s really cheap and you know it needs batteries immediately or soon, as long as the price is right, it could still be a good option. Replacement batteries will be expensive, consider an upgrade to Lithium. You’ll get a lot longer life out of the vehicle and a huge performance boost from the reduced weight. The older models do have less power than newer models so the Lithium upgrade in these older ones makes a huge difference to the performance. Obviously general condition is important but if you do have to compromise, let it be in the condition of things like the body work, seat or windscreen. Replacement seat covers or windshield are fairly inexpensive, the main thing is that it drives well. What you are looking for when test driving is smooth and quiet acceleration (a small amount of whine from the diff is common and should not be a concern) and seeing whether the vehicle can drive straight without your hands on the wheels. Listen for any unusual noises coming from under the golf cart while it’s moving and gives the brakes a good press (stretched brake cables can mean they are very slow to come to a stop and you don’t want to find this out in the moment you need to stop quickly).
Pickles and Grays Online often auction entire fleets of golf carts at low prices. The results are very much hit and miss. Some people will get a bargain but the over whelming result is horror stories for most people. We do not recommend bidding on golf carts you haven’t seen. Water damage can be severe and a golf cart listed as not running could have a blown controller, corroded wiring harness or damaged motor. The golf cart may look okay but could cost you thousands to fix. Unless you really know what you are doing, leave this to the people that do. A cheap golf cart can turn into a very expensive golf cart if you are replacing components like Controllers, motors, chargers or batteries.
What to avoid:
Even the 3 major brands are not without their less reliable models. A lot of the models mentioned here are not fundamentally bad, they just have weak points and if you can avoid them, do.
Any Club Car with 12V batteries (2004-2008). The 4x12V (48V) batteries in Club Cars, simply didn’t work as well as other 48V configurations. They don’t get the life and you will need to replace batteries more frequently than a Club Car with 6x8v batteries. If you have a 12V Club Car, you might even want to consider upgrading to Lithium Batteries next time you need batteries. Club Cars from around 2005 to 2013 have an OBC (onboard computer) which can be unreliable as well, these aren’t terrible but later models do not have an OBC and are a better choice. Upgrading to Lithium will bypass the OBC, effectively removing it, which is a good thing.
Early model Yamaha G29 (around 2007). These are still a fairly good golf cart but the early models did suffer from problems with the seat base tearing very easily as well as some transaxle problems which can be expensive to fix. If the budget allows, try for something a little bit newer.
Early model EZGO RXV (around 2008). These were the first major golf cart to use an AC drive system rather than DC. This was a huge leap forward in efficiency but it came with it’s fair share of problems. Electrical failures on these models can lead to the golf cart being stuck with the brake on, making it impossible to move. You cannot push the vehicle and the rear wheels will be locked on. They also use 4x12V batteries although because the AC system is more efficient than the Club Car DC’s system, they do tend to last a bit longer.
Our choice (in no particular order):
Yamaha - Series 2 Yamaha Drive from 2017+ addressed the problems from the earlier model and have proved to be more reliable than the earlier G29 (2007-2016).
Club Car - Later Club Car’s from 2014 on with ERIC charge system are usually very good. The only common problem with these is the MCOR (basically the throttle position sensor) but that’s very easy to fix and a well known problem that’s easy to spot (the throttle usually only works in some positions or is jerky). Although the Precedent is the most popular model, as of 2018, the Club Car Tempo replaces the Precedent and these are now becoming available second hand.
EZGO – From around 2011 the RXV was improved with a Brake Release lever added so that it can be moved when power is lost (earlier models can get stuck when there is an electric failure). The RXV got a visual refresh in late 2015/early 2016.
Other older models. The Club Car DS, E-Z-GO TXT and Yamaha G16, G19 and G22 are all really good golf carts. They are from a time before 12 volt batteries and onboard computers which means they are more simple mechanically than later models. This is both good and bad, they are less programmable (later model golf carts offer programmable performance settings on the controller which can be adjusted by a Dealer, this includes top speed, acceleration and regenerative braking) where as later models do not offer any programming. Buying anything pre 1990’s is usually a bad idea, not so much because they aren’t great golf carts, there just isn’t a lot of parts around for them and being around 30 years old means they have had a lot of use.
What else should you ask when buying a second hand golf cart?
If it’s electric, the first question you should be asking is the age of the batteries. On a lead-acid battery there is a date code you can check although it can be tricky to spot. If you are buying it privately and the owner says they replaced the batteries, ask them for the invoice. If you are buying a golf cart from a Dealer, ask them the battery age and ask them to put the year of the batteries on the invoice. If it’s a Dealer, ask them if there is a warranty (also put this on the invoice) and ask whether a discharge or hydrometer test has been performed on the batteries.
Ask when it was last serviced. What was done during the service, who serviced it, any evidence to support the service.
If it’s a Dealer, ask who owned it before. Specifically ask if it’s an ex-fleet golf cart and if it is, which golf course it came from.
Has it been repaired - Some golf carts are repaired after being sold by an insurance company at auction. Perhaps they were stolen or damaged during a flood or fire. This isn’t always a bad thing, insurance companies will often write off perfectly good golf carts with minor problems that Dealers can fix easily but you still want to know. If the damage is minor and they have been repaired by an experienced repairer that is willing to support the product, don’t be afraid but be informed.
Parts and Accessories
One of the key reasons for buying a major brand like a Yamaha, E-Z-GO or a Club Car is that there is a huge level of spare parts and accessories available. This means that if you did need to repair a problem, in most cases finding the parts will be easy and affordable. If you want to improve your golf cart by adding accessories, for example a bag cover to protect your clubs, some seat covers or some alloy wheels, popular models have been tried and tested and there will be plenty of options available to you at great prices because the items are made in large volumes, ensuring the quality has been tried and tested over many years.
This is written based on decades of experience with golf carts, learning what works and what doesn't. We hope this open and honest guide to golf cart ownership is helpful. Happy golfing :) We leave you with a few pictures of models we love.
EZGO RXV 48V Second Hand Electric Golf Cart
Club Car Precedent 48V Second Hand Electric Golf Cart
Yamaha G22 48V Second Hand Electric Golf Cart
Club Car DS 48V Second Hand Electric Golf Cart
EZGO TXT 36V Used Electric Golf Cart
Yamaha G29 Drive 48V Second Hand Electric Golf Cart
Club Car Tempo 48V Second Hand Electric Golf Cart