3 Red Flags to Look for When Buying a Pre-Owned Golf Cart

When trying to save a little money, it is always a good idea to look at pre-owned golf carts first. Pre-owned golf carts could be just as reliable as brand new ones if they were well-maintained by the previous owner. Knowing what to look for before buying one, however, will be key in determining how good of a deal you are actually getting.

Just like when you buy a car, a golf cart is an important investment that should not be taken lightly. Therefore, treat it like you are buying a car. In order to truly assess the quality of a pre-owned golf cart, make sure you first take it for a test drive and look closely for these three red flags:

  • Noisy and Sluggish Brakes
  • Poor Steering and Control
  • Rust on the Frame

As long as you approach a dealer with the right amount of information, you will be able to make an educated decision, ultimately saving you thousands in future repairs.

Noisy and Sluggish Brakes
One of the first things you should look for when buying a pre-owned golf cart is whether the brakes make noise. Here, you will have to take the golf cart for a test drive. Also, you should drive it on the type of terrain you will be using it for, whether on a golf course or on the roads of a neighborhood. This way, you will be able to feel exactly how the brakes respond in the places you will be using it most.

During the test drive, try braking from various speeds. Most electric carts will go around twelve miles per hour, so you should get it close to its top speed to test how it responds if you have to brake suddenly. When braking, the ideal golf cart will stop quickly without a grinding or squealing sound. If you find that you are putting too much effort into making it stop or that the brakes are loud, you should voice your concern to the dealer. A lot of times, a cart with squealing or sluggish brakes simply means you will have to replace the brake shoes.

However, if the dealer admits that the cart had been neglected and improperly serviced by the previous owner, the brake drum may be permanently damaged. Check the brakes for rus, especially around the back braking plates behind the rear wheels. A little rust should be expected, but if too much corrosion is the main culprit for noisy brakes, you will be better off spending a little more money to get a cart that had been properly serviced.

Poor Steering and Control
Another thing to look for when test driving a pre-owned golf cart is how well you can control the vehicle. Try driving it on the terrain that will affect your cart the most. At the same time, don’t be afraid to test it on rougher spots, including small hills and gravel. A good dealer will give you the option of testing it in various conditions.

If you find that maneuvering the cart is difficult, you should be prepared to move on, unless you see the tires are slightly deflated. A lack of tire pressure will cause the cart to move left or right without you turning the wheel. Thankfully, replacing or repairing a tire is cheap, and if you have checked all other aspects of the golf cart, you will still be able to purchase the vehicle without too many long term setbacks. If the tires are fully inflated, however, the problem most likely stems from the steering system itself.

A damaged steering system will be expensive to replace and could ultimately cost you as much as buying a brand new cart. Ask yourself how much the lack of control affects the cart’s performance. If it is so minor you hardly notice, it may be fine to buy. Otherwise, move on when you know the steering will have to be replaced.

Rust and Wear on the Frame
One of the final red flags when buying a pre-owned golf cart is if you see rust on the frame. The frame is the cart’s skeleton and should be in excellent condition for you to avoid any expensive repairs in the future. A corroded frame could mean you will have to rebuild the cart in a matter of months. If this is the case, you won’t have much of a reason to consider it any longer.

Rust affects a golf cart in more ways than its appearance. Friends and family who drive your golf cart may be unaware of the rusted sections, which could result in injury. Additionally, battery acid will sometimes seep onto the frame, weakening the cart’s body until it is completely broken down.

A rusted golf cart may be a sign that the previous owners did not maintain the vehicle properly. Improper maintenance will affect everything from the brakes and the frame to the steering system. If the cart appears to have been treated with misuse, you will be better off looking elsewhere. The previous owner will have a big effect on how the cart operates for you.

Final Thoughts: Always Take It for a Spin

If you are ever questioning whether or not to buy a golf cart, always take it for a spin. Good dealers will let you drive it before making a decision and will often give you a chance to take it on rough terrain to see its true capabilities. Remember to test the brakes and steering wheel when driving the cart at various speeds. Treat the test run as if you are driving your own vehicle.

A pre-owned golf cart is a great investment as long as you don’t have to immediately get it repaired. Repairs will add up quickly and may cost you more than if you had bought a new cart in the first place. Test the cart to make sure it operates the way you like. A good pre-owned golf cart will drive as if it’s new—all you have to do now is go look for one.