Golf Cart Won’t Start: How to Troubleshoot and Save Your Day

When your golf cart doesn’t start it can be frustrating to try and find the cause.

While they are usually pretty robust and provide years of hassle-free service, golf carts require regular maintenance to keep performing well.

Let’s look at what you can do to get your golf cart running again.

What To Do If Your Golf Cart Won’t Start

To diagnose why your golf cart won’t start, you should look at 3 things:

  1. Fuel
  2. Airflow
  3. Electrical system

How To Fix Golf Cart Engine Fuel Problems

On a conventional gas-powered engine, the fuel you use is the same as what you put in your car.

Check that your fuel tank is full. If it is, then have a look at the carburetor to see if fuel is reaching the engine.

💡 Golfible Tip: Your fuel filter may be blocked, so check that too.

How To Find Airflow Blockages in a Golf Cart Engine

Anything that may interfere with the flow of air into the engine will be a potential cause of it not starting. The air filter should be checked and cleaned or replaced regularly.

Remove any twigs, mud, or grass clippings that may obstruct the clean flow of air.

Troubleshooting Golf Cart Electrical Systems

When you turn the golf cart ignition key, you should hear a loud click. That is the solenoid activating.

On a gas-powered cart, the next sound you’ll hear is the starter motor turning the engine over. If not, then you may have a dead battery, corroded terminals, or frayed wiring.

Why Is My Golf Cart Not Firing?

When the engine turns over on a gas-powered golf cart but doesn’t start, you may not have a spark at the spark plugs. They may be worn out, or dirty, or the spark gap may be incorrect.

Golf carts that run for a while and then fail to start once hot, may have a leak or crack somewhere in the fuel system or air intake manifold.

If you hear no click when turning on the ignition, then your battery is likely dead.

Hook your battery up to a battery charger and leave it to charge overnight.

Check that the battery has the correct fluid level if it is a lead-acid type. Lithium-ion batteries do not require fluid top-ups and usually last much longer than lead-acid batteries.

If the cart battery fails to charge overnight, you may require battery replacement.

How Do You Check If My Fuse Is Blown?

Also, check your fuse box.

A burnt-out fuse occurs when the electrical load exceeds the capacity of the fuse. It indicates that a short is present in the electrical system.

Shorts are usually caused by frayed wires or loose connections. Inspect the wiring for frayed wires, melted plastic, or signs of fire (black soot marks or the smell of burnt plastic).

Check which fuse is blown to get an idea of where in the wiring to look for problems.

Troubleshooting Common Electric Golf Cart Problems

Golf Cart Battery Problems

Battery failures mostly occur on older golf carts. Over time, the batteries wear out and require replacement.

You can expect the battery to last 5-10 years if it is correctly maintained. But corrosion on the battery terminals can interrupt the flow of electricity to your motor before then.

Check them regularly and clean off any powdery, acid build-up on the battery terminals before it has a chance to damage the connectors.

Recharge your batteries after each use. This ensures that they are full and ready for your next outing.

Heat and extended usage cause the fluid levels to drop in lead-acid batteries.

💡 Golfible Tip: A lack of fluid will stop the battery from working and you need to top it off regularly with distilled water.

Golf Cart Key Switch Problems

The key switch is used multiple times a day and usually gives years of trouble-free service. But it does wear out.

If the switch is no longer functioning it will require replacement.

If you switch your golf cart on and nothing happens then the problem may lie with a switch if there’s nothing wrong with the batteries.

How Do You Reset an Electric Golf Cart?

Your electric golf cart is equipped with a reset switch. If nothing happens when switching on, then find the reset switch and press it.

It is usually red and its location is found in the golf cart manual.

If you need more info, we have a full article on resetting electric golf cart motors.

Burnt Out Electrical Motor

The motor may have burnt out for various reasons.

If you’ve exhausted all other avenues in your search for the source of your golf cart not starting, then you may need to remove the motor and have it tested.

Troubleshooting Common Gas Golf Cart Problems

Golf Cart Gasoline Problems

Check that your golf cart has gas!

It may sound simple, but running out of fuel is a common reason that your golf cart won’t start. Also, make sure that you are putting the correct grade of fuel in your tank.

When your golf cart is serviced, the technician will normally reset your carburetor and check that it is functioning correctly.

Dirty fuel can block the carburetor jets. Your fuel filter may also become blocked and require replacement.

Golf Cart Electrical Problems

Fuses blow and wiring can corrode. Check the wiring from your battery to the ignition switch, ignition coil, and starter motor.

Check all the connections and ensure that they are tight and there’s no corrosion.

How Do I Know If I Need New Golf Cart Batteries?

Check the voltage on your battery. It should be higher than 11.6 volts. If it is lower, you should charge it to see that the battery can still hold a charge.

Your alternator may not be charging the battery while the motor is running. If the voltage fails to rise above 13 volts while the engine is running, then you should have the alternator checked by a technician.

How Can You Tell If a Spark Plug is Bad?

Spark plugs wear out over time and require replacement. If your golf cart doesn’t start or is hard to start, then it may be an indication that the spark plugs need replacement.

You can remove them and check the spark gap. Remove any carbon build-up and replace the spark plugs.

If you have a spark plug tester, you can check if the spark plug is receiving a spark.

What Would Make an Electric Golf Cart Stop Running?

A failed solenoid can cause your golf cart to stop running.

The solenoid is a heavy current switch that makes a connection between the batteries and the motor.

When you turn the ignition key, you provide the solenoid with a small amount of electrical current to move the switch to the on position.

This allows current to flow directly from the battery to the motor. If the solenoid fails, you have to replace it.


How do I know if my golf cart fuse is blown?

To determine if your golf cart fuse is blown, visually inspect the fuse for a break in the filament or use a multimeter to check for continuity. You may also notice certain electrical components not working or a lack of power to the cart as indications of a blown fuse. Always consult your owner’s manual and take proper safety precautions when handling fuses.

What are common problems with golf carts?

Common problems with golf carts include battery issues, motor malfunctions, brake problems, tire wear, and electrical issues. These problems can be caused by a variety of factors such as lack of timely maintenance, wear and tear, and environmental conditions. Regular maintenance and prompt repairs can help avoid more serious problems and extend the lifespan of the golf cart.

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Lawrence Smelser has been part of the Golfible writing staff since 2019 and is a freelance golf journalist. Smelser has covered the PGA Tour including the U.S. Masters with He holds a journalism Bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M and a Master’s journalism degree from the University of North Texas. Learn more about our team at Golfible on our About Us page.

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