Symptoms Of Bad Controller On Golf Cart: Don’t Ignore Signs

The most common problem that golf carts have when they break down is a faulty or bad controller.

We dive into diagnosing your cart controller’s issues before giving you the rundown on the symptoms to watch out for.

Diagnosing a Cart Controller

Controllers on golf carts can easily go bad on you, and there are a number of ways to tell what it’s going on by diagnosing and troubleshooting.

If you have symptoms that are listed here:

  • Put your maintenance switch in Tow mode to make sure that the car doesn’t move while you work on it.
  • Unplug the black wire from your battery cable to make sure there’s no electrical flow that will impact your troubleshooting. At this point, you will remove the speed controller cover and reconnect the negative battery cable, which is the black wire.
  • The next step you take is to check the wire connections, plugging them one by one into your controller to make sure there is a connection. If there are any frayed or broken wires, make sure that they are connected to the controller as well.
  • At this point, you take the positive or negative cable to the battery and plug it into it to see if there’s a charge. After this, do the same to the speed controller and the solenoid to make sure they are getting the proper charge.
  • If the battery and solenoid charges are equal, the solenoid is at fault. However, if the battery is higher than the solenoid by at least three volts, the problem may be a faulty resistor in your cart.
  • This requires a replacement to run the controller properly. If the speed controller, with a negative connection, shows no voltage, then it is the speed controller that is the issue. If you have diagnosed that the controller is the issue, then it’s time to replace it.

Symptoms of a Bad Controller

Before you go troubleshooting and diagnosing your system on your cart, check for the following symptoms to see if anything is happening outside the ordinary.

Is your cart going at an inappropriate speed?

Most golf carts are designed to get up to a relatively low normal speed as you use them.

Your cart will either go too fast or too slow with a bad controller.

They usually range from a normal speed of 12-14 miles an hour to a slow speed of 8 miles per hour.

If they go far higher or lower than this, you know you may have a controller issue.

Are you experiencing unexpected sudden slowdowns?

Probably the most common symptom that the controller on your car is failing is a sudden or unexpected slowing while you are operating it.

Your cart will suddenly start to slow down and lose power even when you have the pedal down all the way and this can be kind of frustrating.

The car may slow a little at a time or may lose the majority of its power as you drive along. This type of change will vary depending on the cart you have and the issue with your controller.

Sometimes, less severe problems will cause slowdowns but they won’t be anywhere near as bad.

Does your cart shake?

Golf carts that operate properly with a good controller will provide the engine with a smooth electrical flow that will operate your car efficiently at a reasonable speed.

It may cause shaking or stuttering of your driving, which can be exceptionally frustrating when there are controller issues.

Your cart may start your shake even though it may run fine for a while. This situation is a result of mixed signals coming from the speed sensor to your controller.

💡 Golfible Tip: If these issues are having an effect on your cart, get your controller examined and repaired or replaced as soon as possible.

Does your cart have hard startups and is it stalling out?

If your controller is working properly, the cart should start up easily, but if the controller is having issues, your cart may have difficulty starting, or it may fail to start completely and refuse to start.

The problem may seem to pass for a while, causing the owner to ignore it.

It then returns and won’t really go away and may get worse unless you get your cart controller repaired or replaced.

Are any speed surges going on?

If your controller is starting to fail, you may notice that your speed will experience unexpected surges occasionally. You may be going at a medium pace on roads only to find that your speed will suddenly increase without adding more pressure to the pedal.

This issue may also go away for periods of time but will return and cause your cart to suddenly slow and speed up.

You should never ignore these symptoms because, eventually, the controller will completely fail and you’ll be stuck in the middle of a golf course.

This can make it difficult to get the cart repaired. Taking care of your cart controller in the event of any of these symptoms and getting it looked at should be the course of action you take.


What Is A Golf Cart Controller?

A golf cart controller is an electronic part in a golf cart that controls the functions of the machine.  Controllers distribute power to the cart and it is designed to do so whether operating on level ground or going downhill or accelerating.

How do you reset a golf cart controller?

To reset a golf cart controller, turn off the cart’s power, disconnect the battery cables, wait for 5-10 minutes, and then reconnect the battery cables. This will allow the controller to reset and clear any error codes. It’s important to consult the owner’s manual or a professional technician for specific instructions, as the reset process may vary depending on the make and model 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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