What’s the Difference Between Gas and Electric Golf Carts?

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Everything You Need to Compare These Personal Vehicles

If you’re new to the world of golf cart ownership, you might not yet be fully decided on whether to purchase a gas golf cart or an electric golf cart.

Both are made by the same manufacturers, but there are some important differences you should be aware of before you make a purchase. Just like you’d never buy a car without doing a little research first, don’t invest your money into a golf cart until you’re sure it’s what you want.

Because you’re in the market for a golf cart, you’ve probably thought about how one might help you out in your daily life, whether that’s assisting you with property maintenance, serving as a personal leisure vehicle, or carrying you over woodlands and fields on a deer hunt. With a golf cart, the possibilities are endless!

Regardless of whether you choose a gas-powered or electricity-powered model, golf carts are both useful and a lot of fun. Let’s take a look at a quick comparison of your two options.

Introduction to Gas Golf Carts and Electric Golf Carts

Just like any gasoline-fueled car today, gas-powered golf carts have an internal combustion engine. The gasoline is lit in an enclosed area, releases energy, and propels the golf cart.
Electric golf carts must be plugged in to charge after every use and operate on battery power. Golf cart batteries are usually 36-volt or 48-volt. Golf carts equipped with a 48-volt battery use one-third less energy than the 36-volt system, making them more efficient.

Most golf cart manufacturers produce both gas and electric vehicles, so you can explore your options in person when you visit an authorized dealer for makers like E-Z-GO, Yamaha, and Club Car.

Advantages and Disadvantages

You have to pay for gasoline and fill up gas cans to fuel your gas golf cart. Gas golf carts also release fumes and emissions as part of their internal combustion process, just like cars. These fumes and emissions are less than a standard car; however, but you may still notice a gas smell. For this reason, you should never operate a gas golf cart in an enclosed space. Gas golf carts also tend to be louder than electric ones.

Electric golf carts operate exclusively on batteries, so you don’t have to worry about keeping gas on hand to fill the tank. They’re also incredibly quiet and release no odors.

An electric golf cart’s range on one single charge is, on average, about 20 miles, or the equivalent of a couple hours’ worth of driving. However, a tank of gas will take you considerably farther – double the mileage – with less risk of being stranded in a gas-powered golf cart.

Features of Golf Carts

As you research golf carts for sale, you’ll run into ads for those that seem to be outfitted with all the gear and equipment you could ever want or need, plus plain-jane golf carts without any bells and whistles.

A seasoned golf cart owner will tell you that one of the best parts of golf cart ownership is getting to customize your ride to your liking, so your golf cart can serve you exactly how you need it to.

It’s solely your decision about what golf cart accessories you want to add to yours, or if you want an as-built, standard cart until you have a better understanding of the extra aftermarket or OEM golf cart parts you’ll want.

You can customize your golf cart with a range of products designed to help make your golf game more enjoyable, get more work done on your property or farm, lighten the load during hunting trips, or provide entertainment in your neighborhood. Some popular golf cart parts and accessories include:

  • Lift kits and off-road tires for ranch and farm use, off-roading exploration, and more
  • Tops, windshields, and enclosures for extending your driveable days
  • Light kits, including headlights, taillights, and turn signals
  • Utility lights and spotlights
  • Cargo beds with hydraulic dump kits
  • Fold-down conversion rear seats
  • Dashboard inserts, such as locking glove boxes
  • Bluetooth stereo systems
  • Premium seats and floor mats
  • Off-roading armor, like fender flares, brush guards, and nerf bars
  • Golf bag holders and mounts
  • Cupholders and storage baskets
  • And much more

Comparing Speeds

Electric golf carts are actually faster than gas ones, with a top speed up to 30 miles per hour. A gas golf cart usually runs between 18 and 20 miles per hour.

Electric golf carts also get up to their top speed faster than a gas cart. For this reason, an electric golf cart is more ideal for street driving in your HOA, around your beach community, and any time you need to drive on public roadways.

You can, of course, modify your golf cart to increase its speed capabilities, but you should only do so if the upgrade is safe to perform. Consult an authorized golf cart technician for more information about how to increase your driving speed in a way that won’t invalidate your golf cart warranty or put you at risk for bodily harm.

Capacity and Range

On a single charge, an electric golf cart can go up to 12 miles. On a single tank of gas, a gas-powered golf cart can operate for 40 miles.

Capacity and range depends on how you drive, the condition of the terrain, the age of your golf cart battery, and more. For example, if you always max out your top speed, you can expect your golf cart’s range to decrease, just as a car, truck, or SUV becomes less fuel efficient when driven too fast or erratically.

Cost to Purchase a Golf Cart

Golf cart prices will vary depending on the make and model you choose, regardless of whether they’re gas-powered or electric. Cost variance is perfectly normal, just like you’d see a variety of price points when you visit a car dealership.

Golf carts with the biggest price tag are electric-powered carts that are outfitted to be “street legal” (although that definition varies by municipality) because they can operate on roads like a regular vehicle and are often the safest. “Street legal” gas golf carts cost a bit less, but are still pricier than a standard gas-powered or electric golf cart.

In general, you’ll find that golf cart prices across the board are relatively comparable, with lots of factors that can influence the final pricing, such as its fuel source, any features you add to your build, and size.

The average basic golf cart equipped with the basics – a top and a windshield – sells for between $5,000 or $7,000 when brand new. You can find reliable used golf carts for sale for between $2,500 and $5,000. Buying used can save you significant money, but you cannot customize your build like you can when you order it brand-new from the factory.

Maintenance Overview

The golf cart you choose may have different maintenance requirements. Related factors that determine how often you’ll need to perform maintenance include the golf cart’s make, model, and size.

How often and how much you drive your golf cart also will play a major role in the amount of maintenance you can expect to perform on your golf cart, regardless of how it’s powered.

In general, electric golf carts require less maintenance than gas ones, although their batteries require special care. This involves carefully refilling battery cells with water. Electric cart batteries must be replaced every four to six years, although some can last longer with lighter use.

Gas golf carts, however, need engine tune-ups, oil changes and much of the same care as you’d expect to give your daily driver. You can learn to perform this maintenance yourself, or take it to a certified golf cart technician to handle it for you.

All golf carts require brake care and tire care and replacement. Both kinds also must be kept clean, which can help extend their useful lives. Cleaning should include the “cabin” surfaces of the golf cart, including the dashboard and seats.

Quick Comparison Guide

For a quick run-down of the similarities and differences between gas golf carts and electric golf carts, check out our handy guide.

 

  Gas Golf Cart Electric Golf Cart
Basics Powered by gasoline and an internal combustion engine Powered by electricity and must be plugged in to charge after each use
Advantages Longer range on a single tank of gas

Powerful engine

Familiar maintenance requirements

Inexpensive and quiet to operate.

Simple maintenance requirements.

No emissions or odor while running

Disadvantages Requires maintenance similar to a traditional vehicle.

 

Releases odor and emissions when operating.

Can be loud.

Can run out of power away from home, with nowhere to recharge.

While maintenance is easy, it may feel unfamiliar due to the special care required

Speed Top speed of 18 to 20 miles per hour

10-12 horsepower on average

Top speed of 30 miles per hour

3-5 horsepower on average

Capacity and Range 40 miles on a tank of gas About 20 miles on a single charge
Special Features Golf carts can be customized to your liking and lifestyle with OEM and aftermarket golf cart parts and accessories. You can either customize it as it’s being built in the factory, or you can purchase accessories and install them yourself during the course of ownership.
Maintenance Notes Requires maintenance much like a car Frequent battery maintenance

Which Golf Cart Will You Choose?

Now that you know a little bit more about gas and electric golf carts, you should be more prepared to choose between the two.

For more information about either types of golf carts, we recommend contacting an authorized golf cart dealer in your area, taking test drives, and reading information on the manufacturer’s website.

It’s also wise to read golf cart reviews from real owners; they will honestly convey information about the golf cart they purchased, which can help you decide what to buy.

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