It’s summer (finally) in the Southwest Michigan area! Time to dust off the golf cart or utility vehicle, get it out of storage, and give some much-needed attention to the upkeep and maintenance of your golf car or utility vehicle. As an authorized Club Car dealer with certified service department, we’ve gone to our expert advisers to ask what’s MOST important when getting your vehicle out in the spring and what’s most important for drivers to know both on the street and on turf.
Golf Vehicles, Carts, Cars
Golf cars (or carts as they are commonly referred to) provide great fun both on the course and on the street, but you shouldn’t expect to just open up the garage and drive your vehicle out for the summer—with no further consideration. With that in mind, we’ve create a list of things you need to do to get your golf cart out of storage for the summer season and start enjoying it both on and off the road:
- Check the Battery—Inspect and fill water levels in your batteries if needed. Use a battery tester to see if any of the batteries need replacing. A new battery is called for when your battery tests too low to move the cart at the speed desired or you continually lose power in fewer than the manufacturer’s estimated mileage (usually 20-25 miles per charge).
- Inspect Brake Function—Stopping distance; any odd sounds? Braking is more important than acceleration when it comes to safely operating a golf cart in the summer. Don’t forget to check the parking brake too! A thorough inspection and prevention of further damage will save you money in the long run. While you’re at it, throw your car into reverse and be sure your backup signal is working!
- Adjust Tire Pressure—Tires and tire pressure may have settled while the vehicle was in storage. A quick check following the manufacturer’s suggested PSI will get you going. If you drive your cart mostly on streets, make sure you use street-legal tires. Turf (or grass) tires wear out more quickly and don’t have the stopping power you need on the street. Additionally, every tire has its own recommended air pressure; check your owner’s manual or tire manufacturer.
- Check Fluids; Oil and Lube—Obviously! Check all the fluids against the manufacturer’s recommendations and top of or change as needed. If fluids are dirty or contain particles, it’s probably time for a professional attention from US Golf Cars’ Service Department
- Test Steering and Suspension—Important in all circumstances, your steering and suspension do more than just provide a smooth ride! Steering problems cause a lack of control of your cart, and the right suspension keeps your cart above the rocks and ruts on the course, or provides you with controlled steering and ride on the street or off-road. Different vehicles require different suspensions and US Golf Cars offers aftermarket lift kits and suspension packages for your Club Car golf or utility vehicle.
Utility or Work Street-Legal Vehicles
If you’re driving your Club Car or Carryall or XRT vehicle on the street, the list of spring inspections gets a little longer.
- Check Vehicle Identification Numbers—If you have an LSV (Low Speed Vehicle), you’ll need your VIN. Make sure to have all paperwork, a driver’s license and proof of insurance if your state requires it. Non-LSV products do not have VIN numbers, so operation on public roads is sanctioned by the State of Michigan in designated Towns or Townships under separate Statutes. Please verify that the area you intend to travel into, that golf car usage is permissible? Please note that the large majority of utility vehicles are not LSV’s, unless they have an actual VIN number on the front dash, visible through the windshield,
- Inspect Lights, Lamps, and Turn Signals—Repair or replace any broken bulbs or light housings. Aftermarket lights are easily added by Club Car service.
- Replace Broken Reflectors—All around the cart you should check those little reflective panels for breaks or cracks. They’re an important safety feature and make you more visible, especially on the road!
- Clean and Inspect Mirrors and Windshield—All should be in good repair with no cracks or defects and with little or no cloudiness. Windshields and mirrors are often available as aftermarket accessories for your vehicle from the US Golf Cars Parts Department. There should be no cracks or severe yellowing impairing vision and windshield clips should securely hold the windshield in the upright position.
- Test Seat Belts—Some states require seatbelts. If your cart is on the street in Michigan, you need to know which parts of the state are “Street-Legal Friendly.” (See other story.)
Safety and Responsibility of Golf Cart and Utility Vehicle Users
All the preparation in the world won’t help you if you’re an irresponsible driver of a golf cart or utility vehicle. Safety on and off the course as well as on- and off-road should always be your primary concern. Check the laws of your state for age limitations and:
- Always Drive Responsibly— Avoid excessive speeds, sudden starts and stops, and sharp turns at fast speeds. If your vehicle isn’t equipped properly for road use, you risk damaging steering, suspension, tires, wheels, and yourself. Also, always keep arms and legs inside the vehicle and never allow anyone to ride standing up on the back of a golf cart. Serious injuries have occurred from people falling off a moving golf cart. It’s no joke; take your driving as seriously as you do any other motorized vehicle.
- Everyone Has a Seat—Only carry passengers that you have seats for—Holding 5-year-old junior on your lap is asking for trouble. One sharp turn and serious injury can happen. Everyone has a seat, and everyone IN their seat. With seatbelts if you’re on the street and legal.
- Don’t Joyride (or allow others to)—The worst thing you can do is take a golf or utility vehicle that’s not properly equipped for a ride where it doesn’t belong or treat it how it doesn’t deserve to be treated! Turf vehicles do NOT make good off-road climbers! Besides which, you should always obey vehicle traffic laws and the rules of the road both on and off the street anyway. Stop, yield, and proceed as if you are driving a 3,000 lb. car rather than a golf cart.
- Always Drive Sober—Never drive intoxicated or under the influence of any drug or narcotic. Enough said. Don’t get behind the wheel thinking, “It’s only a half a mile home.” Your response times and reaction speed can be impaired with drug or alcohol use. Hand over the keys to a designated driver.
- Signal Turns and Stops—Use hand signals or aftermarket turn signal units available from US Golf Cars to indicate upcoming turns. This is important especially on the road at intersections and at traffic signs and signals. If you’re on the course, traffic usually proceeds in a fairly logical order but you can still signal if your plans aren’t obvious. On the street, with your Club Car street-legal utility vehicles, there are always going to be more and bigger vehicles, so it’s in your best interest to be VERY CLEAR with your intentions to avoid a collision.
In addition to everything on this list that you can check yourself, it is a good idea to have your golf cart professionally serviced at least once or twice a year by a certified Club Car dealer. US Golf Cars offers full-service on-site and mobile repair services to help answer your questions and keep your car running its best.
So, get out there and enjoy the summer and the time spent in your golf cart or utility vehicles in Southwest Michigan, but before you go, keep in mind these startup and safety tips and choose US Golf Cars for your golf cart maintenance needs. Call our service department at 1-800-321-9616 to schedule your tune-up today!