Buyers Guide To Used Golf Cars – Don’t Get Scammed
My family has been in the golf car business since 1970 and we have seen the “golf car” industry change quite dramatically over the decades. What was once a simple piece of equipment with minimal options primarily designed to move a golfer around the golf course has now become a very diverse product with endless options serving many applications. Buying a personal golf car should be a fun and exciting experience. Unfortunately, the golf car industry is not regulated like the automotive industry. The sale of a golf car is really no different than selling a bicycle or lawn mower. There is no “lemon law”. The lack of regulation allows those who sell golf cars the ability to promote their products in really any fashion they deem fit. Far too many times the seller does not fully disclose all information to the uneducated buyer and when a problem arises, are no where to be found. I hope this checklist will assist you making the buying experience fun and exciting…you deserve it!
What is better, Gas or Electric?
Simple laws of engineering can help with this question. If there are 500 moving parts in an electric car, there are 2000 moving parts in a gas vehicle. There are significantly more components in a gas car that can fail requiring repairs. If the application will allow for an electric car, it is always less expensive to own an electric vehicle. Some applications do require gas. 1.) Inability to charge the vehicle. 2.) The application will not allow for a full 12 hours of uninterrupted use to allow for charging. 3.) The distance traveled on a daily basis exceeds 14 miles or 2 full rounds of golf. In summary, the decision should be based primarily on application and secondarily on mechanical aptitude. I like to tell my customers that if they buy gas they probably need to be more hands on (i.e. they like to repair their stuff) where the less mechanically inclined are better off with electric.
Could you please define your Refurbished or Re-manufactured process?
It amazes me how few buyers take the time to ask this question and really dig into the rebuilding process. If they new how many corners are cut by dealers, I suspect they would spend more time on the subject. All dealers refurbish or re-manufacture used cars and they all do it differently. On one end of the spectrum the dealer replaces every wear item, all cosmetics, and all safety parts. There is a very rigid and consistent build process and the dealer can clearly define that process and share documented procedures. This dealer typically spends more time talking about what is not replaced since it is a much shorter list of components. Reputable dealers like talking about how they build their vehicles and are proud of their work and will encourage questions from you. They are also willing to put their verbal discussion topics with you in writing on their bill of sale. At the other end of the spectrum you have dealers who replace or paint the cosmetics (exterior) and many of the wear items and safety parts are untouched. In the industry we call this “lipstick on the pig”. Be weary of this type of dealer. Their vehicles are often very tricked out externally and have low price tags (prices too good to be true). These dealers cut many corners, especially the ones you can’t see without getting under the vehicle. These dealers will be vague answering your questions and will most likely not be willing to put anything verbally discussed in writing. In summary, ask a lot of questions regarding the dealers rebuilding process and get it in writing if you decide to make a buying decision, it may be your only recourse if something goes wrong.
Are you a factory authorized dealer?
Factory authorized dealers for the major brands Club Car, E-z-go, and Yamaha are typically vetted pretty harshly by the manufacturer. They are required to carry liability insurances, be financially stable, represent the brand to high standards, etc. Their technicians are also required to have factory testing. There are some independent non factory authorized dealers that are reputable but for the most part, be on guard when working with them.
What country did the used golf car originate?
There are 3 primary American made golf cars in the market Club Car, E-z-go, and Yamaha. Almost every dealer is willing to work on this product and parts are readily available. There are also many foreign made golf cars in the open market, primarily originating from China. It has been our experience that sourcing parts, maintenance manuals, and technical support is very difficult. Most dealers will not work on this product and many times owners of this equipment are not able to find someone to repair the car.
How “used” is the used golf car I want to purchase?
Most late model gas and electric golf cars are equipped with an hour meter or amp hour meter. Ask the dealer hour many hours or amp hours the car you are wanting to purchase has. A gas vehicle with good maintenance will provide 5000-6000 hours of use before major overhaul. An electric car will provide 40,000 to 50,000 amp hours of use before major overhaul. Be weary of dealers who can’t provide this information.
What is your return policy?
There is no lemon law for golf cars. In lieu of this, reputable dealerships should have a written return policy. Make sure you ask for that prior to making a purchase.
In the event I have a problem with my car, how do I get it fixed?
Reputable dealers can service your vehicle at your home or have the ability to transport it back to their facility for repair. They can also provide their rates for such services. If the dealer can’t provide such services or proof of such services, we do not recommend you purchase from them.
How often should I have my vehicle serviced?
All used cars sold should include a copy of the owner’s manual. We prefer to give the customer a copy of the manual before we deliver so that he/she can become educated on the vehicle they are purchasing. Inside the manual are specific maintenance guidelines for your vehicle.
What is the voltage of the car?
The original golf cars were built using a 36 volt electrical system. The majority of late model cars sold today are 48 volts. 48 volts is the most efficient electrical system and will provide superior performance over the out dated 36 volt systems. There are some vehicles that offer 72 volts which provide superior range to a 36 or 48 volt system but are significantly more expensive. If you plan on installing any high performance options such as high speed gears, high speed motors, 4 passenger kits, high torque controllers, etc… stay away from a 36 volt electrical system as it will not be able to handle the heavy electrical load and will melt down.
Does this car come with new batteries?
If the answer is YES, you need to confirm this is true. There are several situations where a dealer may answer YES to this question but it may not be accurate. 1.) The car may have been in storage with new batteries for a long period of time and the batteries are now unused but aged. 2.) They purchased used cars with 6 month old batteries and are advertising them as new even though there has been usage. 3.) The code date of the batteries have been fraudulently removed so you can’t tell the age. Here is how you check. All batteries are stamped with a code date which consists of a letter and a number. This code date is either stamped into the lead post or is on a decal adhered to the battery. The letter is the month the battery was made and the number is the year it was made. (Example: Code Date of C4. A=January, B=February, C=March. 2 = 2012, 3 = 2013, 4 = 2014. So a C4 battery was manufactured in March of 2014) You also need to be aware that with batteries, you get what you pay for. High quality batteries can last as long as 5 years. Low quality batteries can quit functioning as soon as 1 year. The high quality brands of batteries are Trojan, US Battery, Crown, and JCI. All high quality batteries should come with a free replacement 18 month warranty (not pro rated) and should be detailed in your bill of sale.