TOWING A MALFUNCTIONING GOLF CART

Posted by Golf Cart Options Magazine on Jun 13th 2019

TOWING A MALFUNCTIONING GOLF CART

We all love to use our golf carts when they work. Unfortunately, there are times that they decide it’s quitting time and that they need a break. These times seldom ever happen at a convenient time. You know, like in your garage or at the cart barn. The golf cart will usually break down during usage whether out on the back nine or while your kids have it down at the community center swimming in the pool. What do we do now? How do we get the darn (can’t use the words that most people say at these times!) thing back home? Or what do we need to do in order to get the golf cart back to the cart barn for service? 

First thing I highly recommend to do is to unhook the main negative battery cable connection. I realize most people do not carry wrenches with them when using a golf cart, however even if you can use a pair of pocket pliers it is advisable to unhook the electrical connection of the batteries to the golf cart. This is an absolute must if your golf cart is a series cart. These are the carts that have a bulky shifter knob located down in front of the bottom seat. 

Secondly, place the shifter on the FNR switch in the neutral position. If yours is the rocker switch that you use to make the golf cart go forward or reverse than place it in the middle position. Or if yours is the bulky knob down in front of the bottom seat then place it in the straight up or neutral position. 

Thirdly, lift the seat and place the tow/run switch in the “tow” position. On most E-Z-GO models these are located on the black controller cover located under the seat on the passenger’s side of the golf cart. On the older Club cars, the tow/run switch is located at the top of the battery compartment toward the front under the seat and also at the top in the middle of the four twelve volt batteries. 

The later Precedents have the tow/run switch located in the lower middle in the rear of the battery compartment. If you are not sure if your golf cart has a tow/run switch you need to research and know whether you do or you don’t. A good rule of thumb is if your FNR switch is a rocker switch then more than likely your golf cart has a tow/run switch. 

Please note: failure to unhook the batteries from the golf cart and failure to place the tow/run switch in the “tow” position and placing the FNR switch in the neutral position can and will lead to catastrophic expenses! The last customer who towed his golf cart out of the woods without doing these critical things ended up buying a new motor and controller as well as paying for the original problem that caused the golf cart to break down. 

We have a golf cart at our dealership now that I know is going to need a controller, power solenoid and a new motor. The motor burnt to the point that it is locked up. Our tech wasn’t too happy that he had to winch the cart dragging it up on the trailer at the customer’s house! It doesn’t roll. Remember this concept when towing the golf cart: the electric power motor becomes a massive generator when it is spun on its own. This current travels down the pipes (battery cables) to a destination. When you unhook the main battery cable connection and place the shifters in neutral and the tow/run switches in the tow mode you prevent this current from damaging the electronics of the golf cart. When you don’t separate the electronics of the golf cart the current generated by the motor while towing destroys what’s in its path. 

With this in mind, what happens when you spin the electric motor faster and faster? The higher the armature rpms the hotter the temperature of the motor. This extreme heat melts the brush holder and them burns the field coils and ultimately explodes the windings of the armature which in turn wipes out the motor and eventually locks up. How do I know? We have seen this multiple times at our dealerships. Just as recent as this week. The golf cart’s electrical system is so burned that when I walked near the delivery trailer from picking it up the smell took my breath away. There’s not much of the worst smell than an electrical burn smell. 

This is the reason that most golf cart manufacturers suggest not to exceed speeds of five to eight miles per hour while towing the golf cart. Higher speeds produce higher motor rpms which lead to devastating heat! I might add the longer the distance you tow the golf cart can lead to higher temperatures. If you are not sure you can always do the touch test on the motor. It is accessible from the bottom of the golf cart.

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