Golf carts are the most enjoyable way to navigate the golf course or the neighborhood.
My wife would prefer walking, but she’s a strange bird…
Anyhow, if you’re in the market for a new ride, you’re probably weighing the pros and cons of a gas cart vs an electric cart.
In that quest for the best golf cart option, someone may have told you that gas powered golf carts do better on hills. This is true, but that’s not the full story.
So let’s dive into a really common question:
Can electric golf carts climb hills?
Yes, electric golf carts can climb hills. However, some golf carts will struggle to complete this important task.
If you’re looking at newer electric carts, you have nothing to worry about. Those machines are engineered for hills big and small.
If you’re shopping the used market for an electric golf car, you need to consider this question with more caution.
There are four factors that may influence a used electric golf cart’s performance on rough terrain:
- The age of the electric cart
- The condition of the lead acid batteries
- The voltage of the cart
- The load it needs to carry
If you’re having trouble trying to power your golf cart up hills, then keep reading. I’ll highlight some of the reasons why your cart is struggling. I’ll also offer some tips for solving this problem.
Why won’t my golf cart go up hills? 4 Reasons
There are a four common reasons why your golf cart may be struggling to go up hills.
Some of these problems can be resolved easily, while others may require you to take your cart to a golf cart dealer for repair.
Factor #1 – Your Golf Cart is Too Old
Although vintage golf carts look sweet on the course, older electric engines don’t utilize the same technology as the more powerful electric engines of today.
When you combine a weaker engine with many years of use, you end up with an electric cart that can’t handle steeper terrain.
If you already own a cart like this, you may need to let go of the past and consider an upgrade (or an engine replacement).
You shouldn’t have to worry about your golf cart struggling to make its way up the 5th fairway.
Newer electric golf carts can handle the hills, so if you’re buying a new Yamaha golf cart or EZ Go golf cart, it will get the job done.
Factor #2 – Your Batteries are Winding Down (or Need Attention)
If you have an electric golf cart that won’t go up hills, it’s possible that your battery pack (or “series”) needs to be replaced.
Most electric golf carts are powered by 4, 6 or 8 lead acid batteries that have a limited service life. Once those batteries start to lose some of their capacity, you’ll start to experience a loss of performance (speed), particularly on hills or rough terrain.
If your cart is spending more and more time on the battery charger, this is another tell-tale sign that your golf cart battery has lost some of its battery power.
Your Batteries Might Just Need Some Attention
Before you go and spend $1,000 on a new battery pack, do some simple battery maintenance.
Start by unplugging your golf cart, putting it in neutral, and turning the ignition off.
Then, flip up your seat and check on the status of your golf cart batteries.
- Are the cells covered with distilled water? If not, add water to each cell.
- Are all the connections to the terminals tight? If not, tighten any loose cables.
- Are there signs of corrosion? Gently scrape off any visible signs of rust.
- Shuts off automatically when battery cell is at proper level, no over filling
- Features the double action fast flow valve tip that prevents after-drip
- Stops surface discharge caused by wet battery
- Tough, polyethylene construction
Once these items are complete, give your electric vehicle a full charge.
If your cart still can’t go up hills, old batteries may be the culprit.
Factor #3 – The Voltage of the Golf Cart
Newer 36 volt and 48 volt golf carts won’t have problems climbing basic hills.
However, 48 volt golf carts have more power and torque than 36 volt options. With that in mind, you should know that a 36v cart is best for smaller hills and predictable terrain (think: roads, golf courses, athletic fields).
If you plan on taking your rig off road (think: hunting, tough terrain, bigger hills), then you should be looking for a 48 volt cart or a gas golf cart.
Tackling hilly terrain is one of the big pros for gas carts. The downside is that they need gasoline 😉
A Clever Workaround — Bigger Tires
If you already have a 36 volt cart and your electric motor is struggling on hills, some golf cart owners recommend swapping out the smaller stock tires for bigger aftermarket options.
Larger tires will help you maximize the speed of your cart. This will help your cart build momentum as it seeks to climb those troubling hills.
Side note: A lift kit may be required.
Factor #4 – The Load You’re Trying to Carry
I’m all for pushing the limits, but if you’re trying to carry a really heavy load, your electric cart is going to struggle.
I used to hook a grass sweeper up to the back of my old Club Car DS. If the leaves and grass were dry (and I was on flat terrain), my Club Car golf cart did fine.
Once that sweeper was full with heavy materials (or I decided to drive straight uphill), my cart barely survived the journey. It was painfully slow.
There was nothing wrong with my cart. I was just asking too much from a 36 volt cart.
I’ve covered golf cart towing capacity here, but as a general rule, the heavier the load, the more your cart will struggle on hills.
Your passengers contribute to the overall weight of the cart as well, so be sure to factor that into the equation.
What Can I Do To Help My Golf Cart Go Uphill?
If upgrading to a newer golf cart isn’t an option, here are simple simple steps you can take to try and improve your cart’s performance.
Use Bigger Tires
As I mentioned earlier, consider upgrading the tires on your current golf cart to larger all-terrain tires. You’ll notice a difference in speed and you’ll get more out of your electric motor.
Reduce The Load On Board
Cut down on weight whenever possible.
Less passengers, less ice/drinks, less clubs…figure out what’s weighing you down and make an adjustment.
Take Your Cart to a Mechanic
Not every golf cart owner has mechanical skills, and that’s OK.
If you’re clueless when it comes to golf cart maintenance, take your electric vehicle to a mechanic for a detailed inspection.
They can test the batteries, troubleshoot other problems and offer helpful recommendations.
Replace The Batteries or Upgrade to a Lithium Battery
If your battery series isn’t getting the job done, it may be time for a replacement set.
Some cart owners use this situation as an opportunity to upgrade to a lithium battery.
Whatever your solution, replacing batteries is cheaper than buying a new cart altogether.