What is the difference between a Club Car Precedent and DS?

There are several differences between the Club Car Precedent and the DS, but all of the differences fall under one of two categories: the technology powering the cart or the physical appearance of the cart.

This table offers a quick break down, but we cover all the differences in detail below.

AlabamaThe official state policy is that golf carts are not vehicles and can't be used on public roads. However, some localities have made special exceptions for their golf cart communities.
AlaskaGolf carts are permitted on roads with a speed limit of 35mph and below.
ArizonaCarts are permitted on roads with a speed limit of 35mph and below. A valid driver's license is required.
ArkansasGolf carts can be used on local roads if the locality allows. They cannot be used on federal, state or county roads. No driver's license required.
CaliforniaGolf carts must not weigh more than 1,300 pounds and can only carry 1 or 2 people. The cart must have a safety-glazed windshield and fenders.
ColoradoGolf carts are permitted on roads with a speed limit of 35mph and below. A triangular slow-moving vehicle sign must be attached to the back of the cart.
ConnecticutGolf carts are permitted on local streets in some towns. In these areas, carts can only be driven on roads with speed limits of 25mph and below. A driver's license is required and nighttime driving is not permitted.
DelawareNot street legal. Golf carts can only be driven on private property.
FloridaGolf carts can be driven on public roads with a speed limit of 25mph or below. The driver must be at least 14 years old and maintain speeds of 20mph or below.

If the golf cart is driven at a speed over 20 miles per hour, the driver needs to have a special license and the cart will need to be registered with the DMV. Insurance would also be required.

State law says that golf carts can only be operated from sunrise to sunset, though exceptions exist in certain communities.
GeorgiaGolf carts are permitted on roads with a speed limit of 35mph and below. A driver's license is required or the driver must be riding a legal adult who has a driver's license.
HawaiiNot street legal. Golf carts can only be driven on private property.
IdahoGolf carts must insured and have a valid restricted vehicle license plate. A horn must be installed and audible at 200 feet. The cart's mirror must show the road 200ft behind the golf cart.
IllinoisIn certain municipalities, golf carts are permitted on roads with a speed limit of 35mph and below.
IndianaGolf carts are permitted in some cities and towns. A driver's license is required.
IowaGolf carts are permitted in some cities and towns. A triangular slow-moving vehicle sign must be attached to the back of the cart. Golf carts can only be operated from sunrise to sunset.
KansasGolf carts are permitted in some cities and towns, as long as they do not exceed 30mph. Golf carts can only be operated from sunrise to sunset.
KentuckyGolf cart drivers require a permit from their local government office and a sticker that demonstrates the cart has been approved for use on local streets and that it has been inspected by the sheriff. A driver's license is required.

Also, a triangular slow-moving vehicle sign must be attached to the back of the cart. Golf carts can only be operated from sunrise to sunset.
LouisianaGolf carts can be used in some towns where roads are specifically marked for their use. A triangular slow-moving vehicle sign must be attached to the back of the cart. A driver's license is required.
MaineGolf carts can be used in low speed areas.
MarylandNot street legal. Golf carts can only be driven on private property.
MassachusettsGolf carts must be registered, titled, insured and inspected. License plates are required and a valid driver's license is required to operate the cart on the road.
MichiganGolf carts can be driven during daytime hours (30 minutes after sunrise and 30 minutes before sunset). A driver's license is required.
MinnesotaGolf carts are permitted in some towns, it is entirely up to each jurisdiction. A special permit is required along with vehicle insurance.
MississippiGolf carts are permitted in some towns during daytime hours (30 minutes after sunrise and 30 minutes before sunset). They cannot be driven over 20mph.

All carts must have safe tires, brakes, a rear view mirror, reflectors on the rear and a white reflector on the front of the cart.
MissouriNot street legal. Golf carts can only be driven on private property.
MontanaGolf carts are not permitted, unless a city specifically has an exception. In that case, a valid driver's license is required.
NebraskaGolf carts cannot drive on a state or federal highway, but they can CROSS those roadways when they intersect with a local street.

Otherwise, golf carts are permitted on roads with a speed limit of 35mph and below. The cart should not exceed 20mph.
NevadaGolf cart permits are required in counties where the population exceeds 700,000.
New HampshireGolf carts are permitted, but they must be registered and insured. A driver's license is required and carts can only be operated from sunrise to sunset.
New JerseyElectric golf carts are permitted on some local roads, as long as the speed limit is 25mph and below. A valid driver's license is required.

If children are riding in the cart, safety restraint laws apply (the same as if they were riding in a regular motor vehicle).
New MexicoGolf carts are permitted on some local roads, but not on state or federal roads.
New YorkNot street legal. Golf carts can only be driven on private property. New York has the strictest golf cart laws, so act accordingly. You can be arrested for driving a cart on public roads, sidewalks, or parking lots.
North CarolinaGolf carts can be operated on roads where the speed limit is 35mph or below. A driver's license is required and the driver must be over the age of 16. Drivers may not be under the influence of alcohol.
North DakotaGolf carts can be operated in some towns and cities. They cannot drive on a state or federal highway, but they can CROSS those roadways when they intersect with a local street.
OhioGolf carts can be operated in some towns and cities. They cannot drive on a state or federal roads. A driver's license is required.
OklahomaGolf carts can operated in some towns and cities, as well as state parks. The roads must have a speed limit of 25mph or less, as well as signs indicating that there is golf cart traffic.
OregonGolf carts can be operated in some cities or counties, especially if they are within close proximity to a golf course.
PennsylvaniaGolf carts can be operated for up to 1 mile on low speed public roads. The driver of the cart must be at least 12 years of age.
Rhode IslandNot street legal. Golf carts can only be driven on private property.
South CarolinaGolf carts can be driven on public roads with a speed limit of 35mph or below. They can only be driven during daytime hours. Drivers can cross a highway or street with higher posted speed limits when there is an intersection.
South DakotaGolf carts are permitted, but they must be registered and insured. Nighttime driving is permitted if lights are installed on the cart.
TennesseeGolf carts are permitted on low-speed roads, but they must be registered as a low speed vehicle. Title and registration are required.
TexasGolf carts are permitted in some towns and cities.
UtahGolf carts are permitted on low-speed roads as a low speed vehicle. VIN, title and registration are required.
VermontGolf carts can be designated as a low speed vehicle and driven on public roads with a speed limit of 35mph or below.
VirginiaElectric golf carts are permitted on some local roads, as long as the speed limit is 25mph and below. A valid driver's license is required. The cart can only be operated between sunrise and sunset.
WashingtonGolf carts are permitted in towns that create golf cart "zones." These roads cannot exceed 25mph and must be properly marked. A driver's license is required.
West VirginiaGolf carts can be designated as a low speed vehicle and driven on public roads in some towns and cities.
WisconsinGolf carts are not permitted on public roads unless they are designated as a LSV (low speed vehicle).
WyomingGolf carts are permitted on local roads as long as they have a VIN and meet all safety requirements. Registration, title, license plate and insurance are required.

Club Car DS vs Precedent

Club Car is one of the most well-known golf cart manufacturers in the world, and for good reason. They make reliable golf carts that stand the test of time.

The Club Car DS was first released in 1980, and it quickly became the gold standard for golf cart production. The DS was so successful that it continued to be manufactured into the early 2000s.

That’s a 20+ year run (even more impressive than the Chicago Bulls or the Golden State Warriors)!

Club Car’s next golf car, the Precedent, hit the scene in 2004.

Despite such a time difference in their conception, Club Car’s two golf carts have plenty in common.

Some would argue that the Precedent is just a luxurious DS, but there are certainly ways in which the Precedent took the golf car game to another level.

If you’re shopping for a cart to call your own, you may be wondering: “What is the difference between a Club Car Precedent and DS?

Let’s break it down the similarities and differences.

Club Car DS (The OG)

Production Years: 1982-early 2000s

We should start by giving credit where credit is due.

The Club Car golf cart design team broke new ground with the DS model.

In fact, many of the features we take for granted in golf carts today, such as a molded plastic roof and a passenger side glove compartment, were first implemented in the Club Car DS.

This model was quite innovative for the 80s and set an industry standard for the years to come.

With that as a backdrop, let’s talk about some of the DS features.

360-Degree Bumper (Similarity)

This feature is commonplace for most modern golf carts, and the Club Car DS played a role in making that happen.

A unique wraparound bumper provides personal safety to the passengers, while simultaneously protecting the vehicle’s frame.

Glove Compartment (Similarity)

While this feature may seem like a given, Club Car was actually the first manufacturer to include glove compartments in their golf carts.

When you’re on the golf course, you probably dump your phone, wallet and other crucial gear into this storage area without even thinking about it.

Thank Club Car for that.

Whether it’s a DS electric golf car or a Yamaha golf cart rival, you should expect to see a glove box.

A Roof Over Your Head (Similarity)

This may be hard to believe, but many early golf carts didn’t have a roof.

The DS featured a thin plastic roof that helped block some of the elements as you cruised around the golf course.

It’s hard to imagine a utility vehicle or cart without a roof, but that wasn’t always a given.

Electric Engine Model and Gas Engine Model (Similarity)

Club Car offered the DS model in both gas and electric options.

Quick side story: I bought my first electric golf cart in 2014. It was a 1987 Club Car DS that needed a full golf cart battery replacement.

I didn’t know how much golf cart batteries cost at the time, but I learned quickly (the hard way). I had no idea there was also a gas model to choose from.

Once I got the new batteries, I hooked my DS up to the old rusty golf cart battery charger. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the charger still worked (further proof that miracles do happen).

I enjoyed cruising around in that cart for the next 7 years before I sold it to a new owner.

Club Car offered consumers the choice of both gas and electric engine while keeping the models virtually identical otherwise. The energy source was the only real difference.

Top Speeds (Difference)

The more commonly seen electric DS has a top speed of about 18 miles per hour, while its gasoline counterpart gets nearly 15 miles per hour.

The Seat (Difference)

We’ll talk about this more later, but the DS seat is pretty basic and consists of a flat cushion on the bottom with two headrests suspended on a post.

The 2000 and up DS model made some changes in the seating department, but the more drastic upgrades exist on the Precedent.

Body Style & Construction (Difference)

This model has the typical “boxy” look that was true of most vehicles built during this era. In general, the edges of the cart were more “square.”

Fiberglass is the main material for the body shell, and unfortunately, it doesn’t handle impacts nearly as well as the materials used on the Precedent.

 What is the Difference Between a Club Car Precedent and DS?
Club Car’s Precedent i3 fleet golf car. Used with permission from Club Car.

Club Car Precedent (The Newer Kid on the Block)

Production Years: 2004-2016?

The Club Car DS maintained an iron grip on the industry for years, but eventually all good things come to an end.

In this case, one good thing was replaced with another.

Club Car launched their next model, the Club Car Precedent, in 2004. The Precedent is similar to the Club Car DS in its general purpose, but it clearly makes a number of helpful improvements.

Updated 360-degree Bumper (Difference)

While maintaining all the same functionality as the Club Car DS bumper, the Club Car Precedent’s bumper offers a sleeker look.

Rain-Guard Roof with Built-in Draining (Difference)

The thin plastic roof of the DS was upgraded for the molded plastic roof of the Precedent model.

This newer roof includes built-in draining solutions to prevent any water runoff.

Not that it really matters, but this roof looks cooler too.

Body Style & Construction (Difference)

Generally speaking, this cart has a rounded design and a more pleasing aesthetic.

Unlike the fiberglass shell of the DS, the Precedent uses superior materials that absorb impact better than fiberglass.

Improved Vehicle Handling (Difference)

The Club Car Precedent’s body adds more stability and vehicle control with many different tweaks/additions on the performance side of things. The most prominent additions include:

  • Downhill assist braking
  • Improved braking, including regenerative braking
  • Ability to program the speed
  • Exclusive SportDrive suspension and steering

The Precedent delivers a smoother overall ride.

Comfortable Seating (Difference)

The Club Car Precedent put an enhanced focus on upgrading the comfort of their golf cart. The seamless vinyl seats offer more comfort than the seats on the DS.

The Precedent’s seat covers also tend to last longer than those of the DS thanks to improved materials that are more weather and temperature resistant.

AlumniCore Chassis (Difference)

A new chassis design from a top independent chassis manufacturer, AlumniCore, offers upgrades in virtually every area. It allows the Precedent to be able to hold more weight, generate more power and drive smoother than the DS.

Electric Engine Model and Gas Engine Model (Similarity)

Just like the DS, there is Precedent gasoline golf car as well as an electric option.

Price Difference Between Club Car DS and Club Car Precedent

Generally speaking, a Club Car DS will be cheaper than a Club Car Precedent, since it’s the older and “well-loved” option.

Since Club Car doesn’t make new versions of either model, the price can vary based on how well the used cart has been care for.

Regardless, new golf carts are expensive, so if you’re willing to go the used route, you can literally save thousands of dollars.

Golf Cart Accessories for the DS and Precedent

You can find a lift kit, body kit, rear seat kit, light kit, brush guard, wheels and more for both models. The sky is the limit!

The golf cart part industry is expansive, but it’s also fair to say that finding parts for the Precedent will be easier than finding parts for the DS.

This is largely because more of those carts are still up and running. Aftermarket and OEM suppliers have more incentive to keep Club Car Precedent accessories in stock.

The Biggest Difference Between the Club Car Precedent and Club Car DS…

…is clearly the luxury features.

The Club Car Precedent takes all that the company learned from the DS and packages those insights into a better overall build.

In addition to a better overall ride and style vibe, some Precedent models also utilize technology that wasn’t available in the 80s and 90s, such as electronic scorekeeping.

We don’t cover the Club Car Onward in this write-up, but the company essentially took a similar strategy when they transitioned from the Precedent to the Onward.

So now you can answer the question: What is the difference between a Club Car Precedent and DS?

With knowledge comes power. Use it wisely.

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