8 Symptoms of a Bad Controller on Golf Cart (+ How to Fix)

Have you ever had your golf cart go dead on you in the middle of a round? If not, take my word for it; it’s a rough experience. A lot of times, when this happens, a faulty controller is to blame.

My cart went dead on the 17th hole at a golf course in Indiana. I had no idea how it happened but thankfully, one of the course marshalls drove by and radioed for help. I had to hitch a ride with him back to the pro shop and didn’t get to finish my round.

A bad controller could be the culprit if your golf cart starts acting up on you while on the course. Here are 8 common signs to look for and some possible solutions.

If you feel uncomfortable trying any of these methods, there’s no shame in finding a golf cart mechanic in your area. Ask the folks in the pro shop about the issue since they usually have a maintenance person on staff that fixes their club cars.

 

1. The Golf Cart Slows Down Out of Nowhere

Have you ever been cruising on the course at top speed, and your golf cart unexpectedly slows down? This can happen even if the accelerator pedal is pushed all the way down, and it is one of the common symptoms of a bad golf cart controller.

A sudden slowdown can toss your golf bag out of the cart or, worse, cause you or your passenger to be thrown from the cart. That’s why it’s important to troubleshoot this type of problem as soon as possible.

How to Troubleshoot: Sometimes, there’s a communication problem between the speed controller and the speed sensor. If you start slowing down abruptly, the best thing to do is to pull off the cart path to get out of harm’s way. Unexpected slow downs can cause accidents if the person operating the golf cart behind you doesn’t react quickly enough.

After finding a secluded area away from other golfers, hit the Tow Mode button. After doing this, check the battery and all of the wires to see if you can pinpoint the root of the problem.

 

2. The Cart’s Not Going as Fast as It Should Be

Does your golf cart seem to be losing speed? It could mean your controller is slowly going bad. This is similar to problem #1 but is usually more of a gradual slowing than a sudden one.

How to Troubleshoot: Get to a safe place as soon as possible. After safely parking the golf cart, inspect all the wires. If none of the cables are loose, try hitting the Reset button to see if that fixes the issue.

If neither of these solutions works, it’s best to let a mechanic take a look or go ahead and order a replacement controller.

 

3. Your Golf Cart Won’t Start

Hopefully, this problem happens before your round starts so that you can rent a cart from the pro shop. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Whether you have an electric cart or a gas golf cart, not being able to get it started is a major pain!

How to Troubleshoot: If you have an electric golf cart and notice a click when you turn the key, the problem is more than likely one of the electrical components. If you have a gasoline cart, it could be a battery issue. If there’s no clicking sound when you turn the key, it could be a problem with the solenoid or the starter.

If your cart is electrical, make sure all of the battery packs are fully charged. If they’re not, let them sit on the charger for a while. If that’s not the issue, check all the battery cables to ensure there isn’t any corrosion or damage.

For a gasoline cart, you want to follow the same procedure for the battery. If that’s not the issue, make sure your cart just simply isn’t out of gas. A lot of times, the gas gauge can go bad and give you a misreading.

 

4. The Cart Keeps Stalling Out of The Blue

This problem is scary and dangerous when it happens! You’ll just be driving along thinking everything is fine, only to have your golf cart suddenly stall. Though your cart may start back up when this happens, you need to get to a safe place as soon as possible to troubleshoot the issue.

How to Troubleshoot: You need to inspect the controller for any type of damage that may be causing it to malfunction. Take a look at the ignition coil to see if you notice anything strange. If you notice any type of wire damage, attach new ones if you’re comfortable or have an experienced technician do so.

If you’re unsure of what’s causing the golf cart to stall, get it to a trained mechanic. Don’t make the mistake of simply ignoring the problem. Stalling issues never just get better on their own.

 

5. Sudden Speed Bursts While Driving Your Golf Cart

Have you ever been cruising around in your golf cart when out of nowhere, it starts going faster than normal? This problem may seem kind of fun at first, but it’s a sign that you may need a new controller.

When the controller starts to go bad, you may notice unexpected speed bursts, even if you only have the pedal down about halfway. It’s a scary feeling when you feel like the golf cart is driving you and not the other way around.

This sudden acceleration problem is very dangerous for both you and your fellow passengers. When these types of symptoms occur, the golf cart will often sprint forward for no apparent reason. Get off the cart path and to a deserted location before putting the cart in a neutral position for troubleshooting.

How to Troubleshoot: Before anything else, put the golf cart in Tow Mode while you check for further symptoms of controller failure. If no wires or smaller terminals appear to be loose, it’s probably time for a new controller.

 

6. The Steering Wheel Starts Shaking

If you’re ever driving on the course and notice any shaking or vibrations from the steering wheel, it could be time to replace the controller. Even if you don’t notice a ton of vibration in the wheel, you may hear an unusual amount of club chatter from your golf bag. This is because the golf cart is stuttering.

How to Troubleshoot: Any type of shaking or stuttering usually comes down to either a bad controller or a faulty throttle sensor. Switch the maintenance switch to Tow Mode and take the black wire out of the battery for maximum safety.

If all wires are firmly connected, try recharging your battery. If that doesn’t fix the issue, replace the controller or have an expert examine it.

 

7. Controller Doesn’t Show Any Voltage

If no volts are registering on your controller’s voltmeter, it may be time for a replacement. However, this problem could have a simple solution, so don’t panic.

Try resetting your controller by completing the below steps. A controller is like your computer; it needs to be rebooted every so often for peak performance.

How to Troubleshoot: Resetting the controller is a rather simple process. Turn the key switch into the OFF position and put your golf cart in neutral. Put the tow switch into low.

Take the negative battery cable out of the battery set. Flip the tow switch to RUN and flip the reverse switch. Turn the key switch to the ON slot. You’ve now successfully reset your controller.

 

8. The Operation Light Starts Flashing Repeatedly

This is another telltale sign of a controller that’s starting to go bad. Most golf carts have an operation light that flashes a code when there’s something wrong. If the light starts flashing like crazy, pull over and research what the code means.

How To Troubleshoot: Seeing the operation light come on is never a good feeling. However, there’s no reason to panic. The controller may just need to be reset as we did in symptom No. 7.

Try resetting the controller first. If that doesn’t clear the code, you may need to consider buying a new controller. If you don’t feel comfortable changing it out yourself, take your golf cart to a licensed mechanic.

 

Mike Noblin

Mike has been involved with sports for over 30 years. He's been an avid golfer for more than 10 years and is obsessed with watching the Golf Channel and taking notes on a daily basis. He also holds a degree in Sports Psychology.