golf cart ownership costs that you might not have considered

Golf carts are a popular mode of transportation on golf courses, retirement communities, and other areas where roads are simply too narrow or parking doesn't exist for full sized cars. While the average golf cart purchase cost is typically between $8,000-12,000 for a new purchase from a golf cart dealership. The price can go up from there when you factor in other upgrades or larger carts that can carry six or even eight passengers.

This is why many people prefer to purchase a used golf cart - often as low as $5,000 - sometimes even less. However, while the initial purchase price may seem reasonable compared to purchasing a car, future costs can add up if you're not careful. Here are some hidden costs that come with owning a golf cart and how to manage and reduce these expenses.

Unexpected Costs of Owning Your Own Golf Cart

At a certain point - especially if you are a vacation rental owner renting your wheels on a seasonable basis, the idea of buying a golf cart has probably crossed your mind. However, just as with purchasing any vehicle, there are many costs involved that you might not consider immediately.

Initial Purchase Price

The cost of a golf cart varies widely, depending on the make and model, and any additional customizations or features. On average, you can expect to spend anywhere from $6,000-$18,000 for a new golf cart from a dealership. However, some used carts can cost as little as $2,500-$3,000, while other high-end models can cost upwards of $19,000 [2].

Maintenance Costs

Regular maintenance and repairs can quickly add up to your golf cart. Replacement parts, oil changes, and battery replacements are just a few of the costs you will need to consider [3]. It's also important to factor in annual check-ups and repair costs to ensure your cart runs smoothly. Your cart’s wheels may be able to be repaired, or they may need replacing on a regular basis if you are traveling over rough unpaved paths and hard asphalt. 

Storage Costs

If you don't have a garage or designated storage space for your golf cart, you may need to rent storage space, which can add an additional expense to your budget. Some people also invest in a cover or enclosure to keep their golf cart protected from the elements during the winter months.

Accessories Costs

From lights to speakers and from mirrors to seat covers, the cost of accessories for a golf cart can easily add up [4]. Before investing in these accessories, determine which ones are necessary and prioritize accordingly.

Fees and Insurance Costs

Depending on where you live and how you use your golf cart, you may need to pay additional registration fees or insurance costs [5]. It's important to research the laws and regulations in your area beforehand to avoid any unexpected expenses.

Trail Fees vs Golf Cart Rentals

While this is not an issue for those just looking for a cheap and easy-to-park vehicle in a resort area, many golf courses in areas such as Palm Springs or Tucson, Arizona, charge a trail fee if you bring your own mode of transportation for use during a round of golf. While this tends to be far cheaper than the cost of actually renting on of their carts - it is absolutely something to consider if your objective is to save money on the golf course.

Sample Golf Cart Upgrade Costs

Golf cart owners are notorious for upgrading their golf carts and personalizing them to fit their exact lifestyle. Whether it's relatively inexpensive items such as adding an extra basket on the back or some decorative LED lighting—or something much more expensive such as a lift kit or upgraded batteries, prospective golf car owners should take into consideration these costs before making a purchase.

Upgrade TypeDescriptionEstimated Cost Range (USD)
1. Batteries Upgrading to new, higher capacity or more efficient batteries. $1,000 - $9,000
2. Tires and Wheels Replacing standard tires with larger, more durable, or custom-designed ones. $250 - $1,000
3. Lift Kits Installing a lift kit to raise the cart for better ground clearance. $500 - $1,500
4. Seats Upgrading to more comfortable, custom, or luxury seating. $300 - $1,500
5. LED Lights Adding or upgrading to LED headlights, tail lights, and underbody lights. $100 - $500

Please note that these prices are estimates and can vary based on location, the specific golf cart model, and the time of purchase.

Gas vs Electric Golf Carts - Which Is Cheaper?

While you might think that - as with cars and SUVs - that an electric golf cart will be more expensive but the reality is quite the opposite. In fact, an electric golf cart is typically $1,000 cheaper to buy than a gas cart. That isn't the end of the answer though since there are other costs and benefits involved.

Electric golf carts are typically cheaper to purchase, maintain, and operate than gas-powered models. This is ultimately why they are much more popular for private owners as well as fleet managers to purchase for golf courses. They don't require gas or oil changes but depending on usage, you may need to replace the batteries every few years. On the other hand, gas-powered golf carts cost more upfront and require regular maintenance such as oil changes, spark plug replacements, and fuel filter replacements.

Despite being less economical, many people prefer gas-powered golf carts because they tend to have more power and can travel farther distances on a single charge. If you are in a relatively flat environment and are typically only hauling 2-4 people, an electric golf cart will be just fine. However, if you will be operating it on hilly terrain and hauling heavier loads in remote areas without easy access to a charging station - a gas golf cart could be a great option for you despite it's increased price.

Managing Your Costs As A Golf Cart Owner

To reduce your golf cart expenses, there are several things you can do:

  • Consider purchasing a used golf cart instead of a new one.
  • Invest in a high-quality cart to minimize repair costs.
  • Check the warranty and insurance coverage before making your purchase.
  • Limit the amount of customizations and accessories you add to keep your expenses down.
  • Store your golf cart in a safe, enclosed space to reduce maintenance and repair costs.

In conclusion, owning a golf cart can be a fun and convenient mode of transportation. However, it's important to factor in all the potential costs that come with owning one. You can enjoy your golf cart without breaking the bank by doing so and taking steps to manage and reduce these costs.