How A Gaspowered Golf Cart Works

Golf Cart Engine

Gas-powered golf carts operate in a manner remarkably similar to that of the standard automobile, only in miniature. The engine is made up of a series of cylinders or combustion chambers, four on average. A piston sits at the base of each cylinder, the backs of which are all connected to a flywheel and clutch. From the clutch, a single crankshaft runs below to the golf cart‘s drive shaft and wheels. Intake and exhaust ports sit near either side of each cylinder, near the top, while a spark plug sits at the very top of each cylinder. It works by the starter creating a pressure imbalance in the carburetor, which sucks in air and pulls in fuel from the fuel lines and passes it in a fine mist into the firing chambers in sequence. The pressure imbalance causes the piston head to rise to the top of the chamber, where the spark plug ignites the fuel/air mix, pushes the cylinder back down and allows the burnt fumes to leave through the exhaust ports. All of this happens in a four-part sequence so that the actions of each of the four cylinders are stepped, ensuring the piston movements cause the flywheel beneath to spin evenly. Only when the gas pedal is depressed does the clutch disengage, allowing the flywheel to connect with the crankshaft and sending power to the rear wheels.

Golf Cart Steering

The rear tires of the standard, gas-powered gold cart are fixed. They cannot be angled in any direction except straight and forward. However, they do have a differential that allows one of the rear tires to turn while the other doesn’t, meaning the cart can still make tight turns. The front tires are not on fixed axles though, instead sitting on steering arms. These steering arms connect inward by means of a tie rod to a metal bar that sits slightly less than the width of the cart. This is known as the rack, and it’s covered from one side to the other with gear teeth. The steering wheel connects to a CV joint and a cog that sits against the rack’s gear teeth. So when the wheel is turned, the rack is pushed in one direction or the other by the turning cog–which pulls one tire in that direction and pushes the other to follow, allowing the cart to turn.

Golf Cart Brakes

Once the cart is moving and can be turned, there must be a way to stop it. Letting off the accelerator pedal engages the clutch, meaning no more power is going to the tires–but gas-powered golf carts can still develop a great deal of momentum. That’s why drum brakes are installed. This type of brake looks like a cylinder, roughly three inches in width, and it fits over each end of the rear axle to sit inside the inner hub of the tires. There are two metal halves, called brake shoes, that are held in close to the axle by tensioned springs. Their exteriors are padded in friction-resistant foam. Closer to the inside of the brake shoes are two hydraulic pistons, facing outward. When the brake pedal is depressed, it forces hydraulic fluid into the pistons, which push the brake shoes out against the interior of the tire hubs and stops them from turning.