Can Golf Carts Climb Hills? (5 Ways To Speed Up a Slow Cart)

golf cart up a hill

I remember the very first day my golf cart arrived at my front door. It was even more exciting than getting my first car! 

However, I wasn’t prepared for the ups and down I would experience when I first tried climbing hills in my golf cart.

Can golf carts climb hills effectively? Yes you can ride a golf cart up hills. When it comes to new carts, both electric and gas models travel up hills equally well. However, for older carts you’ll want to choose a gas model instead.


Why Your Golf Cart Won’t Go Up Hills

If you find yourself having difficulty going up hills in your golf cart, I can definitely give you some good pointers.

However first you need to understand what is exactly causing your cart to be sluggish up hills before you can do anything about it.

There are many reasons for a struggling cart and each one will require a different solution. Most commonly the reason for carts losing power up hills is:


Golf cart is too oldOlder model electric carts are known to be sluggish up hills. Choose a gas model if your electric one predates 2012.
Tires are too smallAn older cart can be upgraded to perform better up hills. Adding larger 20"- 23" all terrain tires will help.
Your battery charge is losing voltage1) Tighten your terminal connections.

2) Clean any corrosion on battery terminals and cables.
Your motor needs resettingElectric motors can be reset. Look for a reset button. This acts like a circuit breaker and can fix some performance issues.
I'm losing power up hills.While your voltage rate may be optimal, the surge of amps may not be. Push down the pedal and test the voltage at different pressure points.

36v Motors Struggle Up Hills

I’ve seen many golfers over the years trying to get their cart up steep hills only to see them rolling back down in embarrassment. Although it’s funny to watch, it was clear to me that their carts were never capable of going up the hill!

If I had to guess, the majority of carts on greens will go up hills slow, or not at all.

It’s all in the volts

Golf carts will either be electric or gas powered. While both models are quite even in capabilities now, over the years electric models were clearly disadvantaged.

Most of the carts you’ll see struggling up hills will be older electric golf carts. These carts are most likely powered using under powered 36V motors.

You’re going to want a 48V motor in an electric golf cart if you plan on riding up hilly terrain.

I’m now going to show exactly what the difference is between the 2 different motors, and help you choose the best electric cart to use up hills.


36v vs 48v – Which Golf Cart Is Best For Hills

To understand the difference between a 36v and a 48v golf cart, you need to understand what voltage is. Without getting too technical, voltage refers to the amount of pressure that is passed through a wire or electrical conductor.

A 48v golf cart has a higher amount of low-end torque than a 36v model, allowing for faster acceleration. The extra volts provide your cart with an easier launch. This is the reason why a 48v cart will move up hills a lot faster and easier.

Surprisingly there are also 72v models available too. However I don’t know anyone who actually owns one! This is clearly because parts for 72v models are very expensive and the maintenance costs are high.

While 72v is a lot more powerful than lower voltage carts, the extra power is often wasted on a golf course. If you’re going to upgrade your cart, I recommend you choose a 48v cart.

A 48v golf cart is the perfect balance between cost and performance, and is more than enough to ride up and down a golf course. Going up hills won’t be a problem with 48 volts!


How to Make a 36v Golf Cart Faster

All is not lost if you happen to own a 36v cart. You can make this type of golf cart faster with a few modifications. 

Like most golfers, you probably own an EZGO, Club Car or Yamaha model. This is actually good thing, as these 3 brands make the most popular golf carts. This makes finding parts for them a much easier task.

Buy Bigger Tires

The size of your tires can make all the difference when going uphill. Funnily enough, this usually comes as a surprise to many golfers. I believe golfers sometimes have tunnel vision, and tend to only look at the golf cart.

Your standard golf cart will come with 8” wheels and 18” tires. This size would be enough if you had a powerful cart. Without a powerful cart however, you will be going very slow on hills.

The best size for getting your cart up hills is the 20” – 23” range of tires. These are definitely big tires, but I personally love them!

The rush of excitement I feel when travelling in my cart with really large tires is just so exhilarating! I also never have to worry about if my cart will make it up a hill or through rough terrain.


Which Golf Cart Tires Are Best For Going Uphill?

Riding up hills is going to require special tires called All Terrain Tires. Now the standard set of tires on a stock golf cart is called turf or street tires. These are fine to use during regular golfing conditions as they help the cart ride along very smoothly. However using them up and down hills is going to raise the hairs on the back of your neck! 

You’ll want tires with extra grip if you plan on driving your cart in rougher conditions like slopes, hills and mud.

All Terrain Tires are the best kind of tires to go up hills with. They don’t have too much grip, but are not too smooth either. This type of tire offers the best balance between speed, grip and balance when travelling up hills.

Off Road/Knobby Tires are at the extreme level, and as the name suggests are to be only used off road! Off road courses, mud and sand are ideal conditions for this type of tire. However for the average hills we are talking about, this tire is not the best choice.

While you technically you use off road tires on smooth parts of the course, it won’t be a comfortable ride. Driving your cart using these tires will make for a very bumpy ride.


Checking Battery Voltage and Amperage

Without sounding like a science class, I’m now going to now help you use a voltmeter to test your golf carts battery voltage and amperage.

If you experience any of these problems, it’s worth taking a deeper look at your batteries readings:

  • Your cart has trouble starting (A solid indicator of low battery voltage)
  • Your cart is losing power or conking out
  • Your cart is lasting for a shorter duration. (A charged cart lasting less than 2 rounds, signals a problem)


3 Things to Do Before Checking Your Battery

  1. Make sure your battery is full charged
  2. Clean all battery terminals and cables
  3. Tighten all screws and bolts


Using a Voltmeter to Check Battery

Connect your voltmeter to the positive and negative charged clamps found on the battery. You’ll find a small dashboard on the voltmeter which shows the current voltage reading. A higher reading is what we are looking for here. If the needle is all the way to the left of the dashboard, this indicates a failing battery.

Checking the Amps

A mistake often made is when a golfer checks the volts of a battery and assumes everything is all well. A battery is perfectly capable of showing an optimal voltage reading, while the amps are not passing through.

You can use a multimeter to check the amps reading of a battery much like in the same way a voltmeter works.

However there’s another way to do this test and it won’t cost you anything.

Use your voltmeter while pressing your foot on the pedal. Start off slow, and keep an eye on the reading level. If all is good, press the pedal down a little harder, and watch the voltage reading again. Continue to do this, until your pedal is to the metal!

If your voltage is normal after doing this test, this indicates there is no issue with your amps.



Now that you know golf carts are capable of going up hills, you’re going to want to either upgrade your existing cart, or purchase a new one. Fortunately, both options can be completed in 1 day.

I personally feel either option is worthwhile as it’s extremely fun to ride up hills without fear of rolling back down.

While the absolute best option is to buy a brand new 48v golf cart, it’s not the only choice you have.

If you’re on a budget, as a start I would put some larger 20” – 23” all terrain tires on your cart.

Secondly, I would use a volt meter to check the charge on your battery, or take your cart to a mechanic. Most mechanics will be happy to check your battery charge for free.

Is Your Golf Cart Fast Enough? Read my answer


Ernie loves documenting interesting facts about golf.

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