A golf cart solenoid is one of the major components of any golf cart. This part is essential regardless whether you own an electric or gas golf cart because both types primarily rely on a solenoid for their movement.
What this means is whichever brand or model you choose for your cart, a solenoid is truly an indispensable part of the vehicle.
To get your golf cart going without a glitch, you most definitely need the solenoid of your cart to be functioning properly. Thus, it goes without saying that you must check this component occasionally to monitor its performance so that you don’t get stranded mid-way.
What is a golf cart solenoid?
What is a golf cart solenoid? A golf cart solenoid is a relay switch used in golf carts. This switch controls a high power circuit with the help of a low power circuit. The solenoid pushes a rod that closes a circuit with a magnetic coil. This creates an electric current which moves the cart.
The high power circuit is often an electrical motor power circuit in the case of an electric golf cart. In the case of a gas golf cart, the circuit is typically the ignition of the vehicle. A solenoid typically has two main parts – a steel plunger and a thin wire coil.
Since solenoids need to work very frequently; turning on and off each time you use the cart, they are prone to wear and tear easily. This is not surprising as they can switch on and off as much as 1,500 times a day).
One of the first indications that a solenoid is faulty is when your cart fails to start.
What does a Golf Cart Solenoid Do?
So what does a golf cart solenoid do exactly?
Solenoid in Electric Golf Carts:
- When you push down the pedal of the golf cart downwards, the inductive throttle sensor sends out the first low power signal to activate the solenoid on its low side and the speed controller. The low side is the steel rod of the solenoid.
- When the steel rod gets activated, a circuit is formed between the speed controlling systems and the traction motor of the cart.
- Once you release the pedal, the solenoid turns off automatically after a predefined time period to prevent your battery from getting drained.
Solenoid in Gas Golf Carts:
If you own a gas golf cart, the solenoid working principle is quite similar. However, when you press the pedal, a micro switch gets activated instead of the inductive throttle sensor.
The switch is responsible for sending out the low power signal to the solenoid.
The solenoid, in turn, forms the circuit between the starter or generator and the battery to get the cart up and running.
Where is the Solenoid Found on a Golf Cart?
Now that you know the solenoid is like the heart of a golf cart, it is quite essential that you know where it is located. Luckily, it is positioned at the same place irrespective of the type of cart you own.
Where is the solenoid located on a golf cart? In most cases a golf cart solenoid is positioned below the seat. It features four terminals with a wired connection for each terminal. Two of these terminals are large in size whereas the other two will be smaller.
Symptoms of a Bad Solenoid
There are some signs that could indicate you have a bad or faulty solenoid in your electric or gas golf cart. Watching out for these signs can help you to take the necessary steps before too much damage is done.
In an electric cart, one of the key signs of a faulty solenoid is when you turn your cart’s ignition on, and find no electricity is being transferred to the controller from the solenoid.
When this occurs the usual solenoid click on and off associated with the ignition switch will not take place. This is because the solenoid fails to derive the required electricity for functioning because of a worn-out coil, loose connections or a weak battery.
Another reason for a bad solenoid is that the contacts are beginning to get damaged because of high current passing through them or overheating.
This issue must be addressed at once because if neglected the starter can also be affected. This means that both the starter and the solenoid will have to be replaced.
In a gas cart, a bad solenoid prevents the starter from being engaged and therefore results in the engine not turning over. You will hear a series of futile clicking sounds indicating that the solenoid is faulty.
Can you Bypass Solenoid on a Golf Cart?
Yes it’s possible to bypassing the solenoid on a golf cart. However bypassing the solenoid is not recommended as further damage is likely to occur.
Bypassing a solenoid should only be considered if you do not have a multimeter nearby.
How to Bypass the Solenoid on a Golf Cart
If you must bypass the solenoid on your golf cart, you need be very careful how you go about it. I have outlined some simple steps below to help you.
- Connect the two high side large wires to the large terminals of the solenoid.
- Try to start the golf cart after establishing this connection. If the cart does not start, then it is a clear sign that your solenoid does not have a problem.
However, if it does, this does not indicate that the solenoid is the cause of the problem. You will have to check out the complete ignition system.
- In the case of an electric golf cart, I advise that you stop your checking at the key switch and take the assistance of a mechanic to sort out things for you.
- But, if you own a gas golf cart, you can consider taking a look at the micro switch as well.
How to Test a Golf Cart Solenoid
To check if it’s time to replace your solenoid please follow the steps outlined below:
IMPORTANT: Don’t forget to wear a pair of safety glasses and gloves before you begin the testing process. These precautionary measures are for your own safety and are highly recommended.
- The very first thing you must do is to disable the mobility of your golf cart. This is to prevent it from accidentally moving and resulting in damage to property or injury. For this, you will have to disconnect the large high side wires from the big terminals.
Depending on the securing method used by the solenoid, you may need two wrenches for the disconnection. This disconnects the solenoid from the high voltage side.
- After disconnecting the solenoid, use electric tape and seal each cable end separately. This prevents the ends from touching each other and accidentally forming a circuit or accidental connection through a metal conductor. This will also ensure that your vehicle does not start moving in the middle of your testing process.
- Turn on the engine of the cart and press the pedal downwards. If you hear a clicking sound, then it means that the low side voltage is working. But, if there is no such sound, it means that either there is no low side voltage or there is a problem with the solenoid.
- Use a voltmeter and engage the solenoid. You should hear a click sound when the engaging is done properly.
- Check for continuity between the two high side terminals on the solenoid using a multimeter. Before using the multimeter, make sure that you know the operating resistance range of the solenoid.
- Set the multimeter reading to ohms and place a lead on each of the two terminals. If the reading indicates open lead or infinity, replace the solenoid because it has an internal fault.
If the reading is outside this range, but the solenoid is working, I still recommend opting for a replacement as other components can also experience damage. If the resistance is within the permissible range, there is no problem with the solenoid.
- Check the power getting delivered to the solenoid. Set the multimeter reading to volts and activate the solenoid circuit by connecting the multimeter leads to the small terminals of the solenoid. If the reading is not the specified battery pack voltage, there is no problem with the solenoid.
Why your Golf Cart Solenoid is Not Clicking
The main reason why a golf cart solenoid is not clicking is due to a fault with the activation circuit or a loose connection.
The following are some of the most common reasons why you may not experience a clicking with the solenoid of your golf cart.
- There is a problem with the activation circuit. This may be because the safety reed switch is not working properly in the charger socket.
- There could be a loose connection of the MOLEX plug. This plug connects the throttle box and wiring harness. You can try unplugging the plug and plugging it again.
- The switches in the solenoid activation circuit are not getting activated in the proper order. The reed switch gets activated first followed by the F&R micro switch and then the key switch or the foot or pedal switch.
- There may be a bad connection in the green colored wire that is connected between the controller and F&R switch.
- If your voltmeter reads the battery pack voltage and there is no clicking as expected, the solenoid must have got affected due to wear and tear. This indicates that it is time to replace the existing solenoid with a new one.
- There is no activation voltage at the small terminals. This can be checked using a voltmeter.
Club Car Solenoid Troubleshooting
Troubleshooting the solenoid of your club car golf cart is very simple and involves just a few steps to be followed.
- Keep the car in a raised position with the rear wheels lifted from the ground and turn the vehicle on in the run mode with the accelerator pedal pushed.
Use a voltmeter to connect the small posts and check the voltage reading that is displayed. If it is the system voltage but there is no click with the solenoid, then it is time for a replacement of the solenoid.
- If the voltmeter does not read the system voltage and there is no solenoid click, there is a problem with one of the voltage potentials at any one connection. To determine the faulty one, you must keep the red lead of the voltmeter on the positive connector of the solenoid.
Similarly, place the black lead of the voltmeter on the negative terminal of the battery and activate the system.
Now, if the system voltage is displayed, it implies that there is no problem with the micro and key switches, positive input and wiring. The problem is a missing negative input.
- Join voltmeter’s black negative terminal to the first terminal and the red positive terminal to the battery’s first positive terminal. This is the first positive connection made to the car.
Activate the system and check the voltmeter for system voltage. If you do not get the reading, the battery negative has a problem and will have to be tracked back to the source.
- If there is no positive connection at the second terminal, the problem is either with the micro switch, the key switch or the accelerator switch. One or more of them could be out of adjustment or in open position. Make the required adjustment according to the wiring diagram.
Verify the voltage of each component in the circuit to see where the missing is happening.
If the solenoid uses a diode, ensure that the connections are properly established and the diode indicates a positive polarity.
EZ Go golf Cart Solenoid Troubleshooting
Try out the steps listed below to help troubleshoot the solenoid found in your EZ Go golf cart:
- Check to confirm if all the cable connections and wires are in place, as well as secure and tight. You must disconnect the negative battery cable before taking off the controller cover. Once you remove the cover, do not forget to reconnect the cable.
- Place the cart such that its rear is secured on a jack stand. Connect the negative terminal of the voltmeter to the main negative post of the battery.
Do the same with the positive terminal of the voltmeter as well and establish connectivity with the main positive post of the battery. Watch out for the voltage reading displayed. This is known as the battery pack voltage and must ideally range between 36 and 38 volts.
- Keep the gear selector in the forward direction and the key switch in the ON position. Keep the positive probe on the large post of the solenoid on the battery side.
If there is a deviation from the battery pack voltage, verify if there is proper cable connectivity between the main positive and the solenoid.
- Repeat the above step by placing the probe on the controller side. If the resistor is intact, the reading should be only about 3 volts lesser than the battery pack voltage. If the deviation is more than this value, the resistor is at fault.
On the other hand, if you disconnect the resistor and the reading is the battery pack voltage, you have to change the solenoid because its contacts have got welded.
EZ Go Cart Solenoid Wiring Diagram Explained
A solenoid wiring diagram can be very helpful in guiding you about the various connections made to and from the solenoid.
This can come in handy when you set out to troubleshoot a problem in your cart on your own. The solenoid wiring diagram is generally very simple, straightforward and self-explanatory.
The battery main positive terminal is connected to one large terminal of the solenoid. The positive terminal of the controller is connected to the other large terminal of the solenoid. This connection with the two large terminals addresses the connectivity with the switches.
The other connectivity is the connection involving the small terminals of the solenoid. The negative terminal of the controller is connected to one of the small terminals.
The other small terminal is paired up with the potentiometer micro switch which has a 36 volts rating. The connections to the small terminals can be interchanged.
In other words, it makes no difference which small terminal is connected to the controller and which one to the micro switch.
No golf cart is complete without a solenoid. This is also easily prone to damage because of its extensive usage to get the cart in action. How effectively your golf cart functions depend on the solenoid greatly.
I think it’s a very good idea to conduct periodic inspections of the solenoid from time to time. This can help to set things right at the earliest without causing the damage to extend to other parts also.
A broken solenoid or an improperly working solenoid may prevent the golf cart from picking up speed, not starting, or not working at all.
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