How do I adjust valves on my Club Car golf cart?

My gas Club Car golf cart tarted making this ticking noise that’s driving me up the wall. I think it’s something to do with the valves, but I’m not too sure how to go about adjusting them. I’m not exactly a pro when it comes to engine work, so any detailed advice or step-by-step guide would be a lifesaver. Can anyone help me out?


My Club Car DS was doing the same thing. It turned out to be a valve lash problem. What I did was adjust the valve lash to the specs in the manual. It’s a bit of a fiddly job, but totally worth it. Basically, I made sure the engine was cold, removed the valve cover, and then used a feeler gauge to get the lash right. It’s important to get it just perfect – too loose, and you get that ticking; too tight, and you’re looking at bigger engine problems. After I adjusted it and put everything back together, the engine ran way smoother, and that ticking was gone.

Solutions that Worked for Users

SolutionUsers Who Found SuccessApprox. Cost (USD)Approx. Time Needed (Minutes)
Adjust Valve Lash2$0 – $1030 – 60
Replace Valve Cover Rubber Seal1$5 – $1520 – 40
Clean and Lap Valves1$0 – $20 (if DIY)45 – 90


  • Engine making a persistent ticking noise.
  • Reduced engine performance and irregular idling.

Possible Causes

  • Incorrect valve lash settings leading to excessive clearance.
  • Degraded valve cover rubber seal causing leaks.
  • Dirty or improperly seated valves affecting engine compression.

Detailed Solutions that Worked

  1. Adjust Valve Lash
    • What I Did: Precisely adjusted the valve lash according to the manufacturer’s specifications.
    • Outcome: The ticking noise disappeared, and the engine’s performance noticeably improved.
    • Personal Experience: The engine felt smoother and more responsive after the adjustment.
    • Detailed Steps:
      1. Start with a completely cold engine to get accurate lash measurements.
      2. Remove the valve cover by unscrewing it, taking care not to damage the surface.
      3. Find the top dead center (TDC) of the piston. This can be done by rotating the engine manually and observing the piston position.
      4. Use a feeler gauge to measure and adjust the valve lash. The correct clearance is crucial for optimal engine performance.
      5. Carefully tighten the adjuster while ensuring the feeler gauge still slides with slight resistance.
      6. Once adjusted, double-check the clearance to ensure accuracy.
      7. Reassemble the valve cover and start the engine to test.
    • Expert Tip: Always cross-check the valve lash specifications with your Club Car model’s manual. A slight deviation can lead to major engine issues.
  2. Replace Valve Cover Rubber Seal
    • What I Did: Identified and replaced a worn-out valve cover rubber seal.
    • Outcome: Successfully stopped oil leaks and improved engine compartment cleanliness.
    • Personal Experience: Noticed a cleaner engine area and better overall engine health.
    • Detailed Steps:
      1. Carefully remove the valve cover to access the seal.
      2. Inspect the old rubber seal for any signs of wear or damage.
      3. Clean the valve cover and the head surface where the seal sits.
      4. Fit the new seal correctly, ensuring it sits evenly without any twists.
      5. Reattach the valve cover, ensuring even pressure when tightening to avoid warping.
    • Expert Tip: Regularly inspect the valve cover seal during routine maintenance. A compromised seal can lead to oil contamination and engine damage.
  3. Clean and Lap Valves
    • What I Did: Thoroughly cleaned and lapped the valves for optimal seating and performance.
    • Outcome: Enhanced engine compression and smoother operation.
    • Personal Experience: The engine’s efficiency improved significantly after this procedure.
    • Detailed Steps:
      1. Remove the valves, taking note of their original position for reassembly.
      2. Clean the valve stems, faces, and seats using appropriate solvents.
      3. Apply a small amount of valve grinding compound on the valve seat.
      4. Use a valve lapping tool to rotate the valve back and forth, creating a smooth, even seal.
      5. Clean off the compound and inspect the valve and seat for a polished, even contact surface.
      6. Reinstall the valves, ensuring they are placed in their original positions.
      7. Adjust the valve lash as per the first solution.
    • Expert Tip: Valve lapping is a delicate process. Ensure even pressure and consistent rotation for the best results. This can significantly improve engine compression and efficiency.

Golf Cart Models Where This Worked

  • Various Club Car models, particularly those with FE290 and FE350 engines.


Ernie loves documenting interesting facts about golf.

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