How to Adjust, Replace & Repair Golf Cart Brakes (Full Steps)

golf cart brakes


Do Golf Carts Have Brakes?

Yes, golf carts have brakes. Most carts only have brakes on the rear wheels and not on all four. Golf carts can have different types of brakes like regenerative brakes, drum brakes and disc brakes.

 

How Do Golf Cart Brakes Work

Knowing the parts of a golf cart brake system will help you understand how the brakes on golf carts work.

I have written this complete step by step guide to help troubleshoot any brake problems you are experiecing with your golf cart.


Disclaimer:
Before attempting to fix your golf cart and/or brakes, speak with a qualified mechanic first. Use the information provided at your own risk.

Brake Shoes and Lining

Brake shoes are attached to the lining with the help of glue. Brake shoes are metal pieces that are curved to look almost like the alphabet ‘C’.

The lining undergoes a phenomenon called ‘glazing’ which will require the cart owner to get the brake shoes relined. Glazing is nothing but the wearing out of the lining due to heat, dust, and friction.

Glazing can bring down the brake’s efficiency and shorten its life. It can also bring down the adhesion that keeps the lining and the shoe together, which in turn may cause a failure in the brake shoes.

 

Golf Cart Brake Drums

Brake drums are made using cast iron which gives them a certain degree of immunity against distortion. Their bulky structure helps with better dissipation of heat.

The brake drums that are installed in your club car glide over the brake shoes and wheel hub. The golf cart wheel holds the drum in its place. E-Z-Go golf carts use a combination of brake drums and wheel hub, both built together as a single piece.

This is held in place by a retainer washer and castellated nut with a cotter pin. It’s crucial to tighten the washer and nut system. Should it loosen, it will damage the system which may then require a complete replacement.

The functioning and lifespan of the brake drums depend on the brake shoes and lining. Should the lining wear out, there will be friction between the brake drums and the shoes causing the brake to fail.

 

Brake Backing Plates

This part is a system in itself. It holds together four other sub-parts which are the brake shoes, shoe anchors, brake cables, and the self-adjuster mechanism.

The cables link up to the self-adjusting mechanism which is in turn attached to the brake backing plates itself.

Golf cart owners should make sure that the brake shoe anchors aren’t loose and that the backing plate isn’t bent out of shape. The backing plates are designed with three raised surfaces each on their front and back.

The brake shoes also have three raised surfaces that comfortably slide against the raised surfaces of the plates.

When the brakes are applied, the shoes move into other plates which may cause friction in between the raised surfaces of both parts.

If left ungreased or un-serviced, this wear can escalate to a complete replacement of the backing plates.

 

Brake Pedal on a Golf Cart

Brake pedal connects your foot to the brake cables and intensifies the pressure applied by your foot.

Even a slight force applied by your foot on the pedal will get intensified and ultimately engage the brakes in the cart.

 The pivot points on your pedals in collaboration with the springs make sure that the pedal comes back to its original position once the brake action is completed.

 

How Electric Golf Cart Brakes Work

Most modern electric golf carts use Regenerative brakes. Regenerative brakes are built using an actuator that arrests energy and a storage device that stores it. The electric motor in the golf cart is the actuator while the batteries are the storage device.

These brakes work by converting kinetic energy into a form that can be used to slow down the vehicle. When you engage these brakes, the electric motor in your golf cart operates in reverse and brings the vehicle to a stop or slows it down.

The energy that is converted is either put to use that very instant or stored for later use. Regenerative brakes also charge the cart’s electric battery in the process.

When you step on the brake pedal, the regenerative brakes turn the electric motor inside the cart into a generator, thus slowing the speed of the cart.

The generator produces energy in the form of electricity and this byproduct then finds its way into the golf cart batteries.

 

How Long Do Golf Cart Brakes Last

Under the right circumstances, golf cart brakes can last as long as you want them to. Proper maintenance and purchase of good quality drums, shoes, and other parts can contribute to the brake’s longevity.

Timely lubrication of the moving parts in the suspension and tending to brake-related problems as soon as they show up can go a long way with the lifespan of brakes.

 

Golf Cart Drum Brakes Vs Disc Brakes

Most golf carts come with drum brakes. Only the customized ones have disc brakes in them. There are a few differences between drum brakes and disc brakes. They are:

  • Golf carts with drum brakes can be comfortably used for a stroll through the golf course and a drive along leveled surfaces.

    However, the drum brakes that are installed only in the rear set of the wheels of your cart may not be enough to provide you with optimum speed control.

  • Drum brakes equipped golf carts often hit 12-15 miles per hour but to reach around 25, you’ll need to upgrade to disc brakes. Reaching around 25 miles per hour with drum brakes may not be possible without jumpy and unsafe brakes and turns.

  • Drum brakes may not be able to handle increased power requirements. When you try to slow down or stop while driving the cart at high speeds, the brakes and drums may glaze and wear out due to friction and heat.

    You’ll either have to wait for the machine to cool down or have the drum completely replaced in case the damage worsens. On the other hand, a disc brake doesn’t lose its power in such situations. Although, it may lead to a distortion in the disc due to heat.

  • Making sharp turns might demand higher control from the brakes. Disc brakes often help in providing a greater control which aids sharper turns and brings back the cart to the desired speed range.

  • If you often ride your golf carts on uneven and unleveled surfaces, disc brakes could be your best bet. Drum brakes are usually installed only in the rear set of the wheels.

  • This means, if you ride your cart down a hill, there are chances that on engaging the brake system, your rear wheels might lose their contact with the ground.

  • With disc brakes, you’re offered more braking area which will get your wheels back on the ground.

Disclaimer: Before attempting to fix your golf cart and/or brakes, speak with a qualified mechanic first. Use the information provided at your own risk.


How to Check Golf Cart Brakes

I recommend checking your golf cart brakes every 3 months. This will keep you safe on the course and reduce the risk of any future problems occurring.

Steps to Check the Brakes on your Club Car golf Cart:

  1. Park your golf cart on a level surface.

  2. Place 4 blocks or bricks in the front and back of the front set of wheels. Using a floor jack, jack up the pair of wheels on the rear of the cart. Use a 3/4” socket wrench to disengage both the wheels.

  3. To determine the brake shoe adjuster- In club car models manufactured post-1994, you’ll be able to notice a screw outside the brake drum.

    The more threads on the screw that you can see, the more lift available on the brake shoe.

    A replacement in both the post and pre-1994 models might not be needed if your brakes don’t make any noise.

  4. The pre-94’ club car models come with a 7mm screw on the rear side of the brake drum. To adjust the brake pad, turn the screw until the pad and drum establish contact. Turn the screw till there is resistance and then unscrew to ensure there is no resistance to undo the pressure.

  5. Spray an oil-based solvent or a rust-dissolver on to a clean piece of cloth and clean the moving parts.

  6. Fit the wheels back on to the vehicle and remove the jack.

  7. Engage the brakes to ensure proper functioning before you use the cart.

 

How to Adjust Golf Cart Brakes

E-Z-GO carts come with a self-brake adjusting mechanism. Drum brakes are installed in the rear set of wheels of your golf cart and this drum braking system auto-adjusts the brake when you’re driving the vehicle.

The auto-adjustment depends upon the degree of wear of the brakes. If the brakes are worn out beyond a point, the rear drum braking system brings the brake shoe and the drums in contact. This contact gives rise to a stopping force between the two parts.

 

Steps to Adjust the Brakes on your E-Z-GO golf cart

  1. Switch on the cart and hit the top speed.

  2. Once you hit the maximum speed, engage the brakes by stepping on the brake pedal.

  3. Disengage the brake system by removing your foot off the pedal but make sure that the cart doesn’t come to a standstill. During this process, the brake system will auto-adjust while the vehicle is on the move.

 

Cost to Replace Golf Cart Brakes

The brake system in a golf cart is made of several components. Replacing the brake system will mean replacing all the components. A complete brake replacement costs $150-$200.

According to online shopping sites, the approximate price of each of the components is:

  • Brake Shoe – $14.99
  • Brake Hardware Kit for Bendix Brake Shoes (includes 3 horizontal shoe return springs, 2 shoe hold-down springs, and 2 shoe hold-down pins) – $16.99
  • Brake Drum/Hub Assembly for Electric golf carts – $56.75
  • Brake Pad set – $16.95
  • Brake cable set – $49.95

 

How to Replace Golf Cart Brakes

To replace golf cart brakes, follow the steps given below:

  1. Bring your cart to a level surface and turn the motor off.
  2. As an alternative to turning on your parking brake, place 4 blocks or bricks in the front and back of the front set of wheels.
  3. Use a floor jack to jack up the rear of your cart.
  4. Disengage the rear set of wheels using a ¾ inch socket wrench.
  5. Disengage the brake drum, uncovering the brake pads.
  6. Use a pair of needle-nose pliers to remove the cotter pins.
  7. Remove the old brake pads.
  8. To replace a new set of pads, apply lubricant on them and insert them in place.
  9. To hold the pads in place, place the cotter pins and the brake drums back.
  10. Fix the rear wheels back on to the vehicle using the wrench.
  11. Remove the jack and the bricks/blocks.
  12. Now switch on the cart and test the brakes at a minimum speed.

 

How to Bleed Golf Cart Brakes

With use, air molecules get into the brake line which can lead to malfunctioning of the brake.

There can be various causes of air seepage into brake lines.

  • Air molecules can seep into faulty, long used or worn-out brake pads.
  • A leakage in the brake line can let the air seep in.
  • Using the brake pedal unnecessarily and continuously can also cause air to seep into the brake line.

If you notice the pedal touching the floor even before you set your foot on it, the brake line might need to be bled. If the issue is left untreated, it could lead to a complete brake failure. Bleeding fixes the above issue by removing the air from the brake line.

 

Instruments Needed to Bleed a Brake Line

  • Bleeder wrench
  • Rubber hose
  • Jar
  • Brake fluid

 

The brake line can be bled following the step given below.

  1. Each brake comes equipped with a bleed screw behind it. Unscrew it using a bleeder wrench and screw it back tight.

  2. Set the wrench aside. Take one end of the rubber hose and set it over the bleed screw. Place the other end of the hose in a jar filled with brake fluid.

  3. Press the brake pedal hard with your foot a few times. Now hold it down while the bleed screw is undone.

  4. You’ll notice that the brake fluid’s surface has air bubbles now. You’ll also see that the jar is spurting out fluid due to the air pressure.

  5. Put the bleed screw back while holding down the brake pedal with your foot and then release once the screw is tight.

  6. Repeat steps 3 to 5 until air bubbles cease to form in the jar.

  7. Repeat the whole process with each wheel of your golf cart.

 

How to Repair Golf Cart Brakes

Golf cart brakes can be repaired by following these steps.

  1. Park your golf cart on an even and level surface. Place 4 blocks or bricks in the front and back of the front set of wheels.

  2. Position a floor jack in the center of the rear side of your cart. Lift the rear set of wheels using the jack.

  3. Use a socket wrench to disengage the wheels and place them aside.

  4. Use a pair of needle-nose pliers to take off the cotter pin that holds the hub.

  5. Seated under the hub are the brake pads held by clips. Remove the clips that hold them and place them aside.

  6. Discard the worn-out/old brake pads.

  7. Now pour a little lubricant on a rag cloth and apply it on the inner side of the new brake pads

  8. The inner side will seat itself against the rotor. Grease the surfaces gently to help establish contact between the brake rotor and the brake pad.

  9. Now press the lubricated side of the brake pad against the wheel axle.

  10. Reattach the clips that you set aside earlier.

  11. Fit back the hubs and the wheels.

  12. Remove the jack and turn on the cart.

  13. As a final step, test your new brake pads at a minimum speed.

 

How to Unlock Golf Cart Brakes

There could be more than one reason why your brakes lock up and won’t release. If you live in humid areas, the high moisture levels could corrode your brake by attacking the metal disc and plates.

 You can try cleaning these parts to check if the brake unlocks. If that fails, follow the steps given below to release your brake.

 

Steps to Unlock the Brakes on a Golf Cart:

  1. Park your cart on a level surface.

  2. Use a floor jack to lift the rear pair of wheels in the air after placing 4 blocks or bricks in the front and back of the front set of wheels, to prevent the cart from rolling away accidentally.

  3. Unscrew the supporting screws in the wheel and disengage both the wheels.

  4. Now disengage the drums to access the brakes.

  5. Unscrew the brake’s axle bolts using a wrench to manually unlock the brake.

  6. Fit the drum, wheels and the supporting screws back.

  7. Roll the golf cart a few feet after removing the bricks/blocks.

  8. Repeat steps 2 to 4.

  9. Now screw the bolts back tight. Loose bolts may induce rotation in the axle which can cause the brakes to jam up again.

 

Troubleshooting Golf Cart Brake Problems

I have owned several models of golf carts. There is no doubt there will come a time when you experience various problems with your brakes.

Below you’ll find the most common brake problems golf cart owners come across, and how you can fix them:

Brakes Locking Up on Golf Cart

There could be more than one reason why your golf cart brakes lock up and won’t release. One reason could be humidity.

If you live in humid areas, the high moisture levels could corrode your brake by attacking the metal disc and plate in it.

You can try cleaning and drying these parts to check if the brake unlocks. If that fails, follow the steps given below.

  1. Drive your cart to a level surface.

  2. Use a floor jack to lift the rear pair of wheels in the air after placing 4 blocks or bricks in the front and back of the front set of wheels, to prevent the cart from rolling away accidentally.

  3. Unscrew the supporting screws in the wheel and disengage both the wheels.

  4. Now disengage the drums to access the brakes.

  5. Unscrew the brake’s axle bolts using a wrench to manually unlock the brake.

  6. Now replace the drum, wheels and the supporting screws.

  7. Roll the golf cart for a few feet.

  8. Repeat steps two to four.

  9. Now screw the bolts back tight. Loose bolts may induce rotation in the axle which can cause the brakes to jam up.

 

Brakes Squeaking on Golf Cart

If your brakes make a weird squeaky noise while they are engaged, you have squeaky brakes. One of the causes for squeaky brakes could be glazing of the parts.

Glazing is the wearing out of the brake parts due to frequent contact with dust and due to heat. This causes friction and wear. To combat glazing and fix squeaky brakes, follow the below steps:

How to Stop your Golf Cart Breaks Squeaking:

  1. Bring your golf cart to an even and level surface.
  2. Jack up the rear wheels using a floor jack after placing 4 blocks or bricks in the front and back of the front set of wheels, to prevent the cart from rolling away accidentally.
  3. Now disengage the wheels using a ¾ inch wrench and remove the drum and the brake shoes.
  4. Direct high-pressure air on the parts for a while.
  5. This will blow off dust particles, bring down the heat and fix the glaze issue.
  6. Now sand the brake shoes and the inner part of the drum using an abrasive piece of fabric or 150 grit sandpaper.
  7. Reassemble the drums and the wheels once you finish sanding.
  8. Remove the jack and test drive the cart.

Another temporary fix to this problem is to lubricate the brake every 3 months.

 

Brakes Not Working Well (Hard to Stop)

Brakes on your cart can become faulty due to worn out brake shoes or glazing issues.

If your golf cart brakes are not working well, follow these steps:

  1. Drive your cart to a level and even surface.

  2. Use a floor jack to lift the rear wheels into the air after placing 4 blocks or bricks in the front and back of the front set of wheels, to prevent the cart from rolling away accidentally.

  3. Use a ¾ inch wrench to remove the wheels.

  4. Remove the drums too to expose the brake shoes.

  5. The brake shoes need to maintain complete contact with the drums for the brakes to function properly. If you notice extensive wearing out of the shoes, you might want to fix the glazing problem or get new brake shoes.

  6. To fix the glazing issue, you can direct the shoes to high-pressure air to remove the dust and bring down the temperature.

  7. Use fine-grit sandpaper to sand the shoes to cure the wearing.

  8. Once they are sanded, put the drums back.

  9. Re-assemble the wheels and remove the jack.

  10. Test-drive the cart to check if the brakes work fine.

 

Golf Cart Brakes Grabbing

Brakes can begin to grab due to loose brake bolts. Such bolts can induce slight rotation in the axle that can lead to excessive tightening of the brake cables.

How to loosen Golf Cart Brake Cables:

  1. Park your cart on a level surface.

  2. Jack up the rear wheels after placing 4 blocks or bricks in the front and back of the front set of wheels, to prevent the cart from rolling away accidentally, and remove the wheels and the drum.

  3. See if the u-bolts of the brake are loose and are making the axle rotate.

  4. If they are, unscrew the U-bolts and screw them back on without tightening them too much.

  5. Re-assemble all the parts back and remove the jack.

If your problem persists:

  • Carry out steps 1 and 2 from above
  • Now, remove the clips that hold your brake cables.
  • You can find these clips a little under the front of the rear springs.
  • Re-engage all the parts and lower the rear.


Does your golf cart have a lift kit?  (a device that enhances the height of the cart well above the ground level to allow easy driving over water, hills and rocks). If you do have a lift kit installed and your experiencing brake grabbing issues, please follow these steps:

  • Once you have removed the wheels and drum from the rear, loosen the u-bolts completely.

  • Tighten the nuts in the front completely. Now, the nuts in the back should be comparatively loose than the ones in the front.

  • You’ll now notice that the axle is slightly shifted towards the back. This will fix the problem of tight cables which lock up the brakes on the driver’s side.

 

Golf Cart Brakes Sticking

If your cart is getting pulled to one side when your wheel is positioned straight, your brakes might be sticky. Sticky brakes can also get the brakes extremely hot.

There could be several reasons why your golf cart’s brakes are sticky. The brake bolts could be unevenly worn off or the rusting of the reverse springs in the brake could also be the problem.

How to Stop your Brakes Sticking:

  1. Drive your golf cart to a level surface and jack up the rear wheels using a floor jack after placing 4 blocks or bricks in the front and back of the front set of wheels, to prevent the cart from rolling away accidentally.

  2. Now remove the supporting screws of the wheels, the wheels, and the drum inside.

  3. Observe the bolts that hold your brake cables together. These bolts are positioned beneath the driver’s side floorboard. If the bolts are rusted, you’ll have to lubricate them to bring them back to condition.

  4. To lubricate them, loosen the bolt and use a water-displacing, oil-based spray.

  5. Now fix the bolt back and re-assemble all the parts.

  6. Remove the jack and test drive your cart.

 

Brakes Dragging on Golf Cart

Dragging in brake is caused when the brake pads or shoes don’t completely release when you remove your foot from the pedal. The pedal emits a strange noise when your cart is having this issue.

Steps to fix dragging brakes:

  1. Jack up the golf cart using a floor jack once you bring the cart to a level surface. Placing 4 blocks or bricks in the front and back of the front set of wheels is advised to prevent the cart from rolling away accidentally.

  2. Using a wrench, remove the wheels and then remove the drum.

  3. See if the brake shoes are abnormally tight.

  4. Loosen them manually if that’s the case.

  5. If the problem persists, it could be due to the excessive tightening of your brake cables. Loosen the brake cables and tighten them enough so that the pedals feel stiff enough but not too hard.

  6. Once that’s done, place the drums and the wheels back and remove the jack.
  7. Test-drive the vehicle.

 

Brakes Pulsating on Golf Cart

You can say that your cart brakes are pulsating when the brake pedal goes up and down repeatedly in the absence of an external force.

 It could happen if you hit the brakes hard and then turn on the parking brakes. This way, you’re essentially causing friction in the drums which in turn causes pulsating brakes.

Another reason could be that you’re leaving the cart on parking brake for too long.


Steps to fix your pulsating brakes:

  1. If your drums are bent out of shape and look swollen due to repeated contact (friction) from the brake shoes, you could try this method.

  2. Drive your cart at the maximum speed and hit the brakes hard making sure the tires don’t slide, and the vehicle comes to a hard stop. This could bring down the heat and solve the issue.

  3. Faulty brake springs could also be a cause. Replace your brake springs to solve the issue. Don’t forget to tighten the u-bolts correctly so that the brake pedal is stiff but not too hard.

  4. You could also try scuffing the drums using sandpaper or an abrasive piece of cloth to return it to its normal shape.

 

Golf Cart Brake Maintenance Tips

Regular maintenance and replacement of faulty and worn-out brake parts can go a long way in keeping the brakes of your golf cart in good condition. It can also extend the lifespan of the cart brake.

 

How to Clean your Golf Carts Brakes

Malfunctioning brakes can be a fatal problem sometimes. Cleaning your brakes can help you notice if there any deformities in them that can put you at risk.


Steps to Clean your Golf Cart Brakes:

  1. Use a floor jack to lift the rear portion of your cart in the air.
  2. Place 4 blocks or bricks in the front and back of the front set of wheels, to prevent the cart from rolling away accidentally.

  3. Disengage the wheels and the drums using a wrench.

  4. Use a spray or brake cleaner to clean the brake shoes. Dust and humidity can cause rust and wear out your shoes.

  5. Pour a small quantity of water-displacing, oil-based agent/lubricant on a piece of rag cloth and clean the parts with it.

Adjusting your cart brakes can help you in more than one way. It can tighten your brake pedals just enough for your foot to apply the needed pressure on them. It can also give you taut brake cables that facilitate the proper functioning of brakes.

 

Adjusting Golf Cart Brakes (old models)


How to adjust the brake on your old cart models:

  1. Find the adjusting screw on the backside of the brake drum. Turn the screw enough to establish contact between the shoes and the drum. Make sure that the shoe is pressed against the drum.
  2. Now, spin the cart’s wheel till you start to feel some resistance.

 

Adjusting Golf Cart Brakes (new models)


How to adjust brakes in your new cart models:

  1. Your newly manufactured carts come with self-adjusting shoes. These shoes have springs that help the brake pedal move up and down smoothly.

  2. To clean the shoe and the spring, spray an oil-based solvent on them and even the spray out using a rag cloth.

  3. Finish the process by applying lubricant on the part.

  4. Test-drive your vehicle to ensure the braking action is smooth.

 

How to Replace Worn Out Shoes and Drums on Golf Cart

Due to regular wear and tear, all golf cart brakes have a lifespan. They will break down beyond a point of repair upon reaching this lifespan. This will call for a complete replacement of the brakes.

To replace worn-out shoes or drums:

  1. Discard the old drums and the pair of shoes attached to each of your rear wheels.
  2. Use a spray or brake cleaner on the whole assembly.
  3. Engage the new shoes in their place.
  4. Place the new drum in its position.

 

How to Inspect your Golf Cart Brakes

Apart from the above, regular maintenance and inspection of your golf brakes can help with your cart’s longevity.

The below tips will help you with brake inspections:

  • Check for deflated tires as flat tires can exert more pressure on your brakes thus wearing them out sooner.

  • Consult a mechanic to find out the right pressure to maintain in your cart tires, to keep them from uneven wear.

  • Oil the moving parts from time to time (at least once a year) to keep way rust and friction.

  • Keep an eye out for issues in the brake like dragging, pulsation, squealing, etc. Rectify the problems or get the brakes serviced as soon as problems surface. Don’t procrastinate fixing these problems until they escalate into bigger ones.

  • Don’t purchase cheap parts to save on money. This will cost you dearly when a major problem demands a complete replacement of your cart brakes.

Is Your Golf Cart Dirty? See My Favourite Tips to Clean Your Golf Cart

Ernie

Ernie loves documenting interesting facts about golf.

Recent Content