To Belt or Not to Belt?

To seat belt or not to seat belt? Now that’s an idea! Seat belts for my golf cart? Really? Most people do not realize that there are several different options for safety seat belts available relatively inexpensive for their golf carts. Perform an internet search for more information of these different types of seat belts available.

As time goes by we are repairing more & more front end damages to the golf carts where the driver just plain ole ran into something (we hear every excuse in the book, we hear it all, just not the whole truth about the incident!). It’s amazing how many trees, bushes and shrubs jump out in front of their carts! Or fall from a tree. They instantly come from nowhere! “My cart just wouldn’t stop in in time.” Most braking systems on a golf car have only mechanical shoe brakes which are about 5″ long with 2 on each rear wheel drum. That’s not a lot of stopping power when going as fast as the cart can. Remember this: wide open means wide braking. The faster you go, the longer it will take to stop.

The original equipment manufacturer designed the brakes to stop a two passenger golf car with top speeds of eleven to fifteen miles per hour. The most popular questions by men in our dealership by far have to do with options in making their golf cart go faster. I often answer their question with one of my own. Once they tell me how fast they want to go I ask them how do they plan to stop??

The confusing looks on their faces amazes me. The majority of them hadn’t given two synapses about the braking system in their golf car and what will happen once they alter their golf car. Alterations such as adding a back seat alone are going to affect the stopping power of the factory brakes. Now on top of adding two more people they want to custom lift the cart and put the biggest, baddest custom wheels and tires on it as well. And if that’s not enough altering, on top of these now they want to make the golf car “go fast”.

The really crazy thing to me is that these speed freaks will spend hundreds and even thousands of dollars to make their custom cart go faster and yet are not willing to spend a dime on upgrading their braking system! Today’s aftermarket suppliers offer a couple of different brake system upgrades. One way to upgrade is to convert the rear brakes from the factory shoes to brake discs. This will give the average golf car between twenty to thirty five percent more braking power. In comparison to all the money spent on speed upgrades the conversion is relatively affordable.

In addition to rear mechanical discs the aftermarket also supplies a hydraulic disc braking system to be added to the front of the golf cart. This will give the cart’s braking ability a massive amount of more stopping power. Here’s the bottom line: if you’re going to alter the golf cart’s drive line then you need to upgrade the golf cart’s braking time. Be safe! You need to be able to stop within a safe amount of time and distance. Once again, be safe.

Each passing year brings more casualties on golf carts, sadly, some fatal. Most of the casualties come from the passengers being expelled from the right front seat and the rear seat as well when the driver is speedily making sharp left hand turns. Others are just head on collisions. And as the concept of golf cart communities continues to grow so do the accidents. A great percentage of these casualties could have been avoided if the passengers were protected by proper braking power and equipped with safety seat belts.

Today’s companies produce a variety of seat belts from simple lap belts to retractable ones. These are fairly easy to install and are reasonably priced. We install them on all our rental carts and strongly advise potential golf cart purchasers to add them to their golf cart purchase, especially when children are going to be involved.

It would shock you at how many parents won’t spend the money on seat belts but will want the new cart to go faster. The other thing I find amazing is when a grandparent buys a golf car they almost always want seat belts installed. Go figure huh? It is my responsibility to every golf car owner as an owner of a golf car dealership who sees the end results of inadequate safety to plead with you to make your golf cart safe. At the very least use safety seat belts. In the grand stage of life they are relatively cheap compared to one or more of the main characters having casualties. Be safe and enjoy your golf cart. After all, isn’t that what you bought it for?