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Is a Golf Cart a Low Speed Vehicle?

golf cart in the woods

This is a tricky question—and getting a straight answer can be frustrating. Simply put, a golf cart isn’t a low-speed vehicle (LSV). Well, sometimes. The difference between them gets a little muddy.

The big three (Yamaha, Club Car, and E-Z-GO) are constantly adding new abbreviations or vehicle types. It’s dizzying to keep track. Here, we’d like to keep it as simple to understand as possible.

In this quick read, you’ll learn the differences, similarities, benefits, features, and enhancements you can make to get the right style vehicle for your needs.

One way to think of it

Comparing LSVs and golf carts comes down to what they can do (power-wise) and where they’re allowed to do it (locations, roads). The distinctions between them come down to speed restrictions, safety features, and local laws. Knowing what the differences between them makes it easy to understand how to spot either of them.

What is a low-speed vehicle (LSV)?

PLEASE NOTE: State and local laws vary greatly depending on where you live. Although these are the most common qualifications for an LSV, it’s important to check with your local authorities beforehand.

A low-speed vehicle is a four-wheeled vehicle that’s designed to be DOT-ready to hit streets with speed limits under 30 mph. To earn the right to hit the road, there are a few qualifications needed.

  • Visibility equipment like headlights, taillights, turn signals, mirrors
  • Windshields
  • Harnesses, seatbelts
  • DOT-approved tires
  • Title tags and registration
  • Driver safety qualification (usually for riders below 18)

As a street-legal vehicle, there are going to be more qualifications to be met. If you’re looking for an LSV and need accessories like these, check out the best selection on the web.

Why isn’t a golf cart a low-speed vehicle?

Golf carts are limited in performance, safety, and roadworthiness. The fastest only go around 20 mph, and a majority of courses might limit cart speed even lower. Golf carts come with fewer safety requirements and often aren’t tuned to handle the open road.

What type of vehicle is a golf cart?

A golf cart is a golf cart—they’re their own thing. For a four-wheeled, small, motorized vehicle to be a golf cart, it only needs to be allowed for play on the course. Just like an LSV, there are some qualifications a cart must have:

  • Operates at lower speeds
  • Has cargo to securely store bags
  • Limited use to the course/club
  • Comes with tiny pencils (just kidding)

The qualifications of every course or private club are going to be different. Some allow gas carts—some only electric. Some want you to use a governor for speed or will have you rent a cart if yours goes too fast.

Getting a battery controller for your electric cart is a great way to meet the speed qualifications of courses while also extending your cart’s run time. They are also able to ramp up the voltage to give your cart some extra torque and speed, too.

How fast can a golf cart go?

The golf carts used for rentals typically putt around at 15 mph (10-12 for electric models), but there are models designed that can break 20 mph. Obviously, that’s a little fast for most courses and a little too slow for the road.

How to turn your cart into an LSV

In many states, you can turn your golf cart into an LSV. The upgrades needed vary, so we recommend owners check with local laws before modifying their vehicles. There are some basic standards that are on almost every state’s list of qualifications.

To make a cart an LSV, you’ll need these things checked off of the list:

  • DOT-mandated safety parts and accessories
  • Proper registration, titles, tags, and a VIN
  • Up-to-date insurance
  • Ability to maintain up to 30MPH for an extended period (not just downhill!)
  • Proper restraints for passenger safety

Of course, there are other upgrades you can make to improve your comfort while riding on the road as well, like full enclosures, upgraded seating, and an aftermarket sound system.

No matter which vehicle is right for you, there’s a way to update, modify, and transform your ride into what you need. Finding the right parts for performance, safety, and comfort starts with finding the right source. Buggies Unlimited is an industry leader in quality aftermarket parts and accessories. Shop with us to find everything you’re looking for.

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