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Why Does My Golf Cart Backfire?

golf cart on grass with buggies logo on top left

Engines are always going to make noise — sometimes those noises are a sign of deeper issues. Ever heard an extra loud sound when the engine turns over? Usually, that’s the engine backfiring. At the wrong time, it’s embarrassing. Every time? It’s annoying.

Learning what causes a golf cart engine to backfire and how to prevent it makes every ride better, keeping your cart running longer.

What causes a golf cart engine to backfire?

Golf cart engine backfires are caused by excess: too much oxygen because of an air system leak or too much fuel seeping into areas it shouldn’t be igniting. If you want to stop your cart from backfiring, it’s important to understand all the reasons it occurs.

A compromised fuel-to-air ratio

As mentioned above, the combination of fuel, air and vapor is crucial to an engine firing in the right sequence. When that combination is off, golf cart engines can backfire. This is usually a problem related to the engine’s carburetor — working like a pump that pulls air and vapor into the engine. If there’s too much of one and not enough of the other, backfires can occur.

Failing/malfunctioning throttle plate

In most carts, there’s a simple, manually operated switch known as the microswitch that needs to be engaged before the throttle plate interacts with the accelerator to fire the engine. Checking for this can save you time and hassle in your quest to fix engine backfires.

Carbon buildup

As an engine fires, the fuel that’s burned doesn’t completely evaporate . Over time, there’s a buildup of carbon that can occur on almost any part of the engine. Although most commonly found near the EGR system of diesel engines, the pistons of your vehicle can glow red-hot if caked in enough carbon residue, causing engine backfires.

How to fix a backfiring golf cart engine

Chances are, your cart is backfiring for one of three reasons discussed. Adjusting your carburetor and throttle plate and regular cleaning are the best ways to prevent it from happening again.

Fixing the Carburetor’s fuel-to-air ratio

Your carburetor should have settings that can change this ratio, but be sure to check with the manufacturer’s OEM specifications before making changes. With a few turns of a screw-like mechanism, you can alter the airflow to reduce or increase the oxygen intake of your vehicle.

Keep in mind — especially with smaller engines, bigger is not always better with carburetors. You can easily flood an engine by buying improperly sized aftermarket parts. Shop by model with Buggies Unlimited to find the best fit for you.

Fixing backfires from the golf cart throttle plate

With the ignition turned off, hit the gas pedal and watch to see when the throttle plate moves before the microswitch engages. If that happens, the throttle plate needs fixing. Adjusting the throttle cable can help you stop your cart from backfiring.

Whether your Yamaha cart is backfiring or your Club Car is making too much noise, your manufacturer’s manual should have accurate details on how to locate and tighten the throttle cable as long as you know your cart’s model and year.

If you’re having trouble finding your exact model and year, use our Golf Cart Identification tool.

How to prevent your golf cart engine from backfiring

Regular maintenance to your golf cart’s engine and throttle plate is crucial, but the buildup of carbon on the engine is as well. Although less likely to be an issue, this carbon buildup can seriously impact engine performance over time and cause backfiring. The best way to prevent this build up is by keeping up with regular maintenance.

No more noise when accelerating

Although golf cart backfiring is preventable with the right care, it’s not always an easy fix. The throttle plate can work great, the pistons can be as clean as a whistle — but sometimes the carburetor is just on its last legs. From everything from cleaning products and accessories to key parts for your golf cart, find everything you need to stop your golf cart from backfiring at Buggies Unlimited.

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