A high-quality golf cart should run smoothly for years, even over a decade, before issues start occurring.
But when these start to develop, there’s a good chance that you’re going to see some pretty surprising symptoms and signs.
For example, some golf carts end up smoking when they get old enough – you’ll usually see this issue when your cart is over 8-12 years old.
And this development can be very scary and upsetting and typically has a handful of causes that you must watch.
The following article will explain this issue, the five most common smoking triggers, and why help is smart.
Basic Info on Smoking Golf Carts
A smoking golf cart is not typically a problem with electrical models because there are very rare issues that may cause them to smoke.
For example, there may be loose wires that cause some burning inside of the engine.
However, this issue will be congruent with other types of problems, such as your cart struggling to run smoothly and even a failure of your cart to run at all.
Instead, you’re usually going to see smoking golf carts in those that have a gasoline engine.
And the smoke that you’re likely to experience is going to vary depending on many factors.
For example, you may see an engine smoke slightly while you are running it or may see a large amount of smoke coming from the engine as it runs.
The exact volume will vary, here, depending on the situation.
Just as importantly, you may end up with a lot of smoke coming from your exhaust – another common issue – that also indicates concerns with your cart that must be addressed.
Typically, extra smoke coming from your engine usually indicates that the oil is being burned too heavily or even that the oil is running out in your engine.
Both of these problems are very big issues that must be addressed ASAP.
In most cases, these issues are typically caused by a handful of problems that are usually something that you can quickly figure out.
Even a golf cart owner with no experience in mechanics may be able to figure out what is going wrong here.
And in some cases, you may be able to handle the fixes needed to keep your cart strong and secure.
However, there are many other situations in which you’re going to need an expert repair professional to keep your cart running smooth and efficient.
How to Fix a Smoking Golf Cart (5 Things To Check)
Below, we have listed the five most common problems that are going to cause your golf cart to smoke.
We have also listed fixes, when available, to ensure that you can get your cart up and running again.
Make sure to keep the contact information of a golf cart repair specialist on hand at all times – this should help you if anything goes wrong with your repairs and your cart smokes even worse.
1. Oil Problems With Your Cart
The most likely trigger for a smoking golf cart is oil problems with your cart.
These issues can vary depending on many factors, such as what type of oil you use, how much the oil has disappeared, and much more.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common of these issues to get an idea of what may be occurring and how it may be affecting the way that your cart runs and damaging its engine
First of all, you or someone else may have used the wrong type of oil.
This may be hard to believe, but it does happen surprisingly often.
Your cart needs a pretty specific type of oil – the exact type varies depending on the model and its production year.
Make sure to check the manufacturer’s guide book to get an idea of what type of oil you need and replace the type that you have in your cart right away to avoid complications.
Likewise, your oil may be dirty and heavily contaminated by outside elements.
These items end up getting burned as your engine runs and cause smoke.
They also cause the oil to burn and trigger more smoke development.
Change your oil filter and your oil and this problem should end – if it does not, you have another problem that may require more specialized fixes that could be a call for professional help in many cases.
2. Crankcase Issues
The crankcase is a critical part of your engine that can run into problems if you aren’t too careful.
For example, the crankcase can fill with too much oil if you don’t make sure that you check it regularly.
This problem is often related to various types of engine troubles that may or may not be focused on the crankcase – thankfully, they are usually things that you can handle on your own.
First of all, you need to check the air filter housing to see if it is tight enough around and inside the crankcase.
Often, this assembly works loose at various connectors and ends up causing oil to leak sporadically throughout your crankcase.
If this problems develops, your cart will smoke excessively and may end up suffering from damage if the crankcase isn’t properly repaired right away.
Start this repair by carefully draining all of the excessive oil from the crankcase and putting it into a storage bin for later disposal.
Clean out the housing and its connections and make sure to check them for tightness.
Carefully adjust them to make them snug and tight and this should fix the problem.
Replacing the crankcase may require expert help, though you can perform this basic repair step on your own without replacing this expensive part.
3. Clogged PCV Valve
The PCV valve is another engine part that must be carefully maintained to avoid excessive engine smoke in your cart.
The exact purpose of the valve is to ensure that your fuel flows smoothly and doesn’t end up getting too hot in your engine.
Unfortunately, this valve has a bad tendency to get clogged up as your engine runs and may cause smoke in your engine if you aren’t careful.
How can you tell if the PCV valve is clogged?
Open up your engine and find the valve – use your engine schematic to make identification easier – and move it with a gloved finger.
Does it move easily or does it seem to have a hard time swinging on its hinges?
If it doesn’t move that well, you may have a clog that requires you to replace the PCV valve – there’s no way to unclog it at this point beyond replacing it completely.
Start out by carefully removing the valve’s screws and taking them out of the engine.
Remove the valve with gloved hands to avoid getting stained by excessive grease or oil.
Clean off the area where you are installing the valve and put the new valve in place.
Tighten it down and your engine should stop smoking.
If the clog is deeper in your engine or beyond the valve, you are going to need expert help.
4. Worn Out or Broken Piston
The pistons on your golf cart help produce power by compressing your fuel and moving when the spark plug ignites the gas.
However, these pistons can get broken or worn down and run improperly.
When this happens, your cart is likely to produce a lot of excessive smoke whenever it runs.
Start out by testing for the compression of your engine using whatever method your service manual suggests.
Often, this step requires you to use a compression gauge hooked up to your engine as it runs.
Make sure that you find one of these gauges, as needed, and match them up properly to your cart.
And if you need professional help, you may want to get it before you start.
Thought his process isn’t hard, it can be tricky to do if you aren’t prepared for its unique demands.
If you find that the compression is low in your engine – compared to what the service manual says it should be for your cart – your pistons are probably to blame for your smoking engine.
In this scenario, you have no choice but to take your cart to a repair expert.
We find that even skilled amateurs end up making mistakes when removing and installing their pistons from a cart engine.
So trust an expert to handle this confusing situation for you instead.
5. Common Valve Problems With Your Engine
The valves on your golf cart engine are very critical for keeping it running smoothly and efficiently.
Unfortunately, these valves can easily become subject to many types of issues.
For example, your valves can end up getting worn down and causing your cart to smoke by making the fuel or the oil burn hotter or causing other types of issues that may be hard to predict and fix if you’re not a cart repair expert.
Open up your engine and check all of these valves.
If you find that they are worn down or don’t move as easily as they did before, you can replace them yourself or call a professional.
Expert help is a good step if you are uncertain of how to handle this process but you can probably do it on your own if you have any experience with cart repair.
All you’ll need are the proper replacement valves, screwdrivers, wrenches, and not much else.
However, you may also find that your valve seals or your guides are worn down.
These are protecting seals around the sides of your valve that keep it from leaking and the guiding elements that keep them in proper operation.
If you find that your cart’s seals or guides on the valves are broken down or don’t seem to work properly, just replace the whole valve.
Trying to replace these items on their own is going to be much too fine-tuned and specific of a task for most individuals.
Is Professional Help Always Needed?
As you have no doubt noticed reading through this article, we heavily suggested that you get help from a professional to manage these problems.
Though there were also several instances in which you could have managed this problem your own, a majority of them are things that do require the help of experts who understand the interior workings of your golf cart engine as much as possible.
Why is this type of help almost always a suggestion here?
First of all, experts can provide repairs that you may not be able to do on your own.
For example, the valves on your cart are delicate parts and must be installed properly or they may cause more problems than they are worth.
Though the full installation process isn’t that complex, if we’re honest, it is something that can be easy to make a mistake doing.
And if you make a mistake working on a gas-powered cart, you’re going to cause some big problems.
You may end up causing more damage to the engine and making it smoke even more than if you’d just had a professional do it for you.
Even worse, there’s a good chance that you may end up having to replace the engine after the damage is done – and you would have just saved yourself money if you’d hired somebody to handle this step for you.
We particularly suggest that you go directly to the golf cart manufacturer or dealer from which you purchased the cart initially.
You want to work with these professionals because they understand the different concerns that may affect your cart and cause it to smoke in this way.
Just as importantly, they often provide discounts and payment plans that you can’t get from other types of dealers.
That all depends, of course, on the company which you choose to work with in the first place.