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Golf Cart at Sunset

Golf Cart Alignment 101

Alignment is an often overlooked, necessary maintenance procedure on golf carts. Whether you've noticed your tires are wearing unevenly, your cart is pulling in an unintended direction, or you're just proactive about good golf cart maintenance, you're in the right spot. By the end of this article, you'll have the all the know-how to align your golf cart yourself and ride in confidence and comfort for years to come! 

Here at Golf Cart Stuff™, we strive to deliver helpful content packed with information and easy to understand. So, we've done just that with this guide on how to DIY your Golf Cart Alignment. If getting your hands dirty isn't for you, totally fine! In addition to the step-by-step instructions, we include a ton of information about how different suspension components work together on your cart and how they should be maintained properly.

Keep in mind– Yamaha, EZGO, and Club Car all have slight differences in their steering and suspension components. The addition of other aftermarket accessories increases these differences. The following advice is general to all makes and models, and not specific to any one cart.

 

Glossary of Terms

Don't worry– it's brief, and there's no quiz later! 

Toe and Camber are two terms that we will repeatedly use throughout this article, so they are essential to understand. These are the adjustable elements involved in adequately aligning your golf cart. Review the below for a quick definition of each term. We'll go into further details in their respective sections below. 

definitions for toe and camber

 

Jerry Pate from Club Car Service School also explains the two terms very clearly in THIS video.

When to Align Your Golf Cart

There are situations where it is absolutely necessary to check and adjust your golf cart's alignment, and other times when it's just a good regular maintenance practice. 

It's time if any of the following apply:

  • Uneven tire wear
  • Golf Cart pulling in a direction other than intended
  • After a collision or collision repair
  • After any modifications that could affect any part of the steering or suspension:
    • Lift Kit 
    • Leaf Springs
    • Wheels and Tires
    • Knuckle Arm

Recent times have shown a major uptick in golf cart use across the world, meaning that no two carts have the same life story. That said, it can be challenging to determine exactly how often to recommend aligning your golf cart. 

Remember: Frequency of use and difficulty of the terrain you travel are the most influencing factors to the wear and tear on your buggy's alignment

Unless any of the above special conditions apply, we recommend having your golf cart aligned once every 1-2 years as good practice. 

Toolbox with wrenches

But I'm Not a Mechanic!

Me either! Believe it or not, aligning your golf cart is something the everyday owner can do with tools you probably already have on hand. We will suggest the following tools in the instructions below:

  • Open-ended wrenches (17mm, 14mm, 12mm, 10mm - sizes will vary by manufacturer)
  • Tape Measure
  • Framing Square / Right Angle Straight Edge 
  • Marker / Chalk / Grease Pen (optional for marking measurement points on tires)
  • Floor Jack
  • Trusty assistant (if available)

Let's Do This! 
Prepare The Cart... 

  • Inspecting your cart's steering and alignment components is an essential first step. You don't want to go through all this work to find out something else is wrong down the road. Take a look over your leaf springs, knuckle arms, ball joints, and suspension to ensure nothing is worn or damaged. 
  • Park your cart on a solid, flat surface and fully inflate all four tires. 
  • Remove the front bumper assembly (if applicable) for easier access to the parts you'll need to reach.

Camber 

As we've defined, Camber is the relationship, or offset, between the top and the bottom of the tires. You may experience your cart pulling or the tires wearing unevenly and prematurely when the Camber is off too much in one direction or the other, or the Camber is different between the front tires. 

Positive Camber is when the bottom of the tire is angled closer to the body of the cart than the top of the tire. A slightly positive Camber is what we want to achieve for proper alignment on most golf carts.

Negative Camber is the opposite– the top of the tire is angled closer to the body of the cart than the bottom of the tire. 

We want to set the cart up with a bit of a positive camber because when we sit on the cart, it will naturally squat down a bit, forcing the tops of the tires slightly outward. You are at the ideal camber position when your tires sit at a neutral camber while driving.

Adjusting Golf Cart Camber 

1. Park your cart on flat, solid ground with the steering wheel centered and the front bumper removed.

2. Verify that the leaf spring is centered on the golf cart. If off-center, loosen up the four bolts on the bottom side of the spring plate to free up the leaf spring and adjust left-right as needed. Tighten down when centered.

3. Beginning on one side of the cart, put one side of your right angle straight edge on the ground and the other against the outside face of your tire. Does the edge lie flush against the tire's face, or can you see daylight through either the top or bottom? 
(Remember, space on the bottom of the tire means your tires have positive Camber, and space on the top means negative Camber)

4. Measure the angle the same way on the opposite side and compare the two. If they do not match, and/or there is more than ⅛" (3.2mm) of space between the straight edge and the tire, the Camber should be adjusted accordingly.

5. Raise the cart off the ground slightly with a floor jack.

6. To adjust the Camber on your golf cart tires, loosen the Heim Joint(s) (Rod End Bearing) to free up the tire to move around.

Heim Joint

7. With both hands, adjust the tire(s) in the desired direction (towards or away from the body of the cart, as needed). 

8. Lower your golf cart back to the ground, and repeat the process from step 3 above until you achieve the ideal positive Camber: around ⅛" of space between the bottom of the tire and your right angle. 

9. As a final check, have your trusty assistant take a seat in the cart. At the same time, take one last measurement on both tires to ensure they angle correctly (and equally) with the added weight of a rider (there should be a more neutral camber than without a rider– tires are more straight up and down). 

If you really want to go above and beyond, drive your cart around a bit, then park in the same spot and re-take measurements as in steps 3 and 9.

    Toe in / Toe Out

    (Not the Hokey Pokey Variety) 

    You already understand the difference between toe-in and toe-out configurations. You may not know why we recommend aligning your tires in a toe-in configuration. When you drive your cart down the road, there is a tendency (physics... or something) for the front of your tires to splay apart and widen as your cart proceeds forward. To counter that, we want to pitch the tires slightly inward (pigeon-toed) so that when they do pull apart, they naturally correct back into a straight-on position and not a spread outward position. Improperly angled tires will lead to premature wear of the tires themselves and other supportive systems in the suspension.

    Adjusting Golf Cart Toe-In

    1. With your chalk, marker, or grease pen, mark the centerline of the front of the tire tread in the same spot on both front tires. Mark the back sides of the tires the same way. 
    2. Measure between the two marks on the front of the tires, and again on the back side of the tires. 
    3. The front tires should be around ⅛" closer together than the back side of the tires. If your measurement is more or less (or opposite), you must adjust the toe. 
    4. Lift the golf cart with a jack (optional: adjusting the toe is simpler with the cart lifted, but it is not required, and you will get more accurate results by leaving it on the ground).
    5. Loosen the jam nut (image below) at the end of the tie rod on both sides of the cart.
    6. With gloved hands (or a wrench), rotate the tie rod, which will angle the tire in or out as needed.
    Tie Rod (arrow)
    Loosened Jam Nut (circle)
    Tie Rod & Jam Nut
      • Keep in mind: Golf Cart tie rods are reverse-thread on either side. Make sure you are rotating them in the intended direction, and the same amount. If you make three revolutions on one side, you should make the same on the other side.

        7. Take another toe measurement & continue to adjust until you are within the ⅛" tolerance.
        8. Tighten down the jam nuts. 
        9. Roll the cart to rotate the tires 1.5x and retake the toe measurements on the front and back of the tires to verify they remain in tolerance. 

        Pat yourself on the back! 

        That's all there is to it! Two alignment techniques in less than ten steps each. While we're humble, we did tell you it is completely do-able, all from the comfort of your own garage. Now you can ride in comfort and rest assured that your golf cart is aligned correctly. All while saving the expense and downtime of using a mechanic or dealership (and you can put that $100+ towards your next Club Car, EZGO, or Yamaha Golf Cart Accessory)! 

         

        Final Note: Remember these instructions are general and may vary slightly with the addition of aftermarket accessories such as lift kits or wheels and tires. Always reach out to Golf Cart Stuff™ or your accessory manufacturer if you have questions along the way.

         

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