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Wheel and tire collection from Golf Cart Stuff

Golf Cart Tire Buying Guide

Christian Attlesey - Golf Cart Stuff Marketing Manager
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Written by: Christian Attlesey

Read Time: 5-7 minutes
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Golf carts are a huge market in the United States and are only projected to continue to grow. In fact, according to Allied Market Research- the golf cart and low-speed vehicle market share in the US is expected to grow to 1.6 million by the year 2026. 

With so many golf carts getting used on the roads and golf courses, it's no wonder people will need to update their cart's wheels and tires quite often.

If you are in the market for some new golf cart tires, it's essential that you have the most up-to-date information available to make the best purchase you can.

Important Factors When Choosing A Golf Cart Tire

Checklist and Pen
 

This article will set you up for success by covering all the major things you need to be aware of regarding golf cart wheels and tires. Here is a snapshot of all the things we cover:

  • Drive Terrain

  • Tire Size

  • Tire Type (Tread Design)

  • Ride Quality

  • DOT Approval

With this information under your belt, finding the right golf cart tire for your cart should be no problem. Now let's jump right in!

Golf Cart Drive Terrain

Driving Terrain

Before you start looking at different golf cart wheel and tire combinations, it is imperative that you think through where you most often drive your golf cart.

Although golf carts used to be found only on golf courses, golf carts are now found in myriads of applications. Whether used for passenger transport, playing golf, groundskeeping, or hunting, golf carts are versatile vehicles.

It goes without saying that with so many ways to use your cart, where you drive your golf cart is the most critical factor for golf cart tire choice.

Are you primarily driving your golf cart on the golf course and through your neighborhood? Or are you taking your golf cart hunting through the backwoods of your property?

Your answers to those questions determine what tire is best for your buggy. 

Tire Type

Illustrated photo of two different types of golf cart tires

Directly related to the topic above is golf cart tire type. The type of golf cart tire you choose and its tread pattern should tie into what surface and terrain you drive on.

Shopping for tires? Click on the image of the two tires on the left (or above if you are on mobile) to see our selection of golf cart tires.

There are two main groups of tire treads for golf carts: Street/turf tires and Off-road/All-terrain tires. As the names would suggest, street and turf tire tread is designed for use on roadways and light off-road use (think lawns and golf courses). Off-road and all-terrain golf cart tire tread is designed for utility carts and carts that are used in hunting/outdoor settings.

Remember that although these tires have applications they are "designed" for, this doesn't mean you can't take street tires off-road or off-road tires on the street; it just means they won't perform as well as they would when used on the proper terrain. Let's take a look at these tires in detail below:

Street/Turf Golf Cart Tires
Example of a street golf cart tireOn most street and turf golf cart tires, you will find tread patterns tightly grouped and shallow in their depth.

Although the tread won't have deep and wide channels, they will still have the proper siping to remove water and debris and allow for adequate braking and grip.

In addition, the tread pattern will often follow the direction of the tire with just enough cross-sections to provide grip and stability.

This pattern works well on roadways because it increases your golf cart's fuel (or battery) efficiency and keeps that notorious "hum" you can experience with all-terrain tires to a minimum.

Lastly, these tires are designed for golf course use and won't get you kicked out of your favorite country club for tearing up the greens!

Typically these tires have a smaller sidewall profile (more on this to come) and will have four-ply construction.

Off-Road/All-Terrain Golf Cart Tires
Example photo of an off-road golf cart tire

Off-Road golf cart tires have an aggressive tread pattern with tread lugs that are deeper and wider than street tires.

By utilizing pronounced tread patterns that often cut across the direction of the tire, you get the best grip and performance to handle dirt, mud, sand, and snow.

These tires work well on trails and farms or any other off-road adventure. Although you can still take these tires on pavement, once you get your golf cart to higher speeds, you can often hear your tires "hum," which some customers find frustrating.

Remember that these tires are not ideal for use on a golf course and will probably frustrate the grounds crew (and get your golf cart on the "Banned" list!)

Lastly, due to the size of these tires, you may need to install a lift kit to get these tires accommodated on your cart.

Looking for the most in-depth wheel and tire article you've ever seen? If so, click the trophy (why a trophy? 'cause our guide is the best!) to check out our Ultimate Golf Cart Wheel and Tire Guide.

Golf Cart Tire Sizes

Another critical factor when buying golf cart wheels and tires is the overall size of the combo.

Standard golf cart tire sizing diagram

The standard golf cart wheel and tire combo is 18"-18.5" in overall diameter. Golf cart tires with this overall diameter fit on any golf cart without needing a lift kit.

Depending on your golf cart's make and model, any combo over this height may require a lift kit. Use the info below for quick tire size reference:

 

 

  • EZGO Golf Carts: Works with any combo 20" in diameter or smaller before needing a lift kit.

EZGO golf cart wheel and tire size diagram
EZGO Golf Cart Tire Sizing Diagram
For more details on EZGO wheels and tires, check out our post on the three things you need to know about EZGO tires!
  • Club Car Golf Carts: Only works with combos 18" in diameter before needing a lift kit.

Club Car Golf Cart Tire Sizing Diagram
Club Car Golf Cart Tire Sizing Diagram
For the most accurate information about Club Car tires, check out our article on Club Car tire sizing, bolt pattern, and lug nuts.
  • Yamaha Golf Carts: Depends on the model. See below for more information:

    • G-Series (G1-G22 Models) only work with combos 18" in diameter before needing a lift kit.

    • Yamaha golf cart tire sizing diagram for G-Series golf carts
    • Drive (G29) works with any combo 20" in diameter or smaller before needing a lift kit.

    • Drive2 works with any combo 20" in diameter or smaller before needing a lift kit.

    • Yamaha Drive and Drive2 golf cart tire sizing guide

So you don't have an EZGO or Club Car cart- you have a Yamaha! Great news, we've got an article written for Yamaha wheels and tires as well.

Ride Quality/Visual Appeal

Another critical factor in determining what tire to buy is the ride experience you hope to have. We already discussed street, and off-road tires above and the best use case for each, but another factor to consider is the wheel-to-tire ratio.

Blue golf cart with black wheels and off-road tires

The wheel-to-tire ratio may sound confusing so let us explain. Golf cart wheels are available in 8", 10", 12", 14", and 15" diameters. Keep in mind when we say "wheel," we are referring to the wheel only (metal portion) and not the completed combo.

Golf cart wheel sizing diagram showing 8", 10", 12", 14", and 15" Wheels

The size of your wheel and the overall size of your complete combo can play a significant role in how your golf cart "feels" when you drive it and how it "looks."

For example, if you have a 10" wheel ("smaller" wheel) with an overall combo size of 23" (one of the biggest combos you can purchase) you are going to get a lot of tire and air to cushion your golf cart over bumps and minor road hazards.

On the other end of the spectrum, if you have 14" wheels ("larger" wheel) with an overall combo size of 20" ("smaller" combo) you won't have nearly as much tire and air coverage to cushion your ride.

Red and black golf cart wheels with off-road tire tread

Neither option is right or wrong; it just depends on where you drive your cart (see "Drive Terrain" above) and what you want your golf cart to "look" and "feel" like.

A quick way to determine how much "cushion" or lack thereof that your wheels and tires will provide is by looking at the sidewall height of the golf cart wheel and tire combo. A larger sidewall will provide more cushion, and a smaller sidewall will offer less.

On the other hand, a larger sidewall means that you will visually see more of the tire when you look at your golf cart's wheel and tire setup.

For some customers, this is precisely what they want- their wheel to be prominent on their golf cart and stand out from the crowd.

Once again, there is no right or wrong answer; it just depends on your preferences for your golf cart. Use the photos below for reference.

Golf Cart Tire Sidewall Difference
For more details on golf cart tire ride experience, check out our post on how to understand golf cart tire speed and load ratings.
 
Bonus- What about golf cart lift kits?

Lift kits are another popular item that is often purchased when looking to outfit a golf cart with all-terrain golf cart tires or other oversized combos.

The addition of a high-quality golf cart lift kit can enhance your golf cart's ride experience by getting you higher off the ground and allowing for a wider variety of wheel and tire combos to be installed on your golf cart.

The one thing to keep in mind with golf cart lift kits, however, is that depending on how big of a lift you install and the quality of the lift kit, it can add some additional stiffness to your cart's suspension and change how your golf cart handles.

Golf Cart Tire DOT Approval

Photo stating "Certified"In some locations, golf carts require certain modifications to get approved for legal roadway use.
 
The specific requirements vary from state to state and town to town, but a common condition for golf carts to be street-legal is DOT-approved tires.
 
It is important to remember that DOT-approved tires have not been sent to the Department of Transportation to be tested and certified.
 
In fact, the Department of Transportation doesn't test anything- it just sets manufacturing and construction requirements that tire manufacturers must meet if they want to mark their tires as DOT-approved.
 
Thankfully, many golf cart tires (street and off-road) have met these standards, so finding a certified set won't be a problem.
 
Closing Thoughts
Well if you have made it this far, we can tell that you take your golf cart seriously! You are the type of customer that makes our job easy!
 
On that note, if you are looking to upgrade your cart, make sure you check out our GCS™ pre-mounted wheel and tire combos! We are confident that our selection and quality are everything you are looking for!
 

If you have any questions, drop them in the comments below, and we will make sure to get back to you!  See you next time!

 

Golf Cart Stuff Marketing Manager Christian AttleseyChristian Attlesey is the Marketing Manager here at Golf Cart Stuff™, and, in addition to the marketing department, he oversees our website and advertising responsibilities.

...You probably know him as the humorous & relatable host of our YouTube channel!

Prior to taking on marketing, however, Christian honed his industry knowledge as our Customer Service Manager. Fast-forward to present day: it’s his mission to deliver the best and most current products, resources, and overall expertise to Golf Cart owners everywhere.

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Email: sales@golfcartstuff.com
Phone: 574-333-2494
Text: 574-612-5195
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