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What Makes a Golf Cart Street Legal?
You have probably seen golf carts while driving around town and wondered what it took to get them off the golf course and street-ready. Or perhaps you own a Yamaha, EZGO, or Club Car golf cart and want to know what you can do to turn it into a Street Legal LSV golf cart.
Standard golf carts can’t just be put on the road for a drive. Rather, they must meet certain requirements set by local municipalities. Which begs the question, "what makes a golf cart street legal?" Keep reading; we’ve created this article to provide a thorough run-through of what must be done to make your golf cart a street-legal LSV.
What Does a Golf Cart Need to be Street Legal?
If you want to make a golf cart a vehicle you can use on the road; you must make a few tweaks. Although these upgrades are an added cost upfront, it is to ensure you have a safe drive while on the road. Also, these tweaks help to prevent being stopped by officials, since these upgrades are required to drive on public roadways.
Functional lighting is must-have before your golf cart hits the road. Your golf cart's headlamps, taillamps, turn signals, and brake lamps must be intact and operational. Essentially, you are turning the golf cart into a standard vehicle. Hence, it must have lights similar to your standard daily drive vehicle.
Headlights, Brake Lights, and Turn Signals help tell other drivers on the road where you are and what you intend to do; it promotes safety. Plus, you have to ensure the lamps are properly connected. The most innovative in the industry: Golf Cart Stuff™ Instamatic® lights are equipped with FlexVolt™ technology, meaning they will operate on any setup from 12 to 48 volts without issue!
DOT-Approved Interior and Exterior Parts
According to the department of transportation (DOT), all street legal vehicles (standard or LSV) are expected to have certain approved interior and exterior parts. The golf cart is no exception! Approving the components that make up a vehicle ensures it's safe for you and others on the road.
The most crucial components inspectors will look for are:
You can reach out to a mechanic or anyone with the technical know-how on the installation process. Ignoring this process will cause a serious fine if caught on the road out of compliance.
Good, functional brakes are a big deal when it comes to safety and will go a long way in preventing accidents when people are turning heads to check out your sweet ride!
Mirrors are also critical to golf carts' safety. They allow you to know what goes on around you. The inside mirror allows you to see directly behind you, while exterior (side) mirrors allow you to check your sides. These mirrors ensure you have no blind spots and incredibly increase your safety.
A horn allows you to inform drivers of your "road" presence - more or less, your cart's way of communicating. A proper horn should be within reach and easy to use. Plus, your horn has to be loud.
Your Golf Cart's Speed
Golf carts are technically not as fast as other vehicles that cruise the roads. As a result, they are categorized under the LSV (low-speed vehicles) group. There are two types of golf carts: gas and electric-powered. Gas-powered carts will go around 19 miles per hour at top speed. While the electric-powered golf carts can go as fast as 25 miles per hour. That said, most carts are restricted to roads with a speed limit of 35 miles per hour or slower. Don’t worry, though, usually LSV Golf Carts are permitted to drive across roads that have higher speed limits, as long as they don’t travel down them.
Alternatively, some YouTubers might suggest you opt for an engine upgrade to amp the speed of your cart. After all, who wouldn’t want their golf cart able to fly around at 45 mph? However, this comes with several costs and risks. If you decide to juice up your cart to accommodate a much higher speed, you’ll fork out a pretty penny changing a lot of other components to do so. Most importantly, trying to amp your golf cart to significantly higher speeds than it was intended for will put you in greater danger. Please reference the Golf Cart Stuff guide on safely increasing your speed.
A Vehicle Identification Number
A VIN (vehicle identification number) is a unique 17-digit number that makes identifying your golf cart easier. However, all carts have a particular serial number; only street legal carts need a VIN. This number is important since it helps track the cart properly and gauge how you use it.
You will receive a vehicle identification number for your cart after it is registered with a DOT official. As a result, the process of getting a VIN is the last thing on your checklist to make your cart street legal.
Once you get the VIN, it is the same for your cart's lifetime, just like your regular vehicle. A VIN goes a long way if you opt to buy a street-ready cart off a used market. With the vehicle's VIN, you can investigate its history. For instance, a cart's VIN can inform you about the golf cart's accident history.
More so, it helps to keep your golf cart in good shape and away from unnecessary accidents and issues. Because your cart's VIN never forgets.
A DOT-approved Speedometer
You must gauge how fast your cart is going while driving it. And the surefire way to do that is with a speedometer.
A speedometer is installed by attaching it to the dashboard of the cart and connecting it to the cart's wheel axle. With a speedometer, you can be sure you don't break any speed regulations while driving.
Although several models of speedometer exist, as a rule of thumb, it is integral that you go with the DOT-approved variety. When you find one suited for your cart, you should probably contact a professional to help with the installation.
License and Registration
After you purchase a golf cart, the next big thing is registering it and obtaining a license. If you already have a standard driver’s license, you won’t need an additional endorsement or license for putting your cart on the road, as you would for a motorcycle or commercial vehicle. However, your golf cart will receive its own license plate, or sticker, depending on your location.
In What States Are Golf Carts Street Legal?
A golf cart is likely to be street legal in states where LSVs are free to operate. Your golf carts can be street legal in most states in the United States. However, New York, North Carolina, and Kentucky restrict street-legal golf carts. Plus, you will undergo an emissions inspection if you use gas-powered carts in California.
LSVs are almost generally accepted in the US. Moreover, there are certain states with high demands. Florida, Arizona, and Texas are more or less the most accommodating when discussing street-legal golf carts. The wide acceptance of street-legal golf carts in Florida can be because of the large numbers of retirees that reside there. After all, who drive carts more than a retiree? Texas attracts lots of LSVs because of its year-round fair weather and close-knit communities. And Arizona is like Florida, with a large population of retirees.
It is worth noting that while some will be the same, each state does have unique requirements on what an LSV or golf cart should have before it can be on the road. As such, it is important to familiarize yourself with the regulations for where you will be operating your cart. For a quick example of how requirements can vary state-to-state, below are the requirements for Florida, Texas, and Arizona:
Florida differentiates between an LSV and a golf cart. You must convert your cart to an LSV before registering and giving it a title.
The above requirements are needed from LSVs, the category that golf carts fall into.
To register an LSV, you require:
Check here for The Ultimate State-by-State resource for all you need to know before converting your golf cart into an LSV.
Is Insurance Necessary for Your Golf Cart?
Yes! Insurance is something you shouldn't overlook. Don't ignore it—obtain liability insurance for your cart and carry it wherever it goes. If you get into an accident, your insurance papers, your license, and your registration will be needed. Plus, several states in the United States have it as one of their requirements to make your cart street legal. Remember, you may be the best golf cart driver out there, but it just takes one distracted driver to ruin your day and your investment.
Which Is Better for Street Riding: Gas or Electric Golf Carts?
Mainly, there are two types of golf carts based on how they are powered. The gas-powered carts rely on gasoline, just as their name suggests, while electric-powered golf carts rely on batteries that require recharging. The decision on which is better suited for the road can be (and is) argued pretty extensively, but when it comes down to it, the decision is yours.
Gas-powered golf carts are much more expensive in purchase and maintenance but can be more powerful. A gas-powered golf cart can climb some hills and travel a longer distance. The electric-powered golf cart is less expensive than its pollution-emitting counterpart but doesn't score as high regarding the load and distance it can undergo. The decision between gas or electric LSV Golf Carts really is all about personal preference, but if you keep meeting a deadlock while you try to decide, check here for our guide on how to choose between the two.
Ready to roll?
Undoubtedly, this article contains the information that you need to make your golf cart street legal. Nothing beats the convenience that comes with driving your cart in your neighborhood, other than the satisfaction of spending less on fuel and having the best-looking ride on the block. Nevertheless, the only way you can make your cart street legal is by making some upgrades.
You’re in luck- we built an entire collection dedicated to street-legal golf cart accessories. We included everything from “I guess I have to get a windshield” to “Oh, I’ve got to have a set of those wheels and tires!” If you’re ever unsure about anything, please reach out to us day or night. We have an in-house team of experts who absolutely love hearing about your plans and how we can help you make them happen.
Drive safe out there!
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