For golf cart owners having a gas-powered cart can be a great solution versus owning an electric cart.

Gas golf carts are fast, they require minimal maintenance and do not need new batteries every few years like an electric golf cart. However, there are a few key issues that you may experience with gas golf carts that can be a bit annoying.

One of the most common complaints about gas golf carts is that they backfire. When the cart backfires, the noise is startling, and it may concern you that there are other issues related to the engine compartment and the cart’s functionality.image of golfer sitting on a golf cart - AEC Info

Let’s look at the common reasons why a golf cart backfires.

Why Does My Golf Cart Back-fire?

Gas golf carts backfire for a few reasons including the throttle not closing correctly, too much carbon on the pistons, the fuel mix not balanced, an air leak within the golf cart, or there is carbon buildup in the muffler.

Let’s take a more in-depth look at these four reasons and what can be done about them.

An infographic detailing why golf carts backfire - AEC Info

1) Throttle Did Not Close Properly

Fuel to a golf cart engine must flow smoothly for the cart to operate properly. There are, however, parts of the cart that can make it more difficult for the throttle to close correctly and allow for this smooth flow of fuel.

A gas-powered golf cart has a Micro – switch. The micro-switch is a part that must move before the throttle plate can go into action. If you are noticing your golf cart backfiring, this is typically the first place to look. Grab a friend and do this simple test to see if the throttle is closing properly.

Push the accelerator pedal down slowly and listen for a click. If you don’t hear the click before the gas pedal moves, the plate is not closing correctly. Luckily you can tighten the nut on the throttle lever to help loosen it and fix the timing trouble that you are having.

Hopefully, this will fix the issue, but if it doesn’t, the throttle plate could be bent or damaged. That may take a more involved fix from a golf cart repair center.

2) Too Much Carbon On Pistons

One of the issues with older golf carts is too much carbon building on the pistons and valves. This is not nearly as common as issues like a spark plug, fuel filter, or accelerator cable problems; however, this can happen.

Finding the pistons on the cart will mean removing the head of the engine. You will need to wait for the engine to be turned off and ensure that your gas cart has had time to cool off. Look at your pistons and see if the carbon is built up around them. You may also see the carbon buildup on the valves.

You can use a scraper to help remove the carbon. The problem here is that the pieces of carbon that are falling off can get in the way and take a common issue and turn it into a more complex one. Excessive carbon is an issue mostly on older golf carts.

3) Fuel Mix is Not Balanced

Another common reason for a golf cart backfiring is that the fuel mix is not balanced. When a fuel mix is not balanced properly, the cart can backfire, and essentially the cart is getting too much gasoline. When this happens, golf carts will backfire and blow blue smoke.

For this fix, it can be difficult to get the proper fuel ratio. Most golf cart owners will have to take the cart to a professional to have them look at the fuel pump and ensure that the fuel is mixed the way it should.

When the fuel mix is not balanced, the backfire issue will usually come along with a smell, making it easier to rule out throttle linkage, gas filter, and throttle shaft issues.

4) Carbon Build Up In The Muffler

Many golf cart owners think that the backfire comes from the muffler itself. As you have seen above, the backfire reasons are not always a result of the issue in the muffler but in the golf cart itself. The carbon buildup in the muffler can sometimes be removed by taking the muffler off and then heating it up to release the carbon.

You can use a bristle brush to remove some of this carbon buildup; just make sure you are careful with this; it sometimes makes sense to have a professional do this for you.

Backfires will be more sporadic than those with throttle cable issues.

image of golf cart sitting in fairway after backfirings - AEC Info

Be sure to check out the other Golf cart related reviews on AEC Info:


Frequently Asked Questions

Hopefully, you now have a bit better idea as to why a golf cart back-fires. Here are a few of the questions that golf cart owners ask about back-fire solutions and other common issues that arise owning a golf cart.

Is Buildup of Carbon A Sign The Cart May Be Deteriorating?

Built up carbon is a problem that can cause backfiring issues, but you may also notice other issues with your cart when it comes to the ride the cart offers and the overall usability. If you think you have buildup carbon coating on your cylinder engine, you will likely want to have a professional take a look at the cart.

Is An Electric Cart or A Gas Cart Better?

There are positives and negatives to both an electric and a gas-powered golf cart. For the most part, the carbon footprint of the electric cart is a bit better, and the overall parts and issues you experience with an electric cart are not quite as extensive.

Read our popular comparison of Gas vs Electric golf carts

What Are The Most Common Issues With A Gas Golf Cart?

The backfire issue is not the only problem with a gas-powered cart. From time to time there will be problems with other parts of the golf cart. When you take your cart in for service, consider having the following things looked at and inspected.

  • Carburetor body
  • Accelerator Pump
  • Ignition Key
  • Carburetor Throttle Plate
  • Fuel Lines
  • Exhaust Gasket
  • Micro-Switch
  • Parking Brake
  • Piston Rods
  • Bad or worn out spark plugs
  • Bad solenoid
  • Ignition coil

What Golf Cart Brands Have The Fewest Issues With Backfiring?

The three main manufacturers of gas carts are the Yamaha golf cart, EZGO gas golf cart, and the Club Car golf cart. All three of these golf cart motors and engines are going to have similar noises and problems. Don’t worry about choosing one cart from the next to reduce golf cart backfiring.

Should I Have a Professional Fix My Gas Golf Cart?

There are some issues that you can find quick answers to; however, some problems are a bit more complex and require the help of a professional.

Things like coil connections, improper burning of fuel, carburetor gaskets, and an exhaust leak may need a mechanic to help you get the issue fixed quickly and carefully.


We hope you now understand why your golf cart back-fires.

The throttle not closing properly is one of the main reasons for back-fire and should be investigated first. Most of the time, the fix is quick, and there are simple adjustments to golf carts that can be made with basic tools.