Why Does My Golf Cart Backfire? Causes, Effects & Precautions

Golf carts are a convenient and efficient mode of transportation on the golf course. However, if you own a golf cart, you may have experienced a problem where it backfires. Usually, a golf cart misfires when there is some issue with the carburetor or throttle plate or because of carbon buildup. Backfiring can be quite dangerous, and you need to fix the problem as soon as possible.

Why Does My Golf Cart Backfire?

 A backfire is a loud, popping noise that occurs when the engine’s combustion sequence is disrupted. Although dealing with this issue can be frustrating, it can be resolved if the root causes are recognized. This article will explore some of the reasons why your golf cart may backfire and what you can do to fix it.

What is Golf Cart backfire?

Firstly, It’s crucial to comprehend what a backfire is. A backfire occurs when the engine’s combustion chamber ignites fuel and air outside of the typical sequence. This can cause a loud, popping sound to emanate from the vehicle’s exhaust system. However, this can be startling and even dangerous if it happens suddenly while someone is operating the golf cart. Also, find out Why Are Golf Carts So Expensive?

Causes of Golf Cart Backfire & How to Fix it

There are several reasons that can result in a golf cart’s backfire. Let us dig in to find out the problems and their fixes:

1. Uneven Fuel Mixture

One of the most common causes of a golf cart backfiring is an issue with the carburetor. The carburetor is in charge of combining the right amount of air and fuel to produce the combustion required to power the engine. If the carburetor is dirty or malfunctioning, it may not mix the air and fuel correctly, causing the engine to misfire and backfire.

Symptoms of a Bad Carburetor

There are several symptoms that indicate that your carburetor is not properly working. Hard starting, overheating, black smoke coming out from the exhaust, or reduced engine performance indicates that you need to fix your carburetor.

How to fix this issue?

So if your golf cart is backfiring, that can be the reason, and you need to adjust the carburetor to minimize this issue properly. To fix this issue, you will need to clean or replace the carburetor, depending on the severity of the damage. Moreover, a screw on the carburetor is adjusted to fix the balance of air and fuel. In order to adjust the air and fuel mixture, you can stiffen or lighten the screw.

A strong gas odor when a car backfire indicates that the gas ratio is more than the air. So, you can turn the screw to increase the quantity of air. Moreover, if you think you cannot handle your carburetor, go to your mechanic and fix the problem.

2. Throttle Plate not properly adjusted

Another reason your golf cart may backfire is that the throttle plate is improperly placed. The purpose of a throttle plate is to send the fuel to your engine depending on the accelerator speed. If a throttle plate is not properly adjusted, it can send too much or too little fuel resulting in a misfire or backfire.

Indications of Issue

You have to observe your microswitch sound to see if your throttle plate is in the right place. Microswitch should move before the throttle plate to move your golf cart perfectly. A microswitch is usually placed beside the pedal or inside the engine compartment.

If you observe that your throttle plate moves before the microswitch clicks, you face an issue with your throttle plate adjustment. A backfire can cause serious damage to your car engine, so you need to address this problem as quickly as possible.

How to fix this issue?

Firstly, remove your golf cart seat to check if your throttle place is not properly adjusted. After removing the seat, push your accelerator plate down to observe whether the microswitch clicks before or after your throttle cable moves. If the microswitch moves before your throttle cable, then it’s all right, but if it moves after, you have to adjust the throttle cable.

Adjustment of the throttle cable depends on the model and manufacturer of your golf cart. If your throttle cable slides into the throttle lever and is fixed with a nut on top of it. In this case, you can adjust it by tightening the nut after successfully closing the throttle.

Some golf carts do not have the throttle lever and are made with a series of accelerator rods. These rods serve as a connection between the pedal and the carburetor. In this case, the last rod in the sequence must be adjusted to close the throttle fully.

Still not fixed?

If your throttle does not fix after performing the above procedure then your throttle must be broken or not properly working because of internal damage. In this case, a carburetor needs to be removed and checked. It will not be your cup of tea; you have to go to your mechanic to solve this problem.

3. A buildup of Carbon

Another issue that can cause backfiring of your golf cart is an accumulation of carbon. There are two positions where carbon can accumulate:

On piston/valves

Carbon can accumulate on your piston as a coke. When your golf cart engine runs for a while, this coke turns red. This red burning material will ignite the engine even if your spark plug is closed. Older golf cars tend to have this problem more often. If you have checked the above two reasons and your golf cart is still backfiring, it can be due to carbon accumulation.

How to fix this issue?

To fix this issue, remove the top of your engine to see the piston. Now if you see black buildup material on your piston. Remove it with the help of a scrapper or a blunt tool. Use a scrapper carefully, and do not damage your piston, as it can also result in backfiring. Moreover, carefully remove the coke as while removing if its particles remain in the engine; they can also cause backfire. Call a professional so he can assist you if you are unable to remove the carbon on your own.

In the muffler

The last reason for backfiring can be due to carbon accumulation in the muffler. That’s the most uncommon reason, but it can happen in a while. In this, a carbon buildup in the whole muffler, and you have to remove it, so your engine does not backfire.

How to fix this issue?

You can quickly fix this issue by barbecuing the muffler. Not kidding, remove your muffler and place it over a grill to barbecue. The flames will turn all the carbon to ash and fix your problem easily.

What happens when a Golf Cart Backfires?

Let’s find out below what happens when a golf cart backfires:

  1. The loud noise that is made is the most pronounced effect.
  2. The sound can be startling, and it may cause nearby individuals to jump or be frightened. 
  3. In addition to the noise, a backfire can also cause damage to the engine and exhaust system
  4. If the backfire is severe enough, it can even crack or warp the exhaust system or damage the engine’s internal components.
  5. In some cases, a backfire can also pose a safety risk.
  6. If the backfire occurs while the golf cart is in motion, it could startle the driver and cause them to lose control of the vehicle. Accidents or injuries may occur as a result of this.

How to Prevent Golf Carts from Backfire?

There are numerous ways to prevent your golf cart from backfire. Among them are:

  • Adjustment of the throttle plate is the most necessary feature to ensure your golf cart does not backfire.
  • Tuning and checking your engine also play a significant role in maintaining a golf cart.
  • Adjustment of the carburetor also helps a golfer maintain their golf cart.
  • Moreover, keep a regular checkup of carbon buildup on the piston and muffler, so your golf cart does not backfire.
  • Use high-quality fuel.
  • Moreover, make sure your air filter is clean, a sparkplug is working, and the engine is not overheating for the proper working of your golf cart.


In conclusion, a backfiring golf cart can be an infuriating issue, but it can be resolved by tracking down the root of the problem. If you are experiencing a backfire in your golf cart, you should start by checking the carburetor, throttle cable, and carbon buildup. By addressing these potential causes, you can ensure that your golf cart runs smoothly and efficiently without any backfires.

Moreover, when a backfire occurs, it can produce a loud noise, cause damage to the engine and exhaust system, and even pose a safety risk to those nearby. As such, it’s essential to ensure that golf carts are well-maintained and properly serviced to prevent backfiring and ensure safe operation.

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