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Whether you’ve just moved into a golf club community and decided you need a cart for golf and neighborhood transportation, or your old cart just got you around the course for the last time, there are several factors to consider regarding the purchase of a new or used golf cart.

Just like buying a car, there are plusses and minuses when determining if you buy a brand new cart or a preowned one. The main reason will likely have to do with your budget. If money is not a concern, you may opt to buy a new custom cart with every option to fit your specific needs from a local reputable dealer. But if you’re concerned about the cost, there are many sources of good, reliable used carts out there that may be perfect for your needs and that still have plenty of life in them.

To some, the thrill of the negotiation process is an enjoyable challenge. Many people like the transaction if they think their negotiation skills will allow them to walk away from the deal feeling they’ve gotten the best bang for their buck. If you’re the type who enjoys the give-and-take of making a significant purchase, you should do a lot of research no matter if you’re dealing with a cart salesperson or a private party. It can also be a good idea to have someone with you who has purchased a cart before to help you ask the right questions and decide if the deal is right for you.

Many dealers offer both brand new and refurbished carts so you can compare both options at one location. If you have concerns about the reliability of the cart in the long run, the warranty that comes with a new cart may give you peace of mind for the future. On the other hand, if you can be assured to your satisfaction that a used cart has been properly maintained or updated so that it will still provide many years of use, you can save significant money going that route. It also doesn’t hurt if you have some measure of mechanical know-how.

Gather All the Facts on Buying New or Used

If you’ve made the decision to go with a brand new cart, you look at a variety of models and manufacturers, just like when buying a car. Every major cart manufacturer has page after page of information, like technical specifications and capabilities, available options and more, on their website. This is an excellent way to begin the process, and you should write down any questions or concerns you may have before you head to the sales office. You should also read any reviews on any cart you’re considering, looking for any potential problems. If a significant number of people give a cart a negative review – particularly if they relate to the same issues or problems – you may want to consider another brand or model.

If you live in a cart-friendly community like a golf country club, you can also do a lot of valuable research on the course or in the clubhouse talking to people who own a cart like the type you’re considering. People take a lot of pride in their ride and are usually happy to talk about what they like and don’t like about them. Make some notes before you write that check, whether for a new or used cart, and you’ll make the transaction process easier and more beneficial for you.

If your neighbor bought from a specific cart salesperson at a certain dealer, that could also give you a good starting point. Just like when reading reviews of the cart itself, reading reviews of cart dealers can tell you a lot about the overall buying experience you may expect. You may find the cart of your dreams, but the dealer or salesperson does not provide adequate answers to your questions or seems disinterested in dealing with you, which can lead to a less than positive experience. You may be prepared to spend upwards of $20,000 or more for a fully customized cart, and the last thing you want is poor service or finding out something is not what you had originally thought after the deal is done.

As we mentioned, the buying process is a thrill to some and a hassle to others, so you need to work with a dealer and salesperson who can demonstrate their trustworthiness and who follows through on their promises. This is why asking others who have bought from that dealer for their input can be invaluable.

Even seemingly small things can make a difference in your decision to go new or used. If you buy from a local cart dealer, they’ll deliver your cart right to your door. If you find a good used cart and the owner lives outside your community, you’ll need to consider how you get it home. The same applies to future service and maintenance work on your cart. A new cart dealer will usually offer pick up and delivery service when your cart needs servicing. If you buy a used cart from a private seller, you should first determine if there is a local service shop that can work on it, and how you’ll get it there.

Buying a golf cart is like buying a car or a home – many people just don’t want something that has been used by someone else or inherit someone else’s problems. If that sounds like you, you’ll be happier and more content with buying a brand new cart.

Buyer Beware

Buying anything second-hand always involves risk, and a golf cart is no different. It can be easy to believe everything the seller is telling you, and trust they’re being honest. But it takes some work to make sure of what you’re buying.

Even if everything appears to be as presented, you’d be smart to have the cart checked out by a reputable cart service facility, even if they charge a fee for doing it. This could save you significant money down the road. Batteries are the biggest concern, whether they’re lithium or lead acid batteries. Traditional lead batteries need to be maintained properly to ensure peak performance and longevity, and if the owner failed to care for them, you may be in for a disappointment later. The age of the batteries is a critical question in determining how much life they may have left and how they take and hold a charge.

If you’re buying a used cart, you should expect to be told how long the batteries have been in the cart, how long it takes to charge them, how many hours do they last and if you’re lucky, get an actual record of past battery maintenance and service work. You also need to learn about the cart’s suspension system, brakes, steering mechanism, electrical system, and more. If the deal includes a battery charging system, the same applies – buyer beware.

Golf carts don’t have an odometer like a car, so you should ask the seller to verify the number of hours or “cycles” on the cart, not unlike buying a boat. If you’re considering a cart made after 2005, there should be a way to check the controller to see how many hours the cart has on it. If you can’t determine that number, you may be at risk for spending more money on new batteries or a controller after your purchase. That’s why, no matter how much you may trust the seller, a professional inspection can save you a lot of headaches later.

The average cost of a used cart is around $8,500, but of course it depends on a lot of different variables. The year, make and model, options and upgrades, condition, and general wear and tear all effect the price. You may be happy with a $3,000 cart to get you around 9 holes once a week, or invest $10,000 for a newer, fancier model with more of the things you want on it – it all depends on your specific needs.

Buying a used or refurbished cart from a dealer may help protect you from getting a bad deal. Some may even offer a limited warranty on used carts, while buying from a private party means you’re on your own the minute you drive it home.

You Get What You Pay For

Its hard to beat the feeling of taking delivery of a new, custom golf cart equipped with everything you’ve ever wanted. The peace of mind of knowing you haven’t bought anyone else’s problems or headaches, backed by the warranty that comes from the manufacturer, can mean years of worry-free cart use.

But if budget is a concern, there can also be a great sense of achievement in finding a good deal on a used cart that checks out mechanically and is in great shape, and that saves you money in the process.

No matter which option you choose, the keys are to do a lot of research, ask the right questions and assure yourself that your choice meets all your needs.