Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Adjust Your Own Golf Cart Brakes! Who Knew?

(It has come to my attention that many other folks need to adjust their golf cart brakes and this blog comes up on the first Google page for "golf cart brakes". Therefore, in order to promote the general welfare of amateur golf cart brake adjusters throughout the world, I updated this page with pictures and additional, hopefully more useful information. The new stuff is in italics. Also, my legal department told me to tell you to please be advised that I am a retired math teacher, not a mechanic, and you will have to use your own good judgment if you decide to adjust your own golf cart brakes. Be sure to work safely so you don't miss any time on the golf course. And don't sue ME if YOU screw up! Also, see the excellent comment below posted by "krosati" sometime in 2011. It sounds like he knows what he is talking about. Thanks for his very helpful addition.)

The brakes on my golf cart (a 1991 Club Car that was refurbished at some point and that I bought in 2005) had gotten to the point that I was not sure I could stop in less than the length of a well struck pitching wedge. So I googled "adjust golf cart brakes" and came across a site that said if you don't know what you are doing, don't even think about trying to adjust your golf cart brakes. It then went on to describe terrible things that can happen, or that have happened, to amateur brake adjusters. For some reason that I don't understand, I can't link you to that site. (This site says that most modern carts have self-adjusting brakes, but since mine is a '91 model, it does not have s-a brakes. Check out this article and your cart to determine which type you have.)

So I assumed this was all talking directly to me and that I just might as well call the golf cart repair guy to come pick up my cart ($25) and adjust the brakes. Since I got the cart used, I wasn't even sure if the brake pads were any good. I was expecting another $200 for brake pads. This is the price we pay for having our own cart, right?

Well I mentioned this to my traveling friend, Doug. I think I've said before that Doug can build or fix anything. He has built hot rods for years. And even more amazing is that what Doug doesn't know, his brother, Ernie, does know.He said just bring it by (he lives down the street) and he would adjust the brakes. He asked if I heard metal-on-metal sounds when I braked, and I had not heard that. He said I probably didn't need pads if I didn't hear that grinding sound.

So, after he jacked up the rear end of the cart, he removed the wheels. He just pulled off the brake drum which let us look at the brake pads. They were in great condition, still plenty of pad left. After he slipped the drum back in place, he went under the cart and removed (by pulling straight away from the wheel) a rubber boot that covers a 7 mm adjusting screw/stud on the top, back side of the wheel.

He turned this screw so that it moved towards the outside of the cart (or INTO the wheel). This screw pushes outward on some wedge shaped pieces that in turn push the brake pads away from the center of the wheel hub and closer to the drum. He turned the wheel by hand to feel when the pads contacted the drum. When he felt resistance, he turned the screw back just a little so that no resistance is felt. He replaced the rubber boot over the screw and we were finished with one side of the cart.

Here is what it looks like when all is taken apart including the 13/16 deep socket wrench used to remove the wheel.He repeated this on the other rear wheel/brake, lowered the cart off the jack, and I tested the brakes. It was great.

Now the brake pedal does not go all the way to the floor. All is well and I no longer fear for my life when going down hill.

This really was easy. I can do this myself next time. These pictures were taken about a year after the first adjustment. I did it all myself this time. I had to buy a small 2-ton floor jack at Harbor Freight for $19, and I used an adjustable wrench to turn the adjusting screw/stud because I didn't have a socket that fit the stud.

So, what have we learned here? Call Doug and DON'T TRUST THE INTERNET!

13 Comments:

Blogger Garden Obsession said...

Yikes, thank you, Doug, for keeping Daddy out of the ravine.

1:24 PM  
Blogger Ken said...

THANK YOU!

We love our cart so I figured I would treat it to some new brakes and drums. Had no idea how to adjust them so THANK YOU VERY MUCH!

Ken

1:37 PM  
Blogger Kathy said...

Thank You for the info and pictures on golf cart brakes. We live on a farm in KY, so we have some hills to go up & down! As I travel alot with the grandkids I just wanted to be sure the brakes were safe. My husband will be so glad I found this info.
Thanks again!
Kathy

11:02 AM  
Blogger Rod said...

We have big hills in the hood and could not stop. Your post allowed me to quickly adjust the brakes and stop very fast. Thanks for the post!!!!
This is my cart,
http://picasaweb.google.com/rodnhower/ElectricVehicle#5186514997314813890

8:51 PM  
Blogger Don said...

You just saved me alot of time and possibly money. brakes work perfect, not a penny spent. 15 minuted and done. Parking brake holds on a hill.
Thank You, Thank You

4:48 PM  
Blogger Los Profesionales said...

I am glad I came across this information, saved time, money and heart ache (not sure about all of that). Thanks, any info on the electrical and how it works???

flyingtrout@yahoo.com

Thanks

Ernie

1:17 PM  
Blogger principleoverparty said...

this was amazing information. Thank you very much.
Idaho

2:42 PM  
Blogger principleoverparty said...

this information was amazing, it worked and now i can stop without running into other things.

2:43 PM  
Blogger krosati said...

A great post. Quick, to the point and informative. However, I have a bit more info to add.
Adjusting the brakes is only just the beginning of servicing your brake system. Assuming all parts are in servicable order and no shoes are needed and the drums show no signs of grooving, you still need to service the entire system. Not just adjust the shoes.
1. Drum and pads should be lightly sanded with 80 grit open coat dry sandpaper to remove glazing.
2. The entire backing plate, springs, and hardware need to be sprayed liberally with brake cleaner to remove loose dust, dirt, and residue.
3. Self adjusters, if applicable, should be removed, cleaned, and lightly lubed.
4. Shoe to backing plate contact pads should be lightly lubed.
5. With drum on and wheel removed, the brakes can be manually adjusted until resistance is felt and then slightly backed off. The self adjusters will correct the setting if you are slightly off.
6. Don't forget to lube the brake cables with cable lube, not WD40 or canned spray lubes. Cable lube can be bought at any motorcycle shop and will outperform anything else you can find.
7. This should be done annually at minimum to avoid costly repairs. Golf cart brake systems can easily reach costs that rival your automobile. When properly serviced, and occasional set of shoes every few years will keep costs low.
Thanks for reading.

6:24 PM  
Blogger What Was I Thinkin'? said...

Thanks, krosati, for the excellent comment. I have added a note in the body of the article so folks will know about your addition to this post.

10:24 AM  
Blogger Efly said...

Thanks so much! I just tightened mine up, and I can stop now and park on hills!! I was thinking I was going to have to spend some money....Thanks again!

5:40 PM  
Blogger JIM said...

I have a 1985 Club Car with Mach Brakes. I took off the breaks and replaced them with new ones. Or was going to.
I can't get the brakes on because the springs are so strong. I have loosened up all the adjusters ,and have tried all i know .Do you need the spring instalation tool? I haven't used one of those in years.

11:16 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

THANKS!! I have a 1986 Club Car and I have to go down what I consider the biggest hill in Florida and now I can safely slow down lol

5:29 PM  

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