One of the biggest problems in the golf car repair industry is mis-diagnosing. Let’s analyze the symptoms of why this happens in the industry.
Why so much mis-diagnosing?
First off, a golf cart is a toy, much like owning a boat, a jet ski, a motorcycle, etc and should be treated as such. In those industries, you can find schools specialized in these specific trades. You’ll also find a higher pay rate to keep the good techs around. The problem in the golf cart industry is – how are the techs trained? Schools for training Golf Cart Technicians are almost non-existent. OEMs offer specialty training for specific makes which is helpful, but does not address the entire industry.Therefore, a majority of Techs are trained on the job, which could potentially lead to mistakes in diagnosing.
If you own a golf cart repair business and put an ad in the paper asking for a “trained golf cart mechanic with a minimum of 10 years experience, working on all makes and models”, you know what you get? Nothing. For most, it’s not a career move. The golf cart industry, at the dealer level, unfortunately doesn’t pay enough to make a career out of it. So you end up with a lot of turnover in the industry as it stands with technicians.
Golf Cart Repair isn’t as easy as it may seem
From the outside looking in, Golf Cart repair seems simple. However, Golf Cart repair is not a skill learned overnight. Even a tech who has worked on golf carts for 4-5 years could still be missing some of the basics required to properly repair units. If I was to hire anyone, I’d require a minimum of 10 years experience, and hope that they learned correctly in that period of time. Because golf cart repair is learned “on the job”, you also have to hope that someone showed them correctly.
As an example, go to YouTube and search “how to adjust golf cart brakes” and you’ll find plenty of videos made by shops that repair golf carts, however it is interesting to note that each of them do it a different way. I know for a fact that some of them are doing it incorrectly. If the service shop is incorrectly repairing units, then how can you competently be sure they are diagnosing your vehicle correctly too?
So, who typically ends up working on your Golf Cart?
Usually, it is a small engine guy, automobile mechanic, home electrician, or diesel mechanic. Yes, all these individuals have mechanical experience, however that doesn’t mean it directly translates to golf carts. It is more important to ensure there has been fortified experience with golf carts prior to jumping into the golf cart technician arena. This is a two way street by the way. As a golf cart technician, I do not know how to repair everything on a lawn mower. However, with proper training and education, I could learn how to faster than someone starting off fresh.
Most single item repair issues on a golf cart can be performed in less than an hour. Among the most common failures in a golf cart are solenoids, broken wires, suspension work, and regular preventative maintenance. All such repairs usually take an hour or less by a tech with the proper training and tools. So if your golf cart goes into a shop and the bill is always a couple hundred bucks, then engage your critical thinking and ensure proper work is getting done.
Now, in defense, this repair may only take an hour, but be aware there are other costs such as travel time to the shop and storage fees that can add to the bill. Think of it this way, if it was your car and it was being towed, then you would be paying quite a bit to get it transported to a nearby shop.
So what can you do to help prevent this?
Don’t be afraid to ask how much experience the techs have at your favorite shop or potential new service provider. Be mindful that experience and OEM training for your make is of the utmost importance.
A good service shop will typically give you bad parts back or show them to you and give you the option to keep them or not. A knowledgeable technician will be able to show you what and how a part may have failed. Overall, it is important to ensure proper parts are being replaced. The same thing can happen at automotive shops too. Lastly, take a look at your bill. Ask questions about things you do not understand. Reputable shops will be able to explain everything clearly for you.
When looking for a reputable shop, start by looking for places with an abundance of positive reviews online. The industry has still not completely embraced the online arena, therefore forward-thinking and progressive business have already begun to obtain positive reviews from their customers. Also, these shops most likely see a larger variety of golf carts. Reason is you want the techs to see many different issues on a variety of carts. Many techs are knowledgeable on one brand, and knowing more than one brand can help speed up the repair process.
Remember this, engage your critical thinking skills to ensure you are getting the highest quality care you can to avoid repeat repairs and misdiagnosis. And sometimes, better repair may cost more, however peace of mind is priceless.