We upgraded to a GEM from a 2010 Zone/EZ-Go for the consistent speed and 4 front facing seats and with this older GEM there’s work to be done. It jerks a lot when starting and stopping because of a good amount of play in the drivetrain. I don’t know where it is yet and I’m surprised with only 4,500 miles on it there’s so much slop. My wife and kid also said it’s a rough ride compared to the Zone and I’m wondering if it’s normal or could the tire sidewalls be too stiff on such old tires. Is the controller worth keeping and are the original battery chargers ok to leave plugged in 7/24?
So I was wondering where do I start going through this? I can probably spend about $2000 if it means it’ll greatly improve things. Thanks from a GEM newbie.
I jacked up each front wheel and I can see and measure 1/2" of travel at the tire thread caused by the CV joint(outer join on the half shaft).
I can see a tiny amount of play in the splined joint at the transmission.
Does anyone know how to measure the play in the motor to transmission spline?
I’ll invite grant, but you may not like his answer.
I tried to get in touch with Marlon at MZ Motorsport here in San Diego but he’s not answering or returning calls. I think I’ll start researching CV join replacements.
What year is your car?
And do you feel like spending 2-5 k on your car?
If the answer is. 1999-2006
And no on the spending of $ then my answer is
Sell it .
It’s a 2002 and I can see spending upto $2000 if it’s going to make it a better vehicle. Believe it or not the Zone NEV golf cart we’re replacing rides much better than this GEM. It’s not as fast nor can hold a steady speed up hill but the ride, drive and steering feels much better than the GEM.
I used to be an auto mechanic, can weld and have degrees in computer hardware and software so ‘doing’ things to it doesn’t scare me. I void warranties all the time.
!. jerky starts. - Remove the motor and free up the brushes. Be sure to grease the spline when reinstalling. Sand all 4 sides of the brushes and clean up the brush holders. Light sand the commutator.
2 Ride - These puppys ride hard - it’s normal. If your not woried about range set your tire pressure to 22# instead of 30#
3 Brakes - replace all the wheel cylinders. Their cheap from NEVS cart parts. Check brake cables to make sure their free.
4 Connections unplug and deoxit all connectors. Including 23pin connector on the controller.
5 Steering- Front wheel bearings.- Remove cotter and tighten the spindle nut. Check for loose parts in the steering mechanism. CHECK ALIGNMENT These puppys wander all over if you have toe out. Go for 1/8" toe in
6 Charger - plug in charger after each run for best battery life. NOTE: Charger HAS to be unplugged to reset after charge is complete. Older chargers DO NOT maintain a charge. If you leave the cart setting for long periods buy a timer to turn on charger for 8 hours every 2 weeks
I have manuals and schematics. Email me if you need any.
Great info Rodney, Thanks!
I was going to flush the brake fluid if when I open each wheel and inspect the brakes I see no leaking. Will check on replacement cylinders but might hold off incase I go with front discs.
I wanted to inspect the brushes but hadn’t thought they could be the cause of jerky starting. Makes sense though.
Deoxit ordered. I need to find out where to connect the license plate light too. I found the two license plate wires hanging and worn off from dragging the ground so long. Found a broken ground lug under seat but not the other(positive) connection.
I tried to grease the upper/lower A-arm joints but even with the tiny ball in the zerk free, I can’t get any grease in nor hear or see it seep at the king pin. Strange. Will check the alignment too.
I’ve not dug into the charger make/model yet either so thanks for the heads up on charging. We’ll probably be using this close to daily so charge should be good without trickle. So long as it does a good job of actual charging.
Thanks again for the information.
And after seeing a video( Grant West’s maybe ) on removing the input drive pin, bearing and gear I will remove that too and check the play there.
But I’m seriously wondering if there’s really only 4,500 miles on this thing. Granted, it has been at least 9 years in the beach community on a hill( Point Loma area of San Diego ).
And I saw a thread on the transmission fluid so will be checking that too.
Tranny fluid is low, about 1/2" low and pretty black. It’s probably never been changed or topped off. The fact the previous owner lived on a hill and cross streets had stop signs limited my evaluation of the tranny. Today I took it on a 5 mile drive and was surprised at the noise I heard from the tranny when the controller regulated our speed at 25 MPH. No longer was it applying acceleration power and the tranny was making a rattling sound. It’s fine under acceleration and deceleration.
It could still be mostly due to the slop in the CV joints but I’m wondering if I’ll be going in and doing a tranny rebuild too. From Grants video it doesn’t look to bad or too costly if it’s just bearing but I suspect if it’s gears it’ll add up fast.
Is there a test I can do once I pull the motor off or it going to be a 'eliminate X, evaluate, eliminate Y, evaluate, …?
Try the rubber shaft bumper first.
Fits on the end of motor shaft to reduce backlash.
If you want good brakes, easy steering, and smooth ride, it’s a money pit. According to Grant.
Money better spent on a newer car.
Someone mentioned the rubber shaft bumper could be purchased on Amazon but I looked and didn’t find them. I was going to purchase from Marlon in Chula Vista but I don’t think MZ Motorsport is still in business so will keep looking and get 2 or more when I do find them.
I’ll top off the tranny with 90W fluid first thing and next pull the motor and clean the brushes and commutator and then pull the input shaft, bearing and gear so I can check the play in the motor to see if one of them needs replacing. If those are ok, I’ll do it again later to put the rubber bumper in.
You know, I’m kicking myself for not getting the 2015 with bad batteries which was down the street for sale 2 months ago for $4500… And I was told it did a steady 32 MPH even up hills with good batteries while this 2002 only does 22 MPH going up a slight hill with new batteries and take a while to get to 25 MPH on the flat. That 2015 with the battery replacement and final cost of ~$5500 was something I shouldn’t have passed up. But I do like fixing things…
It just dawned on me that the slop I see in the CV joints(1/2" travel at tire thread) could be due to spline wear. There’s only 4,500 miles on the odometer and the half shaft rubber boots are in perfect shape. I would expect the CV joint and splined shaft to be harder than the wheel hub/splined hole…
Going to pull a wheel and see if the play is in the splined interface instead of in the CV joint. I found no wiggle in the CV joint, only rotational play.
I could not see or feel hardly any rotational play after popping off the plastic hub cap(don’t try to turn the fake nuts or they could break off) and removing the splined shaft nut and washer. Most of the play appears to be in the CV joint with a little play on the other end inside the transmission. I could feel a little lateral(up/down/left/right) play in the CV joint splined shaft and wheel spindle. I also felt a little bit of lateral play at the tranmission output shaft so it’s probable that the output shaft bearings should be replaced.
Now to find out if the local linedrive shop will rebuild these half shafts for less than the $200 each I see online.
It took me an hour to get the motor out( took batteries and RF tire off too ) and install the rubber bumper. Worked great so onward. Will be getting the following:
Front disc brakes.
rear air shocks( used Goldwing shocks )
so about $2000
The front disc brakes makes it all so much more fun,
Just ordered the disc brake kit, wheel spacers and 2 rear wheel cylinders.
Searching for a new transmission input shaft assembly. After just a week with the new rubber/resilient bumper I’m back to getting that rattle sound when I back off on pedal and when hitting top speed on the flats. The local GEM dealer( Cart Mart ) wants $220 though… Still searching for the $150 I’ve seen mentioned.
I have a used (22 Teeth) From a 99 e580 that appears to be in pretty good shape. ph 865 414 2318 $125.00 Roy
Thanks Roy but since I’ll be putting in a new motor, I think I’ll have to bite the bullet on the more expensive new part.
Installed the disc brakes today and here are some things I did which others might find valuable.
First thing I did was spray the brake line and retainer clips on each wheel. Then loosened the lugs and center spline nut, then jacked it up and removed the wheels and the center spline nut. 15 minutes after applying WD-40 I unscrewed the LF wheel/side brake line and removed the retainer clip.
Now I used a deep socket to remove the 4 bolts holding the wheel bearing and subsequently the brake drum and pulled it off. I then reamed the brake line bracket hole every so slightly because the new part is a tiny bit bigger.
After putting all the new parts on, I then bled the brake line with a small hose. Bending it closed on the brake pedal upstroke, unbending on the down stroke. I all but emptied the master cylinder, refilled it and then emptied it 2 more times to get fresh fluid in there.
Then I screwed the new brake line into the caliper, fixed it into the holder with the clip, added the adapter to the brake line just finger tight before then inserting the brake line and adapter into the new flexible brake line side. It’s easier to add the adapter first then try to get the small ridged brake line connector into the adapter after it’s already installed. Now install your wheel or spacer and then bleed the caliper. I used 2 lug nuts and a long 3/4" box end wrench to keep the rotor from spinning while I tightened the spline shaft nut and bolting on the spacer. One end of the box wrench goes on a lug nut, the shank of the wrench rests on a flat surface of the other lug nut. Others use thin strips of wood but this worked great since I had a long 3/4" box end wrench.
A note on the spacer(for stock 12" wheels ). They come with lug nuts on them and those are to be used to attach the spacer to the hub. The lug nuts in the kit/bag are for holding the wheel on. They are different.
Do the same to the other side except you don’t have to empty the master cylinder to clear the fluid. But you do have to watch the fluid level in the master cylinder and top it off. If you empty it then you have to rebleed not only your front brakes but also the rear too. But you should bleed the rear anyways since you’re using new fluid.
The disc brakes work GREAT! One foot stopping and I feel way more comfortable at top speeds, going down hills and/or driving fully loaded.