Looking at GEM's...Total Newbie at these!!!

Hello Folks,
Brand new member and very new to NEV’s I am going to look at this GEM tomorrow, 2004 and he says it has 6 new batteries and title. My questions are:

  1. what is a round about price I should be paying. I just need to know a baseline and I understand about condition and things like that.
  2. What problems should I look for in the way of mechanical. I am fairly good and fixing things but not an expert.
  3. What would be red flags and definite hard no’s.
    If there are any other questions I should ask please let me know.

Looks like clear is coming off fender which is common. Only gets worse and is a lot of work to strip and repaint - will be expensive to fix. Number one question to verify is the range. If he tells you a number, ask him to drive half that distance with you to see if he’s telling the truth. If he’s lying he won’t want to get stuck with a dead battery. Age of battery is important but brand is even more critical, if you can’t verify the range, assume it needs batteries regardless of how new they are. New batteries can be ruined easily and many brands don’t produce the range you want. Not sure of your area, but a cart like that near me is worth $2.5-3k if batteries prove good and nothing major is wrong.

Is fixing the clear a DIY project?? Thank you.

Fixing the clear coat is a rather large, involved process. Mainly sand off and reapply. Not as easy as it sounds. There are many threads here about it, just search peeling clear coat.
That gem appears to have the vents in front for the cool air kit that was designed to help cool carts that tended to overheat (code 41). Running them hot can be hard on the controller and cause early failure. I would think a good test drive at full throttle for a couple of miles would show if there is a tendency to overheat and help verify battery condition.
Value would also be $3000 +/- here in so cal if batts were up to par. 2k or less if code 41 or just a couple mile range though.
Also verify actual 2004 date. Should be a mfg sticker on the roof over the drivers side rear passenger seat clearly stating date of mfg.
Cart looks good, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it if you bring it home!

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The air/sun here in So Cal did a pretty good job of stripping the clear coat off our 2002. Is now off most areas except vertical side behind seats. Pigmented layer below clear coat is pretty thick and looks easy to finish depending on you need.

@Mr.Vern is absolutely right on batteries, and suggested a great BS detector.

Tires seem to last, at least on ours, over 12 and show slight wear. I do rotate.

If you buy and decide on batteries consider a lithium conversion like @Inwo has to offer. The LiFePO batteries and disc brake conversion are totally worth it.

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In no particular order:

  • leaking or torn CV boots and joint damage.
  • excessive steering rack play or wobble
  • shock condition, the bushings are likely stretched, how well or not the shock works you’ll have to check - new shocks are $250/pair. The worse the bushing condition, the more negative camber the car will have on the front wheels.
  • transmission noise - chatter or whine. If you are lucky, chatter is just a worn input shaft - easy fix for a few hundred.
  • oil coming out of the motor casing = failed input shaft seal.
  • likely that the car will “bark” when you take your foot off the accelerator and let it coast decel, this is the input shaft bumper. $2 part, a hour or two of work.
  • If you have time to pull the dash, open the hood, there are two screws in the channel just under the bottom edge of the windshield, remove those and then it’s just velcro on the cab side to lift it out. Check if the DC-DC board was swapped out - passenger side, below the main contactor if you see a black rectangular box with heat sink fins, your good, if you see an open circuit board, then you’re not. I don’t know if they are still warranty/recall replacing those or not. If you have to buy one, it’s a few hundred. Also check if the charger, likely a Zivan (about the center of the dash) has the upgrade sticker. Depending on what type of batteries you want to run, this can be helpful.
  • The drum brakes are crap, and on mine, they have a tendency to hang up occasionally. Royal PITA when you are driving and that happens. Best thing here is to just get rid of them.

Rodney swears by the older 2002-2004 carts with the T2 controllers and the US built transmissions. Owning a 2002 that is a rolling project these days, I’m starting to understand why. They are a bit clunky and rough, but they are tough bastards and actually pretty easy to work on.