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Old 05-05-2021, 09:14 AM   #1
BurlyWizard
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Question Buying a 23 y/o cart. A bad idea?

Hi all,

First post, and potentially first cart, so patience is appreciated as I come up to speed. A friend in our neighborhood is selling a J398 EZGO, which we are contemplating buying. Where we live, new 4-person carts are running $7k+ right now, with pre-owned running $5k-$6k (with new batteries) - Thanks COVID.

He is allowing me to borrow the cart for a couple days, so I'll have time to fully look it over, and would love some help from this community on if it's a good deal / worth my time money, as my research has pointed to J398s being built in 1998 - 23 years ago.

I have some pics that he sent, and I can definitely take / upload more. What I know now is that is 36V, lifted with new wheels/tires, the batteries are "so-so" and potentially mix-matched, but is fully operational as-is. I'm assuming this means we'll need to replace at least the batteries and potentially the motor.

The cart will be used in our flat neighborhood, for rides of 0-45 minutes. Speed isn't a huge concern, but preferably not noticeably slow.

He's asking $2,500. I'm sure I could talk him down to at least $2,200, if not $2,000. From my limited research, it looks like batteries would be about $800 and a motor is about $500. Are these estimates sound? If so all in, likely around $3,500 with brand new tires, wheels, batteries, and motor.

Anything else I should look at / be concerned about breaking / run from in terms of looking over this cart?

Thank you so much in advance. Looking forward to learning from the experts.
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Old 05-05-2021, 09:46 AM   #2
Briboy
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Default Re: Buying a 23 y/o cart. A bad idea?

If you are not mechanically inclined, you may want a friend/shop to take a look.
Also do a bit of research on if parts are readily available for that model.
They are always a bit of a gamble if the cart is 2 years old or 23 years.
It all depends on how it was taken care of and stored.
I got lucky with mine it is a 2002 and spent most of its life sitting out in the weather.
It was pretty beat up but all the internal important stuff was in really good shape and in working order.
I have seen ones for sale that were only a few years old and abused like you cant imagine. Bent frames and cracks all over the body.
The good thing is, most times carts are not overly complicated they are fairly easy to work on for anyone with a little bit of DIY skills.
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Old 05-05-2021, 09:51 AM   #3
DaveTM
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Default Re: Buying a 23 y/o cart. A bad idea?

Welp, mine is a 2000. I love it and I don't necessarily need to look for parts....but more aftermarket upgrades.

If the cart runs well, has batteries no older than 3.5 years,(check the date of manufacture on the battery itself) I'd have no issue with it.

I dunno why you think the motor will need replaced. Any reasons for that?
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Old 05-05-2021, 09:53 AM   #4
BurlyWizard
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Default Re: Buying a 23 y/o cart. A bad idea?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Briboy View Post
If you are not mechanically inclined, you may want a friend/shop to take a look.
Also do a bit of research on if parts are readily available for that model.
Thanks so much. I may ask a friend to take a look, but a shop is probably out of the question as I'll just have it here in the neighborhood.

I found a pretty expansive site that sells cart parts (not sure if links are allowed but I'm sure you know the one). But not sure how to specifically find new batteries / motor for the J398.

Would you be willing / able to point out some specific parts on the cart I should take a look at when I get it in our garage to determine how it was maintained? Any pro tips on narrowing down to the specific batteries / motor I'd need to replace if I go that route?

I really appreciate it, truly.
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Old 05-05-2021, 09:56 AM   #5
DaveTM
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Default Re: Buying a 23 y/o cart. A bad idea?

Look for frame rust....seaver frame rust. Look underneath the battery holders for any corrosion of the frame that holds the batteries. Also, check around the rear leaf spring connection points for any frame rust through.

I will tell you that my frame cracked all the way through (I use mine for hunting and one day I didn't see this HUGE hole covered by tall grass) and I just had it welded up. That was 3 or 4 years ago. It's been fine.
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Old 05-05-2021, 09:59 AM   #6
Bama Brad
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Default Re: Buying a 23 y/o cart. A bad idea?

Unfortunately during these Covid times, that's probably a fair price. Could have gotten it half that price before. I don't see why you would have to buy a new motor unless it's giving him problems and if that's the case, should be able to get for less than $2K. Make sure no rust thru on frame. Clean all connections, Replace batteries with good brand (Crown, Trojan, US) and cables, you should be good to go.
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Old 05-05-2021, 10:08 AM   #7
Briboy
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Default Re: Buying a 23 y/o cart. A bad idea?

Motors are fairly durable. I would not worry about that but more the brakes, brake cables, Rust on frame and battery trays, wheel bearings.

Remove the rear wheel and brake drum to get a look at the shoes, look that they have some lining left and see if there is rust.
for the wheel bearings jack it up and secure it. With hands at 12 and 6 see if there is play in the bearings then spin them to see if there is resistance or noises that seam out of the ordinary. the rear will have resistance and the wheels will spin opposite of each other this one is for noises.
inspect steering components for play as well. if you shake the steering wheel back and forth.
These would be my go to things to check when spending that kind of money.
Just too forecast what may become an issue later on down the road. and for price negotiation.
I say all this and do not ever go this far myself because I am way to impulsive and ADD.
But I am also a Professional Tinker Expert and love working on crap.
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Old 05-05-2021, 10:42 AM   #8
BurlyWizard
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Default Re: Buying a 23 y/o cart. A bad idea?

Wow this is exactly what I was hoping to learn, thank you very much. Going to pick it up in a few minutes so I'll check this out and upload some pics.
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Old 05-05-2021, 10:48 AM   #9
Reddawg454
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Default Re: Buying a 23 y/o cart. A bad idea?

If you end up with it please try to buy your parts/upgrades from the site sponsors here on the site. They're extremely helpful with all things having to do with carts and are happy to help.
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Old 05-05-2021, 07:51 PM   #10
Ajluzi
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Default Re: Buying a 23 y/o cart. A bad idea?

I jUst bought something similar. A 1995 ezgo medalist 1,900 with new batteries. Everything looked good until I tore it apart. Lots of rusty bolts and corrosion, Iím having to fix almost everything from steering, to bushings, wiring, brakes you name it. I had planned on a full build so itís not that big a deal to me. But Iím just as new to this as you are. Had I known what I know now I would have spent a lot more time poking all the metals with a screw driver looking for rust and evaluating how much work I have to do just to make it solid before I can begin actually customizing. If youíve got the cart for a few days take the time to really look for rust, slack in steering and whatís causing it, how the brakes feel and how the lines look, familiarize yourself on how to replace these things and what it will cost you.
Luckily Amazon has almost everything you could need for relatively cheap and itís pretty easy to wrench on. But know what youíre getting into and be comfortable refurbishing it. I can say I donít regret it at all as in the end itíll be exactly how I wanted it and Iíll have built it. If thatís something youíre into or if the cart was kept really well, then why not. Itís way older tech than the new stuff, but itís also way cheaper and a fun project.
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