Golf cart seats are among the more visually attractive part of a cart. Not to discount the body or the wheels, but seats are typically the first feature to grab your eyes. They are also a great opportunity to give your cart a theme, if you desire. From college colors, to sports team contrasts, the seats are a reasonably easy way to give your cart a signature look and feel on a budget.
Drop by your local cart shop however, and you’ll probably have to pick your jaw up from the ground when they give you a quote on custom seats. Well, it doesn’t have to be the way. Greg and I have refurbished our seats before and while it takes a little time and effort, it is not difficult at all and you can save a bundle plus take a little pride in the work you’ve done yourself.
The great news is that you really don’t need any special tools. The only tool you will definitely want to have is powerful electric staple gun and a good quality tape measure. If you are fortunate enough to have a compressor in your garage or workshop – a pneumatic staple gun is even better… but definitely not necessary.
Golf cart seats share more in common with marine cushions than with automotive seats. The cushions on cart seats have the same elements to contend with: Direct sunlight and exposure to moisture. So it makes sense to begin here. Marine-grade vinyl typically is made with 100% PVC backed with a strong, tightly woven polyester backing.
The PVC will have UV-resistant properties combined with anti-mildew agents. The material will also be flame retardant. FMVSS302 is the motor vehicle standard for flame retardancy in the US. This is important to know because imports from China will very likely not carry this rating and should be avoided. Use American, buy American. American-made materials are almost always of higher quality and meet safety regulations – and the costs can be kept down with a little effort in searching beyond the go-to places like Amazon or similar.
When Greg and I rebuilt our cart from the ground up, I decided that I was going to use as many locally-sourced, or at least American-made parts as I possibly could. This was reasonable easy to do… but the seats were a particular challenge. The mainstream distributors, like Mad-Jax or Buggies Unlimited, are excellent businesses but they source many of their components from overseas locations to keep their margins in check. So be cautious and ask questions. Just because you bought from an American distributor, doesn’t necessarily mean the material is of American origin.
After a lot of searching, I found one place, and one woman, that stitches custom golf cart seat covers based on industry-standard golf cart models (eg. Club Car, EZ-GO, Yamaha, etc.), then she will tweak the dimensions based on the measurements you provide. She uses high quality marine-grade material, and she is located right here in Pensacola Florida. Yes, you can call her or her husband up and speak to real humans. And her prices are outstanding. She assembled two-tone coordinated seat vinyl, for both our front and rear seat assemblies, for just $160. I recommend koolcushions.com
Here’s how we began. With our seats still installed on our cart, we measured the key dimensions as was recommended. Then we decided on a color scheme. We went to koolcushions.com and selected our model cart, found the colors we wanted, placed our order then included the dimensions along with our order. (Difficult, right?) Our seat vinyl arrived in about a week.
Greg and I then removed the seats from the cart. Obviously the front seat is simple, you remove it every time you need to get to your batteries. On a work area, we removed the screws that hold the side arm rests. Then we began carefully removing the staples that hold the existing vinyl cover to the seat assembly, using a heavy duty needle nose pliers with a flat-blade screw driver to pry each staple out. Do your best to remove every one of the staples, you don’t want any sharp pieces remaining which could tear your new covers or scrape your skin.
We were already in the process of restoring our cart, so we had the entire golf cart stripped down to the bare chassis frame. Because of this, the rear seat assembly was already off of our cart. So unbolting the cushions from the rear seat frame was rather easy. Depending on the type of cart you have, you may or may not have to remove the rear frame assembly to remove the cushions.
After removing the old vinyl covers, we placed the new covers over the bare foam seat cushions then lined up the edge seams. We began re-stapling the new vinyl back on to the cushion assemblies by starting at the rear of the cushion where the contrasting strips meet, typically near the centers of the seats. We stapled across those seams, then flipped the cushion around. Rolling the vinyl back over our hands and using our thumbs to stretch the vinyl, we pulled the vinyl tight from back to front, and placed staples just on the stripe seams to hold the basic shape.
You want to staple across the strip seams first because this is the strongest part of the vinyl covers. Once you have that stapled, then pulling and stapling around the remaining circumference of the seat is fairly easy. Pull the material taught, but not too tight. Remember, as rugged as this material is, it will tear at the staples. – and yes, there were parts that ripped slightly around the staples… don’t worry too much, it will still work.
The result is exciting and rewarding. You have custom seats made with extremely high quality material, in the colors you want, for well under $200 – and that’s front AND rear seats. This project took us about 6 hours on a Saturday to complete. I hope you’ve been inspired to give this a shot for yourself. It truly is not difficult. This is how you can get a refreshed custom look on a budget. Impressive looking carts do not necessarily have to be bought, you can do it yourself – and it really is a great “couples” project …if you’re into that sort of thing. Good luck.
I hope you found this information helpful.