FE290 Replacement Engine: Compatible Engines For Swapping

The Kawasaki is a well-known engine used in Club Car golf carts in the late 90s. Like every other mechanically driven component, the FE290 also has a limited lifetime. After a certain period, it becomes cheaper to get a new replacement engine than rebuild the FE290 again.

There are a few options for replacing the FE290 engines. For example, an upgraded FE350 from Kawasaki, GX270, and GX390 from Honda, etc. However, many secondary factors must be considered carefully while swapping the FE290 in your club car from the 90s.

After thorough research and readings, we listed the most compatible engines in detail for the FE290. Hence, you should go through this article until the very end to know which engine suits your club car for the betterment and enhanced outcome.

FE290 Replacement Engine

Suitable Engines To Replace Kawasaki FE290

The Kawasaki FE290 engine is designed to support small utility vehicles. Different models of Club Cars from 1990 to 2009 used the FE290.

The Kawasaki FE290 is a 290 cc, forced air-cooled, four-stroke, single-cylinder octane-driven engine with a horizontal shaft made by Kawasaki.

Overhead valve (OHV) technology, a cast iron cylinder liner, a flywheel magneto transistor type ignition system, and a recoil ignition with automatic compression release are major features of this engine.

However, there is also an electric start option available with this type. After the legal lifespan of the FE290, many users spend a lot on rebuilding the engine.

But spending on rebuilding the engine is much more expensive as the retail spare parts of the engines are costly and rare. 

Hence, replacing the engine with a new one or a compatible one from the same or a different brand is better. Here are some engine details we found compatible with replacing the FE290.

Swapping FE290 With FE350 From Kawasaki

The FE350 is an upgraded form of the FE290. Both engines come from the famous Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd.

These engines have many similar features, due to which the FE390 can do the FE290 engine replacement.

Theoretically, a FE290 engine has a 290 cc displacement, while the FE350 engine has a 350 cc displacement. This indicates that the FE350 engine is more powerful than the FE290 engine and has a bigger engine size.

Moreover, a FE290 engine can produce up to 9.5 HP at 3600 RPM, while a FE350 engine can produce up to 11.5 HP at this same rate. Carbureted fuel systems are included with both the FE290 and FE350 engines.

Therefore, the fuel injection system doesn’t need to undergo any additional modifications.

The FE290 engine weighs about 65 pounds, compared to about 75 pounds for the FE350 engine. As a result, a FE350 may readily replace the FE290. 

However, FE350 measures 14.9 inches in length, 16.6 inches in width, and 17.9 inches in height.

Lastly, it is important to keep[ in mind that there are two variants of the FE350 with a key start and pedal start.

Since most 90s Club Cars come with pedal-started FE290 in clockwise rotation, we should get a FE350 with identical features for immediate swapping.

Swapping FE290 With Honda GX270

Regarding displacement, the Honda GX270 has a slightly lower displacement than the FE290. However, a 20 cc displacement differential is not a big deal for the Club Cars. 

Coming to the power output of the engines, we found out that the GX270 can generate 8.4 hp at 3600 rpm, which is understandable.

Apart from that, both engines use a similar fuel injection system (carburetor) and engine starting method (recoil or key type). 

Hence, we need not rewire the electrical systems. Importantly the physical dimensions of the GX270 Type P, Q, and S are identical to the FE290. Therefore, placing the securing of the engine in the compartment would be convenient.

Swapping FE290 With Briggs and Stratton Vanguard

The Vanguard series of Briggs and Stratton are composed of smaller engines suitable to replace the FE290 from Kawasaki.

Especially the model numbers 350777 and 351777 are the most compatible engines from Briggs and Stratton to swap a FE290.

These engines have a displacement of 570cc, making them almost twice in size as the FE290.

However, both engines are 4-stroke and air-cooled. But an additional cylinder in the Vanguard makes it a four-valve engine.

Therefore you need to make some electrical and physical adjustments in the Golf cart to place the engine.

The major difference between them lies within the power output because the Vanguard can produce up to 18 HP, much higher than the FE290s 9.5HP.

The only electric starting method made me adjust many things, such as the weight shifting, balance, and throttle control.

Overall, the vanguard is a good choice for replacing FE290 as it enhances the vehicle’s performance tremendously.

Things To Consider Before Swapping FE290 Engine

Replacing an entire engine is not plugged and play method. we must consider several variables to adjust the incoming engine in place of the old FE290 engine. Here, we’ve listed the important things to remember before carrying out a cross-brand engine replacement.

Physical Compatibility

The FE290 engine is 17.4 inches tall, 14.3 inches broad, and 16 inches long. Because of this, it’s essential to ensure the engine will fit inside the engine compartment of a club car. 

Compatibility With Drivetrains

The FE290 engine works with a particular drivetrain, like a belt or chain drive. Moreover, before switching, careful consideration should be given to the PTO shaft’s rotation, which might be either clockwise or counterclockwise.

Electrical Systems

The FE290 engine is designed to work with a particular electrical system, like a 12-volt or 36-volt system. Depending on the alternator specifications, engine ignition, and starting technique, rewiring may be necessary.

Compatibility with the fuel system

The FE290 engine has a carbureted fuel system and is intended to be used with a particular fuel, such as unleaded octane.

We need to confirm that the FE290 engine can be connected to your car’s gasoline system or other equipment and that the fuel system is compatible with the FE290 engine.


We have arranged a series of answered questions for the users and owners of club cars with the FE290 engine. It would be helpful for those searching for clearance about the FE290 replacement engine.

Can you upgrade a golf cart engine?

Golf cart engines are replaceable with engines of a similar type from the same or different manufacturing companies. However, checking if a new engine is compatible with the cart’s physical and electrical parameters is important. 

Which engines are suitable for swapping a FE290?

Most 270 cc-400cc, four-stroke, single or dual-cylinder engines with horizontal pistons and PTO clockwise rotating shafts are suitable for FE290 replacement.
Some such engines are the GX270 and GX390 from Honda, Kohler Command Pro, Brigs and Stratton professional or Vanguard series engines, etc.

What engine is in a Club Car golf cart?

Over the years, Club Car has used a range of various engine manufacturers, including Briggs & Stratton, Kohler, and Kawasaki, in its golf carts.
While some Club Car models have an electric motor driven by batteries, others are fitted with a modest four-stroke gasoline engine.


Replacing the older FE290 engine with a new and powerful one revives our cart and increases the overall performance. However, it is more complicated to search for compatible FE290 replacement engines.

The smaller four-stroke engines from Kawasaki, Kohler, Honda, Briggs, and Stratton are moderately suitable for swapping a FE290. In contrast, some electrical and physical modifications are required for perfectly adjusting the engines in the place of FE290.

Lastly, we hope that other cart enthusiasts may benefit something from and be inspired by our pursuit for a FE290 replacement engine.

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