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How To Clean A Go-Kart Carburetor In 8 Simple Steps

One of the most sensitive parts of a kart is the engine. If the engine is not properly maintained, you’ll be looking at a whole host of problems in the future. Cleaning the carburetor on a go-kart is a quick and easy process that helps prevent many engine problems.

8 simple steps to clean a go-kart carburetor are:

  1. Remove the carburetor
  2. Open up your carburetor
  3. Remove the jets
  4. Remove the fuel bleed screw 
  5. Clean the carburetor 
  6. Clean the carburetor parts
  7. Reassemble the carburetor
  8. Secure the carburetor to the engine

Cleaning your carburetor can take less than 10 minutes, and it will help your kart’s engine to keep putting out maximum performance. On top of that, it will help to prevent corrosion and keep your carburetor working for longer. Below, we cover in detail how to clean your kart’s carburetor.

What Is The Carburetor On A Go-Kart?

The carburetor on a go-kart is a small part of the engine that causes a mixture of fuel and air to occur which is then ignited, creating the explosion that move the pistons and the kart itself. It has 3 main parts, with the fuel chamber being the most important to clean. 

Inside the carburetor’s fuel chamber, you’ll find 2 floats as well as some jets and a needle. The jets are responsible for controlling the amount of fuel going into the carburetor as they are designed with nozzles. You can change your jets to smaller or larger ones to allow more or less fuel into the carburetor.

The needle is also important, and it controls the amount of fuel coming through the main jet. This can act as a quick fix if you need a richer or leaner fuel mixture. The carburetor is then connected to the air box which filters the air before sending it into the carburetor.

Why Is It Important To Clean The Carburetor?

It’s important to clean the carburetor because it has a huge effect on the performance and longevity of your engine. If you don’t keep it clean, you could see your engine’s performance drop substantially, and the lifespan of your engine will shorten significantly as well.

Even though your go-kart has a fuel filter and an air filter, they’re not always perfect at sifting out the impurities and dirt in your fuel and air, so it’s always important to make sure that your carburetor is as clean as possible before you drive your kart.

If you don’t clean your carburetor regularly, it can come with a whole host of problems that you don’t want to be dealing with. Whether you’re focused on getting the best out of your kart or making it last as long as possible, you need to make sure that your carburetor is always cleaned properly.

It takes just a few minutes to clean your carburetor, so time is not an issue. If you’re tight on time you can always clean the carburetor while it’s still attached to the engine too, as long as you do a thorough service at least once a week.

Engine Performance

The biggest difference that you’ll notice from having a clean carburetor is the engine performance. It’s probably the most important reason why you want to ensure that your carburetor is as clean as it can possibly be whenever you head out onto the track.

Since the carburetor is incredibly important when it comes to the fuel that’s being “injected” into the engine, it plays a crucial role in the overall performance that you can extract from your engine, and this is exaggerated more in a Rotax kart than what you’ll see in larger engines such as the ones found in older cars.

Even the slightest change in air temperature or ambient air pressure means that you may need to change the jets on your carburetor to prevent the engine from backfiring on long straights or bogging down coming out of slow corners.

If your carburetor is not kept clean, the engine will struggle to get sufficient fuel into the combustion chamber which will cause the engine to lose performance, and you could be suffering a loss of a couple of horsepower in your engine, which makes a big difference considering your Rotax kart only has 32 of them.

Engine Lifespan

The lifespan of a Rotax engine might not be much more than 5 years, but it could last a much shorter time if you don’t ensure that your carburetor is cleaned on a regular basis. Aside from the little bit of dirt and fuel that could be building up inside the carburetor and the jets, there are other concerns that you need to be aware of.

Any dirt that sits inside the carburetor will begin to build up. Eventually, your carburetor will become clogged and it will be nearly impossible to clean. A clogged carburetor is essentially useless, and you’ll most likely have to buy a new one. That is if you haven’t caused permanent damage to the engine itself.

Carburetors are also prone to corrosion over time if they are not cleaned. Corrosion is inevitable, but you can delay this process if you clean your carburetor frequently. Corrosion will cost you some performance, but it will also cause your carburetor and the surrounding parts to become more fragile and prone to breaking.

The carburetor is ultimately responsible for delivering fuel into the engine, and if your engine is running at high RPMs and suddenly loses that delivery of fuel due to a clogged carburetor or a broken carburetor, you risk damaging the engine beyond a repairable state.

What You Need To Clean A Go-Kart Carburetor

The tools you need to clean a go-kart carburetor include:

  • Cloth
  • Flat screwdriver
  • 4 mm Allen wrench
  • 12 mm spanner
  • Point nose pliers
  • Brake cleaner/carb cleaner
  • High-pressure hose (optional)

Cleaning a carburetor might not be a big job, but there are some tools that you are going to need if you’re planning on cleaning your kart’s carburetor. It’s always a good idea to have these tools in your toolbox since you should be cleaning your carburetor frequently. You don’t want to go through the hassle of borrowing tools from someone else every time you get to the track.

Luckily though, there aren’t any special tools required to clean your carburetor. All of the tools you need are basics that you should have in your toolbox anyway if you work on your own kart. If you don’t have any of these tools laying around, they’re not expensive to buy either, and they are some of the most frequently used tools on your kart, so it’s a good idea to get hold of them.

You may find that some of the tools below are not absolutely necessary and you can get away with not using 1 or 2 of them, but having them available can make the job easier

8 Simple Steps To Clean A Go-Kart Carburetor

1. Remove The Carburetor

The first step is to remove the carburetor from the engine. Before you do though, make sure to unscrew the carb top and throttle cable at the top of the carburetor. Make sure to hold onto the spring on the inside to prevent it from being damaged as you remove it from the carburetor and place it somewhere safely (inside the seat is always the best place).

All you need to do next is unscrew the grips that keep the carburetor fastened to the engine and air filter box, as well as any extra fuel lines attached to the carburetor. You’ll likely see the intake and outtake fuel lines, but be careful when removing these from the carburetor.

Any leftover fuel that’s in these fuel lines will be spilling out of them, so it’s a good idea to cover any exposed parts of your kart with a cloth to prevent them from being damaged by the fuel. You don’t want fuel on the outside of the engine or even on the chassis itself.

2. Open Up Your Carburetor

The next step is to open the carburetor. You’re going to be opening the bottom part of the carburetor, so it’s essentially upside down compared to when it was fixed onto the kart’s engine. The bottom of the carburetor will have either 3 or 4 screws depending on the brand of the carburetor.

Use your Allen wrench to remove these screws from the carburetor and the lid will lift right off. However, this is where you need to be careful with the carburetor, as any leftover fuel will likely spill out of the carburetor once again.

You also need to be careful not to tip the carburetor over as the floats are extremely sensitive, and you need to remember which one goes where. When removing these, carefully place them next to one another and remember which one is on the left side and which one is on the right side.

Carefully remove the float needle and pin from the carburetor. You can use your point nose pliers here but it’s not essential. Make sure that you place them somewhere safe if you’re not using a workbench, as these smaller parts can easily disappear if you’re not careful.

3. Remove The Jets

The next step is to carefully remove the jets using the flat screwdriver. Start with the main jet and work your way down to the smallest jet. Remember, there are a total of 4 jets in the Rotax carburetor, the last one can be found underneath the middle one, and you’ll need a small flat screwdriver for this.

Just like with the float pin and needle, make sure you place these jets down carefully and in order of when you took them out. This will ensure that you don’t lose them, and you can easily put your carburetor back together at the end.

If there are changes in temperature, air pressure, or even humidity, take this opportunity to check which jetting setup is needed for the day ahead. This way you can quickly swap out your jets before you get out on track.

4. Remove The Fuel Bleed Screw 

The fuel bleed screw is often overlooked when it comes to cleaning the carburetor because many people don’t realize just how important it is. The fuel bleed screw can be found on the outside of the carburetor, and you sometimes need a 12mm spanner to remove it. However, many of them can be removed with a flat screwdriver as well.

The main role of the fuel bleed screw is to mix the fuel with a small amount of air. Air is sucked into this section and transitioned into the fuel channel where it is then sent to the combustion chamber. This is essentially the third most important part of the Rotax carburetor.

If you don’t clean the fuel bleed screw, you won’t have a smooth mixture of air and fuel, which could lead to either backfiring or bogging down coming out of corners even if you’re using the right jetting setup. It can be incredibly frustrating, especially if you don’t know what’s going wrong with your kart’s engine.

5. Clean The Carburetor 

Now that we’ve removed all of the required parts from the carburetor, it’s time to get cleaning. Luckily you don’t need to sit there and scrub every bit of dirt off the carburetor. You’re going to use an aerosol can of brake cleaner or carb cleaner to do that for you. The high-pressure solvent will clean dirt off the carburetor quickly.

You’ll want to clean every section of the carburetor body, from the outside to the inside, and every area that you can get into. If you’re struggling, you can attach a nozzle that will help you to get into the hard-to-reach areas of the carburetor body.

Brake cleaner is the best solution as it’s stronger than carb cleaner and it will remove any old fuel lying around, but either one will work. Once you’re done, you can use a high-pressure air hose to dry the carburetor, or you can leave it to air dry.

6. Clean The Carburetor Parts

Next, we have to clean all the internals of the carburetor. Everything that you have removed from the carburetor will need to be cleaned, and the best way to do this is by using your point nose pliers to pick each item up and spray it down with brake cleaner or carb cleaner.

Make sure to be careful when handling all of these as they can easily get lost if you’re not paying attention. Once again, you can air dry them, or use the high-pressure air hose to dry each item quickly.

As a reminder, here are all the items you should have from the carburetor:

  • Float bowls
  • Float pin
  • Float needle
  • 4 jets 
  • Fuel bleeding screw

7. Reassemble The Carburetor

Once all of the items in the carburetor have been cleaned and dried, it’s time to put it all back together again. It might seem like a difficult task at first when you’re looking at all of the parts you’ve just taken off your carburetor, but all you need to do is reverse the steps above and put the entire carburetor back together.

Starting with the fuel bleeding screw, you can tighten it to the outside of the carburetor
(but not too tight – the general rule is 4 half turns once the screw catches). Then install your jets back in the order that you took them out.

From there you simply need to reinstall the float needle and pin. When replacing the floats make sure they are resting carefully in the correct position while you put the lid back on the carburetor. Use the Allen wrench to secure the carburetor lid in place.

8. Secure The Carburetor To The Engine

The final step is to put the carburetor back onto the engine and then you’re all set to go. Turn the carburetor on the right side up again and secure the clamps (both going to the air filter box and the engine). 

Carefully replace the throttle cable and carb top and secure it tightly. Make sure to reconnect all of the fuel lines and valves. While doing so be sure to check each fuel line for any damage or general wear, as these may need to be replaced after some time.

Before you jump into your kart, make sure to start the engine and let the fuel run through the carburetor for a minute or 2. You could even push the throttle down once or twice to make sure that your cable is still working properly and the carburetor is not blocked or reassembled incorrectly.

How Do You Clean A Clogged Go-Kart Carburetor?

You can clean a clogged go-kart carburetor the same way you clean a non-clogged carburetor. However, it’s important to clean out your carburetor before it gets to a point of being clogged, as this will significantly damage your engine performance and will prevent the car from starting properly.

Despite the fuel and air flyers, there can still be some particles and impurities that make their way through into the carburetor. On top of that, using older fuel (even fuel as old as a month) can cause the carburetor to become clogged up with dirt and gunk. You’ll need to clean this out or else you’ll experience a ton of performance issues.

If your carburetor is clogged, you may find that the kart doesn’t start, doesn’t idle, or the engine is going to be running lean or rich even if you’re on the correct jetting setup. No one wants to experience this, so it’s important that you clear out a clogged carburetor as soon as possible.

You may have to spend some extra time cleaning a clogged go-kart carburetor. If you find that one particular part is damaged or clogged (you can see this by blasting it with compressed air) then it’s best to order a replacement part – which is still better than having to buy a whole new carburetor.

How Do You Clean Corrosion Off A Carburetor?

You can clean corrosion off a carburetor by first taking everything apart and then soaking the corroded area in either vinegar or brake cleaner for around 24 hours. You’ll want to scrub it clean the next day, repeating this process until the corrosion is off. You can also use WD-40 and steel wool.

Corrosion is something that you will inevitably start seeing on a carburetor over time, but if you don’t clean your carburetor regularly you will start to see corrosion much earlier than you should. Corrosion will cause long-term damage to your carburetor if you don’t address it early on as it eats away at all the metallic parts.

The easiest solution is to simply buy a brand new carburetor, however, not everyone has $300 to spend in an instant. Luckily though, there are some great DIY solutions to get rid of corrosion, such as soaking the corroded areas in vinegar or brake cleaner for 24 hours and scrubbing the area clean the next day. If the corroded area is not completely gone, repeat the process.

You could also try to use some WD40 and steel wool to scrape the corrosion off the affected area. Steel wool is a good tool to have when cleaning corrosion off a carburetor as it is stronger and offers more resistance when cleaning the area.

How Often Should You Clean Your Go-Kart Carburetor?

You should clean your go-kart carburetor at least once per week. Sometimes it is necessary to clean your carburetor every time you drive the kart. This is due to go-kart carburetors being exposed heavily to the elements, allowing quite a lot of dirt to accumulate.

The problem with the carburetor on a go-kart is that it’s open rather than enclosed inside an engine bay. The carburetor is exposed to all the elements, including temperature, moisture, and dirt. This means that the carburetor on the kart engine takes a lot more strain compared to a car carburetor that is protected from all of these elements.

Go-kart engines are also much more sensitive than car engines, and tuning the carburetor correctly is crucial. The slightest change in weather conditions (a drop in a few degrees Fahrenheit) could mean that you need to change the jetting setup. This shows how incredibly sensitive the carburetor is, and any trapped dirt or lack of maintenance would cause a massive drop in performance.

It’s a good idea to create a habitual routine of cleaning the carburetor when you get to the track and before you get into the driver’s seat. You should always take some time to get your kart primed and ready for the day ahead – like a fighter jet going into battle. Cleaning the carburetor takes mere minutes, and it will ensure you get maximum performance and life out of your engine.

How To Clean A Carburetor Without Removing It From The Engine

There is one way that you can quickly get your carburetor cleaned and ready to go. This should only be done occasionally because it’s not a full service and you won’t get the full benefit of an entirely clean carburetor. However, it’s a solution for quickly cleaning the carburetor if you’re short on time.

All you need to do is remove the carb top and the throttle cable as you normally would. You will then loosen the grips on the air filter box and the engine inlet, but don’t remove them. You should only loosen them enough to be able to turn the carburetor while it’s still attached to the engine.

Then you can simply turn the carburetor upside down and complete the steps above without removing the carburetor from the engine. However, this won’t allow you to clean every area of the carburetor, so you shouldn’t do this instead of the full service – every second or third clean can be a full service.

When using this method, you do need to make sure that you use compressed air to dry the carburetor properly before you reassemble it and return it back to its original position. From there all you need to do is reattach the carburetor top and throttle cable before making sure that the clasps are securely fastened again.

Final Thoughts

Cleaning the carburetor on a go-kart is a quick and easy task that only requires 8 steps, but it’s often overlooked. The carburetor plays an incredibly important role in the kart’s engine – it’s responsible for mixing the fuel and the air going to the combustion chamber. If the carburetor is not cleaned frequently, you’ll experience a loss in performance and a shorter engine lifespan.