Keeping the oil fresh in your kart is really important if you are looking for longevity and ideal engine performance. In addition, changing oil is a very quick and easy process so there is no need overlook it or put it off for another day because of uncertainty.
The 4 quick steps to changing the oil in a 4-stroke kart are:
- Warm up the engine
- Put a tray underneath the engine
- Drain the old oil
- Pour in the new oil
There is a lot to think about when changing the oil in your kart. There are various brands and types to choose from. I did some research into the best brands of oil for karts and will be going into further details at a later point.
Why You Should Change The Oil In Your Kart Regularly
The oil in your kart heats up and cools down with use. This can cause the oil to become thicker and stickier, making it harder for it to do its job. On top of that, the oil can have small amounts of residual dirt, built up carbon or metallic shavings in it, which of course is not good for the engine either. Regularly replacing the oil can significantly help increase the lifespan of your engine.
How Often Should I replace The Oil In My Kart?
Most engine manuals will suggest that you change your oil every 10 hours, but some people replace their oil before they start driving for the day. It all depends on how much running time your engine gets.
For some people 10 hours of running time can be a week, for others it can be a month or more. At the end of the day, it is best to stick with what the engine manufacturer suggests. Try and keep to the general guidelines as much as possible. I think that making it a habit to change your oil every two weeks is a good start.
If you make it routine to change it every two weeks you will remember to do it on a consistent basis. From there you can analyse your old oil every time it is changed to see if you need to change it more regularly or if you can leave it in slightly longer.
The 4 Quick Steps To Changing The Oil In A 4-Stroke Kart
There are two ways you can change the oil in your kart. Both have the same process, there is just one differential that can make quite a big difference depending on the time you have and the amount of effort you want to put in.
The first is the more difficult and time-consuming method. This method means that you take your engine off the chassis in order to change your oil. The benefit to doing this is that you won’t get any oil spilling onto your chassis or on the floor that you will need to clean up afterwards.
The quicker and easier way is to just leave the engine as is and change the oil with the engine still mounted to the chassis. This is quicker, but a lot messier. You could get oil all over the chassis or even the engine mount that can be difficult to clean, and once the oil dries up it becomes nearly impossible to fully remove.
1. Warm Up The Engine
Firstly, you will want your engine to be warm. A warm engine makes the oil heat up which will in turn make it thinner and easier to drain. You can do this either by driving a few laps around the circuit, or by running the engine for a few minutes.
2. Put A Tray Underneath The Engine
Once your engine is warmed up, you will need to put a tray underneath the engine. This will be needed in order to catch the old oil underneath the kart and it will save you from having to clean all of the oil off the floor once you are done.
3. Drain The Old Oil
Underneath the engine, or on most kart engines you will see the drainage bolt on the side. It depends on the engine manufacturer. If you have a manual for your engine, they will give you a clear image and description of where to find your drainage bolt.
You need to unscrew this bolt in order for the oil to be released out of the engine. If the oil is hot, you will need to wear some gloves, hot oil and skin contact is never a nice experience! Unscrew this bolt until the oil is flowing out at a steady rate and then leave it in the thread slightly. Let all of the oil drain out into your catch tray.
While the oil is draining out, you can use that time to measure out your replacement oil. All engines are different, but the general measurement is 17 oz or 0.5 L of oil for a kart engine. Most engines will have a screw that allows you to check the oil level. This one will be on the same element of the engine just slightly higher up and will be the exact same screw.
The way you check it is to slightly unscrew it, and when you are filling oil through the venting screw, oil will slowly start to bleed out of the screw when it reaches the correct level. The next step is to pour your new oil into the venting screw.
4. Pour In The New Oil
It is advised to keep the drainage screw open for a short amount of time while you are pouring new oil in. This is to flush out any residual old oil that remains. If you have had a couple of seconds of new oil running through the drainage screw you can close it up again.
Closing the drainage screw is a very delicate process though. This screw should be done up tight so that it can keep all the oil in the engine and withstand the heat and vibrations from track use, but at the same time if it is overdone and cross threaded this screw becomes useless and will need to be replaced.
Once your engine oil reaches the ideal level, the oil will start to slowly bleed out of the oil checking bolt. At this point you can tighten the bolt and close the venting screw. The ideal amount of oil varies from engine to engine, so make sure to check your manual or research your engine.
Some Oils To Choose From
Your local karting shop will be able to give you a great recommendation for a good oil to use, and they will generally stock it as well. However sometimes you won’t have a karting shop close by and you will need to find your own oil, and there’s a lot to choose from.
From my research I have found that most people recommend the Briggs & Stratton Synthetic 4T Racing Oil. This oil is specifically designed for race engines, and it will be best used for hard working engines. These oils could probably be used twice per bottle.
Make sure you don’t use automotive oils, specifically designed for cars. These oils are engineered to operate at much lower temperatures than can be found in those of karting engines, and therefore can lose their ability to protect your engine from any possible damage.
Another popular option for 4-stroke karts is Red Line Oil 5W20 which is also sold per gallon. This oil seems to be a very popular choice and is designed specifically for 4-stroke karting engines. This should last you much longer.
It is important to note that some engine manufacturers prefer different oils to the general recommendations. It can always be useful to check your engine manual to see what the manufacturers recommend. If you do not have the manual, a quick bit of research on your specific engine could bring up the manual, or even forums that can recommend an oil for your engine.
The key to changing your oil is consistency. It’s not something that is done extremely often such as cleaning your carburettor, so it can often be overlooked by most people. However, if you make it a habit to do this every two weeks, you will be changing your oil regularly enough to keep your engine safe.
Changing the oil in your kart is a crucial element of engine maintenance that is often overlooked. Running on old oil can damage your engine and cost you some performance that you would need if you were racing competitively.
There are many oils to choose from but its important to choose the right type, you can’t just put any oil into your 4-stroke kart engine. Replacing the oil is an easy process, and it doesn’t have to take hours of cleaning if you can do it properly.