Your kart’s chassis is a crucial element, and in some ways, it is the most important. Its performance and condition are essential for you to be able to perform at the top level. However, they can easily bend and break, and this is where the benefits of a kart chassis protector come in.
The 4 benefits of kart chassis protectors are:
- They add structural strength to your chassis
- They extend your chassis’ lifetime
- They preserve the performance level of your kart
- They offer extra protection during collisions and bumps
It’s important to keep your chassis in good condition if you want to perform well in karting. A bent or cracked chassis can cost you a lot of time. Therefore, it’s worth taking the time to prevent damage to the chassis rather than fixing it, so let’s look at chassis protectors in more detail.
What Are Chassis Protectors?
Karting chassis are thin and can be extremely vulnerable. They can take some serious damage on circuits with high kerbs and big elevation changes. If you buy a brand-new kart chassis (or simply repaint an old one) and take it out on track for even just one 15-minute session, you will see quite a bit of paint scraped off the bottom of the chassis.
Small But Vital
Although these small scrapes and scratches may look insignificant, over long periods of time they can eventually cause structural damage to the chassis of the kart. This is one thing you especially need to look out for if you are buying a second-hand kart.
The specific sections of the chassis that take the biggest hit are the front rail and the sides (underneath the sidepods). You may also see some damage on the floor of the kart in the form of scratches.
Redirect The Damage
Chassis protectors are small add-ons you can put on your chassis that will take the hit instead of the chassis itself. Think of it likea screen protector on your phone. You use it to direct the damage onto the protector (easy and cheap to replace) rather than the screen itself (difficult and expensive to replace).
Chassis protectors are small rectangular ‘plates’ that you bolt onto the floor of your kart. They are usually made out of steel or heavy-duty plastic. They’re not too expensive, usually costing around $10 per set, but in the long run they can save you a ton of money, so it is definitely a worthwhile investment.
The 4 Benefits Of Kart Chassis Protectors
1. They Add Structural Strength To Your Chassis
Over time your kart’s chassis will start to bend. In some cases, you could even start to see cracks forming on the chassis. Both of these are signs that your chassis is nearing the end of its useful lifetime, and it will need to be replaced soon. A chassis protector can add extra rigidity to your kart chassis, allowing it to keep its strength and shape over time.
2. They Extend Your Chassis’ Lifetime
As we have said, your kart’s chassis will start to experience wear and tear over time, and this can bring it closer to the end of its effective lifetime. A cracked chassis is on the verge of failing altogether, and you might not even get it past scrutineering, or it could break during a race. Thus, chassis protectors can save you a lot of money – and potential embarrassment.
3. They Preserve The Performance Level Of Your Kart
A bent chassis will flex less than a normal one. This means that your kart will lose cornering performance over time and therefore cost you valuable lap time. With a chassis protector you can extend the lifetime of the chassis itself, minimizing the amount it flexes and thus maintaining your kart’s performance levels.
4. They Offer Extra Protection During Collisions And Bumps
Chassis protectors help to strengthen the chassis, and keep it going that little bit longer. This will also help to protect your chassis that little bit more during heavy collisions. The chassis protectors are also great for protecting the underside of the chassis which is highly vulnerable to scraping on bumps and kerbs.
What To Look For In A Kart Chassis Protector
There are lots of different chassis protectors to consider. Most are the same shape and size, generally being small, thin rectangles that fit underneath the floor of the kart. There is one very important factor to consider though, and that is what they are made of.
Which Material To Choose
This is the major difference you will find between different kart chassis protectors. Generally, you will find either steel or heavy-duty plastic chassis protectors. I would highly recommend the plastic chassis protectors over the steel.
This is because of the fact that steel can sometimes cause sparks if it takes a heavy impact (friction on tarmac is a big spark generator). If you have spilt some oil or fuel on your kart this could catch alight. Although this would be quite a freak accident, the possibility still remains, but there are other reasons to choose the plastic ones too.
Strong And Cheap
The plastic versions are still very strong, and they will not only protect your kart’s chassis, but they will also last a long time. If they wear out, they are cheap and easy to replace. A small investment and quick installation could save you a lot of money and headaches in the future, so let’s look at how easy it is to install a kart chassis protector.
How To Install Kart Chassis Protectors
A Simple Job
In the packaging you will find three chassis protector plates, plus some bolts. All you are going to need is a drill and a screwdriver to fix the bolts in place. There are some precautions you will need to take with drilling which we will cover too.
The first step is to find a way to get your kart upside down. Most people place the kart standing up with the rear bumper on the ground. This is not recommended if you don’t have anyone else around to help hold the kart up. The other way to do this is to place the kart upside down, making sure that there is no weight on integral parts such as the seat or steering column.
Make Your Mark
Start with the front of the kart by placing the chassis protector on the underside of the floor of the kart directly in the middle. Use a marker (or drill) to carefully mark down where you need to drill into the floor and remove the plate again.
You will notice here that the front rail and the steering column are close to where the front plate needs to fix on. This is where you need to take precautions with drilling. Make sure you don’t drill into the front rail or the steering column.
Be Careful Where You Drill
Drilling into the front rail can damage the structural integrity of the entire chassis and cause long term damage to it. Drilling into the steering column will also mean that it needs to be replaced, and although they are not too expensive, it’s best to avoid having to replace it.
Carefully drill the holes into the floor and make sure that they are smoothed out so that the bolts can easily fix on. Once the holes are drilled, you can put the plate back on and fix it to the floor of the kart using the bolts provided in the packaging.
The Side Plates
The side plates are much easier to put on. You will notice that the chassis itself is not actually in the way of the floor here, so you could actually just hold the plate in place and drill straight through the floor. Once those two plates are fixed on, you’re good to go!
Replacing the plates once they are worn down is an easy job as well. The holes have already been drilled into the floor, so it’s simply a case of switching out the plates and bolting new ones on.
Do Chassis Protectors Affect Performance?
The performance aspect is always a factor to consider when adding modifications to your kart. Luckily, chassis protectors are designed with performance in mind. They are extremely lightweight so they will not affect the overall weight of your kart too much. In addition, they are not actually attached to the chassis itself, so therefore they do not stop the chassis from flexing during cornering.
Chassis protectors are cheap and easy to install pieces of equipment that can save you a lot of time and money in the long run. These seemingly simple pieces of plastic are vitally important to the lifespan of your kart’s chassis and its performance.
I created and have been writing on this site since 2019, collaborating with drivers, coaches, engineers and manufacturers to provide you with the most reliable information about motorsport. Find out more about me here.