Buying a go kart is a huge commitment. It takes a lot of time and effort to look after a kart, but not only that, it can also cost a lot of money. When you’re new to karting, it can be useful to know some of the top tips when buying a go-kart.
Our 8 tips for buying a go-kart are:
- Find the best kart in your class
- Talk to other drivers
- Buy second-hand where possible
- Find spares and tools before buying
- Research all of the costs involved
- Find reliable information
- Stay within your budget
- Start small
These tips are all based on buying your very first go-kart. However, if you have already owned a kart in the past and you need to upgrade, these can still be useful to you. In this article we are going to detail some essential factors to keep in mind when buying a kart.
8 Tips For Buying A Go-Kart
1. Find The Best Kart In Your Class
Your age group will determine which class you will be participating in. Each class has a specific chassis that normally tends to dominate that specific class. However, you also get some good all-rounders that are normally competitive no matter what class they are in.
One of these great all-rounder chassis is the Tony Kart. They make fantastic kart chassis which always tend to perform well no matter the circuit or the class. They are also extremely adaptable, and the set ups can be adjusted significantly based on driver preference. In this list, Tony Kart is an option for any class, and we will be exploring some other chassis options below.
The Bambino class is for ages 6-8. This class can be a bit tough to judge because all of the drivers are so young and are still learning and building up their skills. This means that chassis performance is not as important as it is in higher classes.
With that being said, some kids in these classes can become extremely quick and competitive towards the end of their careers in this class, when they near the age of 8. In this case chassis selection can make a difference. A great chassis to look at here is the CRG and Tony Kart.
The Cadets are between the ages of 8 and 13. This is where the kids become faster as they are really focused on growing and working on their racing abilities. The best chassis in this class is the Synergy chassis.
Synergy is still relatively new to the karting scene, but they have been building some excellent karting chassis. Some other notable mentions to look at here are CRG and SodiKart. These two chassis have a long history of winning championships and they are still just as popular amongst racers these days.
The junior class is usually available to drivers between the ages of 11 and 15. The junior class is extremely competitive in most karting series. This is also a popular age for drivers to start looking at international competitions and going overseas to bigger championships.
The best chassis to look at here are CRG, SodiKart, ART, and Compkart. These chassis all have long and successful histories and are strong when it comes to development. For junior class drivers you want to start establishing consistency. So, if you start off with CRG for example you will want to stick with CRG for the rest of the driver’s karting career.
This is because in the junior category drivers start to learn how they like their karts to be set up and how they want them to handle. If you develop consistency early on it will help the driver establish their driving style and understand what works for them.
The senior category in karting is for drivers aged 15 and over. These karts are pretty quick, and they are used in international championships as well as local championships. Most of the chassis are pretty equal, however some will have different features that might be beneficial to some drivers depending on their driving style.
For example, the CRG chassis is very strong under braking, whereas the Tony Kart chassis is more agile in the corners. When choosing a chassis here it’s important to choose it based on your driving style and what suits you best. This is especially true since there is no maximum age limit for this class so you will be keeping this one for a while.
Some of the best chassis choices for the senior class are the Tony Kart, CRG, ART, SodiKart and the CompKart chassis.
2. Talk To Other Drivers
Networking is probably the most important skill in the world of motorsport. This is not only true for karting but also for larger motorsport series as well. It will help you to connect to key individuals in the industry who can give you valuable information or could even help get you some sponsorship in the future.
However, if you are looking at buying a kart, networking can be especially important. This is because connecting with people who are already settled into your local series will give you a good point of contact in terms of asking for advice on where and what to buy in your local area.
In addition, if the relationship grows it could lead to them helping you with the mechanics of the kart and they can even help you with general maintenance and coaching on driving. So, you should never underestimate the importance of networking.
When it comes to buying a new kart, you should first consider visiting your local racetrack. Start with a race day event. Attending a race day event can give you a good idea of what to expect when you join the series. After attending a race event, you can join private testing days to get a good feel of what it would be like and you can ask the drivers questions.
You should aim to speak to at least 3 different drivers during your time at the track. Don’t worry, it’s not Formula 1, so you won’t need a special access pass to go and talk to them. Normally they walk around in the paddock area along with everyone else.
Chat To Others
If you’re a parent looking to get your child into karting, try to chat with some drivers and some parents to get a good idea of what kind of time and financial commitments you are looking at. Most people will be open to chatting about their karts and more than happy to help out anyone looking at getting into karting.
Developing the skill of networking early on in your career can only be beneficial to you. It helps you to connect with tons of influential people and you never know who your next big sponsor might be. It could even lead to an opportunity to join a team!
3. Buy Second-Hand Where Possible
Buying a brand-new kart can be extremely expensive. It’s great to have a new kart in perfect condition, but you can get a kart in near perfect condition for a much cheaper price than buying new. If you are planning on buying second-hand however there are some crucial things to look out for.
Buying your kart second-hand can lead to a lot of headaches, reliability issues and spending a lot more money than you ever intended to. If you buy the wrong kart, you could even end up spending more than you would have on a brand-new kart, so make sure you check everything is in order first.
The first thing to look at is the condition of the kart. This can be difficult of course. If it’s your first time buying a kart you don’t always know exactly what to look at and what condition it needs to be in. Let’s take a more detailed look at the kind of things to look out for.
The very first thing you need to look at is how dirty or dusty the kart is. You will need to check the engine for oil splatters, the chassis for mud and dust and the bodywork for general cleanliness. The reason is, if the driver hasn’t even bothered to clean the kart before having a prospective buyer look at it, they have most likely neglected some other maintenance as well.
The chassis is the most crucial part of the kart you need to look at. You are essentially buying the chassis (and the engine), everything else is replaceable, even if it may be a bit more expensive. What you need to look for on the chassis are cracks and dents. These are signs that the kart has been in a heavy accident before.
A cracked chassis has a risk of breaking altogether, and some might not be able to pass through scrutineering. You can also try to see if the chassis is slightly bent. This happens over time and it’s not the end of the world, but a bent chassis will affect the performance and its ability to flex through corners.
The engine is of course quite tough to check out. This is because all engines are sealed and when that seal is broken, the engine cannot be used in racing events anymore. It’s difficult to judge the actual performance of the engine without driving the kart, especially if this is the first kart you are buying. The best thing to do is to check for any oil splatter or dirt on the outside of the engine.
If you can, take a look inside the carburetor, spark plug socket and the cooling box as well. The cooling box is commonly neglected by drivers. If you open up the cooling box, there should be very little dust and dirt inside clinging onto the filter. The inside of the carburetor and spark plug should be clean and there should be no oil residue.
The Steering System
Check the condition of the steering wheel. The grips could be wearing out which means the steering wheel itself might need to be replaced soon. Try to have a look at the steering column to make sure it’s not bent or cracked. Steering columns are cheap and easy to replace, so it’s not necessarily a deal breaker if it’s damaged.
The exhaust is quite an important component to check, as most drivers don’t know how to properly maintain their kart’s exhaust. What you need to look for are any visible signs of cracks on the exhaust pipe itself (the entire exhaust pipe, from the engine manifold to the chamber and the pipe). Exhaust pipes can cause you a lot of problems if they have not been looked after.
Ask the driver if they have been changing the matting inside the exhaust. If not, you will almost definitely need to do that as well (it needs to be done every 10 hours of running time). Scrapes and paint peeling off is not a big deal, as the exhausts become extremely hot while the engine is running and do need to be repainted quite often.
On the rims you will need to look for any chips. These chips in the edges of the wheel hubs can form sharp points that can cause punctures. It also becomes a weak point for the rim itself which could lead to a total wheel failure. You can always get a new set of rims, but jut be aware of it when you are looking at a second-hand kart.
The plastic bodywork on the outside of the kart is also important. Damaged bodywork won’t pass scrutineering, so it will need to be replaced anyway. Look for dents in the front and rear bumpers and make sure that all of the attachment clips are there in order to properly secure the bodywork to the chassis.
The floor is quite tough to check, and not absolutely necessary. Go-kart floors do not take that much damage despite being so low to the ground. You’ll want to try and see exactly how much wear is on the floor of the kart. There will be some scrapes which is normal. However, if the floor looks really bad and rusted then it’s not in good condition.
Despite what most drivers think, the seat is actually a crucial performance element for a go-kart. It acts as the center of gravity, and you can change how your kart handles by using different stiffness settings on seats.
However, if your seat is damaged it will hinder its ability to use that weight effectively. You will need to check for any cracks down the back of the seat and also in the middle and the front of the seat. Cracks tend to form in the central area where most weight is being pushed down (top, middle and front).
When you are buying a second-hand kart, ask the seller if you can meet them down at the local racetrack. That way you can see the kart in person, and you can inspect it and take photos if you’re unsure of anything. You can also ask the seller if you can take the kart out for a test drive, and most of them won’t have a problem with it.
4. Find Spares And Tools Before Buying
One type of expense that you will need to face during a karting season concerns tools and spares. Karts require quite a lot of maintenance, and in order to do that maintenance you’re going to have to invest in some tools, and make sure you get enough spares too.
It’s hard to say exactly how much you will need as it differs between all drivers and series. However, if you budget around $2000 for a season you should be good (that is for tools and spares). Of course, if your kart has some mechanical troubles or if you crash, you might need spend a little bit more on spares.
Budgeting Is Key
You should plan out a budget at least a year in advance so that you know how much you are able to spend on tools and spares. It’s also a great idea to try and get tools second-hand if possible, or even hire them as you need them.
Spares can sometimes be found cheaper online rather than at your nearest karting store. This is especially true if your local track isn’t close to a big city.
5. Research All Of The Costs Involved
There are some costs that people can overlook at times when it comes to karting. It’s important to look through everything that is going to cost you money throughout the entire year and put a budget together based on that.
To start off, think about tools and spares as mentioned in the previous section. But there are also lubricants that you will need to buy for your kart. A few of these include engine oil, chain lube, brake cleaner, fuel, and WD40.
Some of these last longer than others though, which you will see as you go on throughout your season. Brake cleaner for example gives you more than one use. It can be used to clean your brakes, the chain, or even some bolts that build up with dirt and oil.
Some other costs you might encounter are race fees (if you are planning on racing), as well as tires. You will need a brand-new set of tires for each race meeting that you attend, so this takes up quite a big chunk of budget. If you are participating in a traveling championship (one that visits various different racetracks) you will also need to account for your travel and accommodation costs.
In addition, there is also a cost associated with storing the kart. Most racetracks will have small storage units available for you to rent out if you want to keep your kart at the track. If not, you will need to invest in a good trailer to help you transport the kart to and from the track every time you go.
6. Find Reliable Information
If you’re buying a new kart, you will also need a reliable source of information on how to maintain and look after it. In addition, you may want to get some extra gadgets like Mychrons or temperature measuring devices.
Find Good Sources
You need to find yourself a good resource that is consistently updated with reliable and detailed information. Having a good website or YouTube channel to refer to when you need something is extremely valuable.
There are plenty of good websites and YouTube channels that offer great information for drivers on how to set up their karts and maintain them properly. You can also refer to your specific kart’s user manual. If you bought your kart second-hand you should be able to find the manual online as well.
7. Stay Within Your Budget
Staying within your budget is crucial when it comes to motorsport. There are so many extra costs that can be incurred after just one race. All it takes is one big crash and your entire season’s budget is gone.
Take Your Time
It’s important not to become overeager when it comes to buying a kart. Of course, you want to get the newest and the best, but it’s not always possible. Try to be a little bit more conservative with where and how you are spending your money.
Try to shop around and find tools, spares and lubricants at cheaper prices. The same can even be done with the karts. There is no rush when it comes to finding a kart, instead you should take your time and find the right one for you.
8. Start Small
When you’re just starting out it’s easy to aim too high. Try to ease yourself into the sport. Go for lower tier championships to begin with before moving up to bigger and more expensive series. It takes a lot of time and effort to really be ready for a big championship.
Practice Practice Practice
Get in as much practice as you can. The more comfortable you are with your kart, the faster you will be. You’ll also be able to learn new skills and driving techniques if you know how to control your kart, and at the end of the day it will make you a better driver.
The same goes for younger drivers. If you are in that gap where you are young enough to participate in the junior class but also old enough to enter the senior class, I would recommend joining the junior class for at least one season before moving up.
The experience you will gain from just that one season will be invaluable. The step up to senior class is simply an engine upgrade that can be done by a mechanic, and it doesn’t cost too much. It is definitely worth taking your time to learn the ropes in a junior kart before moving up.
Buying a go-kart can be a tough decision. It becomes even more difficult when you decide to buy second-hand. You never know if the kart is really in good condition or not, and there’s most likely no one around who can help you with that.
Hopefully this list of tips helps you make a more informed decision on which kart you want to buy. Once you get started though, you will be welcomed into the motorsport community with open arms, you’ll have a lot of fun, and you’ll form a very special connection with your mechanical companion.
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.