Buying A Used Go Kart? Here’s A Complete Guide On What To Look For
Like buying a used car, you have to be careful when buying a used go kart. You’re not just buying a machine, you’re buying the maintenance habits of the last person who owned it. Were they careless with regular maintenance, did they store the go kart outside?
Sometimes it’s not easy to tell. Here are a few tips that might keep you from picking up a pile of repairs instead of a fun racing rig.
1 – Take A Close Look At The Frame
Go karts don’t have a suspension system. This means every ounce of torque, every turn on the track, and every jostle is getting absorbed in that frame. Make sure to check for damage to the frame right away. Do this by starting with big dents that may point to a serious accident in the kart’s past.
Next, check the frame to make sure all four tires touch the ground at the same time. Try rocking the kart to see if there is any serious mismatch that may point to a warped frame. If you have a tape measure, measure the rear axle on each side of the frame to make sure it’s still in the center. A couple of millimeters difference won’t be a big deal, but anything else may present a problem down the road.
2 – Don’t Forget The Undercarriage
One of the most easily forgotten spots to check when buying a used go kart is the underside. Not all racers are good about checking the guards they have to make sure they haven’t worn down. Without proper frame guards, the bottom of the go kart can scrape the ground and flatten the frame. A flattened frame is a weak frame, and a weak frame can lead to injury on the track.
A few dings and scrapes won’t be the end of the universe, but flattened tubes are a deal breaker.
3 – The Engine
It seems obvious, but it’s still absolutely worth mentioning that, if you’re buying a used go kart, you want to be as sure the engine is up to snuff. Whether your goal is a few laps on the test track or you’re planning on becoming the next Michael Schumacher, you want a safe, well-kept engine with no small amount of heat.
Is smoke coming out when you let it run for a bit? Does the oil leak? Make sure to check the seals, which are the most common point of failure. Has the chain been properly lubricated, or is it speckled with rust? How do the spark plugs look? Are there any signs of dry rot?
4 – Where The Rubber Meets The Road
Tires are replaceable, of course, but you still need to find out if you’re going to have to do the replacing. Check that the treads still have some grip and that the sidewalls haven’t taken too much damage from collisions.
Next, check the spin on the tires. Is it a smooth spin, or are you hearing squeaks and squeals that may point to bad or poorly lubricated bearings? Can you see a clear wobble?
Try locking the front tires in place by gently braking them with your feet, then crank the steering wheel slowly but firmly. If the steering joints have a little give, you may be looking at a go kart with a lot of miles on it.
5 – Ask About The Previous Driver
There are a few reasons you want to find out about the previous driver. One of the reasons is that if you are significantly smaller or larger than the previous driver, the kart may not work for you. While the seat can be adjusted, it’s no mean feat, and you may have to get a whole new seat if the difference is too great.
Next, check for rust, all along the frame. Pay close attention to the joints - where the frame joins the wheels, and where the bars join together to create the frame. Rusts at the joints can especially cause serious damage down the line.
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Secondly, if you can talk to the previous driver, you can find out about the maintenance and cleaning schedule. Did they wrap the tires when they were done, clean the frame, dump the coolant before winter (if it’s water-cooled). Did they keep an eye on the chain tension, did they lubricate the chain frequently? All of these and more can give you an idea of how problematic this kart might someday become.
Save Money With Caution
A used go kart is a fantastic idea, especially for the beginner or intermediate racer, and can save you a lot of money as long as you’re careful. Use these tips to find yourself a clean, reliable go kart that can promise years of fun on the track.