How To Build A Go Kart: Our Complete Guide

Photo of a man riding a go kart

Are you a do-it-yourselfer looking to make your next big project? If so, you've probably already considered making your own go kart. If you haven't, then allow us to open your eyes to the world of crafts that you can drive. Don't click off just yet because learning how to build a go kart is a lot more simple than you might think. Don't believe us? Keep reading for the easiest step-by-step go kart instructions you'll find on the internet!

What Is a Go Kart?

Before you get started learning how to build a go kart, you'll need to know what exactly a go kart is and what it looks like. A go kart can come in many different shapes and sizes and be powered through a varied number of mechanisms including solar power. You can often pick out go karts by their small size and lightweight body that's meant for racing or speed.

Photo of a man driving a go kart

​image source: unsplash

Believe it or not, some people race go kart professionally, whereas others ride them with giant bumpers at the state fair. In general, you can expect to see most go karts with anywhere between two and eight wheels and an open skeleton-style body.

The Supplies You Need to Get Started

One of the biggest hurdles we see with people learning how to build a go kart is gathering the correct supplies. As you can imagine, there are a lot of moving parts involved when you want to make your own miniature vehicle from scratch. That's why picking the right products and using the safest techniques is so important.

The supplies you will need to get started greatly depend on the go kart you are trying to create. In general, most go kart builds require the following supplies and materials:

  •  Hacksaw
  •  Metal stock
  •  Clamp
  •  Metal file
  •  Welder
  •  Screws
  •  Bolts and nuts
  •  Rods
  •  Engine 
  •  Seat
  •  Throttle cables
  •  Wheels
  •  Steering wheel

We aren't including any accessories such as lights, paint, roll cages, or flags here. Instead, we're going to focus on the main design to get you a kart that can drive safely. However, with that being said, if the design of your kart is greatly dependant on its functionality, you want to purchase all of your supplies at once.

Step-By-Step Instructions on How to Build a Go Kart

woman riding on go kart during daytime

​image source: unsplash

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Step One: Make a Plan

The first step to learning how to build a go kart the easy and right way is to make a plan. If you're an engineer or are already familiar with working with blueprints and mechanical devices, you'll have no problem drawing up your own design. For those that need a little help, you can easily find other peoples' blueprints online for free or purchase one from websites like www.spidercarts.com.

Buying a pre-made plan online ensures you have the dimensions you need and cuts out a lot of guesswork when starting out. That being said, it's imperative to note that most plans will not list the steering, axel, throttle, or cable connections because that's left up to the personal preference of the intended driver. If you're already becoming overwhelmed at all of this information, you can always skip to our resources section, near the bottom, where we link you to helpful step-by-step visual tutorials showing everything we're describing here today.

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Step Two: Gather Your Supplies

Once you've made your plan and assessed it thoroughly, you can begin to gather your supplies. We recommend focusing solely on the frame, to begin with, to make things as easy as possible. You can worry about decorations and paint on our very last steps. For now, make sure you have all the power tools and hardware you need to begin so you don't have to stop halfway through and make a trip to Home Depot.

If you're having trouble figuring out which parts are best, you'll want to check out our resource section at the bottom for detailed insight and recommendations. It's okay to take your time at this step; this is part of the fun of completely customizing your very own go kart. Just make sure you keep durability in mind when making your selections, and you'll have no trouble finding exactly what you need.

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Step Three: Assemble the Frame

white and red go kart

Image source: Unsplash

The first thing you're going to make is your frame. When making the frame of your go kart, you'll want to use a hacksaw to cut the metal stock to the length you need it. We also recommend using the clamp here to help hold your steel when cutting and filing those cut edges smooth. Once you have everything cut to length, you can start welding everything together. Don't be afraid to use some form of tack to hold the parts together before welding to ensure it all fits together.

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Step Four: Steering

The steering mechanism of your go kart is easily the hardest part to get right, so, listen up. You'll want to weld the upper steering block to the top of your steering post. From here, you'll take the lower portion and weld it to the front of your frame. Make sure you also bolt a pair of rods to the bottom of the steering rod for extra security.


After that, it's time to put on your steering wheel. Use the screws the wheel came with and make sure your shaft assembly is thoroughly threaded on your upper and lower steering blocks. Now, you can weld brackets to the front of your frame to bolt the rods to on opposite ends. You can apply your wheels now to help you adjust the position of your wheel and resistance.

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Step Five: Rear Axle

Your next step is to create the rear axle for your wheels, brakes, and suspension to work off of. You'll begin with welded bearings on the bottom and then place everything on the axle to make sure it's centered. You can also place bearings between cassettes on both hangers. All you have to do now is mount your wheel hubs to the ends of your axle and finish off by doing the same with the rear tires.

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Step Six: Engines at the Ready!

We've come to one of the most exciting parts of go kart building, putting in the engine. One of our biggest pieces of advice, when purchasing an engine and installing one, is to use like-minded accessories, parts, and mounts. There is nothing more annoying than having everything together and finding out you have no way to mount your specific engine to your cart.


We suggest welding your mount to the center of your frame, away from the seat, and bolting your engine to it. This just ensures safety as you drive around the track. You'll also want to add a clutch and a connection to your brake drum and band. Tighten everything up and then you can add the chain and leave 1/2 inch of slack.

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Step Seven: Cables and Connections

green and black racing car

Image source: Unsplash

Your go kart should look like a proper vehicle now with the engine mounted and the chains on. Now, we're going to move onto the cables and connections that will make everything run and run safely. To start, attach the brake and throttle cables to each foot pedal and fasten them down to the frame. You want these cables to be taught and not loose in any way, so don't be afraid to pull on them to test their elasticity.


To ensure the connection, you'll want to use wire stops to attach the brake cable to the brake band to help with the axle's motion. Use these same wire stops to pin down the throttle cable to the engine throttle. Always make sure you do this when it's in the idle position only. It's also a good idea to add a kill switch for safety, near the steering wheel, that can attach to the engine in the case of an emergency.

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Step Eight: Test Everything

You've made it this far, now it's time to test everything out. Turn your go kart on and step back to make sure all of your connections are working properly. We recommend letting it run for approximately two minutes or more to get a good idea of how it runs and what things you want to alter before adding the final touches, which brings us to our next point.

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Step Nine: Final Touches

As long as everything is running and turning to your liking, you can begin to add the final touches. If you're afraid of kicking your tie rods or scuffing your shoes on the ground, you can add a floorboard of your choosing. Just remember to keep it light, otherwise, you'll end up hindering your speed (more on this later). Lastly, of course, is the seat. You can make a seat out of a plethora of materials, but we recommend keeping it easy with vinyl or foam cushioning applied to a plywood frame.


You can also use this time to add decorations including paint, lights, and roll cages, but we recommend taking it out for an initial spin before finishing up. Additionally, if you plan to take your cart outside of the track, make sure you use materials that are both waterproof and durable!

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Step Ten: Ready, Set, Safety!

Now that your go kart looks as great as it works, you're ready to take it out for a spin. Just remember to wear your helmet, especially if you're not interested in installing a seatbelt or roll cage. We also suggest testing out your go kart on a track without other people or vehicles on it to ensure the utmost safety. Additionally, you should always test out new builds with a friend in the case that you need assistance or an emergency occurs. Now, what are you waiting for? Get out there and get driving!

Go Kart Building Mistakes to Avoid

Do you want your first DIY go kart project to go flawlessly with no issues or mishaps? If so, keep reading. Below we have put together three of the top mistakes you need to avoid in order to make the go kart of your dreams! Heed our warnings below.

Heavy Materials

If you are someone that's looking to make a go kart for racing or drifting purposes, you're going to want to build a fairly lightweight vehicle. That being said, you would be surprised by how many people opt for heavy materials and accessories that weigh down their kart. To ensure you're getting the speed and accuracy you want, you'll need to look for blueprints of go karts made specifically for your interests.

UV Protection

If you plan to have your go kart outside in the hot sun, you'll want to consider those harmful UV rays, not only on yourself, but on the paint and materials you use. For those of you who have opted for a go kart design with a windshield, you'll want to ensure the paints and materials you use have a UV resistant coating to stop bright glares, peeling paint, and warped materials.

Durability

One of the common mistakes we see when beginners are building go karts are people opting for the cheapest and most available materials possible. When you buy cheap supplies, you're not going to get the quality build or durability you're likely looking for. This is especially important when it comes to go karts because they can go to high speeds, take impacts, and traverses various terrains. If you want to avoid fixing your go kart after every single outing, we recommend splurging for the higher-quality materials to give you that longevity you need to have continuous fun. After all, who wants to buy the same part over and over again only to have to break or warp each time?

Tweaking the Brakes

If you're new to go karts, you may not be familiar with how the brakes work, and how they feel when applied while driving. We see a lot of beginners tweaking their brakes and altering things all because they feel the brakes are too soft. In all actuality, go kart brakes aren't meant to be used as the brakes on a car. Instead, you're meant to press hard initially to engage the brake instead of easing into it like you would on a standard car.

Go Kart Driving Tips and Tricks

Nice and Steady Wins the Race

If you feel like your go kart isn't giving you the precision you need around corners and at fast speeds, it's likely because you're steering too aggressively. People who yank on the wheel and don't see an immediate and violent response can quickly become frustrated. The key to go karts and getting the speed and precision you want is to drive like you have an open glass of water on the floor. Taking it slow and steady will help you ease into those turns in a smoother and faster fashion than you would with hard jerks.

Don't Be Early

Another tip is to avoid making your turns too early. In standard car racing, it's ideal to lead into a turn a little early if you want to cut out the competition. When it comes to go karting, the opposite is true. Consider your smaller size and quicker reaction time. If you turn too early, you could throw yourself off course or, when racing, be shut out when trying to get ahead.

Additional Resources

Are you looking for a little more information to get you started? Don't worry; you're not alone. For those of you who are visual learners or just need a little more help when it comes to power tools and supplies, we've got you covered. Check out some of our favorite additional go kart building resources below:

Supplies

If you're struggling to find a place to purchase go kart parts in your local area, you can always shop online at one of the various resources available. Some of our favorite online go kart part shops include the following:

Videos

If you were a little bit confused while reading the instructions above and are looking at your blueprints, you may want to check out a step-by-step video so you can help visualize what is happening. Luckily, the internet is full of step-by-step and in-depth guides made for almost every level of DIYer. So, whether you want the fastest option or the option that involves little to no tools, there's a go kart video out there that will help you build what and how you want.

Check out some of our favorite go kart building tutorials below:

Making a Motorised Go Cart with NO WELDER and simple tools by Colinfurze on YouTube:

88 MPH DeLorean Kart Build by CarsandCameras on YouTube:

Build a Electric Go Kart at Home - Tutorial by Creative Channel on YouTube:

​Conclusion

Three men riding a go kart

​Image via Pexels

Now that you know how to build a go kart at home, you can begin to tweak your designs and build even more incredible vehicles in the future. Just remember to keep the weight of your kart in mind when selecting your accessories and materials and you should have little to no problems. Now, promise us you will always wear your helmet; safety is always first. Good luck out there!

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