Just getting your feet wet in karting? well getting a used kart can be a great way to do so. We are going to do our best to help you through the process so that you are equipped with a little more information before you start looking through the used classifieds for your new racing machine.
Buying a used kart is very similar to that of buying a used car however the intended use is much different which is why the purchasing process is somewhat different as well. When buying a used car you could be getting a great deal or buying someone else’s problems which is never a pleasant experience. Now when buying a car you are looking for something that is a good price, good condition and preferably driven by an old lady and stored in a climate controlled garage somewhere. When buying a kart what you are buying is a machine driven to its max potential everytime the start button is pressed and the engine is ignited. Nobody ever said “let’s got to the race track and putter around for fun” in the kart racing game. So with that you have to expect no matter what there will be some issues with your used kart whether its in the near future or longterm as they are small, powerful and subject to abuse.
So with that it is important to know what you’re buying. First of all if you are going with a used 4 Stroke package like an LO206 your risk is much lower, as these machines are ultra reliable and cost effective so even if you bought one and the motor grenades weeks later your exposure is a few hundred dollars and you have yourself a virtually new engine. When looking into the 2 stroke machines it is best to get as current a motor as possible as well as one that has been maintained by a shop from day one on. When a shop works on a motor we don’t try to save $30 by not replacing a bearing or something that could give trouble as cutting corners always comes back to bite you in the posterior. I still prefer the option of a new motor on a used kart if the budget allows that little extra to be spent to ensure you have a fresh starter, new electrical, new batter and the trackside frustration potential is drastically reduced. If not make sure to ask about those components and the age and history of the motor and if its a Rotax it will have a passport who will have a sealing agent who would have to have signed off on every service of that motor so they could answer most questions you may have about any engine.
“A good clean used engine is a good sign of a fresh kart”
The unheralded hero of the racing kart is always the chassis. This is the part that everything is less relevant than getting the “monster horsepower” engine however with the engine technology these days it is totally the contrary. The chassis is where all the speed is aside from the gasket between the steering wheel and the seat. Now in your first season you don’t necessarily need the latest and greatest frame from a factory team the was used at important race X that is definitely 3/10’s faster than anything out there. That frame doesn’t make any difference and the 3/10’s don’t really exist. Get something clean because clean shows the person cares and tells a lot about how their materials are maintained. Get something straight, this is a little more difficult if you’re looking on an internet forum or in someones garage as they won’t have a several thousand dollar chassis table to check them on. However a shop will have one and I can speak for us our used karts are all on the table before they go anywhere.
When a kart looks good the last place to look is underneath, tubing is going to be scraped as it is natural for drivers to be driving over curbs, it’s just a natural part of racing. What you are looking for is this front cross rail looking completely flat right across as that could be a sign of excessive wear. Also look at the aluminum floorpan, as you can see the one below is very smooth so it is likely this machine had very little use or “off track excursions”
Finally you can look at things like how worn the steering wheel grips are, where the heels sit on the floorpan and that will tell you if the frame has had a good season or more of use if it is looking worn if not it is likely quite new still.
Checking things like brakes and tires can be redundant on karts as those things can last less than 3 races depending on the category it was driven in as well as the drivers tendency to rely heavily on the brakes and how hard they are on their tires in races. None of that really concerns you as it doesn’t put any more stress on the kart really.
The final thing that differentiates the process from car buying is the fact that you will be using this at the track, where you will require a certain level of service and with that includes parts supply. Once you have found a good clean solid kart at a good price the final question you have to ask is “whats the trackside support like” on that particular brand before you hand over your hard earned dollars. You will want a kart that is well supported so when something goes wrong you have someone to turn to and when you need a part there is one there trackside waiting to keep you going because nothing can be more disappointing that your day ending because you couldn’t find a spindle for a 2003 “First kart” ( not that there are any problems with First kart, they did very well in 2003).
Now that you are equipped with all of the right questions when looking into a used kart get out there and start looking, or even check out our used kart listings. You will find that dealers are price competitive with whatever out there being sold privately but with more peace of mind as to knowing where it came from and having someone to be accountable for what you purchased. Either way we hope you enjoy your journey in this amazing sport .