While the obvious option would be to buy a professionally built open-wheel car, the price tag that comes with it often stops most potential buyers from making such an investment.
However, today, there’s good news for your inner child! It is possible to build your personalized go-kart for about $500!
But how is this possible? And why aren’t more people doing it?
Well, to create the cart of your dreams takes some craft skills, a little research, and the willingness to spend a few days in the open air. In this article, we will explain how to build a go-kart.
Related Article: How To Replace Go-Kart Brake Pads Like a Pro
Where to Start?
It is relatively easy to find step by step instructions on the internet on how to build a homemade Go-Kart. But if you are not an expert in car manufacturing, it can be an intimidating process. Here are a few simple steps to start looking into it.
1. Design Your Cart
You don’t need to be a professional to sketch your dream go-kart. However, it would be an excellent suggestion to look at designs already on the market to get inspiration. More on this later!
2. Turn Your Sketch into A Real-Life Scale Design
A Real-life scale design will help to determine if the model is suitable to be turned into a fully functioning kart.
3. Shop for The Parts You Can’t Build
While building the panels is fun, building an actual motor might not be so easy. And you don’t need to venture into such a process. The major components, such as the engine, wheels, and steering wheel, are the ones you will have to outsource.
4. Hire A Welder and Assemble Your Go-Kart!
Assembling is where the fun starts. Get all your sketches, part, and tools together and get to work. If you need help connecting metal pieces, hire a welder, it’s the simplest and fastest solution.
If you don’t want to use a welder, maybe you can learn how to build a go-kart without using a welder.
More Details on How to Create the Perfect Design
Everybody has at least once sketched a sports car on a post-it pad. If you had and you were a little proud of the results, turning your sketch into a real-life open-wheel vehicle will be very enjoyable. And you are about to learn all about it!
Maybe for the moment, it won’t be an F1 car, but a fully functioning go-kart will be achievable. To start, sketch on a piece of paper to understand what ideally it will look like. It would be great to have two or three designs to choose from.
Include details such as the length, width, and height of the complete kart, as well as materials and colors. If your imagination is failing you, it is possible to buy designs on websites such as Instructables.
The sketch will give you an idea of the quantity of the materials and components you will have to buy. If you have limited cash, start with a more straightforward project.
When the sketch satisfies your taste and needs, and you believe it is suitable to be transformed into a go-kart, you are ready to bring your model to life.
Components, Materials, And Skills Needed to Build Go-Kart
The materials you can gather will constitute the skeleton of your future go-kart. While the budget and availability of cash are determining factors in this choice, don’t forget the importance of using quality materials.
Investing in prime quality plywood, bar stocks, and steel plates will help you create a safe-to-drive go-kart.
Cutting the plywood or metal into the panels that you have designed and tested can be very exciting. However, there is more to know about it! You will need several items that need to be outsourced.
These include, but are not limited to, steering wheel, wheels, engine, gas tank, handbrake, brakes, and throttle pedals. You can find those components in the majority of DIY stores or second-hand shops, so it should not be a challenging hunt.
You can find a complete list of the items of DIY websites, such as Instructables. However, it might vary depending on how fancy or powerful you are planning your go-kart to be.
Having a level of understanding of welding skills and techniques will be helpful to build a go-kart.
Proper welding can be a determining factor in creating an appropriately aerodynamic and robust structure. However, this skill is not required if you have a larger budget at your disposal, as you can hire a professional welder to do the job.
Assembling the Mechanical Components, Panels, And Structure
Here is where the Ikea shoppers are going to thrive!
- Build the chassis and steering column. If you are a fist time go-kart builder, it could be a good idea to build a plywood jig. Through this custom-made tool, you will be able to keep all of your components in place while perfecting the structure. Remember that the mechanical skeleton measurements have to conform with the design of your panels to be able to fit. Make sure all the connection points are secure and fixed together.
- Install your front and rear axles and the wheels. Bring in all the components in their final order over the axels, but they don’t need to be aligned just yet. This all seems like a lot of hard work, but there’s more!
- Cut out your final scale design for the floor plan on a steel plate to obtain the bottom and lateral panels. Welding these panels together rather than bending them might compromise the structure’s strength, so refer to a professional welder if you need assistance.
- Attach the metal frame to the panel. This will give you the floor pan where the pedals will be. Create your seat out of plywood or metal, or reuse an old plastic seat. However, this will need to have a metal structure that you can weld into the floor pan.
- Assemble the electrical components and the motor. If you are an expert, it shouldn’t be too tricky, as the kart’s not complex structure makes it reasonably easy to maneuver. However, several websites and YouTube tutorials will come in handy if this is your first project.
- Assemble the pedals and the steering wheel at the front of your almost-ready go-kart.
- Now that the go-kart body is ready, it will need to be painted and personalized. This is where you can bring back your sketch ideas and pick the right color for your open-wheel car.
Your personalized go-kart is now ready for a test run!
Costs of Building A Go-Kart and Its Maintenance
Compared to the hundreds of crafted cars bought every year, building your go-kart can be extremely cheap. Referring to the few that have completed the task, the total cost is between $300 and $500.
The cost mainly depends on how fancy you would like your kart to be and the quality of materials used. Looking at the cost breakdown, the design and first kit will add up to around $100.
If you prefer to buy an already tested design, the whole kit can be purchased online. However, this will limit the design options.
The mechanical components and materials will cost around $200-$300, depending on where you outsource them.
If you require professional welding services rather than trying it out yourself, this could add up to an extra $200. However, if you don’t already own a welding kit, investing in this equipment can be even more expensive.
Insurance Cost for A Homemade Go-Kart
The main other concern is the insurance cost. While it depends on how you plan on using the cart and the quality of material used, a go-kart can be an investment for life.
The insurance for a professionally made go-kart can fluctuate between $100 to $500 per year. However, to calculate a homemade cart insurance average cost, you will need to consider several factors.
Speed, power, and engine brand are only a few of the details that will need to be included in the calculation.
Given that the investment will be a lower one than that for a professionally made cart, the average insurance will be around $90 to $150 per year.
Keep in mind that having built your kart, it will have a little maintenance cost. Annual maintenance costs can be estimated at around $300 per year, as you will not require a specialized mechanic.
In comparison, owning a professional sports cart will surely set you back at least $1000 per year in oil changes and general upkeep.
The Perks of Having Built Your Go-Kart
Racing around the local countryside roads with the kart you have built will give you great satisfaction! And the best part is that it doesn’t have to represent a significant investment or a major ongoing cost.
Anybody can build their kart following a few simple steps and mastering little craft skills. It will take patience and trial and error if this is the first model you are building.
And now the only thing left to do is to buy yourself driving gloves and race the other kids!