Building or Buying A Go-Kart: Which Is Cheaper?


build or buy go-kart

Go-karts are a lot of fun, no matter who you are or how old you may be. They come in many types and sizes, from basic pedal karts for kids to professional racing go-karts for adults. The difference depends on what you want or need. 

An inexpensive pedal kart for kids can be found for under $100 used, and about $200+ new. For a motorized youth go-kart, you will pay about $500+ used; new will be $2,000+. The adult go-karts are $800+ used and $2,400+ new. Building one costs between $50 and $500 depending on what you are making. 

So, whether you are looking for a small pedal go-kart for the kids or you want a professional racing go-kart for yourself, you have many choices. If you know what you are looking for, it helps. We are going to try to help you with that in this article.

The Difference Between Buying a Kart Used or New

If you are looking for a motorized go-kart, buying a used go-kart is probably your best choice unless you know what you are doing. Even though you can get on YouTube and make one, if you do not understand what you are doing, it can be dangerous. 

Let’s look at the different types of go-karts and their features

Type of Go-kartCost UsedCost NewFeaturesDisadvantages
Kids Pedal Karts$50+$200+– Not motorized
– Safest for kids
– Cheap
– Goes on or off-road
– Does not go fast
– Cannot be used in racing
Kids Gravity Racers$300+$3,000+– No motor
– Goes up to 50 mph (although some can go over 100 mph)
– Comes in many different shapes and styles
– Can be dangerous
– Not good for kids under 12
– A good one will cost you a lot
Kids Motorized Go-kart$500+$2,000+– Many different types 
– Come in many engine sizes up to 6.5 hp
– Some can go up to 30 mph
– Dangerous for young kids
– Can be expensive for a good one
Kids Professional Racing Karts$400+$5,000– Come in different styles and types
– Engine sizes up to 10 hp 
– Can go up to 40 mph
– Dangerous for young kids
– Very expensive for a good one
Adult Go-kart$100+$1,000+– Comes in many different styles and types
– Engine sizes up to 48 hp
– Goes up to 50 mph
– Not for kids
– Not as fast as a racing kart
– Cannot usually go off-road
Adult Off-road Go-kart$200+$1,000+– Rollover bar for safety
– Goes off-road
– Runs up to 40 mph
– Not made for speed
– Not safe for kids
– Bigger/takes up more space
Adult Professional Racing Kart$1,000$10,000– Top of the line equipment
– Made for racing
– Runs up to 80+ mph
– Dangerous for beginners
– Costs a lot
– More maintenance is needed

You Really Have to Know What You Are Doing

Whenever you are looking for something that you will be driving, you have to be careful about safety. Many things can go wrong if you build a go-kart yourself, no matter how careful you are and how easy it looks on that YouTube video. It is seldom as easy as it seems. 

The Cost of Building Your Own Go-Kart

To build your own adult go-kart, you will need quite a few parts. 

Even if you have the frame and seat, you are looking at over a dozen parts with a cost of $200 to $900. Whether you buy used or new parts also make a big difference. 

This table will give you a feel for some of these potential expenses:

PartUsedNew
Go-kart frame$20 to $100$250+
Engine$50 to $100$150+
Seat or seats$10 to $20$75+
Steering kit$20 to $60$100+
Wheels/Tires$30 to $100$150+
Pedals$10 to $20$20+
Brake kit$20 to $60$100+
Axel$20 to $30$40+
Miscellaneous parts (spindles, sprockets, bearings, chain, etc.)$20 to $50$50+
Total$200 to $540$935+

The Price of Going Off-Roading

The chart above is for the typical adult go-kart. If you want an off-road kart, you have to add a roll bar and a few other items

The cost to build an off-roader would be more like $250 to $650 for used parts and $1,000 or more for new parts. 

You will Pay More for Racing Go-Karts 

If you want a professional racing kart, the prices will be much higher. 

For used parts, which I don’t recommend unless you are a proficient mechanic, you will spend about $1,000 or more. 

New parts will cost you upwards of $2,500. 

Most DIY racers buy kits with all the parts needed, so they know their kart will be legal and safe for racing

Don’t Forget to Bring the Essentials

Whether you are building or buying your go-kart, you will need more than just the kart itself

There are many other items you are going to need before you get on and start driving. 

Some of these include: 

  • Helmet: An essential part of your wardrobe is your helmet. Always wear a helmet. And do not buy it used. Helmets are worth whatever they cost to keep you out of the hospital or worse.
  • Neck protector: Almost as important as your helmet, a neck protector will keep you from possible spinal injuries in a rollover. 
  • Racing suit: You will need a real racing suit that resists abrasions, although some people go with just heavy blue jeans and a racing jacket. 
  • Gloves: No matter who you are, you should always wear gloves. Motorcycle or leather gloves are best. You have to protect your hands.
  • Chest protector: This is optional for adults but having a chest protector with rib protection is always a good idea.
  • Proper footwear: You can get professional go-kart socks and shoes or get thick socks with a double cuff and wrestling shoes. 
  • Tools: You have to have the proper tools to work on any part of your kart that may need work. 
  • Extra parts: Always carry spare parts with you because you never know when something will break or fall off. It would be a shame to miss a race because you lost a sprocket. 
  • Gas and lube: Make sure you have extra gas and lube to keep your kart going no matter where you are.
  • First aid kit: This is an essential item for all racers, young and old—Stock the essentials as well as a fire extinguisher just in case. 
  • Go-kart stand: You have to have a go-kart stand to keep your kart in one spot when transporting it or working on it. 
  • Transportation: You will either need a trailer or a pickup truck to get your kart wherever you are headed. If you are using a truck or van, make sure you bring the ramps to get your kart in and out of the vehicle. 

Do Not Skimp on the Important Things

Even if you are tempted to buy that cheap, used helmet for $20 on eBay, getting a used helmet is a dangerous choice. 

There are several reasons why this is a bad idea

  • They are disposable: In other words, if you wreck and hit your head pretty hard, you are going to need a new helmet. The outside of the helmet may only have a scratch or two, but the inner shock absorbing liner is the vital part, and it may be damaged. 
  • They are form-fitting: After a while, your helmet shapes to fit your head. If you buy a used one, you are getting one that fits someone else’s head. That will not protect you adequately.
  • They wear out: It is hard to know how old a used helmet is. Even if they tell you that it is almost brand new and that they have never wrecked with it, they may not be telling the truth. A helmet only lasts about four to six years. 

Be Smart and Have Fun

Whether you build it yourself or buy it, a go-kart is a lot of fun for people of all ages. 

If you have never gone karting before, try going to a go-kart track and riding one first to make sure you enjoy it. That way, you will know if it’s time to spend the money to make or buy your own. 

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