If you love your go-kart and you want to drive it around your neighborhood, perhaps, the question of how to make a go-kart street legal is on your mind.
First of all, let’s answer two questions;
What Makes Something Street Legal?
This question has a pretty straightforward answer. What makes something street legal is using public roads, which requires specific configurations of safety equipment, lighting, and speed capabilities.
In other words, any vehicle is street legal if it satisfies the local government’s laws and regulations.
Can You Make a Go-Kart Street Legal?
Yes, you can make your go-kart legal. There is nothing in the law book that would stop you from doing it. But you have to satisfy specific criteria.
What you will read in the rest of this article are steps you will need to make your go-kart street legal.
How to Make a Go-Kart Street Legal
There are three steps needed to make any go-kart street legal;
- You have to make the go-kart road ready.
- Pass a speed test at your local DMV.
- Register the go-kart as you would a boat, car, or trailer.
Sounds easy, right?
It’s not impossible but stay with me to know what you need to make your go-kart street legal.
Step 1: Make Your Go-Kart Road Ready
To get your go-kart road-ready will require a lot of prep on your part. Not going to lie; this could be a bit tough.
In the USA, any auto has to meet or exceed various safety requirements to be allowed on the road.
Why does this matter?
To keep you and others safe, of course!
Requirements and Parts You Will Need
Let’s figure out what the requirements are so you can work on them.
- Mirrors: Your kart will require the affixing of side and rear-view mirrors. You should be able to see behind and on the side of you. You must have at least two mirrors by law. Your local laws may vary.
- Good Brakes: Having good go-kart brake pads that are not worn down are essential. You must be able to stop quickly. You must also have adequate brakes for snow and rain. Brakes should not be worn down.
- Horn: You should be able to hear your horn at least 200 feet from your kart.
- Windshield: You must install a windshield for your kart to be legal. It is difficult to do this but not impossible. You must also have windshield wipers.
- Hood/Bonnet: An engine exposed is no good. You have to have a hood to cover it. You can find and adequately cover your engine with a good hood.
- Steering Wheel: Avoid “race car” style steering wheels. It would be best if you had a wheel that is the same size as a regular one. Make sure it is one you would find in an ordinary auto.
- Safety Belts/Safety Harness: As with any other auto, safety belts must be part of your kart. You cannot legally drive without wearing a seat belt.
- Safe Tires: Have the right karting tires on your kart. Don’t opt for customized tires. Your car will not be roadworthy in that case.
- Lighting: Ensure your kart is just like any other car. You have to have front, rear, side, and plate lighting.
- Bumper: Just like a regular auto, having a bumper is essential. Some states will require you to have a bumper on your kart.
- Muffler/Exhaust System: Noise and emissions have to be under control for your kart. This way, you will not disturb the peace of other motorists.
- Speedometer/Odometer: These will be required to keep track of your speed accurately.
- Safety Triangle: Much as you see on the back of trailers and tractors, this lets others know something special. It makes other drivers know that you are a vehicle of slow speed.
- Car Insurance: Call up your agent and see what they can do to ensure you are adequately insured. Like a regular auto, insurance will keep you and others safe. It will provide you peace of mind.
If you are like me, it will take a LOT of work to make your kart legal. You can find some kits for this stuff at your local shop or online.
However, once this part is complete, you can move onto part two.
Step 2: Passing the Street Speed Test
Before you do any speed testing, ensure you get the kart inspected.
Why do this?
It will ensure the kart is roadworthy before you get too far into this process. After all, nothing would be worse than getting excited about the speed test, only to find it’s not safe.
If the kart is safe, it’s time for the speed test!
You will not be aiming for top speeds here. On the other hand, you will be ensuring your kart doesn’t go over 25 MPH.
You can schedule an appointment with your local DMV to do this. Be prepared to have a law enforcement officer look over your kart to make sure it is safe. They will verify the kart is safe (hence, it is vital to have it looked at first).
Then, he or she will run the speed test. If your kart exceeds 25 MPH on the speed test, it is going to fail. Be sure it does not go faster than this.
In this manner, you will not be a threat to other motorists or pedestrians.
So, did you pass the inspection and speed test? Great, let’s move on!
Once you pass this test, you are almost to the finish line!
Part 3: How to Registering a Go-Kart
If you have successfully met all the requirements, you can now register your go-kart with your state. It will be known as an LSV or Low-Speed Vehicle.
What is this, exactly?
This is an independent class of autos. The rules surrounding these motor vehicles are different and less strict, compared to standard cars.
For instance, LSVs do not require windshield wipers. However, we advise you to have them so you can always see clearly.
What are the requirements for registering as an LSV?
- The vehicle must have at least four wheels.
- The max speed must be 25 mph.
- Your kart may not weigh over 3000 lbs.
One question we get a lot is, “Will I get a license plate?” and “Do I need my title?”
The answer is, of course, yes.
But how can you go about getting the license plate? You will need a few things which will all be required of you during registration:
- Getting a VIN (Vehicle identification number) for your kart
- Getting a title for your kart
- Finally getting your license plate
If one of these requirements is not met, you could register the kart as a standard auto. However, this means you will have to comply with regular vehicle and traffic laws.
More about The Registration Process
Titles can be hard if you made your kart at home or assembled it from a kit. We will talk about it now.
Each state has its regulations and rules that will govern how you apply for a title. This title will be for a specially constructed vehicle.
The steps we provide now are very general. We encourage you to call or visit your state’s DMV to get the best info.
Step 1: Fill Out the Forms
Forms will vary by state. However, the types of forms you will most commonly encounter are applying for a VIN and a request for registration and title.
You may even be able to find these online, print them, and fill them out at home.
Step 2: Provide Proof of Where You Live
You must be able to show proof of your address. You can use any of the following to do this:
- Current bank statement
- Utility bill.
- W-2 forms.
You can also bring in your driver’s license or voter registration card.
Step 3: Submit Documentation of Ownership
You may be required to submit a bill of sale or other ownership proof for each of these parts:
- Engine/drive train
- Glider/cab kits
If your kart was salvaged, you must bring in proof of the salvaged title.
Step 4: Going to the Notary Public
This depends on each state. You may have to provide a statement that tells how the vehicle was put together and built. You will then have it signed by the notary public.
You may have to provide pictures of the vehicle after it is built. A minimum of the rear and front of the kart may be required. Be sure to take photos before you go.
Step 5: Paying Up
Now it is time to pay all the fees you incur as part of registering this kart. You will likely be paying for the VIN plate, sales tax on the kart, registration, title, and inspection if not done already.
After this, you will submit the docs, and finally, the kart will be legal!
So, I hope you now know how to make a go-kart street legal. It’s not going to be an easy path. However, it will be a project that can be fun.
It’s all in how you look at it. This could be an excellent way for you and a friend to get together and work on the kart. It’s going to be a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, but it will be worth it.
Drive safe, wear a helmet, and always follow all the rules of the road. Have fun!