Unless you are a professional go-kart driver and have a team of racing sponsors and mechanics behind you, you must be wondering when to replace your go-kart. The truth is, it’s a complicated answer that requires a detailed explanation.
Go-karts’ longevity depends on how you use your go-kart, the track you are driving it on, and your driving skills. It isn’t easy to point to one thing and base your answer on that, so I will answer it this way.
Professional go-kart drivers change their karts after every race, while regular league drivers change their karts every two to three seasons. Recreational users can expect to use their karts for many years.
Why Pro Kart Drives Change Their Karts Often
Professional karting is not like NASCAR or Formula 1 racing, where you are only allowed to use one car unless something is seriously wrong with it. It is not uncommon for professional kart drivers to change their go-karts after every race; they sometimes switch their karts during the race if something does not feel right.
Most of the time, the problem is mechanical. It could be brakes, engine, or chassis-related. Whatever the reason, professional drives can do that because it is allowed under KWC rules. The only “penalty” they will face is the time lost during that switch.
The other reason why pros change go-karts so often is that they can. They are financially stable or have big sponsors pumping the money into their teams. If you were a pro driver, wouldn’t you drive a brand new kart every time? I know I would.
Also, pro teams are not using parts and throwing them away after a race or two; they actually turn around and resell those parts to willing buyers. Brand new parts will save you a few tents of a second per lap, so it makes sense to use those parts for one race and sell them at 90% value after the race.
I will assume, however, that you are not a professional driver. If you were, you would not be reading this blog and asking these questions; you would already know the answer.
How Long Does Average Go-Kart Last
On average, go-kart will last you for years if you are a recreational driver who visits the local race track a few times a year. You may experience some technical issues, your engine might die, or your chain might break, but those are just mechanical issues that are relatively easy to fix.
If you race more often and are a member of a local league, you might be forced to change your go-kart every couple of years; it all depends on the competition level and tracks you drive on.
I already talked about professional drivers, so I will not repeat myself; I will only say that, on average, pro racers change the entire kart every 4-5 races. It is an incredible waste, in my opinion, but I guess they find it’s worth the investment.
When to Replace Go-Kart
What is not easy to fix, and when you should consider changing your go-kart is when your chassis is damaged. Chassis are built strong for a reason but are not indestructible, and once you damage it, it is a big issue that, in most cases, is not worth fixing. Buying a new chassis is probably a better way to go.
If go-kart tracks were completely flat surfaces, without any curbs or bumps, you would be able to drive your kart on them forever. But they are not. Most go-kart tracks are full of bumps, curb bumps, little rocks, and whatnot. Bumping into other drivers of going off track is common as well. All those things added up will put a lot of pressure on the chassis and will wear it down over time.
If you are a semi-pro driver or a member of a league that races outside, you know that those tracks have curb bumps, and you attack those bumps when going around them because it cuts the corner and helps you go around it faster. Every time you hit one of those bumps, it makes your chassis weaker, making it unusable eventually.
As a recreational driver, you don’t like the painful feeling that comes with hitting those bumps without suspension, so you stay away from them, prolonging the lifespan of your chassis.
In other words, the best time to change your go-kart is when the chassis is damaged. There is really no reason to do it before because all other parts are replaceable.
There are multiple reasons why people decide to change go-karts. Those who race competitively are seeking to gain an advantage over their rivals. Others believe that new kart will somehow make them faster, even though driving is a skill; if it were not, everyone would be Levis Hamilton.
I believe that you should drive your kart for as long as possible unless you are so financially independent that it will not be a burden on your wallet. Why change something that still works.
On the other hand, if you see damage to your chassis, it’s time to think about buying a new go-kart. Chassis is the most expensive part of a go-kart, and buying a new one will not be cheap.