Go-karts are incredibly expensive machines, and if you’re getting into the sport you need to make sure that you stick to your budget. The kart itself is only a fraction of the costs that you need to pay when it comes to karting, so if you can save as much money as possible on your go-kart, you can spend more money in other areas!
Buying second-hand karts is the best way to get into the sport. You need to make sure that you find a reliable seller first and foremost. Then you need to make sure to inspect the kart for any damage before you can negotiate a lower price that suits your budget.
If you want to find out how you can get the best deal on a second-hand go-kart, make sure to keep reading and get the best tips based on my own buying experience before you decide on a kart to buy.
Why You Should Buy Second-Hand Karts
If you’re getting into karting you need to be aware of the extraordinary costs that you’re going to be facing. Buying a kart will cost you over $10,000, especially if you’re buying it brand new.
The chassis alone costs over $5000 and the engine can cost between $3000 and $6000 depending on the class and category you’re buying. Of course, the smaller classes such as Bambino and Cadet karts are the cheapest, but the higher you go the more expensive they become. KZ Shifter karts are the most expensive, and they can cost up to $13,000 if you’re buying everything brand new.
Buying a second-hand kart is ideal because the costs are slashed significantly. If you can find a way to spend less money on your kart and engine, you’ll have more money available to spend on other things like tires, fuel, a great data logger, or perhaps even some great merchandise to get the perfect pit lane look.
The only problem with buying second-hand is that you can’t be sure of the condition that the kart might be in. If you’re buying a brand new kart that came straight out of the factory, you know that the chassis and the engine will be in perfect condition because you’re the first owner of the kart! But you can never truly know how the previous owner of the kart treated the machine and whether they took good care of it or not.
On top of that, you also need to keep in mind that karts have an “expiry date”. If you’re planning on using the kart for fun and as a hobby, then you don’t have to worry about this. But, if you’re racing with the kart, you need to keep the homologation date in mind. This is a small plate with a number and date that can be found on the chassis. This plate will tell you when the chassis has been built, and they each have a lifespan of around five years until they need to be replaced with a new one for safety reasons according to the FIA.
If you’re buying a second-hand kart, always keep this in mind, and make sure you can get good use out of the chassis before it needs to be upgraded. Alternatively, you can keep the chassis as a practice kart when you upgrade to a new race kart.
Find A Reliable Seller
The first step to buying a second-hand kart is finding a reliable seller. This is one of the most difficult parts of the process because you never know who you can trust. If you go onto social media like Facebook marketplace or any other online selling platforms, you’re likely to run into a lot of scams and fake posts. Even if you do find something, the chances are that the kart isn’t going to be in good condition.
Ideally, you want to visit your local karting track during a day where there are tons of drivers who are doing practice or testing. You could also go to the track on a day where they are racing if you want to find as many potential karts to buy as possible.
All you need to do is chat to some of the drivers and mechanics, because there is likely to be someone that has a go-kart they want to sell. Drivers are constantly upgrading to new karts, or even selling their old karts just so they can buy a new kart. You will most likely find at least one kart that you can buy at your local race track. If there is no one at the track selling a kart, they would be able to point you in the direction of someone who is looking to sell a kart, or the best place in your local area to buy a second-hand kart.
There may also be karting stores in your local area that sell used go-karts. While you could probably get a decent kart at one of these stores, keep in mind that they need to make a profit on the sale. So, any kart that you are considering buying from them will be more expensive than it should be. For example, they might have bought a kart at $4500 from a driver, but they are selling it for $5500 in order to make the necessary profit.
Inspect The Kart First
Before you buy the kart, you need to make sure that you inspect it thoroughly first. If you’re buying a kart for the first time, it’s unlikely that you will know what to look for, but don’t worry, we’ll walk you through a quick check below. The most important parts you need to check are the major ones that are expensive to replace.
The first check you want to do is the chassis. This is the frame of the kart, and it’s one of the most expensive parts too. You will need a bright flashlight to inspect the chassis, and you want to look for any cracks or fractures in the chassis. These cracks could become worse and ultimately break the entire chassis, sending your second-hand kart purchase down the drain!
You also want to check the engine. All you need is a quick start up to see that the engine is running as it should be. Try to press the gas pedal a bit, as well as the brakes to see whether the brake pads need to be replaced. You can also try to convince the seller to give you a test drive, all you need is about 10 laps around the track to see if everything is running as it should be, and that there are no hiccups with the brakes and the engine.
Next, you need to check the rear axle using your flashlight. The rear axle takes a lot of pounding in a go-kart, especially if the driver takes a lot of kerb. Check the stress points closest to the wheels to see if there is any damage or cracks. The rear axle is not a difficult or expensive part to replace, but the last thing you want is for your axle to snap while you’re driving (it happened to me as I was leading on the final lap of a race).
Another important check you need to do is the exhaust. You’re looking for any damage or rust on the exhaust, because this will mean that the exhaust needs to be repaired or replaced for the kart to be legal. Finally, you want to check all the smaller parts like the brake disc, the spindles, the seat, the fuel lines, the bodywork, the floor, and the wheel rims. Don’t worry too much about the tires because you will need to replace those anyway.
You can ask the seller some questions to ensure that you understand where the kart is in terms of maintenance and part replacements. Check out some of the questions below:
- How many hours does the engine have?
- When last did you bleed the brakes?
- When was the last time the brake pads were replaced?
- When last have the fuel lines been replaced?
- When was the last time the clutch was checked/replaced?
- Have you replaced the exhaust matting recently?
- Are there any parts that urgently need to be repaired/replaced?
Negotiate The Best Offer
Using the information above, you can negotiate a better offer for the kart. If the kart has not been looked after properly and it needs a lot of work, you can offer a lower price because you need to spend money to get the kart in proper racing condition.
Prices are always negotiable, so make sure to try and save some money on your kart wherever possible, even if it is just a couple of dollars. Negotiating a lower price is one of the key weapons in your arsenal when buying a used go-kart, make sure you use it!
Buying a used go-kart can be a tricky thing to do, but it’s also one of the most affordable ways to get into the sport. You need to make sure that you thoroughly inspect any kart before you buy it to make sure that it’s up to the right standard. As long as you go through the quick process above and ask the right questions, you’ll be able to find the perfect second-hand kart.