How to Fix a Go-Kart That Won’t Start

There’s nothing more frustrating than a go-kart that will not start. The extreme frustration comes from the fact that the issue could lie in a number of places and usually requires some detective work to fix. 

If you’re go-kart won’t start, it can usually be fixed by fixing spark plug issues, replacing stale fuel, cleaning the air filters, ensuring that you have the right engine settings and unclogging the carburetor. 

Even though these issues are extremely frustrating, this guide will help you track down the source of your kart not starting so you can get back on track and keep having fun.

Here are the most common reasons why a go-kart won’t start:

  1. Spark plug issues
  2. Insufficient or stale fuel
  3. Wrong engine configuration
  4. Blocked air filter
  5. Clogged carburetor jets

Let’s get your go-kart started and ready for action!

1. Spark Plug Issues

One of the most common issues with go-karts are spark plugs that are worn out, improperly sized, or damaged in some way. Since a go-kart engine is an internal combustion engine, it needs a spark, fuel, and air to run properly. Part of the maintenance of a go-kart is regularly changing the spark plugs out on a set schedule.

How to Fix It:

To remedy this, remove the spark plug from your engine and examine it for carbon build-up or other debris. This will look like black soot which is a natural byproduct of the internal combustion process.

You’ll also want to check the diode on a spark plug to ensure that there is still a diode left! After a long time, the diode will degrade and cause an issue with your spark plug being able to actually produce a spark. You also want to make sure that the wire the spark plug is attached to does not have any damage and is snug on the plug.

2. Insufficient or Stale Fuel

This may seem like a no-brainer, but if you do not have enough fuel in your go-kart it will not start. You can also run into issues with starting if the fuel in your go-kart has been sitting for some time. As it sits, the fuel in a go-kart can begin to take on water from condensation which is especially prevalent in areas that have a very cold winter.

How to Fix It:

This water Infused gasoline is not proper for a go-kart engine or any engine for that matter and it will cause your engine to sputter and in some cases not even start. If this happens, you’ll need to empty out all the fuel in your go-kart engine and refill it with fresh fuel. 

More Information: Go-kart Fuel Mixture Chart

3. Wrong Engine Configuration

This one also comes in as one of those “duh” moments.

If your kill switch on your go-kart engine is set to off, and you are trying to start your engine then it stands to reason that it will not start. In the same vein, if you have your choke aggressively calibrated on your go-kart engine, it will prevent the proper amount of fuel from getting into the motor and your go-kart will not start.

How to Fix It:

It’s often the most simple things that can seemingly cause the most challenging issues and checking these two settings on your engine is one of the very first places you should start. So, always ensure that your choke is set correctly! 

Additionally, some engines have an off switch or a kill switch directly mounted on the engine. Also ensure that this is not set to “off”. It’s common to sometimes forget to set these switches back on!

4. Blocked Air Filter

As noted above, internal combustion engines need three things to work and one of those things is air. if your air filter is blocked by debris, dirt, or anything else that it takes up in the course of racing, it could leave your engine without enough air to start.

How to Fix It:

Fixing this is as simple as replacing your air filter on a regular basis as part of a comprehensive maintenance program for your go-kart. If you’re in a position where you don’t have an extra air filter with you and you’re out on the track, remove your air filter and bang on the ground to dislodge any debris that can easily fall out with a couple of taps.

This is not a great solution but it can provide your go-kart enough air to start up and be reasonably functional until you can replace the filter itself. It’s a good habit to include air filter checks into your regular go-kart maintenance schedule. 

5. Clogged Carburetor Jets

Carburetors mix air and fuel prior to delivering it into the combustion chamber of your engine where a spark completes the combustion cycle. Over time, the jets on the carburetor that deliver the fuel into the carburetor chamber can become clogged with debris. If this happens, the wrong amount of fuel will be delivered and the go-kart will not start.

How to Fix It:

You can remedy this by either replacing the carburetor or removing and thoroughly cleaning the carburetor. You can also run a detergent that is specifically designed to clean carburetor jets on a regular basis to prevent build-up and prevent starting issues before they start. Either way, maintenance is key here. 

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