Does Your Go-Kart Die When You Hit Gas? Here are 4 Quick Fixes!

There is nothing more frustrating than getting your go-kart ready for some racing action, only to have the engine die when you press the accelerator. There are several reasons why this can happen.

This can occur if your go-kart engine doesn’t get the right amount of air or fuel in order to continuously combust. The most common culprits are a closed choke, a dirty air filter, a clogged carburetor or leaking fuel lines. 

If your go-kart dies when hitting the gas pedal, there are several quick fixes which can help you solve this problem.

  1. Open the choke
  2. Check the fuel lines
  3. Clean the air filter
  4. Clean the carburetor

I’ve ordered these fixes according to complexity, so you should definitely start with checking the choke and work your way through the list. If you have an inkling of where the problem may be, feel free to skip to the relevant section instead. 

1. Open the Choke

go-kart carburetor choke lever

Quick Guide:

  • Locate the choke lever on the carburetor or choke switch on the engine
  • Switch the lever or switch to the ‘open/run/off’ position

One reason why your go-kart engine can bog down after you start accelerating is when the choke is closed. It’s fairly common to close the choke when warming up the engine, but failing to open it after a while can cause your engine to not combust properly, eventually shutting down. 

This is because a go-kart engine requires an optimal air to fuel ratio for it to run optimally. A choke switch set to ‘closed/choke/on’ closes the choke valve, which restricts airflow through the carburetor whereby mostly fuel enters the combustion chamber. In essence, a closed choke allows for a richer fuel mixture at the expense of air.

How to Fix It:

If the problem is caused by a closed choke, fixing it is extremely simple. All you have to do is set the choke to ‘open’ (sometimes called ‘run’ or ‘off’) on the go-kart engine. If you have an external carburetor, then your choke is on the carburetor. Locate the choke lever and twist it back to its original open position.

Once the choke valve opens, air can flow through the carburetor, facilitating an optional fuel to air ratio. Once you’ve opened the choke, your go-kart should start running optimally again when hitting the gas pedal. If it still bogs down, proceed to the next step.

2. Check the Fuel Lines

carburetor fuel lines

Quick Guide:

  • Inspect the fuel lines, fuel filter and fuel tank for any leakage.
  • Replace broken parts and ensure that fuel lines are properly connected

A go-kart engine requires the right amount of fuel and air. If too little enters the combustion chamber the engine will only be able to idle. This means, the moment you press on the accelerator it can instantly shut down.

Therefore, you’ll need to make sure that fuel is constantly supplied to the carburetor and engine. You should carefully inspect the fuel tank, fuel filter and fuel lines and ensure that there are no leaks. 

Don’t forget to check both fuel lines. The first one runs from the tank into the filter. The second fuel line runs from the filter into the carburetor.

How to Fix It:

If you spot any fuel leakage, you’ll need to replace the respective part. When changing the fuel line, filter or tank, make sure that you disconnect each part carefully to avoid any fuel spillage. 

Once replaced, turn the engine back on and ensure that the fuel lines are feeding the fuel to the carburetor properly. When you start to accelerate, your engine should not bog down anymore.

3. Clean the Air Filter

carburetor air filter

Quick Guide:

  • Detach the air filter from the engine or carburetor
  • Inspect air filter carefully
  • Clean or replace filter if required

Go-kart engines are naturally aspirated. They rely on an optimal fuel and air ratio. If the engine doesn’t receive enough air, it can fail to combust, and can eventually shut off. 

In order to ensure that the engine receives not only clean, but also the right amounts of air, you’ll need to check if the air filter is in good condition. Any type of debris or dust can easily clog your air filter, restricting airflow to the engine.

A clogged air filter could still allow your engine to run at idle speed. However, once you give gas, more fuel and air needs to enter the combustion chamber. As not enough air is not able to enter through a clogged filter, it chokes the air out of the engine. 

How to Fix It:

To fix this, you’ll need to ensure that your air filter is not blocked and that it facilitates proper airflow. Depending on your setup, you’ll either need to access the built-in air filter on the engine, or the air filter attached to the carburetor. 

Open the air filter housing and remove the air filter. If your air filter is attached to the carburetor, unclamp and detached it. Inspect it carefully, then clean or replace it if required. You should also be replacing your air filter from time to time, and make it part of your regular maintenance.

4. Clean the Carburetor

Quick Guide:

  • Remove the carburetor
  • Disassemble the carburetor
  • Clean jets, float components and carburetor thoroughly
  • Rebuild and reinstall the carburetor

The main root cause of your go-kart engine dying after you give it gas could be due to a clogged carburetor. The fact that it’s last on this list, is because fixing this requires more than just a simple inspection. 

A go-kart carburetor is a mechanical component that mixes air and fuel to an optimal ratio and feeds this directly into the engine’s combustion chamber. If a carburetor is clogged, insufficient fuel is delivered to the engine when you press the accelerator. 

Therefore, it’s important to ensure that all valves, jets and the float bowl components are clean from any debris. It’s not uncommon for carburetors to clog over time, so ensure that you maintain it regularly. 

How to Fix It:

Firstly, you’ll need to remove the carburetor from your go-kart. After that, you’ll need to dissemble it and clean all of the components. Here is a list of what you’ll need to clean:

  • Float, float pin and float needle
  • Main jet and pilot Jet 
  • Carburetor 

Ensure that you use an appropriate carburetor cleaner and pay special attention to the main and pilot jets. I’ve created a separate step-by-step guide on how to clean a go-kart carburetor. Following this will ensure that your carb will run optimally. 

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