Go-karts can easily get dirty, regardless if you’re racing on tracks or off-road. Dust, debris, mud, and other objects can easily catch onto various components of your kart, which may not only look unpleasant but can also cause steering issues and affect overall racing performance.
Ideally, you should be cleaning your go-kart after every race so that it’s spotless before you do your next pre-race inspection and regular maintenance. It’s also important to mention that stains, marks, and dirt are generally harder to remove from your go-kart once they have settled – therefore, it’s best to wash it as soon as possible after races.
In this guide, I’ll be teaching you how to wash each component of your go-kart (for racing, homemade, and off-road karts), what tools and products to use, as well as the best cleaning techniques. So, let’s get started!
Cleaning Your Go-Kart
There are various parts and components that you should be cleaning. These parts include the chassis, body kit, wheels, tires, seat, engine, steering wheel, carburetor, fuel tank, and various others.
Below, you’ll find a more comprehensive list of parts, how you can clean them effectively, and what tools or products are useful.
The best way to clean your chassis (frame) is to first use a hard brush to remove mud and debris. You can then use a high-quality degreaser with a cloth and apply that along the chassis. While your cleaning, make sure that you check for signs of rust and damage.
Most go-kart body kits are made of Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS), High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE), or fiberglass. As most of these materials are coated with a protective layer, it’s best to use any natural soap or detergent and a soft cloth for cleaning. Make sure that you rinse each panel with water after cleaning and use a dry cloth to remove any excess water.
When cleaning the wheels or rims of your go-kart, many people may recommend that you remove them. I only recommend doing them if you race regularly, as you can access all areas of your wheels when placing your kart on a go-kart stand.
For mud and dirt, simply use a mixture of water and soap with a cloth. For oil, grease, and tougher stains, you can use a degreaser.
Start by using a brush to remove dirt and debris from the tire treads (this also removes tire prep). Then, soak them with a tire wash and rinse them off and dry them by wiping them down with a dry cloth. Don’t forget to check the tire pressure and apply tire prep (optional).
Racing seats are typically made of fiberglass, carbon fiber, or plastic. Simply wipe them down using a damp cloth and mild soap, as this will effectively remove dirt and sweat that might have accumulated. Go-kart seats made of leather (more common for off-road go-karts) should also be cleaned using a leather cleaner, to preserve their quality.
I don’t recommend cleaning the engine’s interior unless you know how to do this or are a mechanic, as this requires disassembling and rebuilding. To clean the exterior, simply use a degreaser and a cloth or brush to remove any debris, grease, and dust.
Make sure that you also take the time to change the oil and do your general engine inspections after you’ve cleaned the engine.
A go-kart’s air filter plays a vital role in making sure that no impurities enter the carburetor. As a result, you’ll need to make sure that your air filters are cleaned regularly.
Simply rinse them using any natural soap or cleaning solution. Make sure that you use cold water and then let it soak for about 10 to 15 minutes. Lastly, rinse it thoroughly with water, before drying and reoiling them.
You can clean your go-kart steering wheel using a soft cloth with some water and a mild cleaning solution. Use a soft cloth for cleaning and wipe it down with some cold water afterward.
Your go-kart carburetor ensures that the engine is supplied with the right ratio of air and fuel. While you should clean the exterior regularly with a degreaser, you can clean all components of it, including the float bowl, needle, pin, float, jets, screws, and choke, when required.
You’ll most likely notice your fuel tank turning yellow after a while, as the gasoline breaks down over time. Start by disconnecting the fuel lines and emptying the tank before removing and cleaning it.
Clean the tank with a baking soda and white vinegar solution and let it soak for a while. Then, thoroughly rinse it with water and make sure it’s completely dry. Make sure that you replace old fuel tanks whenever required.
Start by disassembling the clutch. Soak each part (except the bearing) with either brake cleaner or acetone. After speaking, wipe them clean with a dry cloth. Use a degreaser for the bearings and ensure that they are properly lubricated. If you notice your clutch slipping when racing, they have worn and need replacement.
I recommend removing the axle for a thorough cleaning. Use a degreaser to wipe the axle down to remove any rubber, grease, and oil. After that, apply a layer of WD-40. You should also make sure that you apply a lubricant to the apply axle bearings.
I do not recommend using WD-40 for lubrication, but rather a specialized bearing lubricant, otherwise your bearings won’t get the required amount of lubrication they need. During the cleaning process, also ensure that you inspect your axles for any deformation and cracks.
Take a clean cloth and apply some brake cleaner to it. Then, place the cleaner on the brake disk and turn your wheels a few times so that the disks rotate. Make sure that you apply an even layer and ensure that it’s free from debris and dirt. This works best if the go-kart is on a stand.
Also, make sure to check the brake pads and other components. Take this time to also lubricate all moving brake parts of the brake system and bleed the brakes to ensure there is no air trapped in the brake lines.
Pedals can be quite tricky to clean, especially ones that have holes (to make them lighter and for better grip). You can use a damp cloth to wipe them down and a bristle brush to remove any dirt, dust, or debris from the pedal surfaces and hard-to-reach areas.
What You Should Do After Cleaning
Always remember to let each part dry completely, before reassembling/rebuilding it. This helps to prevent corrosion, rust, and contamination. The best way to dry most parts is by wiping them down with a dry cloth and letting them air dry naturally.
Drying parts under the sun is generally not recommended, as they can warp and discolor. Don’t forget that some parts may need lubrication or re-oiling after they’ve been cleaned and dried, such as the chain, clutch, air filter, and similar.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below, I address some of the most frequently asked questions from readers about cleaning go-karts. In this section, I will discuss how often you should clean them, how long this process takes, and where you can do this effectively.
How Often Should I Clean My Go-Kart?
Ideally, you should clean your go-kart after every race, particularly the bodywork, engine, brakes, air filter, tires, wheels, and chassis. Cleaning more comprehensive parts like the carburetor and clutch can be done after every other race if you can ensure that they are working optimally.
Although you may clean some parts less frequently, you should always check all vital components of your go-kart before and after every race. It’s also important to note that grease, rubber, and dirt are generally harder to remove, the longer they have been given time to set which can lengthen the overall cleaning process.
How Long Does It Take to Clean My Go-Kart
This depends on which parts you’re cleaning and how familiar you are with the process. Cleaning all parts of your go-kart can take more than an hour. However, if you’re only focusing on vital parts, then it should just take about 30 to 45 minutes.
Where Is the Best Place to Clean Go-Karts?
There are various areas and locations that are suitable for cleaning your go-kart. Whichever you pick, it’s best to ensure that the place is well-ventilated, has a level surface, offers good lighting, and has access to water. Below are some locations that you can consider.
- Backyard – If your backyard has enough space and access to a hose, it may be a great place to clean your go-kart. Make sure that the ground is level (and preferably shaded).
- Driveway: An evenly leveled driveway can also be used to clean go-karts, especially if you have access to water.
- Garage: A well-ventilated garage with good lighting can also serve as an excellent go-kart cleaning spot. However, make sure that there is enough space for cleaning.
- Racing Track: Many racing tracks offer open-air cleaning areas where you can clean your go-kart after a race. These areas are usually equipped with proper drainage systems.
- Outdoor Cleaning Area: Some residential areas have designated outdoor cleaning locations equipped with water access that are suitable for cleaning your go-kart.