How to Fix Go-Kart Steering Problems: A Comprehensive Guide

When it comes to racing go-karts, whether racing or homemade, the exhilaration of speeding through straightaway and corners is often unmatched. A well-maintained, calibrated, and aligned go-kart is able to easily handle all types of corners and bends.

However, over time vital steering components of your go-kart can get bent, may have objects caught in them, require lubrication, or even become misaligned. This causes steering problems that will affect your performance when racing. 

The best way to fix go-kart steering problems is to carefully inspect each of the vital steering components to ensure that they are working as intended and are fit for use. In this guide, we will take a closer look at some of these components and I’ll also teach you what exactly you should be checking and fixing. By following this step-by-step guide, you should be able to fix any steering-related issues on your go-kart. 

1. Examine Existing Parts

The first step that you’ll want to take is to closely examine all of the parts that influence the steering ability of your go-kart. I’ll teach you what exact parts to inspect below so that you’ll be able to easily identify loose components of the steering rack, misaligned wheels, worn-out linkages, and damaged spindles that can cause steering-related issues.

  • Bearings – Check the wheel bearings for wear or damage, as they can wear out over time. Just a single worn bearing could negatively affect the steering performance of your go-kart. Make sure to fix or replace any worn or damaged bearings. 
  • Rims – It’s important to check that your rims are not bent or damaged, as this can easily cause your go-kart to pull to one side while steering. You should also check for proper alignment of the wheels with the axle and other steering components.
  • Tires – Carefully inspect your tires for any signs of excessive wear and damage (typically rips, cuts, and bulges), as well as the tire pressure. Racing with unevenly pressured or damaged tires can affect the steering of your go-kart, particularly at higher speeds.
  • Spindles – If your go-kart has spindles, check for signs of wear. Over time, these components may get bent and lead to steering instability. When checking also ensure that your wheels are aligned and don’t wobble when racing.  
  • Axles – Worn axles will show signs of bending and warping. Therefore, it’s important to inspect them regularly, as bent axles will lead to go-kart steering problems. 
  • Steering – If you’re experiencing more serious steering problems, you should check all of the steering mechanisms, which include the steering column, rack, wheel, tie rods, and bolts. Ensure that they are undamaged and are working as intended. 

Check for Excessive Wear

While normal wear is common, excessive wear on certain components may cause steering issues when racing. Therefore, it’s important that you check for damage and excessive wear. 

Replace worn-out parts with new ones. Ensure that all components are securely tightened and are in good working condition. During your inspection, ensure to also check for any objects that are blocking the steering mechanism. 

When racing on a track or off-road it’s common for debris and objects to get trapped between components, which in turn can affect your go-kart’s ability to turn effectively.   

Check for Bent Parts

Carefully examine all steering components for signs of warping, bending, or distortion. Bent components need to be replaced to restore proper steering functionality. Parts that can bend and warp over time are typically the go-kart frame, spindles, axles, rims, and tie rods. Ensure that you check them regularly and replace them when required.  

Check for Loose Parts

As go-karts are exposed to tension and experience strain when in use, it’s vital that you check for any loose parts and components. The parts that you should take a closer look at include tie rods, the steering column/mechanism, and bearings. 

2. Check Your Setup & Alignments

Your go-kart may experience steering problems if your setup isn’t optimal or correctly calibrated. You’ll also need to ensure that your wheels are properly aligned. In summary, here’s what you’ll need to check or recalibrate accordingly:

Wheel Alignment

It’s important to check that all of your wheels are aligned parallel to each other and perpendicular to the ground. You should also inspect the tie rod ends and adjust them to ensure equal length on both sides. To align your go-kart wheels, you can either use a string on an alignment tool for optimal results. 

Toe Angles

You’ll also need to ensure that your toe angles are correctly aligned; toe-in (positive) and toe-out (negative). Measure the distance between the front edges of the tires and the rear edges of the tires. 

They should line up if the toe angles are correctly set up. It’s also a good idea to take this opportunity and adjust the angle to your racing preference:

  • Toe-In Angle: Provides more stability
  • Toe-Out Angle: Provides more responsive/aggressive steering

Camber Angles

Camber refers to the angle of the wheels when viewed from the front or rear of the go-kart and can be set to either positive, negative, or neutral/zero. Ensure that the camber angle is identical on all four of your wheels.

You can achieve this by using a Caster/Camber Gauge. If just a single wheel is misaligned, you may notice inconsistency in steering. 

Weight Distribution

Weight distribution is another factor that can affect the way your go-kart steers. You’ll need to ensure that weight is distributed evenly between the front and rear of the go-kart, as well as the left and right sides.

Check for any unbalanced components or additional weight placed unevenly. It is important to balance the weight as evenly as possible, as it helps with stability and steering response.

Consider adjusting your seat position or adding weights to achieve the desired weight distribution. However, always keep the manufacturer’s guidelines and recommendations in mind when distributing weight across your go-kart.

3. Lubricate All Moving Parts

Lastly, lubricating moving parts in your go-kart helps to reduce friction and wear, and ultimately improves the way your kart handles when steering. Therefore, it’s best to apply a thin layer of lubrication to components within the steering rack and bearings. 

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About Gerrit

Owner, Researcher, Writer & Editor at

Hi, I'm Gerrit. I have been racing go-karts competitively and recreationally for the past 20 years. Apart from actively growing local karting communities, I run GoKartGuide and write comprehensive articles, guides & reviews about go-kart racing. I race, build, mod, & discuss go-karts whenever I find the time. Thanks for stopping by and enjoy the read!

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