Even though a go-kart clutch is a small mechanical component, it plays a huge role in the transmission of rotational force from the crankshaft to the rear axle. It gets exposed to high stresses and extreme heat, due to the applied centrifugal force and excessive friction of the inner components and the drum.
It’s therefore extremely important to properly maintain a go-kart clutch, in order for it to operate effectively. Maintaining a go-kart clutch is essential for extending its lifetime. This can be done by applying oil or any other suitable lubricant on to the brass bushing of the clutch. I’ll be guiding you through this process step-by-step, so that you can follow it precisely.
3 Steps on How to Oil Your Go-Kart Clutch
Oiling your clutch the right way will increase its lifetime significantly. It’s therefore important that you apply oil to the right area. You may follow these 3 easy steps on how to oil a go-kart clutch.
1. Remove the Chain From the Clutch
- Ensure you have the right tools
- Position your go-kart appropriately
- Locate the master link
- Remove the chain
The goal of the first step is to remove the roller chain from the sprockets. In order for you to achieve this, you’ll first need to ensure that you have all the right tools in place and that your go-kart is in a position where you can easily access the chain and clutch.
Here are some of the common tools and items that you need to do this:
- Lubricating oil (I prefer Pennzoil 10W30)
- Wrench and/or Allen/Hex key (bolt vs set screws)
- Impact driver (optional)
- Go-kart stand (optional)
Position your kart so that you can locate the master link of the chain. You can do this by using a go-kart stand and turning the wheels or by moving your go-kart into the correct position on the floor. Once you’ve located the master link you can proceed to remove it.
You’ll need to use your pliers to remove the clip of the master link, followed by the master link itself. Now, slowly release the chain from the clutch. The trick here is to release the chain from the clutch, while leaving the chain on the rear sprocket. You won’t be requiring the chain for this procedure.
2. Remove the Clutch From the Go-Kart
- Remove the set screws on the clutch and/or
- Remove the bolt and washer
- Proceed to remove the clutch
It’s time to remove the clutch from your go-kart. In order to do this, you’ll need to firstly remove the parts that are holding the clutch in place. A go-kart clutch is most commonly secured by a couple of set screws directly via the clutch and/or through a washer and bolt that are secured to the crankshaft.
You’ll need to check how your clutch is secured. Remove the set screws of the clutch and/or the bolt and washer from the crankshaft. You can now proceed to remove the clutch by simply sliding if off the crankshaft.
3. Apply Oil Around the Bushing
- Do not apply oil to the ventilation holes
- Only apply oil to the brass bushing
It’s now time to oil the go-kart clutch. It’s best to do this on a workbench or a table where you have enough space. It’s also recommended that you do this over a cloth or tissue, as some oil may drip.
The only place where you should be applying oil is on brass bushing, which is in contact with the clutch drum. You don’t need to dismantle the clutch or remove the clutch drum. Flip the clutch so that the sprocket is facing up. Remove the snap ring (also called C-ring) so that you have access to the bronze bushing.
Now apply some oil around the top of the brass bushing. My go-to oil is Pennzoil 10W30, as it’s effective and affordable. You can use any 10W30 oil or other lubricating oils that are suitable. Just ensure that you don’t apply too much oil and that you apply it in a circular fashion. In order for it to fully coat, it’s best to leave it to set for about 15 to 30 minutes. After that you can reattach your clutch to the crankshaft of your go-kart.
- Do not lubricate the ventilation holes of the clutch, as this will only cause the clutch to slip and not fully engage anymore.
What’s the Best Go-Kart Clutch Oil?
There are many different types of lubricants that can be used on a go-kart clutch. I find that using oil-based lubricants the most effective as they have excellent thermal properties. This means that it has the ability to transfer heat effectively to all components that it comes into contact with.
As clutches are small components, it’s essential that the brass bushing is well lubricated and coated as evenly as possible, as it’s in constant contact with the sprocket drum.
I recommend that you use a 10W30 oil as it has the right balance of viscosity and oxidation resistance. If you’re looking for a recommendation, you can use Pennzoil 10W30 , which is affordable and suitable for go-kart clutches.
What Lubricants You Shouldn’t Use
While there are some people who use WD-40 and wax-based lubricants, I don’t recommend using them for your go-kart clutch. Let me explain why I think that motor oil does the job better.
WD-40 is not primarily known to be a lubricant. It’s been more commonly used as a rust remover which has water-resistant properties. While it is party oil-based and also has lubricating properties, motor or engine oil is the better choice, as it has better thermal properties and also the ability to transfer heat more effectively.
On the other hand, the problem with wax-based lubricants is that they are more viscous as oil-based lubricants. In order to apply them effectively, you would have to dismantle the clutch and apply an equal-layered coating. It’s therefore better to go with an oil-based lubricant for clutches.
How Long Does the Clutch Lubrication Process Take?
The good news is that oiling your go-kart clutch doesn’t require much time at all. In fact the entire process should only take you a few minutes. However, you should allow some extra time for the oil to properly coat the entire brass bushing. For this to happen, it’s advisable to let it set for about 15 to 30 minutes before reassembling your clutch.
Here is a time breakdown of all the steps that are outlined above. I’ve taken the average time that a person requires to oil a clutch. Once you’re seasoned in this process, you should be able to do this in half the time.
- Step 1: Removing the chain from the clutch (5 minutes)
- Step 2: Removing the clutch from the go-Kart (2 minutes)
- Step 3: Applying oil around the bushing (2 minutes)
- Letting the oil set: 15 to 30 minutes
Can I Oil the Clutch While It’s on the Crankshaft?
You should not do this and I will explain why. While it’s certainly possible to oil your clutch while it’s still attached to the crankshaft, I strongly recommend against this.
Here is how this process would look like. All you would do is remove the snap ring and drip some oil on the bronze bushing. However, there are a few issues with this technique. Firstly, as the clutch is still attached to the crankshaft, the bushing is angled at 90 degrees. This means that you won’t really be able to let the oil set in to properly coat the entire bushing.
Secondly, you’ll definitely spill some oil on the floor and it’s going to get messy very quickly. Instead, take these extra 10 minutes and remove the clutch, in order to properly oil it. This shortcut is definitely not worth it.
How Often Do I Need to Lubricate the Clutch?
There are many different guidelines on this but most commonly it’s recommended to oil your clutch about every 2 to 3 sessions or after every 2 to 3 hours of operation. Think of this process as regular maintenance for your go-kart, in order to preserve the lifespan of your clutch.
A go-kart clutch gets exposed to high stress and heat conditions, so it’s best to ensure that it’s well lubricated. Good clutch maintenance is key for longer lifespan.