Installing a kill switch on your go-kart is a very good way of protecting yourself while driving. A kill switch has two primary functions. Firstly, it enables you to stop your engine easily at any time while sitting behind the steering wheel. This is convenient if you don’t have a start-stop switch installed. Secondly, it can instantly turn off your engine in the event of an emergency, such as stuck throttle or brake failures.
Wiring a kill switch on a go-kart engine is easier than it actually sounds, as long as you have purchased a compatible kill switch. There are generally two types of kill switches – you can choose between a remote or toggle switch. You’ll also need some tools for this. Once you have all this taken care of, you are good to go.
Here are the 5 steps to installing a kill switch on your go-kart:
- Remove the Flywheel from the Engine
- Wire the Kill Switch to the Kart Engine
- Run the Wires Through the Frame
- Mount the Kill Switch
- Reattach the Flywheel to the Engine
These are the tools you’ll need:
- 1 x Kill Switch (Remote or Wired)
- 1 x Impact Wrench (Manual or Electric)
- 2 x Extension Wires (Depending on kart length)
- 1 x Flathead Screwdriver
5 Steps of Installing A Kill Switch
Installing and wiring a kill switch on a go-kart can be relatively simple, if you follow these steps. Just ensure that you have the right tools available. I’ll also include some video references below for further guidance and explanation.
1. Remove the Flywheel From the Engine
The first step is to locate the flywheel of your kart and remove the flywheel and cover from the engine. To detach the flywheel, you will have to take off the mounting bolt holding it in place. You can easily do that with an impact wrench. After removing the bolt, use your screwdriver, preferably a flat head screwdriver or any other pry bar, to pry the back end of the flywheel.
Ensure you do this very gently, as you don’t want to break or damage your flywheel or cover. If the flywheel proves challenging to remove, you can add lubricant around the fixed areas. With this, you should expect the flywheel to slowly lift. Also make sure that none of these parts drop onto the floor. Now that the flywheel is detached, you can access the magneto.
More Information: Video on How to Remove a Go-Kart Flywheel
Step 1 – Quick Summary:
- Use an impact wrench to remove flywheel bolt
- Pry the flywheel and the cover off slowly
- Use lubricant if parts are stuck
2. Wire the Kill Switch to the Kart Engine
Before you connect the kill switch to your kart engine, you need to locate a metal nut that is fixed on the kart’s magneto. Now, connect the wire from your kill switch to the metal nut found on the magneto. The other wire of your kill switch will need to be connected to a ground wire fixed on your go-kart. The most appropriate place to connect your ground wire is to tie it to a bolt on your go-kart engine block.
To get the ground wire connected to your kill switch, first, you have to slightly loosen the bolt on your engine block and tighten the wire to the bolt. When the wire is appropriately tied to the bolt on the engine block, it is grounded already. No need to worry about that.
More Information: Video on How to Wire the Kill Switch
Step 2 – Quick Summary:
- Connect one wire to the magneto
- Connect the other one to the engine block
3. Run the Wires Through the Frame
After you have connected the wires of your kill switch to your kart engine, the next thing that you’ll need to do is run your wires to the front part of your kart. You’ll need to identify where exactly you wish to mount it. Most commonly, the go-kart kill switch toggle is mounted either on the steering column or on the steering wheel. It’s really up to you, but you should ensure that it’s easily accessible.
A very common way to get this done is to pass the wires from the back to the front from underneath the seat, along the frame. Make sure that there are no wires dangling and that everything is nicely tucked away. You can use wire clamps to help hold the wire down.
Wire clamps will also prevent the wires from getting in contact with any hot component of your engine system and prevent it from getting loose. But if you cannot arrange the wires this way, you should use heat tapes to safeguard the wires from exposure to heat.
Step 3 – Quick Summary:
- Extend wires if required
- Run the wires through the frame
4. Mount the Kill Switch
Now that you have learned how to wire a kill switch on a go-kart, the next steps is choosing a location to mount it. It’s suggested to place your kill switch at an area that is easily accessible. As having previously stated, the best places are either at the steering column or on the steering wheel.
A good location of your go-kart kill switch makes it easy for you to access the switch without having to move your body. Now, let’s get to the installation! You may need to drill a hole on the frame of the placement area to enable you to correctly place your switch. You can use a bolt or hose clamp to tighten it to the frame.
Step 4 – Quick Summary:
- Choose a location for the kill switch
- Mount it on with a hose clamp or a similar device
5. Reattach the Flywheel to the Engine
You have now successfully wired your kill switch to the motor, safeguarded the wires, and mounted your kill switch to your desired location. Please make sure that all these steps were done correctly and carefully. It always helps to thoroughly inspect your installation after completion.
After you’ve carried out the necessary checks and inspections, and that everything is looking good, you should reattach the flywheel back to your kart engine. All you have to do is the first step in reverse. Start off by placing the flywheel back along with the cover. Make sure you do not damage any wire when coupling back your flywheel. Then secure the bolt with the impact wrench and you’re good to go.
If you have been able to follow these steps successfully, you can now test the kill switch one final time, before racing off in your go-kart. This check is to ensure that you didn’t dislodge or damage any wiring when reattaching the flywheel. Congratulations, you’re done!
Step 5 – Quick Summary:
- Reattach the flywheel back on the engine
- Place the cover back onto the engine
- Tighten the bolt
Why Should You Install a Kill Switch on a Go-Kart?
Some people may be reluctant about installing a kill switch on their go-kart, often deliberating on why they need a kill switch in the first place. That’s mostly because they don’t know the importance or function of a kill switch.
A go-kart kill switch is a safety device commonly viewed as an emergency stop, which is used to stop an engine instantly during an emergency situation when you cannot shut down the engine under normal circumstances. Some go-karts are required to be shut down via a switch on the engine. That would be extremely inconvenient when you’re sitting in your kart.
Kill switches are also great in emergencies. That’s why they are also often referred to as emergency off (EMO) or E-Stop. If your go-kart accelerator pedal is stuck or your brakes are faulty, there would be no other way to stop your go-kart. A kill switch would immediately switch off your engine.
Go-kart kill switches are also easy to install and don’t damage your engine. There is no harm done if you frequently use your kill switch to operate your engine and you can also use it for many years.
How Does a Kill Switch Work on a Go Kart?
While a kill switch has the same function across all engine types, the way it works can slightly differ depending on the engine. As you’re installing a kill switch, I’m assuming that you’re building or modifying your own go-kart. These types of go-karts use two-stroke engines with a magneto.
Two-stroke engines found in go-karts are usually equipped with a magento to produce a spark, as it has a low-voltage electrical system. What a kill switch essentially does is ‘earth’ the current from magneto so that the power is routed to the ground instead of to the engine.
How Long Does It Take to Install a Kill Switch on a Go-Kart?
How long it takes to install a kill switch on your go-kart depends on how familiar you are with the process and how well you understand the parts. If you’re installing and wiring a kill switch for the first time, it may take you a couple of hours. Most of the time would be invested into understanding where parts are located and how to remove the flywheel and its cover.
If you’ve done this before and are just brushing up on the information, it may only take you 30 – 45 minutes to install a kill switch on your go-kart. Before you start, ensure that you have all the required tools and parts ready.