What needs to be checked on a kart and how often - Some thoughts following a discussion with a fellow member

Fellow KP member @MichaelPOL and I have be corresponding for the last several days. He has been struggling trying to get his newly acquired Leopard up and running. I have been trying to help him with some specific processes that he needed to go through. Some successful, others ended poorly, but not for lack of desire or enthusiasm. This guy is Determined to Succeed!! I really like that about him.

Following a more recent failure, he asked me if I could help him come up with a Checklist of things like a pilot goes through before take off. He listed a few things and I began to expand on it. Trying to categorize it into Times to Check and Frequency to Check. I know many of the items below have been learned through mistakes from ignorance. After discussing it with Micheal we decided to publish what we have come up with so far and ask that others try to contribute as seen fit.

Some items will vary by usage or situation (practice, test or race).

Prior to starting the day:

-Charge Battery. Even though the onboard ignition powers the engine (IAME) and somewhat charges the battery, the amount of energy lost during cranking is not usually recovered during a session on track. Best to start the day with a full charge on battery. You may have to charge between sessions as well
-Check Carb needle settings (return them to base line and re-tune from there if unsure they are correct)
-Check water level
-Check Brake fluid level
-Check Brake Pad wear. If more than halfway worn or using soft pads you may also check a few times throughout the day.
-Clean brake disc and pads with some brake cleaner, can just spray them down without disassembly and use emery cloth on disc to remove any oxidation
-Check brake function, firm pedal and stops well, both pads should engage rotor at same time, can do this on the stand while warming engine by giving throttle and then applying brake. Also puts a little heat into the brakes before going on course.
-Check spark plug (clean/no fouling)
-Check pump belt(s). Not a bad idea to run 2 belts. If they are solid belts, you can loop a backup over the axle and zip-tie it down. I prefer the hooked belts because they do not require pulling the axle to install.
-Check Tire wear. Wear will vary with tire choice and experience will give you a better reference of durability.
-Check “All” nuts and bolts are tight. Vibrations from engine and road surface can sometimes loosen things. Ask me how I know this. :wink:
-Check chain tension, sprocket/chain wear and alignment of sprockets. Alignment will require removal of clutch cage and a good straight edge.
-Check all safety wiring and safety pins/clips are present and secure
-Mix your fuel/oil for what you think will last you the day. Best to mix only enough for that day.

Before every session:

-Check Fuel Level
-Lube chain, prior to first run, then after each run from then on. Best done when chain is warm.
-Set tire pressures
-Check nothing hanging below the chassis rails. Brake lines, wire harnesses, etc. (They can rub on the pavement and cause damage. Ask me how I know this. :wink:)

After every session:

-Lube the chain
-Check and note tire pressures (looking for signs of overheating, documenting for future reference and staggering pressures if needed)
-If testing, make a note of any issues or deficiencies and chose 1 thing at a time to change
-If you are concerned about carb settings, note where the needles ended up and check plug for any evidence of lean running or fouling. (make notes to build a reference for current conditions)
-Clean any excess oil or grime from the engine and chassis
-If you are running a data logger, you can review your data (rpm and temp reading note: sudden spikes in temp could be a sign of running too lean but are delayed in water temp readings.)

Things to do at the end of every day of running:

-Clean everything and inspect for wear/damage
-Spray down a rag with WD-40 and coat exhaust pipe and axle to prevent oxidation

Things to check periodically throughout the Season:

-Brake Pad Wear
-Bearings. Axles, hubs, spindles
-Steering shaft bushing/bearing
-Cracks in the seat or widening of the holes in the seat at all mounting points
-Cracks in the frame or welds
-Check squareness of chassis, best done on a frame table and frequency increases with age of chassis
-Pull the Head and check for carbon deposits on top of the piston
-Pull the Exhaust Header and check for scoring on the sides of the piston/cylinder walls
-Open the exhaust pipe and check the holes in the cones are not clogged/blocked
-Clean Carburetor, replace gaskets and seals
-Bleed the brake fluid
-Always good to have spare nuts and bolts. Any locking nuts should be replaced after removal, but I usually do it after 2 or 3 removals as long as I feel good resistance when re-installing, if not replace it. (others may disagree)
-Depending on Engine Package, a Partial or Full rebuild may be required at recommended intervals (refer to your manufactures recommendations)

I am sure I am leaving some things out, but cannot not think of it at this time. I will add more when it comes to me. I seem to recall a Thread on here that covered much of this, but could not find it or one with as much detail as this.

I feel like many of us take this information for granted and there are a lot of people new to karting that may not have this knowledge or know where to find it. If this can prevent someone from making a costly mistake, then it serves a purpose.

Please feel free to comment and/or add to this list.


That’s an excellent list. The only thing that comes to me is that he should bring a notebook to track changes and any impressions he had while on the track. Before the start of the day, check the toe or after having a hard knock to the front wheels. And at the end of the day, pull the clutch drum to inspect clutch linings and to grease the drum bearing.
If his chassis does not already have them, a set of chassis protectors to extend the life of the chassis.
If there is a friend who is will to come along would relieve some stress or pit with someone at the track.

I would say you have a good list. I would add:

Tire rotation - If you try to make tires last have a system for tire rotation. One week I will switch from side to side, the next week I will flip the tire on the rim.

Clutch service throughout the season - remove, clean and inspect on a regular basis and lubricate where required.

Tighten fasteners is a good step, but I have found surprises disassembling stuff too. An example would be a crack in a seat strut, only would be found by removing and replacing, not just tightening. My opinion on nylock nuts is to replace when I can spin it by hand.

I have good luck using mineral spirits for general chassis and body work cleaning, removes a lot of grime and even some tire marks.

Always air out till dry the raceway after a track day, the drivers wear / suit becomes dirty and smelly through the season, personally I wash mine at least once during the season and at the end of the season. First soak in Oxiclean overnight to a day then wash with Simple Green. Helmets are tougher to clean (a sprinkle of baking soda and vacuum), I will clean the visor like too.

Thank you for the add-ons.

Forgot about the Clutch and Bearing. Thank you @Tony_Z

Rotation is important for Tire longevity. Remember, some tires are directional so you will have to flip them to run on the other side of the kart. I too will take things apart from time to time. Both for a deeper cleaning and better inspection. While at the track I typically use brake clean from a pump sprayer. but when I get home its Simple Green solution and wax the chassis. As for Safety gear, the first thing I do when I get home is Air everything out too. Usually turn my driving suit inside out and hang it to dry. Wash every other race depending on how sweaty I got. I use Cedar Shoe Trees in my race shoes to keep the leather from shrinking from all the sweat. I also use a small fan that can pivot 90 degrees up and rest my helmet on it to dry it out. Often laying the shoes on theirs sides below the fan to draw air across them and further dry them. I know they make special drying systems for gear, but my $5 fan from Aldi has been a champ for years. Thanks @mtbikerbob

Tire direction was a topic at our track this year. We switched from LeConts to MG’s. Even though the MG’s show a direction arrow I was told by MG there is no harm in running them in the opposite direction.

Excellent list Greg, and thanks for jumping in so enthusiastically with Michael.

Just a note on the water pump belts, CRG do this belt product you buy by the meter, cut to length and ‘solder’ the ends together with a lighter. I was dubious at first about the joint strength but I’ve had the same belts on now for a year. Great product and it’s got a surface like rubber sandpaper to grip the pulley wheels.

Got a product site link?

I don’t - CRG chief mechanic brought it with him from Italy last year before the season started. I’ll find some info where to buy and post it

Not sure this is exactly it but it looks very similar, I’ll confirm where the team gets it from


1 Like

On the race day checklist.

I’ve got a checklist that I run through on the kart, that I review everytime the kart goes out on the track.

Every single session. My wife/teammate and I don’t ‘release the kart’ onto the track until this checklist is done and a run is signed off.

Takes two minutes to check most things, before the kart goes out and after I make a setup change. It greatly reduces the likelyhood of things falling off because we didn’t tighten them, aka ‘stupid errors’

Plus it gives my wife comfort that the kart is safer. She reads the list and I check the kart, so I’m responsible for the final OK.

It’s got to a point that I feel uncomfortable if we don’t run the checklist before I drive.

It doesn’t have everything, because things like checking the clutch drum and etc should be done when we have a proper few minutes. Same with adding fuel etc.

There are a few things that I check naturally that we go back and forth on adding on each version of the checklist. Typically, it’s the things that worry us on falling off, etc. We iterate on it as we go to the track.

It’s a process activity that’s freed up bandwidth and helped me have time to catch other things like a cracked seat strut or leaking water pipe.

Easily saved me races and at best kept me safe.

Simple win. On the pages after, we track setup changes and take notes on little things we need to do.

Also if someone else unfamilar helps me at the track, I just give them the checklist and say “read this to me.”


Thank you @DavinRS,

I recall you mentioning a checklist in one of your podcasts. I think most of us that have run for a season or two have developed our own from past mistakes, word of mouth or witness of others’ mistakes. Hopefully for the new people, this will add to the arsenal of information to keep them safe and having fun!

1 Like

@tjkoyen posted this in the weekly video thread and I thought I would would re-post it here too as it seemed relevant. Thanks TJ!


Not maintenance but from my experience with the Leopard.

– External Starter for the Leopard. Known in the past for sudden death of the on-board starter. Maybe some of the new designs have migrated into better parts for the starter system.
– O-Ring Chain
– Spare axle sprockets: Will eat sprockets.
– Good chain oil: Find some really good chain oil and lube generously every session religiously.
– Don’t rev past 15,500: I think this might help chain life.