What should you check on a used kart chassis?

When you’re looking to buy a used kart chassis, what do you look for?

Here’s my list… What would you add?

General cleanliness/appearance.
Grinding on bottom of chassis rails at waist and rear.
Rails and chassis for welds.
Steering components for play and or damage.

  • Kingpin bearings. Grab wheel
  • Heim joints, lateral and vertical play. Check from wheel, column and rod.
  • Steering uniball joint (Column up/down movement)

-The weld points. Check for porosity or cracks. Really hard to see in powder coated frames, so inspect carefully.

-Ask for maintenance history, at least a verbal one. NO KART IS PERFECT, something has happened to all karts. A sprocket that sheared off, a brake hub that didn’t fit right, a bent axle, a bolt coming lose. If the seller says “never gave me a problem”, he better have had no track time on the thing.

-Check the seats and seat mounts. Make sure decent hardware was used. Look for cracks, bumps, damage in general.

I’ll think about more…

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Thanks. Let’s stick with chassis for now since it’s pretty universal.

You’re right. Edited.

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@Tj_Hollingsworth I think you were planning something on this topic of buying a used kart?

One of the first things I check for is wear on the bottom of the frame rails. As we all know, the tubes that make the frame of the kart are all-important with regards to how that kart flexes and responds to tuning changes. If a significant amount of material has been removed from the bottom of the frame rails by contact with curbs, road edges or just over-weighted, that has to affect handling. And if enough material is removed the kart could be completely compromised. Maybe that’s why they’re selling it?

Anyway, run your fingers under the rails along the waist. If there is a flat spot of a 1/4" or more, I call that well-used and certainly shouldn’t be commanding a premium price. 1/2"+, that’s almost used up. And if the used kart has plastic frame savers, be sure they were on there from the beginning and aren’t hiding something.

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Functional brakes – it’s a pain, and pricey to replace and / or rebuild. I still have nightmares about 90’s OTK brakes.

Unequal spindle shimming may indicate poor assembly for sale, or tweaked chassis, or asymetrical track (see: Charlotte)

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Bumping this because it’s a timeless topic and applies to most people getting started, regardless of class.
Add your tips and experience on what to look for (and what to avoid) when buying a used kart chassis.

Some hard & soft bits.

In the strange but true category -
As far as safety this is #1 for me: (not so much for a purchase decision but for safety before driving it.)
replace the steering hub to steering shaft bolt or at least check it. Mount the bolt so gravity causes it to fall into & not out of the hole. (Ask me how I know)
All Safety wire, Safety clip or double nuts should be installed before driving.

Not the kart, but look at the driver. If he is of a vastly different build you probably won’t be dead on as far as setup & fitting. Probably not even if it was your twin. You can also get a general idea from the environment in which the kart is kept.

Smashed or flattened frame rails where engine mounts
rear Bumper & mounts, including chassis tubes & bolts/rubber going into chassis
Seat Mounting tabs & stays
Side pod mountings
Correct spindles for the kart (again, AMHIK)

I’d also throw some snipers on the front if at all possible.

Bolted on items
Not sure if you consider rear axle & bearings as chassis, but I’d make sure the 3rd bearing is in there & included along with bearings being usable. Straight axle and look @ the stiffness. If it is at on end of the spectrum you probably need a different one.
In general make sure all parts are included, like front & rear bar, side pods

Seat condition & size, it is a bonus if you can use it.

Superfluous BS: Don’t get blinded by a bunch of junk included that you realistically can’t use.

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I don’t have a ton of experience but I will say that so far I have had 2 frames fail at the welds on the frame below the engine mount. My 2018 compkart frame needs to be welded and it’s only been in 7 races since new.
So, check the integrity of the welds at that point.

Edit: every used kart has been crashed. This is normal. So long as it’s not bent or cracked.

Bumping this as I’m going to make a video on it. What points do you think I should cover that would help people make a good choice when buying a used chassis?

Keep it simple. There’s too many choices and that’s what’s overwhelming.

What’s actually needed is a good thing to review. Does the used kart in question have all the necessary bits?

Does the kart have parts available?

When was the engine last rebuilt?

Hows the frame underside?

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  1. Buy it from someone who is going to regularly be at the track that you go to and have them help you the first few days you are at the track. Preferably someone who knows what they are doing.

  2. Make sure the chassis is straight. Have them put it on the table and put it back to original spec

  3. Don’t buy something too old. Make sure you can get a 2 seasons out of it.

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