Can You Put A Turbo On A Go Kart?


If you are fortunate to have boys, chances are you have been to a go-kart track where they can go as fast as possible around and around for hours at a time and try to make it to the finish line. Increasing the power and speed of any mechanical object with a turbo is a universal mission among men. I myself am a huge petrol head and love go-karting, so I started wondering if you can put a turbo on a go-kart?

You can put a turbo on a go-kart. The engine capacity you have in the go-kart will determine the size of the turbo you can install. You can attempt to install it yourself by following the instruction manual accompanied by the turbocharger. Certain other adjustments might need to be made to the engine as well.

There is a consensus that a go-kart should be bought already fitted with a turbo instead of doing it yourself. It is very possible to install a turbo on a go-kart by yourself, as long as you follow the instructions and be willing to make the accompanying changes to your engine. Let’s explore further.

Putting A Turbo On A Go Kart. What Happens?

Turbocharging a go-kart is not a new idea. When I was young, we had a go-kart gang in our neighborhood, and the children who had mechanical engineers for fathers always went faster. Most of us had to make do with the old pedal type using a bicycle mechanism to competing with small 2stroke engines. Some kids just went faster

The main reason for wanting a turbo on a go-kart would be to increase the power and, therefore, the speed. It also increases the weight of the go-kart and what you want is a fairly light go-kart. The lighter the frame, the faster it will go. Never compromise on safety, though.

These are the main things that will happen when you put a turbo on your go-kart;

  • Increased weight. There will be a significant weight increase after bolting on your turbo.
  • Oil pressure. You will need to have an oil pressure system because the turbo uses oil pressure to lubricate its bearings.
  • Increased BHP. The horsepower of your engine will increase quite a bit from, say, 5 to 8 BHP.
  • Increased engine heat. Due to the turbo using your go-karts exhaust to turn the turbine, which turns the compressor, you will increase heat to the intake.

These are a few things you might need to consider before installing a turbocharger to your go-kart, as it will affect the engine’s overall performance. You need to look at the frame and decide on the size of the turbo beforehand.

Can I Fit The Turbo Myself?

Usually, when you purchase a turbocharger, it is accompanied by a product information sheet, user manual, or installation manual. Inside the manual, you will be given an overview of what you can expect from the turbo, the basics of installation, and a step-by-step installation guide.

Due to the fact that some go-karts are home-built projects and some are bought from a manufacturer, you will have to determine if you need to do a custom fit on your frame and engine. If you are getting overwhelmed and are unsure, you can contact a mechanic specializing in the installation of turbochargers for guidance.

In the manufacturer’s manual, you should also be supplied with a list of tools you might need to install the turbo. This way, you can check that you have everything to your availability.

Best Turbos For Go Karts

In the world of speed, more is usually more. The more BHP you have, the more power, speed, and torque your engine will have. With go-karts, I would say less is more where a turbo is concerned. The determining factor would be whether you are using a two-stroke or four-stroke engine.

On a typical go-kart, a turbocharger on the smaller side will be recommended. The turbochargers that are typically used on four-stroke motorcycles will be perfect for your go-kart. Unless you are a competitive racer, you should aim for around 5 to 20HP output.


What Should You Know Before Installing A Turbo

Various changes might need to be effected to your go kart engine and the frame once you decide to install a turbo. Firstly, the engine’s output will change; you will increase power, speed, and pressure. Let’s look at some things to consider;

  • Fuel system. Adding a turbo will require the fuel system to change either to an injection system or a carburetor.
  • New exhaust manifold. You might have to customize your exhaust system to accommodate the turbo and ensure your bolting system increases in strength.
  • Custom mounting brackets. Your new turbo might require you to have custom mounting brackets designed, and you can have these made by a steel cutting company to specification.
  • Oil pressure system. Having an oil pressurizing system is crucial for your turbo; an electric pump should be easy to install.
  • Intercooler. As your turbo will increase engine heat, you need to consider either an intercooler or water cooling system to decrease heat. Too much heat will reduce performance.

A systematic approach to installing the turbocharger on your go-kart is important because every element that needs to change in the engine will affect your go kart’s overall performance.

Can A Turbo Hurt My Go Kart Engine?

A properly installed turbocharger on a go-kart should, in theory, not hurt the engine. In fact, it will greatly increase the power and performance of your go kart. Go-karts are usually driven at full speed and performance for the most part when the engine is running, and therefore the turbo will be at peak performance the whole way through. In a car fitted with a turbo, you are more likely to sustain damage to the turbo when the car is idling in traffic.

How Would I Know My Turbo Is Damaged?

Having a damaged turbo can be identified as follows;

  • Significant power loss.
  • Noisy and slow acceleration.
  • Top speed is not maintained.
  • The exhaust will smoke.
  • Loud whining noise coming from the turbocharger.

What Causes Turbo Damage?

Below are the four most common things that can cause damage to your turbocharger;

  • Not enough oil in the system.
  • Using the wrong kind of oil.
  • Damaged seals which cause the oil to leak into the exhaust system.
  • An old engine with very high mileage.

The longer you operate the go-kart with a damaged turbo, the more damage there will be to the engine. Immediately cut power to the engine and let all parts cool down before touching the turbo or the engine. Assess any damage and, if need be, replace the turbo or other affected parts.

Supercharger vs. Turbo Charger. What Is The Difference?

A supercharger is a term used generically for an air compressor used to increase the pressure and density of air when it enters an engine, providing the engine with more oxygen to burn fuel. It is typically powered via the crankshaft by belt, chain, or gear.

A turbocharger is essentially a supercharger that is powered by a turbine in the exhaust system. Turbochargers are able to harness the free energy typically lost through the exhaust system to boost the engine. The turbocharger increases the backpressure of the exhaust, which adds to the load on the engine.


There is proof that you definitely can put a turbocharger on your go-kart; the only thing to consider would be how much you are willing to spend to make the necessary changes and adjustments to the frame and engine. Are you willing to redesign the mountings and possibly a whole new exhaust system?

There is an option to buy a go-kart that comes pre-fitted with a turbocharger and, more commonly, a supercharger. This way, you know that the engine is sound mechanically, the turbo is fitted engine specific, and all other components will be in working order. You will have a guaranteed power output and will not need to endure any sleepless nights worried about an intercooler system that just doesn’t fit.