Go Kart Won’t Stay Running? Here’s What To Do

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A go-kart that starts but will not stay running is something that everyone that owns a go-kart will have to navigate at least once in their lives (probably more than once, to be honest). Here is what to do should this be happening to you. A step-by-step checklist guide of the engine will be required. Making sure you cross your t’s and dot your i’s before you go into panic mode.

Here’s what to do when your go-kart won’t stay running.

  • Check the fuel and oil levels and filters.
  • Check the spark plug.
  • Check the carburetor and the float.
  • Check the ignition and kill switch.
  • Check the compression.
  • Check the air filter.
  • Check all fuel lines.
  • Call the professionals.

Having a go-kart that won’t stay running is frustrating. Figuring out why it’s not running should not have to be. By following the following checklist, you will most probably solve this crisis and get on the track where you belong. If you are not mechanically inclined, then hire one to come to help you fix your problem. Should the opposite be true, you should start going through the checklist as soon as possible.

Here’s What You Can Do When Your Go-Kart Won’t Stay Running

Before going into self-pity mode and forming worst-case financial scenarios in your head, start with a checklist and try to solve the puzzling case of why your go-kart won’t stay running yourself. If none of these fixes your problem, then it will be time to call in a professional go-kart mechanic, only after you have performed the above checks yourself. Please give it a go!

1. Check The Fuel And Oil Levels And All Filters

The most specific element to check when your go-kart won’t start is checking the fuel level. Believe it or not but not having enough fuel in the tank is the top reason why go-karts won’t stay running.

Most go-karts have a Low Oil Cutoff Sensor that cuts the engine should the oil level be deemed too low. Check and replace the oil levels if needed.

If water has somehow managed to get into the gas tank or carburetor, the engine will start but die shortly after. Check if there are water beads at the bottom of the tank. If water is present in the fuel supply and carburetor, you will have to replace the fuel.

2. Check The Spark Plug

The fuel’s age, use, and quality contribute to why a spark plug is dirty or not sparking correctly.

If you don’t have a spark plug tester at hand, then you can use this manual testing method.

  • Take off the ignition wire, and remove the spark plug by using a suitable spark plug wrench.
  • Reconnect the ignition wire on top of the spark plug.
  • Ensure that the other end of the spark plug with the metal body touches the metal part of the engine cylinder head.
  • Watch the metal tip of the spark plug when turning the engine over. You should see a blue spark that arches between the inner central electrode and the curved metal top.

If there is no spark, then replace the spark plug with a new one.

3. Check The Carburetor And The Float

The carburetor is a crucial part of the go-kart’s engine as it combines the right amount of air and fuel before pumping it to the rest of the engine. Should it not be working correctly, either too much fuel or too little fuel distribution, it could eventually lead to your engine stalling out.

How To Check And Clean Your Carburetor

  • Remove the carburetor from the go-kart’s engine.
  • Start by taking apart the carburetor, making sure to clean the following: Float bowl, float needle, float pin, main jet, pilot jet, fuel screw, and the choke.
  • Use carburetor cleaner and air spray to clean the components.
  • The rest of the carburetor will consist of various intakes, valves, and inlets-make sure you clean these thoroughly with carburetor cleaner and a cloth.
  • After assembling, test the flow of the carburetor and the carburetor float, and confirm that it’s working correctly.
  • You can adjust the fuel flow yourself by turning the air correction screw. Clockwise will increase the flow, and counterclockwise will decrease the flow.

Test the carburetor by spraying some starter fluid into the carburetor. If the engine starts and keeps on running only until the starter fluid is finished, then you know that the carburetor is not getting the proper fuel amount required for the engine.

Image: Shutterstock.com

4. Check The Ignition And Kill Switch

The kill switch is the switch that kills the engine via a switch located on the steering wheel. This switch is typically used in emergencies. Faulty and exposed wiring could lead to this switch not working correctly. Test the switch and confirm that it works properly. A malfunctioning switch can kill the engine continuously until fixed.

A faulty ignition switch can also be the culprit when your kart doesn’t stay running. If you have some electrical experience, then go ahead and test the ignition yourself. If not, then call an auto-electrician to give your go-kart a full electrical check and mark it as a general maintenance cost.

5. Check The Compression

To check for compression, the following should work. Take the spark plug out and insert your finger in its place. Turn the engine. Your finger should be pushed out by outgoing air. If not, then your problem can be that there is not enough compression in the engine. If this is the case, consider removing the engine head and check the valves to see if they are stuck.

Check the pistons and look for any damage or scratches on them. If scratched, it indicates that the engine was running on too little oil for some time. Replacing the pistons should help with any compression issues.

6. Check The Air Filter

Check and inspect the air filter of your kart. A clogged or wet air filter could be the reason that your engine doesn’t stay running. Clean or replace the air filter and see if the problem persists.

7. Check All Fuel Lines

Check all the fuel lines and make sure that they are functioning. Look out for any pinched or clogged lines, ensuring each one can keep the fuel flowing to the designated points.

While you are performing these checks, be sure to check the fuel pump to see if it’s pumping the fuel as required. Ensure to specifically check the fuel pickup hose for any corrosion, as this can lead to the engine not running correctly.

Please look at the fuel filter while you are at it; a dirty filter can prevent the fuel from getting to the carburetor. Check to see if the fuel filter is blocked. Test it by blowing air through it. If no air can get through, replace it immediately.

8. Call The Professionals

Should the engine problem not be solved after checking and completing the above self-checks, hiring a professional mechanic/electrician to assist should be your next step.


Struggling with your special go-kart when it won’t stay running is no fun. All sorts of despair accompany this situation. Hopefully, going through the above checklist will bring you closer to sorting out the problem.

The checks mentioned above are easy to do yourself, even if you have no mechanical experience. Going through them will nullify the apparent reasons why a go-kart engine won’t stay running, and if you don’t get to the root of the problem, at least you tried before calling in for some help.


How to Test a Spark Plug To See If It’s Working | The Family Handyman

How to Fix a Go-Kart Carburetor That Is Leaking Gas | GoKartGuide

How to Clean a Go-Kart Carburetor (5 Easy Steps) | GoKartGuide

Troubleshoot Your Small Engine (diygokarts.com)