Do Go Karts Have ______? Go Kart FAQ

When first getting started with go karts, there are a lot of misconceptions. Many people wonder some basic information about go karts, so I’ve done my best to make a list of the most common questions and answers.

Do Go Karts Have Titles?

Go karts do not come with titles. They are intended for private property usage, or at your own home. Basically anywhere off of public roads. That said, some states do allow for off-road go karts to be driven on public roads if they are titled and registered correctly. Not all states offer this ability, your local DMV would know. Go karts are generally labeled as low-speed vehicles, that’s why they do not require all the equipment needed for a title. 

If you live in a state that does allow go karts to be titled, be prepared to add or verify your go kart has all the required equipment. Headlights, turn signals, mirrors, seat belts, etc. 

Do Go Karts Have Seat Belts?

Racing go karts actually do not have seat belts. They rely on the seating position of the driver and the low center of gravity. Also, it is actually safer for the driver to be thrown from the vehicle in the event of a rollover crash since the weight of the go kart could do some serious damage if it landed on top of the driver.

Off-road go karts are more likely to have seat belts, and should absolutely have them added if they don’t have them. Go karts can be very dangerous but with the proper safety equipment and the proper care taken while driving, they can be perfectly safe. Go kart safety 101here.

Do Go Karts Have Weight Limits?

Each go kart has its own weight limit, but each one definitely specifies a limit. Go karts being made of metal tube frames, they will have different limits based on the diameter of the tube and thickness of the material. Most of the time racing go kart limits go by, can you fit in the go kart or not? If you fit, you’re probably under the limit. That said if you plan to race and are on the heavier side, plan to be a much better driver to be competitive. You have to make up for the extra weight somehow. Other smaller drivers will have that advantage on you from the start.

Off-road go karts are different since they allow much more room for the driver and passenger. Some of the small go karts have 200lb limits while some of the larger ones can go up to 800lbs. If you are worried about the limits check the go kart stickers. Most manufacturers put limits right on the go kart. Some common go karts and their limits are below.

  • Manco Dingo Single Seater – 250 lbs
  • Manco Scorpion Two Seater – 400 lbs
  • Yerf Dog Go Karts – 250 lbs
  • Trailmaster XRS 150 – 500 lbs
  • Trailmaster XRS 300 – 800 lbs

Do Go Karts Have Brakes?

Absolutely! But not the same style as a car. Actually, they are more similar to bicycles in some cases. The two most common kinds of brakes on go karts are disc brakes and drum brakes. 

Disc brakes consist of a disc that is fastened to the rear axle so it spins with the rear wheels. There is then a fixed caliper around the disc. Inside are two pads that will squeeze on the disc. In vehicles, squeezing the brake pads is done with fluid pressure, but on go karts it’s done with angles. Your brake pedal is attached to a metal rod or cable that will pull on a lever. The lever will rotate at an angle making less space for the pad to sit, thus pushing it closer to the disc and slowing the go kart. It’s basically a mechanical caliper.

Drum brakes are much more simple. The drum is attached to the axle as well and spins with the rear wheels. There is a semi-circle brake pad that is attached on one end to a fixed location and the other side to a cable that goes to the brake pedal. When you push the brake pedal it pulls on the brake pad and pulls it forward around the drum, slowing down the go kart. 

Both brakes are less effective than a car and definitely something to get used to. It’s a very good rule of thumb to test the braking effectiveness in your go kart and to remember to slow down a lot sooner than you normally would. Just drive as though it’s icy out and you’ll do just fine.  

Do Go Karts Have Suspension?

Generally speaking here, racing go karts do not have suspension, and off-road go karts do, or at least they should. It comes down to weight and safety. For more information check out my in-depth post about suspensions on go karts here.

Do Go Karts Have Gears?

Gears are also a very common question. They have gears in the sense of a sprocket with teeth attached to a chain. But like suspension, I go into more detail about gears here.

Are Go Karts Manual or Automatic?

The vast majority are automatic in terms of shifting. You don’t have to shift most go karts. There are some types, called shifter karts that have sequential gearing that you have to shift, but these are advanced go karts and typically not what the average person owns. To learn more about Go Karts with Transmissions or shifter karts, see below.

Do Go Karts Have Transmissions?

Transmissions are very uncommon but do exist. Some high end go karts have transmissions and even some racing go karts called shifter karts have forms of transmissions. I go into much greater detail here.

Do Go Karts Have Reverse?

Another very common question, and one a lot of people seem to be upset about. The vast majority of go karts do not have reverse. It’s just not used common enough and is just another expensive part to fail. Most manufacturers do not include them. However, they can be added aftermarket, details here.

Are Go Karts Rear Wheel Drive?

Yes. The engine sits in the back and turns the rear axle and thus the rear wheels via chains, belts, or even sometimes gears or transmissions. There are some specialized or heavily modified go karts that are all wheel drive, but you probably will not come across something like that. 99.9% of go karts are rear wheel drive.


I love to drive my kids around in our go kart and I'm always looking for an opportunity to share what I've learned with others!

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