There are plenty of go kart engines out there. Choosing the best one will be a balance of cost and reliability. After reading this list, you will be more informed as to which one you should get.
- Oil: You should change the oil about ever 20 hours, or once a year. Most go kart engines should take 5w30 or 10w30 ‘energy conserving’ oil. I use fully synthetic on mine.
- Air Filter: The air filter should be changed when its loaded up with dirt, or as often as your oil. Most filters come with a foam pre-filter, which can be cleaned out.
- Gas: Most industrial engines required regular unleaded fuel. Most fuel currently contains 10% ethanol. Gas will turn to varnish over time, which will gum up your fuel delivery system. Adding a fuel stabilizer (available at any hardware or automotive store) will usually let you store your kart with old gas in it for a year with no problems.
- Clean: If your engine is covered in grease, you can spray on an engine degreaser, let it soak, then wash it down with a hose. If your engine is not running, chances are you have a dirty carb, and you should clean it out.
Cheap Go Kart Engines
There’s cheap, and then there’s ‘cheap’.
The only contender for the go kart engine that is cheap, but not built cheaply is the predator 212cc engine. No engine comes close to its usefulness, and its actually reliable (see below).
Best Go Kart Engine
The best go kart engine for kids should sit right around 5-7 hp, have a 3/4″ shaft, and fit a centrifugal clutch or 30 series torque converter, and has a standard bolt pattern for easy mounting.
Honda GX200 the king. The Honda GX series engines are built well, last long, but are a little expensive. There is a large market for this engine in racing, and with performance parts. The only way you can beat the honda gx series engine, is to make a copy of it in china, and sell it cheap, and that is what the box stock project clone engine is. Clone engines are arguably the best engine out there for go kart racers as they have their own class for racing. You can click here to see which the 6.5 hp engine the honda clones are copied from.
Briggs 5 hp Flathead is still out there. It was the king, but still commands a large presence. Many spare go kart engine parts, and performance parts are available for this classic engine. The newer OHV style engines outperform this engine. Briggs also has a niche market for go kart racing OHV engines, which are pretty pricey.
Subaru EX17 I would put this up there with Honda as far as reliability goes, and they have some impressive engineering going on. However, steer clear of any Subaru industrial engine for a go kart. Unfortunately, replacement parts are about 500% higher than they should be (e.g. a replacement carburetor that should cost $15-$20 is $100. The performance part market for Subaru engines is almost non existent. If you are going to get a Subaru, stick with the car, not the small engine.
The Infamous Harbor Freight Predator 212cc engine is the best go kart engine because it is copied for the most part from a Honda GX 200 series engine, but it sells for much less. A win-win for the consumer. So if you have an old go kart with a junk engine on it, you can spend $40-$80 in parts to fix up, or buy a new predator 212cc engine for $100 and perform a simple engine swap, the choice is clear. Race classes use this engine specifically, and the go kart performance part market is up to its eyeballs in predator 212cc performance parts, such as the high flow intake and air filter, and the bolt on performance header pipe. Many go karts have been fixed up to have this reliable, cheap engine, which is why it is one of the best go kart engines used today. If you want to buy a predator engine, you can usually get a coupon and order one online from http://www.harborfreight.com for around $100.
The Big Boys
These engines should have a 1″ shaft, range from 8-13 hp, and utilize the 40 series torque converter.
Honda GX340 GX390 11-13 hp I personally have the 11 and 13 (340 and 390) versions, and they are a blast to drive. Plan on going about 40 mph with plenty of torque on these guys.
Briggs Vanguard 10, 13 hp I haven’t seen many of these around, but they are work horses, just like the Honda GX series engines.
Predator 13 hp 420 cc: A few more cc’s and a lot less expensive than the briggs and honda counterparts, this engine is great.
The Biggest Boys
These engines are too big for any go kart, are meant for industrial grade work, and push beyond the limits of any transmission meant for a go kart. That’s why we like them, right? These come standard with key-start, and have plenty of amps to run off-road lights. These are perfect for a mini buggy type off road vehicle, or performance golf cart.
Honda V-Twin The GX630 and GX690 range from 20 to 22 hp. Older versions include 610, 620, and 670. I currently own a gx620, which I will be installing on a mini buggy.
Briggs Vanguard V-Twin The 16 hp vanguard is the smallest v-twin, and is really the only v-twin that is safe to use with the 40 series torque converter (which is rated to 18 hp) and the Comet FNR gearbox (which is rated to 16 hp). The briggs vanguard v-twins range all the way up to 35 hp!
22 HP (670cc) V-Twin Horizontal Shaft Gas Engine EPA The newest addition to the V-Twin pool, which is a 22 hp, 670CC engine. True to its history, the predator v-twin 670cc 22 hp engine is cheaper than the industrial honda and briggs v-twin engines, and looks just about as reliable.
This is part of the go kart maintenance section.
Did I miss anything? Please comment as I am constantly updating this website.