Go Kart Steering System: Parts, Design & Build

welding go kart steering

Go Kart Steering

Go kart steering can be complex, overwhelming, and a source of major problems if you don’t build your go kart correctly. Luckily, I have reviewed many different go kart steering designs and will show you how the go kart steering works. With input from acquaintances in the go karting industry, I have selected the simplest, easiest method to build a heavy duty, and reliable go kart steering system with all of the parts you need. So lets build your own DIY go kart steering system.

go kart steering parts

Go Kart Steering Kit Parts Breakdown

There are the parts you will need to buy, and there are the parts you can build from scratch or purchase from a hardware store. The go kart steering parts that came with the whole go kart build kit that I got  can be purchased in the above link, and are are listed below:

  • 10 inch go kart steering wheel
  • 3/8 inch x 8″ tie rod with tie rod ends
  • 3/8 inch x 18″ tie rod with tie rod ends
  • (2x) 3″ tall spindle brackets with 1/2″ kingpin holes
  • RH & LH (right and left hand) spindles
  • Kill switch (it mounts to the steering hoop)

The parts of the steering system assembly are part of the free go kart steering plans that I offer at KartFab.com.  The go kart steering components that I had to buy at a hardware store, or design, cut, and build are as follows:

go kart steering column and steering wheel hub

Steering Column

  • 11ga. 18″x3/4″ OD tubing for the steering shaft
  • Steering wheel hub made from a 2 1/2″ OD flat washer
  • (2x) 3/4″ID (1″OD)bushings (a.k.a spacers or sleeves) to hold the steering shaft in place under the steering hoop as well as against the lower bracket

go kart pitman arm

Lower Bracket, Steering Stop & Pitman Arm

  • 3/16″ plate was used to make the lower bracket and pitman arm
  • 1″x1″x1/8″ thick angle iron was used for the steering stop

go kart steering hoop

Steering Hoop & Kill Switch

  • 11ga 1″x1″ square tubing
  • 3/16″ thick kill switch plate
go kart steering hardware

Steering Component Hardware

  • (2x) 1/2-13 x 3 1/2″ bolt used as the kingpin bolts on the spindle brackets
  • (2x)1/2-13 nut used to secure kingpin bolts to spindle brackets
  • (2x) 3/8-16 x 1″ bolts used to secure tie rod ends to spindle arms
  • (1x) 3/8-16 x 2″ bolt used to secure pitman arm to tie rod ends
  • (3x) 3/8-16 nuts to secure bolts to tie rod ends
  • (4x)1/4-20 x 1/2″ bolts secure steering wheel to hub and the kill switch ground to the kill switch plate on the steering hoop
  • (2x) 5/8″ ID x 1″ spacers for spindles to space out the rims
how to make a go kart steering column

How to Make Go Kart Steering: Assembly

Building a go kart steering system is really easy with the plans that I have provided. Just follow the step-by-step instructions and diagrams in the plans, drill and cut out the steel, and weld it up. I have attached the diagrams as pictures here for reference, but you can get larger diagrams in the PDF go kart plans (opens PDF in new window). Here are the steps I created for DIY go kart steering:

go kart steering hoop design
how to make go kart steering

Steering Hoop: Cut out and weld the steering hoop on a flat surface. The angles were cut on  51° read from a protractor (reads as 39° from an abrasive chop saw). You should also cut out and drill holes for the kill switch plate. Weld the kill switch plate onto the steering hoop. When tacking the steering hoop to the frame, you should shoot for about a 55° slant. 

Steering Shaft: Drill holes in the steering wheel hub, and weld it flush with the steering shaft (make sure you have the steering wheel symmetrical on this step). Slide the two spacers onto the shaft, drill a 3/4″ hole in the lower bracket that will be welded to the kart. Weld the angle iron (steering stop) and pitman arm (with 3/8″ hole) onto the shaft as well. The lower bracket should have just enough play between the spacer and steering stop to spin freely on the steering shaft without binding.

welding go kart steering colum to steering hoop

Weld Shaft to Hoop: Once the hoop and column are complete, it is time to permanently attach them to the kart. Again, the hoop should be about at a 55 degree angle from the horizontal frame. Make sure the 3/4″ID spacer on the steering shaft has some wiggle room, then tack it. If it is a tight fit, welding will make it warp and bind to the shaft. I ground down part of the steering column so it would have enough wiggle room before welding.

go kart steering stop

Weld the Lower Bracket to the Frame: Tack weld the lower bracket first, then check the steering angle. Make sure that the pitman arm travel is limited so that the go karts steering angle turns no more than 45 in either direction from straight up. ‘Straight up’ is when the pitman arm points straight up, and the wheels are both pointing forward. I used my angle finder to determine how high to tack the lower bracket that holds the steering column.  The angle iron should contact the frame and prevent you from over steering.

go kart spindle brackets welded

Weld Spindle Brackets to the Front Axle: The spindle brackets that came in the go kart parts kit should be tack welded near 90°,  roughly centered on the go kart’s front axle. There is minimal room for error here, so please attach the tie rods and spindles just to make sure they (the tie rods) don’t contact the bumper before you fully weld the spindle brackets to the axle.

go kart tie rod and spindle assembly

Attach Tie Rods, Spindles, and Steering Wheel: The tie rods in the above picture and spindles should be bolted onto the kart. Tighten the kingpin bolts (the bolts that hold on the spindles) just tight enough that they don’t bind to the spindles.

go kart steering system

Go Kart Steering Design

Building a go kart steering system is easy with the design I used. This system includes the wheel, column, steering stops and brackets, which then attach to the pitman arm, tie rods, spindles, and spindle brackets. This reliable design has stood the test of time and needs minimal servicing. This kart is functional, simple, and heavy duty. You will get many years of enjoyment out of it.

Now that you have the go kart steering complete, the hardest part is officially over! Its all downhill from here. Lets move onto the pedals next.

Plans | Materials | Cut | Frame | Axle | Floor | Engine | Seat | Steering | Brakes | Throttle | Extras | Paint | Final Assembly |

91 thoughts on “Go Kart Steering System: Parts, Design & Build”

  1. I bought the Standard Live Axle plans and i purchased the live axle kit. The Steering hoop that came with the kit is a little narrower (2 inches) than what is the plans. But real problem is the height. The hoop is 16 inches tall and when it is installed, it is tool tall for the Steering shaft. If you mount the steering hoop at 90 deg, the steering shaft needs to be longer than the 18 inches from your plans. Or the top of the hoop needs to be angled forward. Your plans need to be updated.

  2. Hey Kartfab getting ready to weld up the steering shaft/hoop and have a question. I am building the standard live axle plans that came with the steering hoop. The hoop seems way to tall but there is no dimension for the height or mention of cutting it down to the correct height. If the hoop is mounted as is where the plans call for the steering shaft doesn’t even reach the top of the hoop. The hoop I have is 16″ tall. The steering shaft is 18″ long. Mounting the hoop 10 1/4″ away from front bumper(per plan) the steering shaft will not even come close to the top of the steering hoop. What do I do?

  3. Hey KartFab* I’m building a design of a different go-kart u wouldn’t mind if I used ur steering mechanism? Also, how much do u think a good engine will cost?

  4. Any idea where I might get a go-kart spindle set made at an angle, instead of straight – { axle } ????????????????????? Don’t know what brand ………………….. C – bracket welded at an angle, to accommodate spindles so, straight ones make the wheels lean…………. They want a fortune to re-weld the brackets straight…………

  5. Hi Kart Fab:

    I don’t understand something regarding spindles: In your directions for the live axle (NOT DELUXE) you say, “The brackets should rest at 90 degrees to level (completely upright).” That I get, but then you write, “However, with the incline of the go kart with the live axle, you may wish to install all tires, and adjust the spindle brackets to be vertical rather than 90 degrees to the axle frame.”

    Can you explain a) what you mean by “the incline of the kart with the live axle”? (What kind of incline will there be if all the tires are the same (on the standard live axle?) and b) How do you install all the tires and then adjust the spindle brackets to vertical? Do you tack them down and then put on the spindles and tires and take some measurements and retack accordingly?

    Finally, Does it actually matter whether the spindles are 90 to the frame or the ground in terms of handling etc.? Is this a big deal either way?


    1. Andrew,
      A) There is a very slight incline of the standard live axle kart, meaning the back of the kart sits maybe an inch or two higher than the front. This is due to the axle bearing hangers.
      B) You install the tires and adjust the spindle brackets to vertical by: 1) tack weld C-brackets (spindle brackets) to frame, install tires 2) put the angle finder on the side of the spindle bracket and rotate by hand or tapping with hammer. A tack weld is flexible to a point and will hold pretty well until you get another tack weld on it. You are right, you tack, then measure, then fully weld when you are satisfied with the measurement. If you want to bypass this step, and just have the frame flat on the ground with no tires, rotate the c-bracket so it sits 5 to 7 degrees back (eg, rotate the top of the bracket toward the rear of the kart). This should be ‘good enough’.
      C) Does it actually matter whether the spindles are 90 to the frame or the ground in terms of handling etc.? NOPE!!! a lot of people get caught up in this, and bring up ackerman, steering angle, camber, caster etc. This is a simple go kart with simple steering. It does not require ‘precise’ measurements to be able to turn. So if you want to add some camber or caster, or redesign anything, feel free. It wont make much difference. This is a simple yard kart and 90 degrees is good enough.

  6. Have you any ideas on how I can get go kart steering for a scooter? I’m wanting to build a 4 wheeled scooter and am thinking the go-kart steering would be best to omit oversteering. I’m thinking of buying the kit and getting it machined into smaller versions. do you have any other ideas?

  7. I’d like to put a smaller version of go kart steering on a 4 wheeled scooter. I’m considering buying the steering kit and getting it made smaller to compensate a 12″ board. do you have any recommendations?

  8. We recently purchased the dead axle go kart kit. The 2 front spindles are different from each other and one them does not even have a grease fitting. I need to get a replacement for the one that does not have a grease fitting. Can you help.

    1. There is a Lefthand spindle and there is a Righthand spindle. Look closely at the parts kit again. Also, I do not ever remember there being a grease fitting on the spindles when i got my kit. If you still think there was a mistake, please contact the go kart part store you received the kit from.

      1. Yes, one spindle has a grease fitting. For that reason, along with the the length of the bolt sleeve being different, was what I was referring to when I said they were different. I realize they are different because there is a left and right side, but they shouldn’t be different sizes.

    1. steel distributor, you can use any sort of 3/4″ od tubing or any tubing really (e.g. 7/8″ 1″), as long as you can get a spacer or drill a hole in a piece of steel that matches the OD of the tubing.

  9. I upgraded to springer brackets. If I weld to front axle in the center the tie-rods hit the frame. Is it ok to weld the bracket 1/4 inch from the bottom?

    1. do what you need to do, but please double check that the spindles are not only on the correct side of the go kart, but pointed in the right direction (e.g. up vs down). This will most likely solve your problem.

  10. Sir we facing much deficulty in steering mechanism design …….plzz help us…our go kart size is 46x39in…..
    Our ackerman % is 70 and i want 90+ %
    Plzz help me out

    1. Wouldn’t you rather just have a kart that has steering that works well, rather than shooting for a percentage? If you want to modify the ackerman more than you already have, you will need to position the tie rod ends on the pitman arm in a triagular fashion, and make the spindle arms a non- 90 degree angle. Again, you should not have the goal of a certain ackerman percentage, but you should have the goal of a go kart that steers well. There are ALWAYS trade offs with steering.

  11. Morning! I got the deluxe plans and kit, and so far it has all gone to gone together perfectly, so thank you. I thought I’d let you know that there is one issue with the layout/info/parts. The steering hoop that I was sent, when installed the ten plus inches from the inside of the axle and at a right angle from the frame, results in a situation where the 18″ steering column assembly is effectively too short. It does not meet the hoop. So either that 10 plus inch dimension from the axle to hoop is wrong, or the hoop I received is too tall (though that may not resolve the problem without shifting either its angle or distance to axle), or the steering column needs to be longer. I can’t judge if the hoop they sent is the right height, as that dimension is not on the plan.

    Anyhow, I have been building the cart with my nine year old daughter, and it has been fabulous. She finds all the dimensions, lays out the cuts, and then cuts the pieces on a band saw. So thank you. This issue with the steering assembly is the only hiccup, and I am going to just go ahead and build the older version of the steering hoop that you have here on the site. Thank You!

    1. Andrew, thanks for the feedback! Much appreciated. I checked into it and here are the results: 1) the original hoop i had when I was building the kart was shorter. So, with that said, just cut some off the hoop until you get the right dimensions. I’ll be updating the plans to account for the longer hoop that comes with the parts kit.

  12. Guys can I ask you for some answers,Im thinking of buildig this go kart with a generator but the problem is I dont know how to regulate the generator shaft,I want the generator engine to start but then the generator shaft will spin and my go kart will start to move and I want to regulate that with my gas pedal ,is there any solution?

  13. Hey. My buddy crashed my kart into a fence due to crappy steering. Before that happened I needed to replace the tie rods as I had misplaced the originals and could not find them anywhere. Since the new tie rods the kart does not turn well at all. Trying to go left it’ll want to keep going straight unless I turn super wide and slowly. Turns better right not as bad. Not sure how to fix this. The wheels are perfectly straight forward with the pitman arm perfectly straight up. Advice on solutions? I’ve been trying to research but have had no luck. Plus I don’t have much time to do lengthy research so I’m hoping you could possibly help me out. No rush I’ve been having this problem since July~August.

    1. hmmm that sounds like you have a problem with the spindles and spindle brackets. You need to accurately measure the angles. Get an angle finder and do some homework on ackerman, king pin inclination, camber, caster. Chances are you just bent the spindle,bracket, or bolt etc. Also, if it is really hard to steer, you may need to put some grease in the tie rod ends and steering rod where it pivots.

  14. Sir I’m 14 and want to build electric go kart I have done a lot research about it and all design r ready……….any guide lines u want to give……..?

  15. I have this steering setup on my grandsons cart,it’s scary,the cart is fast and it feels like it could flip when turning,it scares me too drive it. I’ve checked it out,all seems good to my limited knowledge. I would be willing to change the entire system out if it would fix this. Thanks for any help

  16. hello. my friends and i have decided to built an electric gokart how much does this change for an ekart like the steering angles for Ackerman and all ? what would be the best way to go for an ekart ??

  17. Hi, i just replaced spindles on my gokart same size as old ones, i hooked up linkage and now steering wheel turn 1/2 turn if that, king pin bolts and nut are not 100 percent tight that way the spindle can move, help please thanks, john

    1. its binding somewhere, check tie rod ends, and grease up fittings. If you used old bolts, you might want to replace them as well. Always leave extra space for the spindle to rotate on the kingpin bolts.

  18. how would i do this for a centered steering system, because i’m building a dune buggy that is going to be 7 ft long and i was looking for a way to do the steering mechanism.

  19. I bought an old go kart think it’s a bristers thunder kart not real sure.. When I order parts from GPS how do I know they will be the right fit, it’s basically a total restore going on?

    1. Jeremy, the go kart parts are a standard size. So all axles are basically 1″, all 1″ bearings fit 1″ axles, all bearing hangars fit 1″ bearings, all sprockets fit a 1″ axle, brakes fit a 1″ axle, 5/8″ bearings always fit front wheels. Does that make sense?

      So if it is a thunderkart (fun/yardkart) chances are its all standard size stuff. If its a racing kart or Chinese go kart, then it may be different. Just use your tape measure to be sure.

    1. I have that on my webpage under go kart plans. Steering is simple Pitman arm, and suspension can be none, front spring, and/or double a-arm. The simpler, the better in my opinion.

  20. Sir, I want to create a rack and pinion steering mechanism for my Go kart and it is to be right hand drive. Please give me a link or any instructions for this steering mechanism with suitable dimensions of the parts ,like you did above……

  21. Sir , as we know that in order to have a turning we need to have inner angle smaller than the outer angle.My Question is how can we do that?? Is there any ratio for the dimension of the tie rods for the right hand drive?? Please specify…

    1. Ackerman. Please research Ackerman. Camber caster etc. This is not a car, just a simple go kart and does not implement the angles you speak of. Even though it does not implement these angles, the steering is excellent.

  22. Sir what is the name of the steering mechanism used here??As I have different measurements for y go kart so I need different measurement and please tell me the way to find the dimensions for the right hand drive steering mechanism….

    1. Pitman arm steering. I do not know what you are referring to for ‘dimensions for right hand drive steering mechanism” but I can tell you that the spindle arms should be approximately double the length of the pitman arm for good steering.

  23. im building a go kart im 14 years old and have bought a 10 horse briggs and stratton motor but am having trouble finding pulleys of the right size. I dont have much money. Do you have any good sources of pulleys and drive belts? Also, is it easier to fabricate the steering parts from scratch or buy them? Thank you for your time.

    1. If you are creative you can build anything from scratch. I cant help with the pulleys though as they are not very reliable. Look into a centrifugal clutch or torque converter set up.

    2. Hi im nathan im 14 also working on a gocart. Nice to see other teens working on this type of thing. Good luck

    3. I just bought a pulley at a store called Tractor Supply Store

      It is for a v belt they had different sizes………7.00…they must have belts too…………

    1. Well, the easiest fix would be to put a 1/8″ thick washer under the spindle bracket on the side that was welded lower. Looks like you found out the hard way why it is best to measure multiple times. Good luck!

  24. Nice work. Very helpful instructions. I don’t want to spend the money for a kit and will fabricate the parts myself as usual. The plans have no suspension so do I really need tie rod ends? I was going to build a spindle type connection instead. I think it will work ok and should outlast my 11yr old.lol

    1. One wheel drive systems are the most basic go kart drive systems. They can be used on the street, or off road. The one wheel drive is limited as it wont grip as well as a live axle system where both wheels turn. You can still drive it and have fun with it. Later on I will be releasing plans to build a live axle or two wheel drive go kart.

  25. I like the idea of the whole go kart but it is too expensive for me. I am 13 years old and have a price range of about $200. How can get something similar for a cheaper amount. My dad can weld and do the dangerous stuff for me. What websites can I use to find used karts?

    1. You can beg people on craigslist to sell or give you an old broken down kart. In my experience, I have had to 1st buy a crappy kart for about $150-$250, then put at least $300 into it before it was good to drive around. So either way you need more cash to do it. I hope that helps. There’s no free lunch, but the more effort and patience you have the better chance you have of finding something. Sometimes it is best to just use effort to make $$ which can get you what you want. Effort and actions are the keys. Anybody can want something really bad, but few take the effort to achieve their goals and get what they want.

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