Are Go-Karts Manual Or Automatic? (Different Transmission Types)

Whether you're a first-time go-karter or a seasoned pro, our guide on Are Go-Karts Manual or Automatic will help you understand the key differences between the two types and make an informed decision.
are go-karts manual or automatic transmissions

If you’ve never driven a go-kart before, you might be wondering whether these mini-cars are automatic or manual. Done worry; we have the answer for you.

Most go-karts are typically automatic or direct drive, which means you don’t have to change gears. Still, automatic go-karts do come with one gear; single-speed, which you can use for automatic transmission. Meanwhile, shifter go-karts feature manual transmission and have up to 6 changeable gears. 

Today, we’ll discuss and understand the differences between automatic and manual go-karts and how to deal with each type. 

Definition Of Manual And Automatic Transmission 

At many go-kart tracks, you will typically be provided with a manual or automatic kart that has a single, fixed gear ratio. This means that you do not need to manually shift gears as you drive. 

So, in reality, automatic go-karts will change gears internally by themselves depending on the engine’s revolutions per minute (RPM). 

Manual transmission requires more physical work while driving; you’ll have to monitor the speed and shift gears accordingly.

Driving a shifter go-kart will feel just like driving a car. You will have to change gears manually and switch between 6 different speeds. 

Go-Karts And Transmission Types

You might come across three types of go-karts: no transmission, manual transmission, and automatic transmission. 

No transmission and automatic transmission karts are typical beginner and kid-friendly vehicles. These are usually the ones that come in theme parks or go-kart riding venues. 

Automatic transmission karts are suitable for kids, teenagers, and first-timers, while a manual transmission is better suited for experienced drivers. 

Meanwhile, a professional go-kart racer will most likely use a shifter go-kart which gives him more control. These shifter go-karts come with six-speed manual gearboxes, which can help you pull a Fast & Furious stunt while racing. 

Electric And Gas-Powered Go-Karts

Most people don’t know that go-karts use both gas and electricity to power themselves, and there’s quite a distinction between the two types.

If you want a smoother kart, go for an electric-powered machine. Electric-powered go-karts can hit their top speeds very fast, making them faster than gas-powered karts. 

Meanwhile, the acceleration in a gas-powered kart is slightly weaker. It becomes slower as it reaches its highest RPM capacity. 

Another difference with gas-powered karts is that they are constantly engaged, meaning they start moving once you turn the engines on. This is because they cannot adjust the power transfer into the rear wheels, making them constantly active. 

Can Go-Karts Idle?

Yes, most go-karts can idle as long as they have a manual or automatic transmission. However, a direct drive or no transmission kart is unable to idle. 

You can bring an automatic transmission go-kart to an idle position without any hassle. You can do this when the RPM falls below a specific slow speed. The mechanism allows you to smoothly take off once again from an idle position. 

Also Read: Complete Tips & Info Guides

On the other hand, gas-powered karts have their rear wheels constantly engaged, so getting them to idle can prove to be difficult. 

In contrast, a manual go-kart can only be brought to an idle position if the engine has this capability. So it varies from kart to kart.  

Pros And Cons Of Manual Vs. Automatic Go-Karts

Manual and automatic go-karts have distinct features in terms of construction, engine size, and performance. One type is easier to control and operate, while the other allows for more flexibility in driving style. Both types have their own pros and cons. 

Manual Go-Karts


  • You can change gears manually, which is very familiar if you drive a car.
  • You can get the most out of the engine and attain higher speeds with more control. 
  • You get numerous gear ratios allowing you to drive however you, please.


  • You will need excellent skill and great control over the engine to drive a manual kart.
  • You will need to be constantly alert and coordinate the engine accordingly.
  • You might have difficulty installing manual engines as they are very complicated.
  • You will have to maintain the engine properly, so it doesn’t malfunction.
  • Manual engines are more expensive. 

Automatic Go-karts


  • Automatic go-karts are easier to control, making them suitable for youngsters and first-time drivers.
  • Since there is very little manual control required, you can enjoy a breezy ride without focusing on gear coordination.
  • You won’t have to deal with too many additional parts.


  • You don’t have the choice to choose your own gear, as there is only one gear set by default.
  • Automatic engines can be slower, making them unsuitable for professional races; you’ll take longer to cover laps.


So there you have it, everything you need to know about manual and automatic go-karts! Let’s take a quick recap.

Automatic go-karts are well-suited for beginners and younger users due to their ease of use. They don’t need any engine coordination, which means it’s all about enjoyment!

On the other hand, manual go-karts need you to take an active part in the engine coordination. This means you’ll need more skill and will have to be constantly alert while driving. They are great for professional go-kart races!

We encourage you to try out both and see what floats your boat. Are you a beginner driver? Or an experienced professional? Find out!



Meet Charles, a passionate writer and avid go-kart enthusiast. With a background in motorsports, Charles brings a unique perspective to the world of go-karting and motorsports. When Charles is not behind the wheel, you can find him crafting compelling stories and informative articles on the latest trends and technology on the PK's Go-Karts blog here.