Beyond Grass: Can You Use A Lawnmower Engine For A Go-Kart?

Unlocking the Thrill: Can You Use a Lawnmower Engine For a Go-Kart

Have you ever wondered if that trusty lawnmower of yours could do more than just trim the lawn? Well, buckle up because we’re about to explore the exciting world where lawnmowers meet the thrill of go-kart racing!

So, you’re probably thinking, “Can you use a lawnmower engine for a go-kart?” Spoiler alert: Yes, you absolutely can! Picture this – back in the 1950s, someone had the ingenious idea to slap a surplus lawnmower engine onto a go-kart frame, and the rest is history.

Now, let’s not beat around the bush. We’re here to answer your burning question and uncover why your next go-kart adventure might just start with your humble lawnmower and a well-placed pulley. Ready to dive into the details? Let’s roll!

Why Choose A Vertical Shaft Lawnmower Engine Go-Kart

If you’re wondering why you should opt for a lawnmower engine to power your go-kart, here are some reasons that might convince you.

You can build a go-kart for cheap by using a vertical shaft lawnmower engine. They’re more affordable compared to buying a dedicated go-kart engine. The only challenge is that it requires some modifications to fit the go-kart frame.

It’s easier to find lawnmower engines than go-kart engines because they are more common in households. No need for special orders – head to the local store, and you’ll find lawnmowers any time of the year.

Finding a suitable engine for your DIY go-kart is a breeze once you determine the engine size needed.

Another advantage of using lawnmower engines for go-karts is recycling them for environmental benefit. Repurposing old lawnmower engines reduces waste and promotes eco-friendliness.

Understanding Lawnmower Engines

a mechanic fitting a push mower vertical shaft engine to a go-kart

Lawnmower engines come in various types with different specifications. Understanding their functioning is crucial for finding one suitable for your DIY go-kart project.

Engine Specifications

Standard lawnmower engines have specifications in engine size, power output, and design. Let’s explore the common features.

  • Engine Size: Standard lawnmower engines usually range between 140-190cc, perfect for a DIY go-kart. Commercial engines with a capacity of over 500cc also exist.
  • Power Output: Standard rotary lawnmowers range from 2-7 HP, and ride-on mowers can go from 12-30 HP, with more power to handle their weight.
  • Design: The lawnmowers people typically use to mow their lawns have a vertical shaft with a single cylinder.

Types of Lawnmower Engines

Various types include mulching mowers, hover mowers, riding mowers, rotary mowers, cylinder mowers, electric-powered mowers, zero-turn mowers, rear-engine, and self-propelled mowers. Each differs in power output and design.

Engine Design

Basic design features include a carburetor, fuel tank, fuel strainer, fuel pump, air-cooling system, etc. The lawnmowers people typically use to mow their lawns have a horizontal shaft with a single-cylinder

Also Read: Ultimate Resource On Go-Karts

Compatibility And Considerations

Key factors when repurposing a lawnmower engine for a go-kart include engine size, power, and safety considerations. You can’t randomly fit any engine – compatibility matters.

The advantages of using a lawnmower engine include cost-efficiency and availability. Find lawnmower engines easily at your local store, unlike go-kart engines.

Engine Size

Engine size should match your go-kart, typically ranging from 140-190 CC.

Standard go-karts accommodate a lawnmower engine with 3-7 HP. A riding or push mower’s vertical shaft engine is common for standard go-karts.

Power Output

Ensure the power output matches your go-kart, ranging from 2-7 HP. Choose according to your frame size.

Mounting and Attachment

Mounting an engine to the go-kart is a simple task. You must pick up the engine and place it in the place where you want to attach the motor. Once you place it on the go-kart, you must drill in all the nuts and bolts necessary to each point to keep it balanced and intact.


You must make necessary modifications to the go-kart so that you can keep it in place. The engine must not come in touch with other parts of the go-kart to avoid any damage. You must get your angles right while mounting and attaching the engine, or else you will face potential challenges while driving.

Safety Considerations

You should seek professional advice when it comes to the safety considerations of using a lawnmower engine on a go-kart. The basic safety measures you should take are to keep a fire extinguisher in place, ensure the engine is bolted in all the right places, and ensure that there are no oil spillages. 

Performance and Safety

The lawnmower engine performance and go-kart safety are key aspects of building your own go-kart. Let us discuss these factors in this section.

Performance Considerations

Power Output

The power output determines your go-kart’s performance. While most lawnmower engines have 2-7 HP, you can optimize it for your go-kart’s needs. Larger engines can be added for faster speeds, and adjusting the throttle can fine-tune your acceleration.


Acceleration can be gradual, especially with lower-powered lawnmower engines. Shifting gears and adjusting the gearing system can improve acceleration.


Ensure your go-kart’s steering and suspension systems are top-notch after fitting the lawnmower engine. Maintain a double wishbone suspension for better control.


If you want your go-kart to perform at a good level for a long time, you have to pay heed to your engine’s well-being. You must keep your engine in good condition if you want to get the best performance out of your go-kart.

Regular maintenance is crucial for optimal go-kart performance. Perform routine checks, change oil regularly, clean air filters, and replace spark plugs as needed.

Safety Measures

Exhaust System

The exhaust system should not come in touch with the driver’s body. You have to direct it away from the driver for their protection. If the exhaust comes in contact with the driver, it will cause burns on their bodies.

The fumes that are emitted from the exhaust are dangerous when they directly come in contact with the driver. Make sure you safely route the exhaust to protect the driver.

Heat Shielding

You must put proper heat shields in place to reduce the risk of being affected by high temperatures being emitted from the engine. When the engine starts running, it heats up. This can be a problem when you drive the go-kart for a long time.

So, using a heat shielding mechanism is important to ensure you do not come in contact with the heat being generated by the engine. It is not only important for the driver’s protection but also keeps other parts of the go-kart safe from the engine’s heat.

Safety Gear

Wearing safety gear is of utmost importance when you are racing your go-kart in the tracks. You must ensure that the venues where you are going for karting provide you with all the necessary safety gear, like helmets, gloves, shoes, racing kits, etc. 

Most karting venues make sure the drivers are instructed on how to handle the go-karts before they go out on the tracks. Listen to the instructions to ensure you do not meet any untoward incidents.

Braking System

Install a reliable braking system for go-kart safety. Regularly maintain and consider upgrading the brakes for improved performance.

Fire Safety

In case of any fire incidents, while driving your go-kart, it is crucial to maintain a fire safety mechanism in place. The best way to tackle a fire emergency is to attach a multipurpose fire extinguisher to the go-kart.

Attach the fire extinguisher in such a position that you can easily reach it with your hand. Your first step is to get out of the kart in case of a fire emergency and try to put out the fire using the extinguisher.

Also Read: Are Go-Kart Suits Fireproof?


There you have it – the lowdown on why your lawnmower could be the secret sauce for your go-kart dreams. Can you use a lawnmower engine for a go-kart? Absolutely! From cost efficiency to environmental perks, repurposing that trusty engine opens up a world of possibilities.

Now, are you ready to kick-start your go-kart adventure? Your lawnmower is itching for a new purpose, and the track is calling. Whether you’re in it for the thrill or just want a unique DIY project, why not give it a shot? So, gear up, rev that engine, and let the adventure begin! Your lawnmower might just be the key to an unforgettable ride. Happy karting!



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.