Go Kart Won’t Move Under Load: 4 Common Causes And Solutions

Close-up photo of a frustrated person pushing a stalled go-kart on a racetrack, highlighting the "Go Kart Won't Move Under Load" issue.

Is your go-kart struggling to move under load, feeling sluggish and underpowered? 

This can be a frustrating issue, but there are several common causes that can be identified and fixed. 

In this article, we’ll explore four main reasons why a go-kart may not move properly under load: high gear ratio, tight drive chain, slipping centrifugal clutch, and clogged carburetor or air filter. 

We’ll discuss the symptoms of each issue and provide practical troubleshooting tips to help you diagnose and resolve the problem allowing your go-kart to cruise along smoothly once more.

#1 High Gear Ratio

One of the most common reasons a go kart won’t move under load is because the gear ratio does not match the engine’s power and torque.

This ratio depends on how many teeth are on the engine and rear axle sprockets.

Also Read: Why Is My Go-Kart Backfiring

If the gear ratio is too high, the engine may not have enough torque to move the kart under load. 

Even if the engine screams at high RPMs, the wheels just won’t be able to turn that power into actual movement.

Gear Ratio Comparison Table:

Gear Ratio ConfigurationImpact on TorqueImpact on SpeedImpact on AccelerationRecommended Use
Low Gear Ratio (e.g., 6:1)Increased torque for better accelerationReduced top speedImproved acceleration from a standstill, suitable for shorter tracks or heavier kartsHeavy karts, tight tracks
Medium Gear Ratio (e.g., 8:1)Balanced torque and speedModerate top speedGood balance between acceleration and top speed, suitable for most track conditionsGeneral purpose
High Gear Ratio (e.g., 10:1)Higher top speedReduced torqueFaster top speed but slower acceleration, suitable for longer tracks with long straightsLighter karts, open tracks

What Should You Do?

To fix it, you have to change the gear ratio by adjusting the size of the sprockets.

You can either put on a smaller rear sprocket or a bigger front one. Both can give you more power to handle a heavy kart.

But be careful not to make the ratio too low, or you’ll lose out on top speed.

#2 Tight Drive Chain

The condition of the karts drive chain also has a major impact on how well power gets transmitted to the rear axle.

If the chain’s too tight, worn out, or kinked, it can mess up how efficiently the power gets through.

  • If it’s too tight, it can cause the rear wheels to get stuck and not turn properly.
  • Worn-out chains and sprockets will cause throttle lag, or the go-kart might not accelerate like it should because the teeth don’t grip properly.
  • Bent links create a lot of friction and stop the power from transferring smoothly.

All these things could also make your go-kart not move under load.

What Should You Do?

Make sure the chain has enough slack side-to-side so it doesn’t get stuck. If it looks dry, put some chain lube on it.

Also Read: How Much Slack Should A Go-Kart Chain Have

Then, take a good look at the chain to spot any links that are stiff or bent out of shape.

These links won’t move freely like the others. It should be easy to spot.

Also, check if the chain is worn out and replace it if needed. And look at the sprockets too – if the teeth are sharp or discolored from heat, it’s a sign they need replacing.

#3 Slipping Centrifugal Clutch

The centrifugal clutch is responsible for engaging and sending power to the rear wheels as engine RPMs increase.

If the clutch shoes are worn or the clutch springs have lost tension, the clutch may start to slip.

You can double-check this by observing the kart’s RPM.  If the RPM goes up a lot but the rear wheels don’t turn much, the clutch is probably slipping. 

What Should You Do?

Replacing worn clutch shoes and springs should solve the issue.

It’s also a good idea to make sure the clutch drum is aligned properly and to check for any release bearings that might be sticking.

#4 Clogged Carburetor And Air Filter

For an engine to generate maximum torque and horsepower, it needs efficient fuel delivery.

A clogged carburetor, blocked fuel filter, or other fuel delivery issues can all cause power losses.

If the engine runs fine without load and then bogs down when the throttle is opened, that’s often a solid sign there’s an airflow restriction or fuel delivery problem.

Also Read: Go Kart Dies When You Give Gas

What Should You Do?

The fuel filter is often the first place debris gets trapped, starving the system downstream.

Many engines have small filters that look like wire mesh in a clear case. Start here and check for visible dirt clogging the filter.

Also, make sure the case isn’t cracked from vibration, letting air and dirt slip through.

After that, you have to clean the carburetor.

There are tiny fuel passages and jets inside that can get clogged. This is more likely if there’s dirt in the gas tank or if the fuel has gone bad from sitting too long.

Take it apart and clean it. Just be careful and organized so you can put it back together correctly.

Carburetor Cleaning Steps:

– Turn off the engine and disconnect the spark plug wire to ensure safety.
– Remove the air filter cover and air filter element.
– Disconnect the fuel line from the carburetor.
– Loosen and remove the carburetor mounting bolts or clamps.
– Carefully detach the carburetor from the intake manifold and throttle linkage.
2.Cleaning Methods
– Prepare a carburetor cleaning solution or use a commercial carburetor cleaner spray.
– Soak the carburetor components (e.g., body, jets, float) in the cleaning solution for the recommended time.
– Use a soft-bristled brush or compressed air to remove any dirt, debris, or varnish buildup from the carburetor passages and jets.
– Pay special attention to small orifices and passages to ensure they are completely clear of obstructions.
– Inspect the gaskets and seals for damage and replace if necessary.
– Begin by reattaching any gaskets and seals to the carburetor body.
– Carefully position the cleaned carburetor onto the intake manifold and reattach the mounting bolts or clamps.
– Reconnect the throttle linkage and fuel line to the carburetor.
– Install the air filter element and cover.
– Double-check all connections and ensure everything is properly seated and tightened.
– Reconnect the spark plug wire and start the engine to ensure proper operation.


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.