How to make a go-kart street legal? Many racers have wondered about this riddle. The answer depends on your local regulations about driving go-karts. Yet, most areas only allow go-karts on the racing track rather than on an open road, considering the danger of crashing or flipping.
Nonetheless, if you do not mind changing some parts of your go-kart for safety purposes, we know tips for making a go-kart street legal.
Keep reading our article down below!
How to Make a Go-Kart Street Legal?
Check Your Local Regulations First
The legal requirements vary by area and state. Thus, before you make any changes to your go-karts, spend adequate time reading your local regulations first.
In New York, the US
According to NYC Business, New York laws allow low-speed vehicles to be driven on public roads. You must register and qualify your go-karts as low-speed vehicles.
It is not easy.
Safety regulations involve vehicles, track systems, and worker protections.
Providing that your go-karts are off-road, they are not legally driven on highways and public roads for agricultural or crossing purposes.
In Alabama, the US
In Alabama, go-karts that are not officially registered with the Department of motor vehicles (DMV) and with required safety parts will be street illegal. In addition, the driver must be 16 years old or above and possess a valid driving license.
Also there, go-karts are classified as low-speed vehicles and only driven during daytime and within a speed limit of 25 mph.
Most importantly, the vehicles are only for off-road use rather than appearing on public roads.
In California, the US
California also accepts go-karts on streets as low-speed vehicles. In this state, a low-speed vehicle must have four wheels and be below 3000 pounds, as well as specific equipment and specifications (referring to OHMVR California) Moreover, you must drive go-karts at 35 mph or less there.
In Colorado, the US
Colorado grants the street-legality for go-karts qualified as off-highway or low-speed electric vehicles. Check with the sellers about the certificate of your go-karts.
In addition, the karts need to be registered and equipped with safety items such as mirrors, signals, windshields, reflectors, etc.
Go to DOT Colorado to find detailed regulations for your district.
In the UK
The British government seems stricter regarding go-karts driving on public roads, as mentioned in Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) laws.
To break it down, your go-karts must be within 3.66m high, 12m long, and 2.5m wide. The vehicles must comply with braking distances and instruments such as indicators, lights, or seatbelts. Insurance, tax, and number plates also need to be appropriate.
All go-karts are under a valid MOT Test to ensure all requirements above are met. You are running into trouble if you do not pass the test yet still drive the vehicles on public roads.
Modify Your Karts to Meet Safety Requirements
Wherever you are and whether the state allows the go-karts on streets, you should upgrade your vehicles to satisfy all street safety requirements – for your sake. Or, buy a go-kart that has all the necessary parts.
What to consider?
- Mirrors often lay at the rear and on the affixing side. They enable you to check what is happening behind and on your side. Without mirrors, you are not fully aware of your surroundings, which can result in accidents. It is varied by local laws that at least one or two mirrors are required.
- Reliable brakes Like any speedy vehicle, a dependable barking system is critical to keep the go-karts balanced and adequately stopped. In addition, brakes must comprise high-quality materials that don’t wear down quickly. Go-karts with good brakes might be a little costly but definitely worth it!
- Horn sounds loud to indicate the presence of your go-kart or a signal to cross the crowded street. You had better choose a horn that can send the sound over 200 feet and more.
- Windshield: It is a glass or transparent pane mounted in the front window of your go-kart with wipers. Windshields protect you from rain, wind, snow, debris, etc. Many go-karts do not initially have a windshield to make them as light as possible. As a result, you need to pay extra money to install it.
- Hood or bonnet: Besides the windshield, a bonnet or hood comes in handy to cover the engine and parts from external elements that can damage your vehicle and cause accidents.
- Steering wheels: Ordinary steering wheels are good enough, and you should avoid huge “race car” styled ones.
- Safe tires: A blow-out while driving speedily is one of the worst situations. With inappropriate tires, your go-karts are not qualified to be on the public roads, then. Thus, upgrade your vehicle with proper tires not only for your sake but for others’ as well.
- Safety belts: Most laws require you and your passengers to wear belts while driving a motor vehicle such as cars, trucks, or go-karts. The belts keep you inside the vehicle in case of an unfortunate crash and reduce the severe injuries as much as possible. Thus, they are a must upgrade.
- Lighting: Have front, side, rear, and plate lighting correctly installed, similar to those on cars—lighting assists when you drive on ambient cases.
- Bumper: Next is a rubber or plastic bumper which serves as a supportive cushion between your go-kart and other objects. It is often placed at the rear and the front of the vehicle.
- Exhaust system: The system includes a tube chain for exhaust gasses to get out of the engine. That way, the engine cools down and works more effectively. Plus, the exhaust system cuts down the noise from the operational motor.
- Odometer and speedometer: Knowing your go-kart’s speed is important to keep track of how fast you are driving. Then, you can adjust the speed and drive safely.
- Safety triangle: Imagine you are on the public streets and suddenly slow your go-kart. The vehicles from behind can likely bump into you and cause an accident. That time, the safety triangle warns other drivers that the vehicle is at a slow speed and can also go slower.
- Insurance: Lastly, insurance is another part of making your go-kart street legal. The insurance covers you and the go-kart itself under unpleasant accidents while transporting.
You should know that installing those parts might add weights to the vehicle, and they might be over the weight limit required by the local authorities. Still, it offers you peace of mind.
Go Under a Speed Test
We already mentioned above that the UK government requires every motorized vehicle to pass a Ministry of Transport (MOT) test to be legal on the street. Even if your state does not require that, you should still get your go-karts inspected carefully.
Then, go to an approved place and do speed testing.
Keep in mind that this is testing – not racing. Instead, it is required in many states that your kart does not go any faster than 25 mph. This speed limit exists to avoid any fast-driving accidents. And this means your vehicle is a low-speed vehicle.
If you pass the test, congrats and let’s move on to the final step.
Register Your Go Kart
The laws only allow low-speed vehicles to be on public roads. The conditions might vary a little bit as the following:
- Your vehicle has four wheels – Checked!
- The go-kart is only as heavy as around 3000 pounds – Checked!
- All safety equipment and requirements are met – Checked as the second step.
- Its speed limit is about 25 mph – Checked as the third step.
With all criteria are ticked, you continue preparing the registration documents, referring to your local regulations, such as:
- Go-kart title or the Manufacturer Certificate of Origin
- Driver’s license (if required)
- Valid insurance proof
- Completed registration form
- Owner’s ID that is issued by the local authorities
You can register the go-kart as a standard car once all are available. After registering the vehicle, you should have all documents available once you get out on the street.
Remember to follow all regular vehicle and traffic laws.
Are Go-karts Street Legal?
No, they aren’t. We have to confirm.
In most cases, go-karts are considered a recreational vehicle that should stay away from the neighborhood road, parks, sidewalks, or other public roads and premises.
The illegality is due to the lack of common safety standards such as:
- Seat belts
- Lights on the head and tail
- Turn indicators
- Windshield and wiper
- View mirrors on the side and in the rear
Not to mention, the design of go-karts makes it hard to maneuver and control the speed. Most states classify a go-kart as a vehicle with open wheels, diminutive size, and agile handling due to its low ground clearance and low center of gravity. They, in return, are usually lighter compared to average cars.
As a result, go-karts can accelerate up to 150mph and potentially crash people on public roads.
Where Can I Drive My Go-kart Legally?
There are designated places for your go-karts to drive freely and safely, for example:
Go-kart racing track
- A commercial race track, indoors or outdoors, will be the ideal place since it is well-equipped and private. Even more, you can drive the vehicle in a full-fledged arena under the supervision of professional go-kart trainers.
- With owners’ permission, you can drive your vehicles with no state jurisdiction compliance. Invite a group over whenever you want.
- Adequate space and investment costs are the biggest challenges, though.
- The wild adventure off-road such as on desert safaris or mountains is the funniest. It is also a valuable opportunity for you to practice riding, drifting, and controlling the vehicle.
- However, buying an off-road go-kart that can withstand rough terrains or long drives is a must.
Approved public areas
- Some states might still approve small, low-speed go-karts to drive on public areas such as trails and tracks in parks or coastal regions. Those places are a lot more affordable than the racing tracks. However, they are really rare.
- Check your local regulations carefully in advance and never find a crowded place.
How Do You Make a Street-legal Go-kart?
If you insist on driving on a public street, you can refer to our guidance on making a go-kart street legal as above. In sum:
- Enhance your go-kart’s safety parts and make it road-ready.
- Master at controlling speed by taking a speed test at your local DMV.
- Submit a go-kart registration with your local state the same way you register a car, boat, or trailer.
Can You Drive a Go-kart on The Road?
Yes, following the guidance in our article, only on approved places or after you make your go-kart street legal.
Safety first, you should always keep it in mind. Otherwise, driving a go-kart on the street illegally results in unsafety for both you and other people.
Do You Need a Driver’s License to Drive a Go-kart?
No, you usually don’t need a driver’s license to drive a go-kart. Only some states like Alabama or Indiana require so.
Most go-karts are designed to be driven at your age. For example, there are low-speed go-karts for drivers under the age of 16 and high-speed for those having a license.
However, you should get a driving license as soon as possible for your sake. It was reported by USA Today that there were over 11,000 people injured because of go-kart accidents.
Does a Go-kart Have a VIN?
Yes, it does as long as you bought the kart from a reliable store.
It is common sense to check your vehicle’s VINs, so you are not getting scammed. VINs tell all the secret information about their past.
Regarding a go-kart, you can find the 17-number VIN on the frame printed horizontally on either the passenger or the driver’s side. Then, check the number with various online tools, such as Vincheck. Supposing that you cannot find that number, immediately contact the seller for more information.
You had better not buy a go-kart without a VIN or one with a bad history.
We have already instructed you how to make a go kart street legal, step by step, and we hope it is helpful and you can get the vehicle’s legality successfully. The preparation might be time-consuming and expensive, yet it is well worth investing in for your and others’ safety.
Enjoy your driving and take care!
We want to build a community that loves motorsports and is willing to share knowledge and experience. What could be better than enjoying your favorite sport with people with the same passion?