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Go-Kart Clutch Smoking or Getting Hot: Fix It Guide

Go-Kart Clutch Smoking or Getting Hot: Fix It Guide

When you have a go-kart, you may notice that there are some issues arising. Most of these problems tend to be with the clutch smoking. So how do you fix a go-kart clutch that is smoking or getting hot?

A go-kart clutch can smoke and get hot if it is not fully engaged and is causing the go-kart to slip. Ensuring that the clutch is working and engaged properly can help reduce the amount of smoke and heat that radiates from it. 

What can cause a go-kart clutch to start getting hot and smoking? This article will go over reasons and fixes on how to prevent this from happening.

Go-Kart Clutch Smoking or Getting Hot

Since go-karts are made to be driven on and off-road there can be some issues that occur. One of these is the clutch getting hot and smoking. While this can be a worrisome problem, there are some things that can be causing this to happen and some fixes.

Driving Speed Warms Clutch

Sometimes when we drive a go-kart, we don’t drive at the speed that is required. This is truer at times when we are just learning how to use a go-kart, especially in kids. Driving speeds can alter how your go-kart works because your speeds are not fast enough, the clutch isn’t able to connect with the outer drum.

This causes the clutch to get hot and start to smoke.

To fix this, you can drive faster. This doesn’t mean drive so fast that the go-cart is at max speed, just a little faster than you were. This allows the clutch to run smoother and not cause damage.

If you are unsure of what speed you are reaching when driving, you can always install a speedometer. However, you can also use a torque converter to help aid in the speed of your go-kart. 

Here’s a good video showing some clutch maintenance ideas:

This is where we got our Offroad Go Kart Buggy for the kids off Amazon. We went with the Trailmaster buggy but they also have smaller karts and all electric options with great reviews.

Clutch is Incompatible with The Go-Kart

When we get a go-kart, we automatically assume that the clutch is going to be compatible. However, if you are driving your go-kart past its point, you may not have a clutch suitable for what you are doing with your go-kart.

So, what happens is that when the clutch isn’t designed for the forces exerted on it, it will start to get hot and smoke. This unfortunately can cause damage to occur to the clutch.

There is a fix for this. You can do one of two things:

  1. Replace components like the tension springs, pivots, and flyweights.
  2. Get a more compatible clutch for your go-kart.

This can help ease the tension asserted on your go-kart and limit the clutch from getting hot and smoking.

Tension Springs Wear Out

Tension springs are made to aid in decreasing the flyweights and ease the friction material. When the tension springs are worn, this help isn’t applied. This causes the clutch to become hot and may cause the gears to start to slip or miss.

The tension springs are important especially if the go-kart is idling.

When your tension springs are worn you can replace them. This requires you to remove the clutch from the go-cart and replace the tension springs with new ones.

There is also an easier route. This one requires you to just replace the clutch. This is great because you can change the clutch to a more compatible one if that is the problem as well.

Damage To Clutch

There are occasions that your clutch has been damaged. From faulty tension springs or the friction material is bad. Friction material can melt to the clutch causing damage.

This can create a slipping to occur and not engage that causes the heat and smoke.

The solution to a damaged clutch is to replace it. However, you may be able to replay the entire flyweight with new friction material. Replacing the flyweight may become a temporary fix if there is more damage in the clutch.

Oil Spill On Clutch

Maintenance of your go-kart is important. There are occasions when oil accidentally spills on your clutch. When this happens, the clutch won’t engage, and gears will slip. When this happens there will be smoke caused.

You will need to remove the clutch and disassemble it. When disassembled, you will then soak all the parts with a degreasing agent until all the oil is gone.

This can take anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours depending on the amount of oil that is present on the clutch.

After the degreasing, you will just put the clutch back together and reinstall.


When you must take out the clutch, it is always important to ensure that it is reinstalled correctly. Sometimes, however, the clutch is installed incorrectly, and this may be especially true if you must assemble the go-kart completely. 

All you have to do is remove the clutch from the go-kart. Once removed, you will need to inspect to make sure there is no damage done to the clutch. Then reinstall the clutch to the crankshaft, making sure that you are installing it correctly.

Gear Ratio

Sometimes the gear ratio may not be correct for your go-kart. Perhaps you need a higher gear, or a lower gear and your go-kart isn’t reaching the right one. If your go-kart’s gear ratio is not high enough, it can cause your clutch to get hot or smoke.

Usually, a go-kart ratio is between 8:1 and 4:1 depending on the brand and type.

A simple fix for this is to increase the gear ratio if it is too low by decreasing the number of teeth on the clutch sprocket.

You could also increase the number of teeth on the axle sprocket instead if that seems easier and more convenient.

This is where we got our Offroad Go Kart Buggy for the kids off Amazon. We went with the Trailmaster buggy but they also have smaller karts and all electric options with great reviews.


If you find yourself noticing that your go-kart is smoking, chances are that it is the clutch. The clutch on a go-kart tends to be the biggest issue associated with having a go-kart. There are some common causes and some fixes that you can do when you see this happening.

These problems usually are due to overheating because the clutch is slipping or some of the components are damaged.

There are occasions that an oil spill may have happened when performing maintenance. But with the solutions noted in this article, you should be able to prevent your clutch from smoking and getting hot.

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