April 20, 2018

Can a Go-Kart Be Road Legal?

Go-karts are great fun. They're cheap compared to a regular car, and you don't need a license to drive one. So what you could make it road legal?
Can a Go-Kart Be Road Legal? Header Image

Go-karts are great fun on the track. Plus they’re cheap compared to a regular car, and you don’t need a license to drive one. So what if… and hear us out here… what if you could make a go kart road legal?

Looks cool, right?

But it’s much harder than it looks. You can’t just chuck some headlights on a go kart and call it good. Anyone who has made a kit car can tell you that for a car to be legally road worthy, it needs a lot of work. And even after it’s all done, you need to convince someone to insure it!

So how can you take a go-kart from the track to the road?

Legal Requirements for Cars in the UK

The Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 detail the size, turning circle, and ground clearance for a road legal vehicle. It also covers all the other elements of a vehicle, including brakes, wheels and tyres, steering, vision, fuel, instruments and, of course, emissions. Let’s break it down:

Your go-kart…

  • Must be no longer than 12m long, 2.5m wide and 3.66m high
  • Must meet the appropriate breaking distances
  • Include the correct instruments (lights, indicators etc.)
  • Must have a seatbelt
  • Have number plates, insurance and tax (if appropriate)

It is illegal to drive a vehicle on public roads in the UK without a valid MOT test – except to and from the garage where a pre-booked test or remedial work is being carried out.

An MOT checks a vehicle’s lights, indicators, tyres, brakes and bodywork. It is illegal to drive a car that has failed to pass the test on any of these. So if your go-kart can’t pass an MOT, you’re going to be in trouble.

How to Modify A Go Kart for the Road

The biggest problem you’re going to face is the same as kit cars: your go-kart must be of a chassis that meets strict regulations, but let’s assume you’ve solved that problem. You also need the following:

A bonnet – There needs to be a something covering the engine.

Windscreen – You need a windscreen and a windscreen wiper, even if you have a helmet (see the Arial Atom for how token your windscreen can be)

Mirrors – You need at least two mirrors. This varies with the vehicle’s design.

Exhaust/Emission Control Systems – These are required to control air and noise pollution.

Lights – Every vehicle needs to have front lights, rear lights, brake lights, and indicators in the appropriate colours and locations.

Bumpers – A standard safety measure to protect the public.

You also need to cover the wheels, any sharp edges and keep the various internal parts in safe locations. A road legal go-kart will also need to be raised. There are regulations determining how high off the road headlights can be.

So by the time you’ve modded your go-kart it will look not much like a go kart at all. This is why they’re much better on a track.