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The Optimal Go Kart Tire Pressure – Go Kart Racing Speed Secrets

Go Kart Tire Pressure

Generally speaking the optimal range for your go kart tires is 8 PSI – 17 PSI.

KEEP READING!!! The details matter!

Your go kart’s tire pressure is one of the most crucial tuning tools on your go kart.

The optimal tire pressure for a go kart is not some magic number. There will be testing and tuning required to figure this out.

Check out the Starter Guide Here!

Some factors that come into play when setting tire pressures are track surface, track condition, ambient temperature, tire compound, speed of the go kart and the weather conditions.

Go Kart Tire Pressure – Not Just Air

In Go Kart Racing, every little adjustment matters. From the 1/2 pound air adjustment to the changing of a caster or camber setting. The air pressure in your tires can make or break your race!

Below is a guide that will help you become better at setting air presure in your tires. These tips and tricks on setting air pressure will help you get over the hurdle of being a new racer. Or, get you that extra tenth of a second you’ve been searching for.

Here is a general rule of thumb….

The higher the grip level the lower the tire pressure needs to be. The grip level is mainly determined by your tire compound, track conditions, weather conditions and set-up in that order.

**Track surfaces, like racing on dirt, will actually be the opposite! Nobody said racing was easy!

Start Here – Go Kart Tire Pressure Guide

This is a general table of tire pressures. You can start at these numbers and use the principles provided to adjust.

Go Kart Tire Pressure Starter Guide

These are starting points! Use this chart to have a good starting point. Use the Guides below to fine tune your tire pressures!

Follow these Guides to Optimize Speed with Tire Pressure

**Remember a valuable resource is the tire manufacturer! You can always visit the tire manufacturer website to see what air pressures they recommend for their tire.

Adjusting Your Tire Pressures

You have just completed your first practice session and you get off the track.

What do you do?!

Get a drink?

Sit down and relax?

Eat a sandwich?

NO NO NO!

Get your tire pressure gauge and start documenting your tire pressures!

Getting this data as soon as you get off the track will give you the most accurate readings. The tires will immediately start to cool down. So, it is crucial no time is wasted to get the most accurate readings.

If any of your go kart tire pressure raised by a couple pounds than your starting air pressure needs to be lowered.

How Low Can You Go? – Lower Go Kart Tire Pressure

Go as low as you can!

What you will find is that as you lower tire pressure your go kart will take longer and longer to be fast.

There is a sweet spot for tire pressure.

When you first hit the track the tires are not up to temperature yet. The go kart will be loose and have a lot of oversteer. They are not producing enough grip to give you the fastest lap times. As the tire warms up the tire pressures raise. The rubber compound warms, and grip is born!

If you find that your go kart is fastest at the very end of a session, you need to increase your tire pressures.

How do you find that out?

Trial and error.

You can read racing pages all day long but to get that exact number you are going to need to put in the time and effort to find the lowest tire air pressure you can run.

I recommend a testing and tuning day. You can rent a go kart track or even race after the races are over. At my local track they would allow you to race after the races for extra practice. Ask your local track to see if something similar is offered.

Focus on making one change at a time to the go kart. Focus on just changing tire pressures and see how that affects your handling.

Can a Higher Air Pressure be Faster?

So far the key to air pressures is run them as low as possible.

But is that really the fastest air pressure for your go kart.

There are some factors that may argue this.

If you were to roll a inflated ball across the floor and an uninflated ball across the floor which one is going farther?

Of course! The inflated ball. There is less rolling resistance.

A lower inflated tire has more rolling resistance and will have more friction slowing it down. Where as a higher inflated tire has a smaller contact patch and less rolling resistance.

Rolling resistance is only one factor. You may find that regardless of how much added friction a lower inflated tire adds it will still be faster. You have to test it and document it!

What does a Low Air Pressure Tire Look Like?

A lower air pressure tire will cave in the center of the tire. You will find that the outer edges wear and the center does not wear nearly as much.

The air in the tire is what makes it shape. Therefore, the amount of air has a huge affect on the shape.

The shape is what defines the contact patch and wear patterns.

What does a High Air Pressure Tire Look Like?

Higher air pressure tire settings will cause the tire to balloon. The center of the tire will bulge out and be higher than the outer edges.

This results in the center of the tire wearing faster than the outer edges.

Make a slight air pressure adjustment and you will be back in business. Lower the air pressure and re check the contact patch

Tips to verify proper Air Pressure

There are a bunch of ways to check if your tires have the correct amount of air in them. But remember. If you are able to make speed and the go kart is fast DO NOT concern yourself with proper inflation.

Slight wear differences on the tire may be fast and that is ok. Do what you need to do the create speed.

If you feel like your tire contact patch may be an issue you can use these tips to correct that with tire pressure.

Tire Temperature

One way to verify you have the correct tire pressure is temperature.

Using a tire pyrometer will tell you if you have too low of air pressure or too high of air pressure.

When the go kart comes off the track immediately get the go kart off the ground onto your kart stand. Check the tire temperatures and document them.

These tables below are examples of tire temperatures you may see.

Low Go Kart Tire Pressure
High Go Kart Tire Pressure

Check the Wear Pattern – Correct Go Kart Air Pressure

The wear pattern on a go kart tire can tell you a lot. If you are noticing some weird wear on your front or rear tires you may not be using the entire contact patch.

What is the culprit?

Probably incorrect tire pressure. Of course, camber will have a huge effect to the wear pattern, but tire pressure will too.

A tire that is underinflated will cave in the center of the tire. When it caves in the center of the tire will not wear. You will notice that it looks like the center of the contact patch is not even touching the track. Pump up the tire a bit. You should have an increased amount of grip and a more consistent wear pattern.

A tire that is overinflated will balloon. Ballooning will result in the center of the tire wearing faster than the outer edges. An overinflated tire will also cause high tire temperatures. Lower the air pressure and utilize the tire pyrometer to even out the tire temperatures.

Conclusion

Tire pressures are as much as science as racing magic. You will need to practice, practice and practice to build a database that works for you and your go kart.

Some drivers will find they race better at a higher or lower pressure. Be brave to experiment with different pressures. You will only become a Better Karter!

For any tips or additional advice for your specific racing situation, please! Reach out to me and I will help you personally with your go kart tire pressure issues!

How much tire pressure for karting rain?

Always increase your tire pressure when racing in the rain. Increase each corner by at least 5-10 PSI.

The cooler track temperature will prevent the tire from producing grip. Raising the tire pressure will help the tire increase in temperature and create grip faster.

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