7 Things You Should Always Do Before Storing Your Kart
While it may be extremely tempting to simply lubricate the chain and throw your kart in the garage, in order to properly store your kart after a day of driving on the track there a few steps you need to take.
This can be especially tempting for “one man band” or “weekend warriors” who may find themselves not only worn out by the end of a track day, but having to get ready for work the next morning. However, these tips are essential to keeping your kart in prime condition and giving you less to do the next morning you pull your kart out.
1. Clean It
The first thing you should look to do when you have your kart back home is to clean it. Cleaning your kart not only helps it continue to look good, but it is also a great way to find any cracks in the frame or broken parts. If time allows, clean it so thoroughly that you could run your finger across any part of the kart and not pick up any grease, dirt, or grime.
You also have to be careful which cleaning solutions to use when cleaning the kart. WD-40 is fine when out of the sun, although it may cause streaks when in direct sunlight. Brake cleaner may be tempting and is okay to use on large buildups of grease, such as dried chain lube, but it can be damaging to the color of the frame, so use with caution. Simple Green is a good alternative, and you can also find other racing specific cleaners such as Molecule that work good as well.
2. Check the Chain Tension
If you put on a brand new chain right before your last session on track, this step becomes even more beneficial. After running a full session, a new chain will normally heat up and slightly expand, throwing off the tension you originally set it at. New chain or not, though, it is still always good to save yourself some time for the next track day by resetting the chain tension now.
3. For Water-Cooled Karts, Drain the Water Out of the System
Now this step is not necessary for when the kart is sitting during the summer, spring or fall. Since water-cooled karts don’t run antifreeze, in the winter you will need to drain out the water from your kart before temperatures drop below freezing. If water is left in the system in sub-32 degree conditions, it will freeze and expand, destroying radiators and potentially the internals of your engine.
4. Check the Stiffness of Your Fuel Lines
This may be more of an end-of-season check, but depending on when was the last time that you replaced your fuel lines, it can be a good end-of-day test. Over time, your fuel lines will go from hard to soft, and when they become so soft that you can pinch them off easily then it is time to replace them. If it is time for your fuel lines to be replaced, make a mental note or write in your setup notebook (if you have one) to order new ones before your next outing. Fuel lines do take a little bit of set up but not a lot, so if you can replace them on your own they can be a very easy change.
5. Saran Wrap Your Tires
Unless you plan on starting your next day on track with new tires, a great way to preserve your used set is to wrap them in saran wrap. This keeps the outside air from getting to the rubber and turning it from black to purple, which can make a significant difference in grip. This step is especially important if your kart is not stored in a climate-controlled environment, such as a garage or a trailer. Cover the rubber with saran wrap and the next track day you’ll be covering the field!
6. Check the Front End Alignment
As nimble and agile as karts are, they can be quite fragile when driven. A simple off-track excursion, bump, or any kind of crash can throw off your front end alignment and possibly bend the frame. If you have the right tools, such as a pair of Sniper V2s, it is always good to double check your front end assembly and alignment. The alignment includes your camber, caster, toe in/out, steering sweep, and the center position for the steering column and wheel.
The Snipers also provide an easy way to tell if the front end of the frame may be tweaked or bent. If you cannot directly line the lasers up with each other, such as one being higher or lower than the other, then more than likely one side of the frame is higher or lower than the other side.
7. Lubricate the Axle Bearings
You want your rear axle to spin freely or with as little friction as possible. At the end of the day, spin the axle with your hand to see if there is any kind of a bind or resistance in the rotation. If all is good, use a bearing lubricator, such as Tri-Flow, and lubricate all of the bearings in the axle. When cleaning your kart, you want to be careful not to wipe away the grease from the bearings, as without the grease directly between the bearing and the axle the axle may find some extra resistance.
While not everything above is a direct necessity to do at the end of each day, they are good tips on what to check on a regular basis. Karts are very delicate machines and they do require maintenance in between usages. Make sure to take care of your chariot at home, and it will take care of you at the track.
Driver, Driving Instructor, Race Director, Announcer, and pretty much anything else that might get me to a racetrack.