Use Your Brakes in a Go Kart

Braking when driving a go-kart is a delicate art. Before you do anything else, learn the braking system in the go-kart you're using, particularly if you need to use your left foot. After that, you can learn the basics of braking into a turn, and then move on to the more advanced trail braking, which gives you a slight advantage over other drivers. Try trail braking on longer, slower corners, rather than sharp, fast corners, and soon you'll be braking around corners like a pro![1]


Learning the Braking System

  1. Work on left-foot braking. In many go-karts, you can only brake with your left foot. Other go-karts give you the option. Either way, braking with your left foot can give you a split-second advantage over other drivers.[2]
    • Breaking with your left foot saves you the time that it takes to switch from the accelerator to the brake and vice versa.
  2. Practice with your left foot to get better. If you're used to driving a car, you typically brake with your right foot. That means it's going to take some practice to become proficient at braking with your left foot. Spend some time practicing on the track before you race. Go out on the track when there are few cars, and consciously think about using your left foot to brake. Place it on the brake throughout your drive so you remember to use it.[3]
    • If you can't seem to get the hang of it, switch back to braking with your right. If you're only so-so at braking with your left, then that's worse than just doing it with your right.
  3. Hit the brakes as smoothly as possible. If you're jerky with your brakes, you're just going to slow yourself down. Slowly press down on the brake in 1 smooth motion, and then release as needed.[4]
    • In other words, don't punch the brake multiple times to slow down.

Braking around Corners

  1. Brake in a straight line. Wait until you hit a straight part of the track before you brake. That way, the back end of the kart won't turn sideways on you. If it does, the friction of tires will slow you down too much, and you'll have lost time on the course.[5]
  2. Begin braking in the straight area just before the turn. Brake ahead of the turn, rather than in the turn. Press down on the brake in a controlled manner. Leave enough room so that you can stop braking before you hit the turn.[6]
    • Pick a place on the straight part of the track to start braking. Note how well it works for you, and adjust the spot in the next curve.
    • Brake a bit sooner if you're spinning out in the curve or a bit later if you're taking curves too slowly.
  3. Stop braking when the track begins to curve. As you enter the curve and start turning your car, pull your foot off the brake. You shouldn't be accelerating yet, but you are going to stop slowing down the car.[7]
    • Accelerate when you hit the apex of the turn, which is the final part of the turn where you start straightening out.
  4. Get ready for the next corner as you come out of the last one. On a go-kart track, curves make up the majority of the track. That means you always need to be looking for your next curve. Look ahead, and pinpoint where you need to start braking for the next braking while still in the last curve.[8]

Performing Trail Braking

  1. Begin braking ahead of the curve. Just like in less advanced braking, you still want to begin braking well ahead of the curve while you're still in a straight line. In fact, you will apply the maximum amount of force while you're still in the straight line just ahead of the curve.[9]
    • Trail braking can help you take corners faster because you're using more of the tire grip available to you. It helps you turn the car around the corner.[10]
  2. Pull off the brake as you increase your turning angle. When you enter the curve, start taking your foot off the brake. Initially, release a lot of the brake quickly, but still keep some pressure on. As you do, turn in a bit more sharply toward the curve to get ready for the apex of the turn.[11]
    • You want to keep about 15 to 20% of the pressure on the brake as you come into the curve.[12]
  3. Keep your foot on the brake until the apex. In long slow curves, you can hold on to the brake until you reach the apex. That will help provide you with the extra spin you need to get around the curve[13]
  4. Release the brake completely when you reach the apex of the curve. You shouldn't be braking when you hit the main part of the curve, so release the pressure completely. On longer curves, wait for the apex. On medium curves, release just before the apex.[14]


  • Trail braking can feel a bit scary at first. Just keep calm and keep your hands on the wheel. If you spin out, it's not the end of the world.[15]

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