Don’t Spend an Arm and a Leg on Nuts and Bolts!

I will be honest, the last thing I think about for the Go Kart is nuts and bolts.  Nuts and bolts are cheap and really should not be something to worry about…right?!   Uh….Wrong!

I almost fainted the other day when I was putting together our wood gokart.  We needed some nuts and bolts and I thought we could just run to the local hardware store, use my 5 dollar off coupon and end up with some free hardware.

Wow, by the time I walked out the door, even with the coupon the cost for the bolts, nuts and washers was almost 20 dollars!

I was having a hard time coughing up the money, even then, but I thought I could use this as an opportunity to compare.  We were out, so I thought I would shop elsewhere and see how much different if at all the prices for nuts, bolts and washers was going to end up being.

First of all nuts, bolts and washers are not all the same grade.  These are the types of grades that you can get at hardware stores:

-Grade 2

-Grade 5

-Grade 8

Okay, what do these grades mean?  Quite simply the higher the number the better.  However, for sake of clarity I will spell out the differences:

–          Grade 2

Grade 2 bolts are basically as step above construction grade steel rated at 55000 psi.  You will find that grade 2 bolts are very prone to stripping threads, bending and shearing off.

–          Grade 5

Grade 5 bolts are rated at approximately 85000 psi strength.  They are what I would call the minimum grade that would be acceptable for any type of equipment, whether it be lawnmowers, snowthrowers, tractors and go karts.  It is pretty tough to strip the threads on a grade 5 bolt.

–          Grade 8

Grade 8 bolts are rated at 120,000 psi strength.  These style bolts would be on the upper end of strength, and if given the chance and the price comparison, I will choose a grade 8 over a grade 5 depending on the application.


Where to use grade 5 versus grade 8 bolts:

  • -.625 axel spindles for steering mechanisms: grade 8
  • -Steering hardware: grade 8 (rod end bolts and steering assembly mount bolts)
  • -Engine mount  bolts: grade 5 or grade 8
  • – Manifold mount bolts: grade 5 or grade 8
  • -Bearing retention bolts: grade 5 or grade 8
  • -Chain Tensioner – grade 5 or grade 8
  • – Brake Mount bolts –grade 5 or grade 8
  • -Steering Wheel mount bolts – grade 8

Shopping for bolts should not be a spurt of the moment thing, where you have to run off the hardware store just to assemble the go kart.  A pretty comprehensive list should be put together so that you can get the project going, plus you can always over buy and return later.  Keep your bolts in the bag you bought them in, plus keep the receipt handy so that returning is not so painful.

By the way, the washers, nuts and bolts that I bought at the hardware store, I returned because I was able to find them at almost 1/3 the cost at a different store that sold their hardware by weight versus by cost per bolt and nut.

You will always get a better deal if you can buy them by weight.  Sometimes the one store may be closer than the other and that may be the convenience factor, that my cause you to spend 10 bucks more.  I try to save money, because I can always use it somewhere else on the go kart.

Be very leery of preassembled hardware kits, because typically they will not have the quantity you need and also they will be of low, low quality grade 2 bolts not really useful for any dependable project.

Be aware also, that the higher the grade, the higher the cost.  The best value, is the grade 5 bolts because they can be pretty much used anywhere on the go kart.  They have high strength and comparable cost to even a grade 2 bolt.  It is well worth it to spend the extra money on grade 5.

To sum it all up, buy grade 8 if cost is no option.  Buy grade 5 if you are on a limited budget.  Also, buy your nuts, bolts and washers in bulk or by weight not by per piece unit pricing.  You will be amazed at how much you can save just by buying them in bulk or by weight.

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