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RC Toy Car FAQs

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Woody on an RC bike

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RC toy car tips

What are RC toy cars

There are 2 types of RC toy cars. On one hand, there are toy cars for little kids; they are usually cheap – less than $50, and once they are broken, you cannot use it any longer.  There are no replaceable parts you can purchase for repairing them.  On the other hand, there are model scaled toy cars for hobbyists. They are fixable as there are plenty of option parts in the market. Thus, you can upgrade their components as you like. You can train your mind and hands as you are having fun with these toy cars. In fact, some people are racing them

In the long run, when I buy an RC car, I will ask a seller if I can buy replaceable parts for the RC car that I want to purchase.  If the answer is “no”, I will not consider buying it.  At this point, Wltoys 144001 is the best RC buggy for hobbyists.

The following discussion is about RC toy cars for hobbyists.

What can I do with an RC toy car?

RC Car Bashing

RC Tips – Bashing/Racing

There are many types of activity you can enjoy with your RC car.

  • If you have an RC buggy, you can bash it offroad – diving your RC buggy on a rocky road.  It is the time you can test the limit of your RC car.
  • If you have a slow crawler, you can jog with it. We usually call this type of RC car a trail runner.
  • If you have a speedrunner, You can race it with your friends either on a street or on a track.  You can improve your driving skill in this type of activity.
  • If you have a drifter, you can detail it and make it drift around in your neighborhood.
  • Finally, if you are bored with any four-wheel car and want a more challenging and fun activity, you can try an RC dirty bike.  Its gyro will make this bike stay balanced.  Later, when I have time, I will write a post about this type of RC car.


How does an RC toy car work?

Equipment used for RC car models

Equipment used for RC car models

An RC toy car is driven by a motor, which can be either brushed or brushless. The motor is driven by an ESC (electronic speed controller). The steering is handled by a servo. The ESC and servo are connected by a receiver that receives a signal from a transmitter that is the controller for the action of your RC car.  An old transmitter is usually AM and FM with a long antenna. The modern transmitter is marked as a 2.4GHz transmitter that has a better range of control (150 meters and up) and without an antenna.  The antenna of the Receiver is usually very short for a 2.4GHz system.  If you are building an RC kit, you need to get the following items besides the kit.

  1. A set of transmitter/receiver
  2. ESC (Hobbywing QuicRun 1060 Brushed)
  3. Motor (I am using a BSD 15tune brushed motor for my on-road racer)
  4. Battery (LIPO batteries with at least 5000 MAH are recommended)
  5. Charger (I am using IMAX B6)
  6. Tamiya PS Paint
  7. A set of Tamiya screwdrivers and a pair of scissors for the Lexan Body

Here is a YouTube video talking about different radio controllers; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cq_gtS8Pl0c

What is an RC toy car scale?

RC car scale

RC car scale

It dictates the sizes of RC cars. As you know, an RC car is a mini version of an actual car, but usually with a simpler mechanical system and generate higher acceleration power. If the scale is 1/10, it is the only one-tenth size of an actual car. In the market, you can usually get RC cars in the following scales, 1/5, 1/6, 1/8, 1/10, 1/12, 1/16, 1/18, 1/24, 1/28, and 1/64. 1/5 is the largest and 1/64 is the smallest. You can look at them in this way. The bigger the car, the more different types of road conditions it can handle. Within all these 1/10 is the most popular in the market.  If you cannot find a space for driving all the bigger RC cars, the smaller can be a good option.  For example, Kyosho, a Japanese RC manufacturer, is famous for making the Mini-z; they are 1/24 and 1/28 RC cars.  They are very popular in Japan and many parts of Asian countries.  Watch this YouTube video to find out about the Mini-z.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EzwxEwvr10U

What is a chassis?

RC car chassis

RC toy car chassis

A chassis is the mainframe of an RC car. It is the body holding all the important components of that car. There are three types of materials are used to make the chassis. There are chassis made of plastics, aluminum (rigidity), and carbon fiber (strong and lightweight). The strongest and most expensive chassis are the ones made of carbon fiber. A plastic chassis can have too much flex, and that can lead to inconsistent handling of your car. For bashing or casual racing around your neighborhood, plastics is usually acceptable, but for racing, aluminum or even carbon fiber is the way to go.

Which is better, electric RC cars, or nitro RC cars?

Nitro RC car

Nitro RC car

Different people have different tastes, so their preference is also different.  But for me, I prefer electric RC cars over nitro RC cars.  Here are the reasons.  First, electric RC cars with a good brushless motor and ESC, they are much faster than the nitro RC cars.  Second, in terms of maintenance, due to their simpler designs, electric RC cars are much easy to fix if there is a problem coming up.  For example, in many homes, it is not easy to find a place to test nitro RC cars due to the smoke and noise they generate.  Also, for nitro RC cars, you need to know how to break in the engine installed.  Beginners might find it hard to do.

What is an ESC?

The full name for ESC is the electronic speed controller.  As you should know, ESC is for electric RC cars only.   It is a device that gives the power to your RC car and provides a simulated brake function (by running backward). These ESCs have two sets of wires.  On one side, it connects to your motor, and on the other side, it connects to your battery. When buying an ESC, make sure that it has a battery plug that matches that one used by your battery.  Deans and XT60 plugs are very common today.

Here is a YouTube video about the different types of RC connectors.

Moreover, in a store, you might note some ESCs that are indicated as 45A, 80A, 120A, or even 150A. The A stands for AMP, and the higher the number the more power the motor and battery you can use. A motor needs AMP to run, the higher the AMP an ESC can output, the more durable it is, but its price is higher. For example, an ESC 45A cannot handle any motor that is stronger than 10.5T (lower than 10.5T) with a 2s LIPO. If you want to use any brushless motor (tune less than 10) with a 3s LIPO, you need to consider buying an ESC of at least 80A.

What types of batteries can I use for my RC toy car? What are their differences?

For your RC cars, there are two types of battery you can use. They are NIMH (Nickel-Metal Hydride) and LIPO (Lithium-Ion Polymer). Usually, NIMH has 7.2V while 2S LIPO has 7.4V (at fully charged, 8.4v) and 3S has 11.1V (at fully charged, 12.4v). As you see, the LIPO is more powerful than NIMH. With an appropriate ESC, Motor, and gears, 3S can be used for your RC racer. However, many hobbyists do not use 3S for RC cars.

As LIPOs are very explosive, never have these batteries charged unattended.  Also, buy a LIPO safety bag to store them.

How long will a car last?

If you have a toy car, it will stop running forever once it breaks.  You cannot find a part to fix it.

It is not going to happen to an RC car.  As long as you can still find parts in the market to replace the broken ones, you can run your RC car forever. It is one of the reasons why many people are interested in the RC car; it trains your eye-hand coordination as you are maintaining your racer.

Are RC cars waterproof?

Just out of the box, many RC car is not waterproof unless it states clearly in the manual.

In the market, you can usually buy waterproof servos, ESCs, and receivers. With these, you can drive your RC car over water or under the rain. If you want 100% waterproof, you also need to make your battery waterproof. Watch this YouTube video to find out how to waterproof your battery. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ji_2VY1TP8

How to clean RC cars?

A simple green approach for RC car maintenance is very popular nowadays. I usually use an old toothbrush for the main cleaning. I take apart my RC car and rinse off each of the components with water. Then, I spray down with WD-40 and wipe off the excessive oil. WD-40 is used to get rid of the rust on the shocks and other metal parts. Finally, I use an air compressor to remove most of the dust.

Can RC cars pull weight?

Some RC cars can pull weight, while others cannot. Usually, the ones used for racing should not be used for pulling much weight as they do not generate enough power to pull anything heavy. RC trucks and crawlers are strong and slow and generate enough torque (Brushed motor with 80T) to put very heavy objects. People have conducted tests and confirmed with the right combination (motor, battery, and gearing) that these cars can together pull a real car. Watch this YouTube and find out. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d8pJkuSp1iI

Which RC toy car should I buy as a beginner?

In general, I would advise a beginner to get a Tamiya 2-wheel-drive buggy kit and buy all the necessary components for the car.

Holiday Buggy is a good one with its robust chassis.




Here are the reasons why Holiday Buggy is a good beginning car for hobbyists.

  1. It is from a famous Japanese brand. Tamiya is one of the most popular RC brands in the world. Its quality is unquestionable.  They pay good attention to details.
  2. This kit is easy to assemble, and there are still many parts available in the market, so if you break some parts, you are certain that you can find its replacement.  This car can run forever.
  3. By building an RC car yourself, you learn how an RC car works and the proper way to fix it.
  4. This 2wd buggy use DT-02 as its chassis that is simple and easy to maintain.
  5. A buggy can run on many different types of road conditions, on-road or off-road. Out of the box, and after building it, the Holiday Buggy can run in the sand, grass, and hard ground.
  6. You can choose your servo, ESC, and control system (receiver and transmitter).
  7. I usually do not suggest a beginner pick a ready to run RC car as they will not be able to fix it if it breaks. Here is a post comparing RTRs with Kits.
  8. But if you want to get an RTR RC car, you can get a Wltoys 144001.  Here is a post about Wltoys 144001. It is cheap but fast and controllable.
  9. Can withstand the abuse by a high KV brushless system.

How fast can an RC toy car run?

With a Brushed motor and ESC, an RC car can run up to 40 or 60 KPH.  On the other, with a brushless motor (4.5 turns) with an ESC of high AMP (120A) and 3s LIPO, an RC car runs up to 100 KPH or higher.   However, as the motor runs faster, more current will be drawn to the motor and the motor will be much hotter.  Finally, the running time for that particular RC car will be shortened.

Which RC car is the fastest?

Traxxas XO-1 Supercar is the fastest RC car in the market. This car can run up to 100 KPH.  However, you can build your own, with any durable racer with the right motor, ESC, and LIPO batteries.

What are good RC car brands?

They include Team Associated, Team C, Traxxas, HPI Racing, Tamiya, Kyosho, LC Racing(Chinese), Wltoys (Chinese), HSP (Chinese) Axial, RedCat, Team Losi, and many. The list is too long to include them all here. More discussion about the different brands here.


How much should I spend on my first RC car?

For an RTR RC car, you can get one for less than $150.  For example, you can get Wltoys 144001 from Amazon.com for around $120.  As it is ready-to-run, for such a low price, you get the car, a LIPO battery, all electronic components (servo, ESC/receiver, and the transmitter).  You can bash it once it is out of the box and its battery is fully charged.

On the other hand, if you want to build a kit, you need to get everything besides the kit.  Here is a list of items you need to get.

Holiday Buggy ($120)
540 Motor ($11)
Servo (JX Servo DC6015 Stall Torque 15kg – $16)
ESC (HobbyWing QUICRUN 1060 Brushed ESC – $24)
Transmitter with a receiver (RC4GS system with gyro – a steering assistant – $75)
LIPO Battery (Spektrum 7.4V 5000mAh 2S 50C – $54)
Battery Charger (iMaxRC USAQ B3 Pro Compact LiPo Charger – $13)
Tamiya Screwdriver set (Tamiya America, Inc RC Tool Set 8pcs – $28)
Paints ($8)

The total amount you need to spend to have Holiday Buggy up and running is $341.

While the amount is higher than the money you spend on an RTR, you learn a lot more and get more fun out of it. For $250, you can get the RTR version of Holiday Buggy on eBay.

Are Chinese RC cars any good?

As they usually do not have much design budget, they usually make clones for many famous RC cars such as the Tamiya Bruiser.

However, for the prices they are charging, their RC cars are acceptable in terms of power and quality. Nowadays, many hobbyists love to modify these Chinese RC cars for extremely bashing due to the extremely low prices for the parts available in the market.

Over the years, I have noticed that LC racing is one of the best Chinese RC buggies.

What paint should I use for coloring a LEXAN body shell?

For painting your LEXAN body shell, you should use Tamiya PS paint that is specially made for LEXAN body shells. Do not mistakenly pick the TS paints as they are used for display models. These TS paints will not stay on a LEXAN body shell after a crash.

Be sure that as you have the tools for painting your LEXAN body shell; get the paint remover from Tamiya. Its number is 87183. Once you have it, you will have an easy time painting the shell.

Where can I play with my RC cars?

Beaches, mud fields, public parks, grasslands, sports fields, and RC tracks are some of the common areas people use for driving their RC cars.  As long as we are careful, they are all ok.   The wheels, motor, and ground clearance of your RC car will dictate how well your RC car run in a particular road condition.  In an RC track, people will participate in casual racing while people have RC car bashing in other places.  Here is a post about bashing and racing.

After reading the questions/answers, now what?

After reading this list, if you still have anything to add to these RC car tips, you can leave a message below or go to one of my forums to post your comments.

Thanks for reading this post.


By Carlos Santos


Comments 3

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