How to Choose the Right RC Car

So you’ve just seen your friend’s new RC car or maybe you saw some cool videos on YouTube and you’re ready to have your own bit of fun, that’s great. But Wait! Before you go out and buy that RC car, truck, buggy, or whatever, you need to understand the pros and cons of all the different types. Hopefully when you’re done reading this you’ll have a pretty good idea of what’s best for you.

Electric Power vs Gas Power

The first thing we’re going to take a look at is the power plant. There are two ways your RC car can be powered, electrically with a battery or with gas engine (Sorry, no hybrids).

Gas or Nitro Powered RC:

Some gas powered RC cars or trucks are powered by just gas (oil separate), others are powered by a mixture of gas and oil, but most of the ones you see will be powered by nitro methane (also called Nitro Fuel or Glow Fuel). You can get nitro fuel at pretty much any RC hobby store or online. Nitro-powered RCs make more power and are faster than electric-powered RCs. Some of the disadvantages of nitro-powered RCs are that they are heavier, so when crashed they are more likely to break, they require gas and oil, which can get expensive if you’re getting nitro fuel, they also tend to get messier because of gas leaks or spills, oil, and such, they may require tune ups before being used, usually when you get a new one you will have to break it in by running it around for a few tanks of fuel (without going full throttle).

Pros: Faster, more powerful

Cons: heavier so more likely to break when crashed, require special fuel, require oil, may require tune ups, messier, need to be broke in.

Electric Powered (EP) RC:

Electric-powered vehicles are geared more towards beginners, but don’t be fooled some of these little guys can hold their ground with nitro-powered RCs. Although they don’t have as much power as gas-powered RC cars they get all the power to the wheels faster, pretty much instant torque you could say, this helps them get off the line faster than a gas-powered RC would. They pretty much come ready to go. No gas or oil needed. All you need to do is charge your battery, plug it up, and let it rip. Another nice thing is that they’re quieter, so you won’t have to worry about your neighbors complaining, but a lot of people love the noisiness of the little gas-powered engines.

Pros: Easier to maintain, cheaper, no need to break in, quieter

Cons: less powerful, tend to be slower, quieter

Car, Truck, or Buggy?

There are three main classes of on-land RC vehicles, they are: car, truck, and buggy. Let’s go through each one and describe the differences and capabilities.

RC Car:

If you’re looking for speed an RC car is what you need. Some can reach speeds of 40+mph. They even have a few that will go 80-100+mph! There are a few main types of RC cars: drift cars, on-road, and rally car.

Drift cars are usually EP (electric powered) and are great if you have nice smooth roads or a parking lot near your house.

On-road RC cars are made just for driving on road and can be raced around on asphalt and cement surfaces.

Rally cars are just like the real thing, they can be driven on-road or you can take them off-road on the gravel. They’re not made for serious off-roading use.

RC Truck:

RC trucks are great if you want some off-roading fun. There are monster trucks, short course trucks, and stadium trucks.

Monster trucks are great for off-road bashing and mudding (if waterproof!). They also look pretty cool!

Short course trucks, or SC trucks for short, are growing more popular and are now being raced competitively. They are more durable than most RC vehicles so they’re great for racing. They’re also good if you want to have a little fun in your backyard but might want to go to your local RC track.

Stadium trucks are a cross between a monster truck and a buggy. Stadium trucks are near always 2WD (rear wheel drive). If you look at one you’ll notice that the tires are out away from the body, the wide stance of these off-roaders helps with stability and keeps the inside somewhat cleaner.

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