Whether you are an RC racer, looking for tips to start your RC car racing hobby, looking for a gift for your kids or looking for tips to on how to take care of your RC cars better, this article is going to help you a lot. Many people are attracted to RC cars and RC races, and it’s a hobby that’s continued to grow over the years, with bigger and better models continually coming out. If this is something you would love to start doing then you need to follow you passion, here is the ultimate RC car guide if you don’t know where to start.
What is an RC Car?
RC cars or remote controlled cars or trucks are model vehicles that can be controlled by a special transmitter that is called the remote control, from a distance. RC cars or trucks are mostly battery or gas powered, depending on the quality of the make. The remote control is also called the radio controller because we’re referring to a vehicle that is controlled by a radio frequency link.
RC Cars come in a variety of different models, depending on what you want to do with them. Some people prefer to race them around a track, so replicas of race cars are more applicable. Others prefer rally cars so they can play around in the mud, and some people don’t mind and just use them to zip around their driveway.
A brief history of RC cars
The first RC car ever created was the nitro-powered Ferrari 250LM; it was made in 1966 by an electronics company in Italy. After a little while, RC cars began to be commercially produced by Mardave, a British company based out of Leicester. These early models were gas powered RC cars, sold through the early 1970s.
In the 70s, a number of slot car companies began to dip into making RC cars as the slot car industry waned. Companies like Taurus, Delta and Scorpion made gas powered 1/8th scale RC cars, but transitioned to electric cars in the late 70s.
With the advent of the Nicad rechargeable battery, electric cars increased in both popularity and made them a legitimate hobby for the everyman. At this time, Tamiya, a brand known for their high quality model kits made a series of elegant and detailed models that were truly “suitable for radio control”, meaning they were basically what we see today.
Tamiya were also the first company to produce off-road buggies, equipped with their own suspension kits, and could drive virtually everywhere.
Over the next 20 years, small adjustments continued to be made as manufacturing quality improved. Things like making skeletons from aluminum alloy for strength, manufacturing the suspension of buggies from high-impact nylon and adjustable transmissions, ball bearings and improved radio frequencies all continued to improve the quality and popularity of RC cars.
RC cars or trucks are powered by different sources, often depending on what type or racing they’ll be doing. Electric RC cars are powered by a powerful electric motor that you are able to recharge. Some other RC cars are fuel powered; the fuel is usually a mixture of nitromethane, oil, and methanol.
Recently there have been many other types of RC car engines that have introduced to the market. In some of the new exceptionally large RC car models a small gasoline engine is used which takes a mixture of oil and gasoline.
Electric cars are much easier to work with than the fuel powered type as normally you just recharge them and they’re good to go, meaning less maintenance. At the higher skill end for competitive racing they can get a lot more complex and involved, meaning that skilled electric cars can compete with fuel powered ones very easily.
Different types of RC car
Off-road buggies: The off-road RC cars have been very popular, especially in recent years as manufacturing has gotten better. This is actually the type of RC cars that started the RC madness!
They can travel almost anywhere because of the designs they have such as open wheel designs with lots of ground clearance, knobby tires, inbuilt suspension etc. There are lots and lots of different off-road trucks that you can choose from with a variety of different designs, engines, models etc.
On road: On-road RC cars have become so popular that in many areas they are considered more popular than off-road RC cars. On-road racing is an activity that is done on a very smooth surface like bitumen, carpet or a racetrack. A concrete surface is not suitable as they are too slippery for the RC cars and are prone to spinning out.
There is another on-road RC type that is called Touring Car Racing. They are designed to work well on pavement surfaces. They also work a lot better in the dirt than the original on-road type RC cars. On-road RC cars are generally 1:12 and 1:10 scale size. There is a new scale version that is called micro size vehicles that have entered the market and to model them, manufacturers use 1:18 scale size.
Monster truck: Although monster trucks are not as fast as the buggies they are considered the big boys of the off-road. They are designed perfectly to climb, crush, pull, etc. The exceptional design of the tires and the body parts make it possible for the monster trucks to do almost anything and survive it. The common size for these vehicles is 1:10 scale but recently most models are becoming larger and are inching towards 1:8 scale size, although obviously this means cost of models and fuel usage goes up with it.
Stadium racers: While all the other types of RC cars are very popular stadium racers have become the most popular type of RC vehicles. They are a combination of buggies and monster trucks.
They have monster truck bodies and knobby tires on 1:10 scale size, and the way they run is what you need to get the adrenaline rush you get from racing RC cars. The electric types of stadium racers share a lot of components similar to a buggy. The stadium racers are available in both electric and nitro-powered versions.
There are many different types of chargers available for RC cars or trucks. Usually, they are powered by either 110 VAC or 12 VDC. It is important to buy the right charger for your RC vehicle to make sure that you don’t damage the engine or power it correctly.
You can buy an overnight charger at a good price that also give a good charge. The reason that overnight chargers are good is that they equalize the cells in the pack overnight. This is good because every four to six charges, every pack needs to be slow charged overnight to maximize their potential. So if you use other chargers it is better for you to get an overnight charger as well and use it occasionally.
The best brands
It is usually difficult to work out what brand to buy your RC cars from, especially if you are a beginner. It can be really overwhelming to choose your very first RC car or truck so here is a list of the best brands you can choose from according to your budget and need:
- TRAXXAS: They offer fast, high quality, durable vehicles. This brand is expensive but if you have the money this is the brand you need to go for. Models include a battery pack and will last you a long time. Although you are going to spend a lot of money buying from this brand, you will not spend any more on replacing the parts as Traxxas vehicles are very durable.
- Exceed: Exceed RC cars are cheaper than Traxxas. This is a great option if you are a beginner who is just dipping your toes into RC car world. You need to remember that although this brand is cheap and still has a pretty good quality product line, you are going to pay a lot more down the line.
- Tamiya: Tamiya is the most popular RC car manufacturer. They offer a large variety of RC cars from beginners to a seasoned RC racer. With over 30 years of experience, you can be sure to trust the brand. The prices are very reasonable considering the great quality of the RC vehicles they offer.
Some of the best RC cars in 2020
- Hapinic 1:18 off-road crawler: This is the most affordable RC car that also has good quality. It’s great to buy if you are looking for a gift for a kid as it is very popular with younger people and will last them a while.
- Double E 1:12 – best RC monster truck: If you want your RC truck to climb rough terrains then this is a good option for you as it is an excellent climber, jumper and flipper. The price is also affordable but the battery life is going to be something you will pay a lot for down the track as it is not very good.
- Distianert 1:12 4WD: A nice feature in this model is that it allows it to handle ramp jumps as it has really nice shock resistance. This can be a great choice as a hobby toy. This version can reach 30 MPH speed.
- Traxxas T-Maxx: This is the best nitro RC truck as it is big, fast and tough. It can be difficult to be handled by a beginner but if you have been using RC cars for quite some time, this will be great for you to use. As mentioned earlier this brand is very expensive, but since the quality is great the price is worth it.
- Redcat Racing Volcano EPX PRO: This is the best RC electric truck. If you want to move on from cars and go to something larger, then a racing truck is what you need. This RC truck has been designed to offer both forward and reverse transmission. The speed reaches 15 to 20 mph which is can be a little slow for some veteran racers, but is perfect for everyone else.
- Keep an eye out for the parts that look a bit off while you are cleaning your vehicle.
- Use a natural hair brush to remove the dust from your RC car.
- Most RC cars break down eventually. And this is something that you need to remember. To prevent this matter as long as possible it is advised that you purchase a good quality RC car or truck. Spending a certain amount just once is much better than to spend lots and lots of money down the line just because your RC car broke.
- Keep your RC car clean to make sure it runs smoothly after every drive.
- Use motor spray to remove marks.
Peter has been building model trains for longer than he can remember. An avid fan of HO and O scale this blog is a creative outlet to allow him to dive further into other scales and aspects of the model train community and hobby.