Nitro rc cars, trucks, and buggies are the most popular and fastest growing segment of the rc car hobby. The smoke, sound, and realism make them an absolute blast to drive!
Here's a few tips and recommendations to help you get started...
So you want to purchase a nitro gas powered rc car or truck for yourself or as a gift for someone else and you're not sure what kit you should buy?
Well choosing your vehicle is the fun part!
Onroad Nitro Sedans - Designed to be raced on the street, at the track, or any prepared surfaces. Fastest top speeds but easier to damage if crashed and can't be driven offroad.
Offroad Nitro RC Trucks - Can take on huge jumps and be driven almost anywhere no matter how rough the terrain. Combination of speed, power, and durability make them perfect for beginners to the hobby.
2WD / 4WD Offroad Nitro Buggies - When you want the ultimate in speed, acceleration, handling, durability, and absolute fun! These are the most popular style for racing.
Next you'll have to decide on either a ready to run kit that comes prebuilt and includes a pull start nitro engine, the radio control, and all the radio equipment already installed or an unassembled kit that you put together yourself and may require purchasing the nitro engine, the radio, and additional equipment separately.
I highly suggest beginners start with a ready to run vehicle like from Traxxas, Team Associated, and HPI Racing. If you're on a short budget, the Exceed RC line of gas powered rc cars and trucks make a great value.
While most ready to run kits include everything you need to get started already in the box, if you instead choose to buy an unassembled or an incomplete ready to run kit you'll likely need a few additional accessories to get your vehicle started.
To run your nitro car or truck you'll need a radio control with receiver and two servos, the nitro engine, and a way to start the engine.
Of course you'll also need the nitro fuel which is made specifically for our cars.
These vehicles don't run on regular gas fuel from the pump, so make sure you get the right kind of fuel! You need special nitro fuel which is made specifically for our cars and available at many rc hobby shops.
But don't worry. :)
Luckily, there are nitro starter kits made specifically for nitro vehicles which include absolutely everything you will need to complete your kit. Many good rc hobby shops will have a complete nitro starter kit with all the accessories you'll need to get your nitro gas powered rc car or truck started plus offer additional parts and accessories to replace any worn or broken part or to upgrade your kit when you are ready for more performance!
The nitro engine is the heart and soul of any nitro rc car or truck so if you get the engine tuned and set up right while keeping it well maintained, it makes everything else a lot easier.
I suggest beginners tune and set up their engines according to the instructions included in the box which usually call for a slow break in period with the carburetor needles set to allow more fuel to keep the engine running cooler than normal race conditions. If the kit you buy is ready to run, the default engine tuning settings should be sufficiently rich.
There are several different break-in methods you can use but the most commonly used one is to run the engine while the car is sitting off the ground at that rich setting for a tank or two and then for the next 3 or 4 tanks to run it on the ground at a low speed and gradually speed it up while you progress through each tank and leaning the high speed needle 1/8th of a turn at a time until it runs close to peak performance. Make sure the engine stays within a reasonable temperature range and make sure you see a good amount of blue smoke coming out of the exhaust throughout the throttle range to insure you are not running the engine overly lean.
In my opinion, racing nitro rc trucks and cars is the most fun part of the hobby. Whether it's on the track in an organized race, in the street, in a field, or your own backyard against your friends, nothing beats the speed, power, sound, smell, and adrenaline rush of competitive racing with these fast and powerful racing machines.
On most race vehicles, you have the option of tuning suspension settings like camber, caster, toe-in, ackerman, anti-squat, and ride height as some provide more tuning options than others.
One mistake most beginners (and even many experienced racers) make is driving too out of control. The steering and throttle inputs on the radio are not an on and off switch! Rolling onto the throttle smoothly is often a much faster way around the track. Likewise, the car acts and turns more predictably when you are smooth with the steering wheel.
Before wrenching on your car and making tuning adjustments trying to find the perfect setup, you need to be able to get around the track without crashing. If you can't make a few laps without crashing, setup changes aren't going to help much unless your vehicle is just totally off for the conditions of the track and undriveable.
It's a good idea to do regular maintenance on your nitro rc car to ensure it will perform it's best and improve its longevity. After every run, shake out and remove the loose dirt and dust with a brush or towel. If you have access to an air compressor, it works very well for this job. It's also good to inspect and clean your outer air filter foam if necessary every run... especially in dusty race conditions.
After every race day, I like to remove my engine and radio equipment and clean parts individually and inspect them for wear making sure to check moving parts like hinge pins, drive shafts, suspension components, and ball bearings. In nitro rc cars and trucks, you should pay special attention to the clutch bell bearings because clutch bearings take a lot of abuse through heat, high loads, dirt, and grime.
You should also regularly clean and replace air filters and lube the inner filter with a good air filter oil. After running, some people also lube up their engines with after run oil, but it is not really necessary as long as you use a good quality nitro fuel.
Every gallon of fuel, I replace the clutch shoes, clutch springs, and clutch bearings, inner and outer air filter foams, and glow plug. This may sound excessive but I'd rather do some preventive maintenance and replace these items early than end up losing a big race because one of these cheap parts failed on me in a qualifier or main!
You can create your very own web page and share your own tips and tricks, experiences, and knowledge and it's easy to do!
Just follow the instructions below...
Below are articles and contributions from other visitors to this page.
Submit your own if you think you can do better!
Tuning With the High
and Low Speed Needles
Do you have a weak engine that runs at high temps? Don't search for the optimal high end setting. Instead, richen the high speed a lot and then lean the …...
O.S. CVR Engine
The .12 CV engine O.S.'s were probably one of the first real reliable rc car engines ever made. It held a tune well unlike others. The .12 CVR racing …...
Some of the Best Nitro Advice
You probably already own an Rc car with some type of glow engine, regardless of the size. My first advice is that the best fuel you can buy for a car/truck, …...
RTR Kits Common Problem
I've found with more powerful nitro buggys, truggys, & monster trucks that the steering servo in most cases is substandard. It's worth asking the retailer …...
Nitro Extra Maintenance
I found that by buying your common plastic/nylon clutch shoes and standard non vented clutch bells, the clutch shoes, and spur gear(s) melt from the heat …...
Exceed RC Dune Buggy and Raiden Tech
I purchased the Exceed RC Dune Buggy for a Christmas present and after only the first run, the motor has seized up and the car will no longer operate. …...
Nitro in Fuel For Good Performance?
I have a Nitro Sport from Traxxas and people told me to use nitro in my car for good performance but India is a hot country so wouldn't the piston get …...
Help With Nitro Related Questions
I am getting a brand new nitro R/C car. i have been looking around on the internet everyone has there own methods for doing things. I know about breaking …...
Nitro Off Road Race Jumping Not rated yet
If you race competitively with medium/large jumps or if you just jump large jumps to do tricks this is how to land it. When almost at the jump, accelerate …...
Jumping Your RC Nitro Car Not rated yet
If your rc is straight up the air then tap your trigger forward. If it's pointing downward then just rev the motor but not too much.
Best RC Hobby Shops - Where to buy nitro gas powered rc cars, trucks, parts, and accessories online.
Nitro RC Cars in RC Car Talk Magazine - Check out the main page and subscribe to RC Car Talk Magazine for more on electric and nitro rc cars and trucks.