Can RC cars use diesel as fuel?

Can Nitro RC Cars Run On Diesel? (Hint: It’s Not What You Think!)

Can Nitro RC Cars Run On Diesel?

If you are an RC enthusiast and you have your nitro RC car, then there’s a question that has probably crossed through your mind a lot: “Can I use diesel on an RC car?” I personally have been asked that several times already from a few acquaintances on my local racing track, and so, I decided to do some research on the matter to provide the definitive answer to that question.

And the answer is that: No, nitro RC cars cannot run the diesel that you find at a local gas station. And there are a few reasons why: First of all, RC car engines will have a hard time igniting diesel fuel, which requires significant compression to be ignited. And besides that, The materials on the average nitro car engine will not withstand the energy release in the first place because they are simply not resistant enough to handle a more energetically dense fuel like diesel.

Racing RC cars as a hobby can certainly be super fun and a blast but it also can be very expensive. I mean, a quart of decent 25% nitro fuel is at least 20 bucks, so trying to use an alternate fuel like diesel or petrol is completely understandable. Thankfully, there’s a company that mods RC cars so that they can use diesel, so if you are interested in that, scroll below for the information.

So What Is The Problem With Using Diesel?

Like I said above, Diesel fuel is simply way too energetically dense for your typical nitro car engine. For those who don’t know, energy density refers to the amount of energy that fuel will release when ignited. Diesel is very energetically dense, releasing 4 times more energy when ignited when compared to your typical 20% nitro fuel. The average nitro car engine might not be able to withstand so much pressure inside.

If you do try to use normal diesel, then several things might happen with your RC car’s engine. The first one is that nothing will happen. The fuel will not ignite, given that the RC car engine doesn’t produce as much compression and the glow plugs do not provide as much heat as necessary to create a flame. This is the better of the 2 outcomes.

The other outcome is that the engine might break. The RC car’s motor and the glow plugs might try to ignite the diesel, and the internal explosions occurring while driving around might do a number on the engine’s internals. If this occurs, then chances are that you will have to replace your engine. The perfect time to upgrade to something with more torque!

There are a few other reasons why using diesel is often not a good idea, no matter how cheap it might be. Some people have mentioned that diesel fuel is much more viscous than nitro fuel, which will probably produce misfiring inside the engine. Nitro fuel is much more watery than diesel, and so because of that, it doesn’t have problems running on an RC car motor.

Is There Any Way To Modify RC Cars To Use Diesel?

Now since constantly buying nitro fuel is going to do a number on your wallet, wanting to use diesel is understandable. Even though using diesel might damage the car’s internals, I have heard of a few companies that do some mods on RC cars so that they can use alternative fuel sources.

The first company is called David Diesel Development, they have been doing engine mods for years now. From what I have seen, you can either send them your RC car so that they can work on them or you can buy the parts so that you can do the conversion yourself. There’s something that you must know though: you can only use special fuel in the modded engines, and NOT normal diesel from the gas station.

Tips To Save Nitro Fuel

If you are reading this article, chances are that you are looking to save nitro fuel. Using diesel would have been a good idea if it worked, but this is not the case sadly. However, there are a few ways that you can decrease the consumption of fuel so that you can save a few bucks over the long term.

  • Make Your Own Nitro Fuel: This is a great option if you use your car every day. My friend introduced me to this and I have started doing it too. You are going to have to get yourself 3 things: Castor Oil, Nitromethane, and Methane, plus a container to mix the ingredients inside. I will be making a complete step by step guide in the future on how to mix the ingredients properly so that you don’t have problems with the mix, so please stay tuned for that. Anyways, making your own fuel will save you a lot of money, especially if you buy the ingredients in bulk.
  • Use Fuel With A Lower % Rating: Another way to save some bucks over the long term is to use fuel with a lower % rating. This means that the fuel will have less nitromethane. Performance is going to be slightly affected, but not as much as most people think. Expect a 5% performance drop on an entry-level nitro RC car, and a little bit more if you have something with a decent amount of mods. If you use 10% fuel instead of 20% fuel, you could be saving yourself up to 5 bucks for each quart.
  • Use An RC Car That Uses Less Fuel: this is kind of an obvious one, but many people overlook this tip: if you have a well-modded motor, then it’s going to use significantly more fuel than a stock car. If you have an alternate car, then it might be wise to pick it up and start using that instead of your main car, which I know might be a significant downgrade, but if you are looking to save fuel, then that might be the only option.

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