15 Ways To Make Your RC Car Faster
When it comes to RC cars, there’s something that everybody agrees with: We all want our cars to be as fast as possible! And while most modern hobby grade models are quite damn fast from the box, this simply ain’t enough for some people, including myself!
So because of this, I decided to make this article about the most effective ways to make an RC car faster. In fact, I wrote 15 proven mods to make your specific model as quick and nimble as possible, all without spending a fortune on modifications or spending weeks on tuning.
If you apply these changes to your RC car, you will definitely notice dramatic improvements in acceleration and top speed. So if you are really craving speed and performance, this is the article for you!
Swap Out Iron Screws And Wheel Nuts For Aluminum
The first tip on this list is changing the iron screws and bolts for screws made with lighter materials, like aluminum. As you probably know already, iron constitutes a significant portion of a hobby grade car, being found pretty much anywhere you look, including the mainframe, turnbuckles, connectors, the motor itself, and you guessed it, the bolts and screws.
And all this iron can really weigh your car down! In fact, the iron components will provide more than 50% of the average RC car’s weight, and so, replacing iron parts for lighter materials is one of the best ways to reduce weight from your car and therefore making it faster.
I recommend that you start with the screws and bolts first. Replacing heavy stainless steel screws with aluminum ones will save a great deal of weight, which will be noticeable as soon as you start using the car again.
But the problem might be actually finding new screws that will actually fit your whole car. If you are interested in doing this change, it might be wise to go to the manufacturer’s website and ask if they have aluminum screws for the whole car (while they most likely will, especially if you have a popular model)
If you can’t find help on the website, you will most likely find the screws at a reputable hobby shop!
Upgrade Your Motor
The most common and popular way of making an RC car faster is by swapping a brushed motor for a more powerful brushless one.
If you do not know the differences between each, then let me tell you that brushed motors use, as the name says, brushes to generate electric power, while brushless motors use electronic amplifiers to generate it.
This is obviously a very simple and vague explanation, but to keep it simple, just keep in mind that brushless motors are the better choice: they are more reliable, they last longer, and most importantly, they produce more power than an equivalent brushed setup.
In order to do the swap, you are going to need a new brushless motor and ESC, A solder gun, a set of wrenches, and a few screwdrivers. Buying all of this will cost you less than 100 dollars, and you will need to do some soldering, so if you aren’t comfortable doing that, hiring an expert to do the swap is recommended.
In the future, I will be providing a detailed, step-by-step guide on how to do the change, so in the meantime, check this guide out to guide yourself.
Inspect Your Car For Unnecessary Plastics And Parts
Another great way of making your car faster is by removing and shaving off unnecessary parts weighing the car down. And there are several ways to do this.
One of the ways that I have tried in the past has to do with drilling a few holes on some parts of the mainframe. Doing some very small holes with a drill will really lighten up your car, making it faster both on a straight line and when cornering.
But you need to be very careful with this. Overdoing it might affect your car’s stability, especially on higher speeds. Also, by doing this you run the risk of breaking something else near the chassis, so please make sure that you know where you are drilling before doing this.
Another very popular way of removing unnecessary components has to do with shaving off some metal off the car’s motor. This a very common way of modding motors and has to do with taking a wire brush to shave off excess material off the motor. Again, if you want to do this but don’t want to take risks, it might be wise to take your car to the nearest hobby shop so that they can help you with this.
Replace Your Bushings For Ball Bearings
This is probably one of the least known ways to make an RC car faster. Most entry and mid-level RC cars will feature bushings in their RC cars because they are cheaper, but they are not the best choice for people looking for the most performance from their cars.
The main difference between bushings and bearings is the fact that bearings tend to have balls inside to reduce the friction as much as possible, which in turn improves the car’s acceleration, while a bushing uses a flat surface which isn’t ideal for people looking for the most performance from their cars.
The main problem of using bearings is the fact that they are more expensive than bushings, but not that much honestly. Expect to spend about 10 dollars in a decent set of ball bearings, which in my opinion is completely worth it given how easy they are to install and the fact that they can seriously improve your car’s acceleration and performance.
So it’s a good idea to replace the bushings with ball bearings. Anyways, when it comes to the installation, the exact location where the bushings are located will vary from car to car, but in all of them you are going to have to remove the tires. After this, you usually need to remove the wheel hub and the pin. You are then going to remove the old bushing and stick the bearing as a replacement. After this, repeat with the other wheels and them put everything back together (NOTE: There’s a comprehensive how-to video on how to do this)
Make Sure Your Tires Aren’t Slowing You Down
One of the most overlooked ways to improve your car’s performance is the tires. The truth is that most people aren’t using the correct tires for the terrain the car is riding on. It’s very common to see enthusiasts using knobby or even paddle-style tires for riding on smooth pavement. Doing this not only affects the car’s speed, but it also has the probability of damaging the car’s internals.
Using the correct tires will really improve your car’s speed by improving the traction. If you tend to use your car on your home’s driveway, then you should be looking at street tires. These resemble the tires of a normal car, with some small but effective thread depth. This is the ideal tire type for riding on those types of conditions.
If you tend to ride on more offroad type of situations, then getting knobby tires is the better choice.
Sometimes people forget to replace their tires in time. Many use them until they turn into dust, not knowing that their car’s performance is being seriously affected because the rubber is already worn.
As a rule of thumb, you should be replacing your car’s tires once every 3 months, more or less depending on how often you are using the car and or if you tend to ride aggressively.
Tune Your Carburetor For Optimum Performance
If you have a nitro car, proper tuning of the carburetor is paramount if you want the best performance from your RC car. Tuning the carburetor refers to changing the air/fuel mix to the most desirable tuning possible, and that best tuning will vary among models and it will depend on a lot of factors, including the nitro fuel being used, the RC car model being tuned, and the altitude where you are using your car, among other things.
The first thing that you must know is if you are currently running too lean or too rich. As I said in this article, running rich refers to the air/fuel mix being biased towards fuel, and running lean refers to the air/fuel mix being biased towards air. And for the best performance, you want to be running your RC car slightly rich, while using 25% nitro fuel.
This is what I have personally found to be best on my nitro RC cars (I’m currently using an Exceed Hyperspeed and an Arrma 8IGHT as my main nitro cars) and I think doing it in your car will improve your performance a big deal too.
There are a few situations where you should tune your car a different way. The first one is if you live in a high-altitude place. Because high altitude affects the oxygen in the air, leaning out your motor a bit is recommended.
For a comprehensive guide on carburetor tuning, please click here!
Invest Some Money On Carbon Fiber
If you are really serious about making your car as fast as possible, you should be familiarizing yourself with carbon fiber, which is a very light but very tough material that is widely used in motorsport, aircraft, and in the textile industry.
There are several manufacturers making carbon fiber chassis. Many of them aren’t selling them to the general public though, so the only way of getting one is by special order. And while it’s going to be really expensive to get one, they are completely worth it given how much lighter they are when compared to a stock chassis.
As I said above, the only reason why carbon fiber isn’t as mainstream is the fact that it’s a really expensive material. If this is your case and you don’t have the budget to fit your car with carbon fiber parts, then a good alternative would be using aluminum or titanium parts instead.
Swap Stock Batteries For A Powerful LiPo Pack
Aside from swapping a brushed motor for a brushless one, this is one of the most common and most effective ways of making your car faster. LiPo, which stands for Lithium Polymer, will drastically improve your car acceleration and top speed, plus they typically give you more battery time per charge. They are highly recommended!
But they are not for everybody though. Even though LiPos are much more powerful than NiMH packs, they are much more frail too. To use these batteries you are going to have to take some safety measures to ensure the pack doesn’t catch fire or start smoking.
Not only do you need a special LiPo charger, but you also need to keep an eye on the battery while it is charging. You can’t just leave it charging overnight unless you want to lose your LiPo pack and maybe even your home.
The other con about them is the fact that they are much more expensive than a NiMH battery. Decent LiPo batteries start at about $50, and after that, you need to get a compatible charger to go with it.
High-end and high-capacity LiPos can surpass $70 dollars easily. But out of all the tips on this list, using a LiPO battery is the one that is likely going to speed your car the most. For a comprehensive buyer’s guide on the best high-capacity LiPo batteries, please click here!
Start Using Nitro Fuel With A Higher % Of Nitro Inside
If using a LiPo battery is one of the best ways to speed up an electric car, using better fuel is one of the best ways to speed up a nitro car. When it comes to nitro fuel, the higher the %, the more powerful it will be. I personally prefer using 25-30% nitro fuel on all of my nitro cars because it seems to make them accelerate more readily, and that’s what I recommend you do too.
The nitro fuel that I recommend you use is called the Byron 30% Nitro Fuel. Not only is this a very high-quality 30% blend, but it’s also very affordable for what you get. I have years using this nitro fuel, and it has always provided the punch expected from a 30% nitro blend.
But Byron is not the only brand that I recommend though. I made a complete article talking about the best nitro fuels on the market, so if you are interested in knowing more, check that guide out!
Keep in mind that higher % nitro fuel is more expensive than the normal stuff. It’s not significantly more costly, but if that’s something that worries you, there’s always an alternative: Making your own nitro fuel!
This is a very easy process. you just need to buy 3 ingredients: Pure nitromethane, methanol, and castor oil. Making your own nitro fuel has the added benefit of saving you hundreds of dollars over the long term, especially if you buy the ingredients in bulk. (Note: For a comprehensive guide on how to make your own nitro fuel at home, please click here)
Switch RC Cars From Truggies To On-Road Cars
Even though truggies are very versatile and very fun when used on the right terrains, they tend to be slower than both buggies and on-road RC cars for that matter. And the reason is pretty obvious: not only do they tend to be heavier and bulkier, but the higher ground clearance found on these cars will definitely affect their traction, especially when cornering.
So that’s why if you are the kind of RC enthusiast who prefers speed over anything else, then you should take a lot at on-road cars. These RC cars are specifically made to be used on a track with no bumps or imperfections in general. They are also really low to the ground, which reduces drag and improves handling.
I personally haven’t owned an On-road RC car yet, but I have used my friend’s cars though, and from what I have seen, they are very well made. On-road cars are very popular among hardcore enthusiasts, and they are quite expensive too.
So they are not for everybody. If you are the kind of guy who tends to use RC cars on even surfaces and has the money to spend, replacing your old RC car for an on-road car might be recommended.
Make Sure The Weather Isn’t Affecting Your Car’s Performance
Extreme temperatures can affect the speed of an RC car, so this is an important consideration that many people overlook. This is especially common in very cold weather.
Typically, RC car manuals will indicate a temperature range that the car will perform the best, It might be wise to check it out to really be informed about this, but generally, the average RC car is going to perform best at between 60 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
Anything under 60 degrees is likely to affect your car’s performance. This is because the motor is going to have to create more energy to move the car forward. This is true for both electric and nitro models.
Electric models with crappy batteries will not only discharge faster when exposed to cold temperatures, but they will not accelerate as usual when you hit the throttle.
Nitro models aren’t as affected by cold when compared to electric RCs, but it’s still annoying to use them when it’s really cold. Starting them up is a real pain in these temperatures, and many people have reported engine malfunctions too.
Adjust The Gear Ratio Of Your RC Car
This tends to only be known by more knowledgeable enthusiasts, but one of the best ways to increase an RC’s speed is by adjusting the gear ratio of the car. RC cars have several gears inside, and the main ones that actually provide the power are the pinion gear and the spun gear.
The pinion gear is connected to the motor, and when it spins, it starts spinning the spur gear, which in turn starts spinning too. Both have a certain amount of teeth, and the acceleration and top speed of the car will depend of these teeth.
The way to improve the speed of your car is by swapping either one of the spur or pinion gears (or both!) to a different that has a different amount of teeth.
When it comes to the pinion gear, the more teeth it has, the higher the top speed of the car. The opposite holds true with fewer teeth.
When it comes to the spur gear, the more teeth, the higher the acceleration. The opposite is true for spur gears with fewer teeth.
This is a very cool way of modifying your car to suit your needs. If you need your car to accelerate as quickly as possible but aren’t going to reach max speeds with it because of space issues, then changing the gears would be very helpful!
Use High-Powered AA Batteries (Toy-Grade Only)
If you are reading this article and are looking to speed up a toy grade model, Then let me tell you that one of the best ways to speed up your car is by using a different set of AA batteries. I’m not talking about changing your batteries because they are dying, what I’m referring to is using a set of AA batteries that have been shown to be one of the most powerful and long-lasting on the market.
These batteries are the Panasonic Eneloop AA. Many people have noticed a speed increase when using those batteries, and they are kinda affordable if you ask me.
Another big benefit of this battery is the fact that they are a rechargeable pack. This is the reason why I say they are quite affordable.