refueling my RC car

How Much Fuel Does An RC Car Consume? (Hint: Much More Than What You Think!)

How Much Fuel Does An RC Car Consume?

As you probably know already, there are 2 types of RC cars: nitro and electric cars. Nitro cars, like their name implies, use nitro fuel to propel forward. So if you are thinking of buying one, you are going to have to buy nitro fuel once every few weeks. One of the most common questions among people that are thinking of buying one is “How much fuel does an RC car consume”. I have owned several nitro RC cars, so I think I know a thing or 2 about their gas mileage.

And the answer is that a quart of 20% nitro fuel is going to give you about 2 hours of run time, a little bit more or less depending on how aggressive you are hitting the throttle. Other factors that might affect the mileage include cold weather, running too rich, and modifications to the engine and the RC car.

Now when it comes to nitro fuel mileage, everybody has a different opinion about the topic. Some people say that some nitro fuel concentrations and brands consume less. There are also several nitro RC cars that are famous for being easy on the fuel. If you want to know about all that, then check below for more information.

Which Factors Contribute To Heavy Nitro Consumption

If your particular nitro RC car is using more nitro than normal, then there are a few things that might be causing it. These factors include:

  • Cold Weather: If you are using your car on cold conditions, then let me tell you that is a well-known cause of excessive nitro consumption. This is because the RC car has to use more fuel than normal to keep temperature up and to put the power down. Another reason why cold weather affects gas mileage is the fact that it reduces the traction of the tires. The material used on RC car tires will not grip the terrain that well on cold conditions, which wastes fuel over the long term.
  • Running Too Rich: Running rich means that the air/fuel mix is more biased towards fuel, this means that the motor has too much fuel for optimal performance. This will burn more fuel than what is actually needed. To change this, there’s usually a small screw inside a brass covering near the engine that is more pronounced than other screws nearby, usually brass colored. This is called the high-speed needle. Turning the screw clockwise will make the air/fuel mixture more “lean” and turning it counterclockwise will make the mix more “rich”. If your car is consuming too much fuel for your taste, then SLIGHTLY turn the needle clockwise. Avoid running too lean or the motor might eventually break down. To know more about how to tune your carb, please click here.
  • High Powered Motor: If you have done modifications to your engine or are just using a high-powered motor in general, that might definitely affect the fuel mileage. Now, not all mods will affect fuel mileage. Many mods actually improve efficiency by decreasing weight. If you are thinking of doing extensive mods to your stock car, it might be wise to go to a hobby shop so that they can tell you which mods are going to affect fuel economy and which won’t. An RC car with a high-powered stock motor is also certainly going to burn more fuel, which brings me to my next point.
  • Scale Of Car: The size of the RC car is also something that will affect the fuel economy. a 1/16 scale is going to burn significantly less fuel than a 1/10 scale, for obvious reasons. The same thing applies if you compare a 1/10 with a 1/5. Not only do the motors have more displacement, but the bigger scales also weight much more. So if you have a big 1/5 Rovan RC car, its obviously going to burn much more than a small 1/16 car.

Can You Use Diesel On A Nitro Car?

So many people have wondered this. I even made a complete article (Click here to know more about using diesel on nitro cars) about the matter, and to summarize it, the answer is that no, you can’t use diesel fuel or even petrol on a nitro RC car. If it were possible, I would do it myself. Nitro fuel is rather expensive, even if you do your own mix at home. But sadly, RC car engines do not provide sufficient compression for the diesel to ignite inside. The glow plugs do not provide enough heat either.

And if your car motor is powerful enough, there’s always the chance of breaking its internal components. Like I said in that article, Diesel fuel is much more energy dense than nitro. A unit of diesel is going to produce much more energy than a unit of nitro fuel, and that energy might be too explosive for the flimsy materials used in the typical RC car motor.

Another reason why diesel is not going to work is that it’s more viscous than nitro fuel. This reportedly causes misfires inside the motor walls.

What To Do If You Are Spending Way Too Much Money On Nitro Fuel?

Go for electric cars if you are spending too much on nitro fuel. If you are reading this article, chances are that you are spending way too much money on nitro fuel and want to save some dough for something else. If this is the case, the best thing you could do is just get an electric car.

Electric cars, at least in my opinion, might not be as fun as nitro cars, but they are the best choice for people on a budget. The only costs that you must incur when buying one are just charging the battery, and the expenses do not really compare to what you would pay for nitro fuel, especially over the long term. Recent brushless motors are super powerful, and you could say that electric RC cars are much simpler to use than nitros, which is one of the reasons why they are so recommended for newbies.

Another tip is just making your own nitro fuel. Mixing your own fuel is actually a very simple process, with only a few ingredients needed. These ingredients are very easily found both on physical stores and online, and if you buy them in bigger quantities, you could save more than 50% over what you would have spent on premixed fuel.

Fuel Consumption Differences Between Nitro %

When it comes to nitro fuel, one of the things that you might be wondering about is if higher % nitro fuel run out more quickly than lower % nitro fuel. And actually, the opposite is true. The higher the nitro fuel % in the bottle, the longer it’s going to last you. This is because of several reasons.

The first one is the fact that the car needs less fuel to propel itself forward. Fuel with higher % generally means that it’s more powerful, and that means that you need less fuel overall to accelerate the car. If you use something with over 25% nitro inside, then you probably are going to notice that your car is going to accelerate more explosively and more eagerly.

Keep in mind that this doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s going to be cheaper to run higher % nitro fuel. You must keep in mind the price difference between higher and lower % nitro fuel to really know which one is cheaper over the long term. Anything over 30% is quite expensive, so buying that fuel might not make sense moneywise, even though it doesn’t run out as quickly.

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