RC Nitro Fuel Alternatives
As you probably already know already, nitro fuel can be quite expensive. A quart of decent 20% nitro fuel is going to cost you over 15 dollars, which probably won’t last long, especially if you tend to use your RC car often.
Not only is nitro fuel expensive, but sometimes it can be hard to find. Hobby shops are the main way to find nitro fuel, but these stores tend to be very rare: the fact that they cater to a niche topic means that they aren’t very common, especially on less developed areas.
So whether you find nitro fuel expensive or hard to find, there’s something that you probably want to know: Are there alternatives to the traditional nitro used by RC cars? I personally have spent a lot of money on nitro fuel before, so in order to save some cash, I have researched about fuel alternatives before.
But the fact is that nitro RC cars cannot use any fuel other than nitro sadly. I have researched alternatives and which fuel can a nitro RC motor run, but it seems that the motor in the typical car isn’t strong enough to ignite fuels like diesel or petrol.
There have been some RC enthusiasts that have experimented with different fuel sources, with varying results. Below I talk a little bit more about that and which fuel sources may or may not work on your RC car.
I have written an article about this before, so if you are interested in knowing more about the topic, click here to know more, but to summarize that article, the truth is that diesel cannot be used in the typical RC car motor. And this is because of several reasons. The first reason is that the average RC car motor will have a hard time igniting the diesel found on your local gas station. Diesel requires significant compression in order for it to ignite, and the truth is that the compression generated in an RC car motor ain’t enough for it to burn. The glow plugs do not provide enough heat either, So that’s another factor.
And even if it could ignite, the fact is that diesel might damage the components inside an RC car motor. Diesel is very energetically dense, which means that a unit of diesel generates much more energy than a unit of nitro fuel. This energy release might prove too much for an RC car’s motor, which might not have the rigidity and the materials found on a proper diesel engine found on a real-life truck. Because of this, using diesel on an RC motor has the potential of ruining the motor, forcing you to find a replacement.
Most of the things that apply to diesel apply here. There are a few differences though. There have been reports of people using gas on their RC car, but it seems that it has been gasoline mixed with nitro fuel. I don’t recommend doing this though. The first reason is that gasoline is much more powerful and explosive than nitro fuel. Just like diesel, using gasoline on a nitro car will put your engine at risk. Nitro engines will not be able to handle that much power.
Another reason why gasoline will damage a nitro car is that fact that it’s going to overheat the motor. It probably won’t be able to dissipate as much heat as with nitro fuel, affecting the materials inside. (NOTE: There are some RC cars that specifically use gasoline, but they are super expensive though)
Kerosene tends to be less powerful and less flammable than both diesel and gasoline, and using it on a nitro car is a possibility. You are going to have to mix it with nitro fuel though. There have been some reports of people using 80% nitro and 20% kerosene on their nitro car’s tank.
Even though using kerosene on an RC car is possible, that doesn’t mean that it’s very safe though. The kerosene probably won’t damage your RC car, but you always run the risk of your car catching fire. Probably won’t happen, but it’s still a possibility.
Even though it’s not even marketed as fuel, WD-40 can be used to power a nitro RC car. There have been some videos circulating on youtube on how to do so, and I have been experimenting with it on my own car, and the truth is that it’s possible to use WD-40 as fuel.
But you are going to have to mix it with nitro fuel though. The ideal mix would be 50% nitro fuel, and 50% WD-40. Adding more WD-40 will probably fail to ignite inside the engine. Anyways, check this video out to know more about how to use WD-40 as fuel.
How To Make Your Own Nitro Fuel
NOTE: I made a complete guide on how to make your own nitro fuel. To learn more, click here.
So above I talked about the different alternatives to nitro fuel. There are some fuels that can’t be used at all on an RC car, while there are others that can. But if you are not interested in using WD-40 or kerosene on your car but still want to save money, then there are a few things that you can do.
The first one is making your own nitro fuel. If you didn’t know, modern nitro fuel is very simple and very easy to mix. And if you buy the ingredients in bulk, you could be saving a significant amount of money when compared to buying premixed quarts at your local hobby shop.
To do your own nitro fuel, you need 3 ingredients: Pure nitromethane, methane, and castor oil. I would advise buying a gallon of nitro and methane and a small quart of castor oil. Mix these 3 ingredients, stir it, and you are good to go.