Every RC car enthusiast is clear about something: we all want to improve our driving skills! in fact, one of the most awesome and skillful things you can do is fast RC car driving. As if it were easy, everybody would do it, but the fact is that precise RC car driving is something that takes a lot of skill. In this article, I decided to write about 15 tips to improve your RC car driving. I include all kinds of tips here, from the more fundamental to more technical RC geek stuff. Implement these tips and you will be driving like a pro in no time!
If I were to do a summary of the following tips, it would be this: record your RC car riding with a decent quality camera, Ride alongside cars that are better than yours, improve your gear, and make a goal of periodically improving your laps. I talk in a little bit more detail about those tips and a few others more below.
Start Using Your Car On A Proper Track
My first tip is that if you aren’t riding on a proper track with adequate dimensions, you should start doing so ASAP. In fact, the truth is that your typical backyard basher is not going to improve much if riding on dirt terrain. Tracks give you the advantage of featuring a more even, smoother surface perfect for RC tires. If you have never ridden in an RC track before, expect your car handling and acceleration to improve significantly. This usually has to do with the fact that the car has more traction than when riding on the pavement or on soil.
There’s another big benefit of riding on a proper racing track: there are marked lines or cones that will help you corner more effectively. One of the best ways to improve your driving is to practice taking corners the correct way. There are things that you can’t do in your backyard. Many folks like to do their own makeshift tracks with homemade obstacles but not everybody has the space the time or the money to actually build such tracks.
Riding on an RC track will also give you the opportunity to race with other RC car riders, which is perfect for improving your skills. Driving my car on an RC track was the perfect way to really learn how to handle my dear buggy, which wasn’t able to keep up with more high powered cars at that moment.
Upgrade Your RC Car’s Components And Gear
If you are to improve your driving, it might be time to look at the gear that you are using. Obviously, using crappy transmitters, bulky RC cars, and faulty internals will seriously affect your ability to handle your machine. So it might be wise to do a throughout examination of your RC car to see what really is holding you back.
And often, transmitters are among the things that I most recommend that you upgrade. If you are still using the stock transmitter & receiver that came with your car when you first bought it, then let me tell you something that I didn’t want to accept at first: they are very crappy! obviously, this isn’t the case for ALL RC car models, but more often than not, the stock transmitter is going to be very mediocre, with very crappy range and generally no telemetrics. I have done several reviews of the different transmitters that I have owned over the years. If you are interested in checking out the reviews, click here!
Aside from the transmitter, one of the most overlooked ways to improve your car’s performance is to upgrade the servos. The stock servos found in most RTR cars are going to be fine for 99% of situations, but they also tend to be less durable than what most of us would like. If you have some months already using your RC car, then there’s a good chance that your old steering servo is worn out. Installing a new one will make a dramatic difference in your handling, especially on a track.
Aside from the transmitter and servos, there’s another upgrade that will obviously make you a better driver: upgrading the RC car itself. Now, not everybody wants or should upgrade, but if you are using a monster truck on a track specifically made for on-road cars, then you should obviously consider doing the change. Other folks that should upgrade their RC cars are people who are using very outdated models that are very worn. If your model is more than 4 or 5 years old, upgrading to something with more updated components and technology is advised.
Record Your Laps Around A Track
One of the very best ways to improve as an RC car driver is by recording your laps around a track. In fact, this is one of the things that have helped me the most. Having the opportunity to see your laps multiple times is a great way to discover bad habits in your driving, like taking corners too quickly or not taking the most efficient route, things that might be hard to notice at the moment they are happening.
In order to do this, you are going to bring a friend to the track with a decent camera. Recording videos on a phone is probably a bad idea unless the phone has a great camera or the track is very small. There’s also a few tracks that will actually record your laps for a small fee, perfect if you are short on people or don’t have a decent camera.
When it comes to recording, its especially important to record your cornering because that’s where the most mistakes happen. Most people tend to brake too much and too quickly when hitting the corners, when in fact you want your braking to be much more fluid and gradual. Anyways, recording your laps and reviewing them over and over again will help you catch and fix these small mistakes.
Practice Practice Practice!
Another tip that is fundamental for improving your skills is practicing as often as possible. I know, this is pretty obvious but hear me out. What I’m trying to say is that you have a dedicated practice schedule where you try to improve your handling, and the more you try hard at hitting the corners as cleanly as possible, the better your driving will be!
Something that I like doing when I’m trying to practice my driving is to drive my car in short bursts. There is a studying method called the Pomodoro technique, which was something that I originally learned in college to study for tests. According to Francesco Cirillo, the creator of the technique, the Pomodoro technique consists of 30-minute intervals, 25 minutes of hard studying and 5 minutes of doing something else, ideally rest. Repeat this for 4 intervals and then take a longer break.
I apply the Pomodoro technique when I’m trying to really improve my RC drifting. It seems that the method was originally created as a study method, but it works for any task that you are trying to improve. There have been several studies done and the investigations suggest that it’s one of the most effective time management methods. So if you are really looking to improve your skills, try to avoid long practice sessions, but instead break them down in shorter intervals.
Avoid Erratic steering And Throttling
One of the easiest ways to spot a newbie RC car driver, especially somebody with a drift car is if the driver steers and brakes erratically. In fact, this is one of the most common mistakes that I see newbie riders doing. Fixing this will seriously improve your skills and make you a faster RC car driver in general. Most newbies tend to steer erratically when they first get into RC cars and its something that eventually becomes a habit after a few months of regular driving, so it’s important to iron out those bad habits as soon as possible.
To fix this, the first thing that you must do is understand where does the erratic steering come from. I’m saying this because sometimes its the RC car itself that Is giving you problems. This is especially common with drift cars, and so I would advise that you do an extensive checkup of the steering servos. If they are worn out or old, then they will probably be jerkier when you hit the inputs on your transmitter. This is very common among analog servos, so to really confirm this, you are going to have to swap out the old servos for new ones. If you notice that the steering is much more fluid and gradual, then that probably means that the old servo was at fault.
But there’s also the chance that you are at fault for the jerkiness. If you have a 2WD car, then you should be steering much more gradually and much less than with a 4WD model. 2WD models tend to oversteer quite a bit, something that I love because steering them properly at higher speeds is quite the challenge. Since they are prone to oversteering, you really need to avoid quick jerks in your transmitter, or else your car might spin out. This is especially common on indoor tracks and RC drift cars.
One of the most overlooked things that most RC car owners do not like to do is maintenance. Not only is it super important if you want to make sure your car lasts as long as possible, but its also going to ensure your car performs at 100% on the track. When it comes to which components need maintenance, there are several that we could talk about, but to summarize, these include the engine ( if you have a nitro), the servos, the shocks, differentials, and bushings, among other things.
If you have a nitro car, then you really need to consistently maintain your engine if you want to improve your performance on the track. What I like to do with my nitro models is to leave them idling until the fuel runs out, let the engine cool off, clean the insides with a cloth, take the glow plug out and add some after run oil. The oil will work on the remaining nitro fuel inside, evaporating it. It will also lubricate the engine’s insides. After you add the after run oil, put the glow plug back in. This should be done every time after you are done using your car.
The air filter should also be cleaned with soap and filter oil should be applied. Shocks need to have the oil replaced every months or so, especially if the RC car is used heavily. Also, if you have some time with your RC car already, you really need to check out the bushings because they might be spent. Replacing bushings with ball bearings is also a good idea if you want to improve your performance.
Use a virtual RC car service
One of the most fun ways to improve your RC car skills is to start racing virtually. If you didn’t know, there are several games online that will mimic a real RC track. Many enthusiasts have seriously improved their skills by playing these games and I recommend that you do too. I have been playing VRC world for a few months now and so far I have been satisfied with it, so if you are really looking to sharpen up your skills, that game could be really helpful!