Why Are RC Cars So Expensive?
While I personally love RC cars and will be playing with them for a long time, they have one small con: the hobby overall is pretty expensive. Many people start looking for their first RC car and when they finally find something that they like, they are shocked by the pricing of the model.
But I personally was wondering something: Why exactly are they so expensive?? I mean, a decent model could cost hundreds of dollars. So to answer that question, I decided to do some research on the matter.
And what I found is that RC cars are expensive because of all the internal components needed to produce the car. While you can get a cheap electric model for under 50$, it probably will break down after a month or 2. In order to make sure the car lasts, manufacturers spend extra model on sturdier components and internals, and that translates in a bigger price tag. This is especially true with nitro cars.
The most expensive models are probably going to be the higher-end ones. A Slash Ultimate 4X4 has been an acclaimed model since its inception, and that means that it’s going to be quite expensive, even to RC car fans. The RC car enthusiast community has been spending massive amounts of money for years now on these little monsters, and I don’t think prices are ever going to go down. People just keep buying them.
Anyways, If you are reading this article, chances are that you are looking for an RC car but are on a budget. below are a few tips that you can follow in order to get something decent on a budget.
How Can You Get An RC Car Without Breaking The Bank?
While most RC cars are quite costly (200 dollars and up) if you look well, you can get yourself something decent at a discounted price. Here are a few ways to get that RC car you always wanted on a budget.
- Get Yourself A Used Model: The best and most obvious way is to just get yourself something used, especially if it’s an electric car. As long as the RC car doesn’t have much wear and tear, used models will last you a while. Buying used is what I personally recommend if you are new to RC riding. I have seen a lot of used ECX Circuits on Craiglist which is a great option for newbies, getting something good for cheap won’t be too hard. Another way to get a good deal on a used RC car is by going on enthusiast forums and trying to buy something from there.
- Buy Near The Holiday Season: Another way to get something affordable is buying an RC car by the holiday season. We are talking about the period between Black Friday and Christmas. This is the period where most RC car manufacturers start having sales and special deals. Getting a decent 1/10 Traxxas or ECX for under $150 is definitely a possibility by this time. Other time periods where you can get a good deal is near spring break.
- Get An RC Car With A Brushed Electric Motor: If you are on a budget, Then you should be looking at an electric RC car with a brushed motor. There are two types of electric motors on RC cars: brushed and brushless, and they both have their pros and cons. A brushed motor is simpler and much more affordable than a brushless motor, which tends to be found on more expensive cars. Brushed motors are definitely slower than brushless options, but they tend to provide good performance for the pricing, something that all beginners are looking for.
Which RC Car Is Best For Somebody On A Budget?
Traxxas Slash – The Best Choice Overall
The Traxxas Slash is the best RC car you can get if you are on a budget. The combination of reliability, bang for your buck, and performance make this a winner for beginners that do not know what to get. This is meant to be a short-course racer, and its also a great choice for somebody looking to do some mods to the engine.
The best part of this truck is its Titan 12 Turn 550 motor, which has been lauded by the enthusiast community for providing lots of torque while being affordable for what it is. As I said above, this is a great value for the money, and this is especially true when you look at the engine. And not only that, but the motor is also very easy to tune and modify.
Traxxas knew who was going to buy this model, and so they focused a lot on modding potential and accessibility. The motor can achieve speeds over 25KPH, which is great for the price, but if you eventually find that it’s not enough speed, you could always upgrade to a brushless option later.
When it comes to the suspension, this RC car doesn’t disappoint. This truck has one of the best suspension setups for the price, handling bumps and impacts with grace, while having enough give to avoid affecting its performance on offroading situations. Suspensions have long been a sore spot for Traxxas products, but they have really seem to got it right with the Slash. And just like the motor, the stock shocks can be easily modified or replaced if you are thinking of improving the truck on the future.
One of the other reasons why this is such a great choice is its reliability. If you are looking for an affordable RC car, then not only are you looking at the price tag, but you also want something that will last you a decent amount of time.
There’s no point in buying a cheap 30$ Chinese knock-off if it’s not going to last you 2 months. So if you are shopping for an RC car, reliability should be an important consideration, and the Traxxas Slash doesn’t disappoint in that department. The Titan 12 motor is bulletproof, the car’s Transmission is ridiculously overbuilt, and last but not least, the car’s components are waterproof, meaning that you can ride this anywhere and anytime without worrying of it breaking down.
RedCat Blackout – The Underdog
Ridiculously underrated, the Redcat Blackout is one of the best choices for people looking to get into this hobby. This short-course racer is a little bit slower and cheaper than the Traxxas above, which is why some people prefer it over the Slash. The only con of this model is the fact that it’s much harder to find than the Slash, and that it could use a better charger, but other than that, this is one of the best choices for folks on a budget.
One thing that everybody knows about the Blackout is the fact that this is a very rugged and reliable model, and because of that, This can be a great choice as a gift for your son or daughter. This RC car is going to absorb impacts and bumps very well. The brushed engine is going to last you a long time, and it’s well suited for extended driving sessions.
The battery is also a good fit for the Blackout. It’s a 7.2v 3000mAh Battery which will provide 2.5 hours of riding on a full charge. This in the electric RC world is excellent, especially considering the price point of this truck.
Every model has its cons, the Blackout is no exception. Some people are going to be fine with this, but the charger that comes with the truck is pretty mediocre, and charging the battery up takes a lot of time. We are talking about more than 12 hours, which is pretty long if you ask me. If I were you, I would get an aftermarket because the stock one is honestly not very good.
ECX Circuit – Super Underrated, Super Fun!
ECX has long been a powerhouse when it comes to RC cars, however, they have always been known as a more premium option, especially when compared to rivals Redcat and Exceed. Many people have pointed out how pricey an ECX car can be, and so because of consumer demand, they decided to introduce the entry-level model everybody was asking for: The ECX Circuit. The very accessible price combined with ECX penchant for making cars with excellent handling makes the Circuit a serious contender for best beginner RC truck.
The best part of this truck is the handling. The pinpoint handling means that you will have almost car-like levels of precision on a track, perfect for somebody looking to eventually move up and get a bigger scale. I personally had the opportunity to ride one on a track and the handling was seriously better than some more premium Arrmas. If you really demand pinpoint control from your truck, then this could be a great choice.
The ECX Circuit is also quite affordable for what you get if you ask me. Like I said in the upper paragraph, It handles like a 500$+ modded truck, but the price is nowhere near that amount. The truck comes with a lot of good equipment from the factory, ideal if you aren’t looking to do mods in the near future. This car isn’t that mod friendly anyway so.
I have a few complaints with this car, and one of this is the fact that some internal components do not quite live up to the ECX standards I’m so used to, which is where they probably saved the most money. The trucks gears will not tolerate a more torquey motor, which sometimes I felt was necessary since this car isn’t very fast.
If you are looking to do some mods, especially to the motor, then I would personally recommend that you try something else, for example, the Traxxas Slash or Redcat Blackout above. Don’t get me wrong though, It’s not like this will not handle any significant mods, but there are simply better choices if you are looking to do some changes to the truck.
Exceed Hyperspeed – Looking For Nitro? This Is Your Best Bet
Known for making hardcore products, Exceed’s cars and trucks have always been the enthusiast’s wet dream. This is their entry level nitro RC car, which is made with beginners in mind. If you are looking to learn about nitro cars and need something that won’t break the bank and won’t give you any headaches either, then this is an excellent choice. Just keep in mind that nitro cars are going to be a little bit more expensive because of the extra stuff you need to buy.
The Hyperspeed has always been lauded as one of the best products for beginners looking to move from electric to nitro cars, and its no wonder why. Nitro cars are significantly faster than their electric counterparts. This specific model features a very torquey engine for the price. If you have a wide space to use all of its speed, this you are going to have a lot of fun with this model.
Another big pro about the Hyperspeed is the fact that it can be modded so easily. This is a popular platform for more experienced modders, with many 60+ MPH setups being posted on enthusiast forums. If you are looking to do some tweaks to your car in the future, then this could be a great buy.
Now, there are a few things about this car, and the main one is the fact that this is one of the more expensive choices on this list. Now don’t get me wrong, this is actually pretty affordable, but the fact that this is a nitro model means that you are going to have to spend extra money on things like the nitro fuel, wrenches, screwdrivers, etc… if you are fine with that, then you are going to have a great time with this model.
Arrma Senton – Most Versatile
One of the most versatile models in this list, the Senton has always been a popular truck among beginners looking to learn the ropes. The main pro of this is its versatility. its suspension will work well on any terrain including dirt, grass, gravel, and pavement. This combined with Arrma’s reputation for reliability and dependability makes this a worthy choice in the beginner RC truck segment.
The only problem this has is its price but other than that, I recommend that you keep this on the top of your buying list.
As I mentioned above, the best part of this truck is its tough and heavy-duty suspension setup. This would be a great choice if you or your kid are going to be using the car everywhere, including on dirty or muddy terrain, or maybe in your lawn. If you check the inside components, you are going to notice how much plastic cladding the car has in the shocks.
This isn’t perfect though. While this might be sturdier than the Traxxas above, this is still one of the more expensive models on the list. Getting parts for this is also going to give you more trouble than most of the models above.