How to Make RC Cars Faster

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Last updatedLast updated: February 19, 2021
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For some of you who never got to live the dream life of race car driving, you live that life vicariously through radio-controlled cars. You get to enjoy the tight turns, breakneck speeds, different types of terrain, and more at a fraction of the cost of race car driving and with almost zero risks. However, at some point, even the top speed of that RC car model that you love so much will start to seem slow. As such, it’s only logical that the next question you ask yourself is how to make RC cars faster if at all that’s possible?

Well, the answers to those questions are that it is possible to make your RC cars faster, and the tips for actually doing it are listed below. In most cases, you don’t need much money, and it won’t take long to make the right adjustments.

Alter the gear ratio

One of the first tweaks you should try is to alter the gear ratio. For this, locate the pinion and the spur gear. The former should be a small metal gear on the motor. As for the spur gear, it features plastic construction and should be quite large. Replace these two components with different sized alternatives to adjust the performance of the RC car.

If you pick a larger pinion with more teeth as well as a smaller spur gear with fewer teeth, the result is a higher top speed. If you’ve set up a long straight racing track with you and your friends, this is probably the best course of action.

Contrastingly, if the race track is short or has lots of corners, avoid this course of action as it can lower the car’s acceleration. Another option is a combination of a smaller pinion and a larger spur gear. This increases torque, and the car will be at its best at the start of the race. Additionally, RC car motors with this adjustment run cooler and last longer.

The smaller pinion/larger spur gear adjustment also has a drawback in terms of lowering your top speed. That said, if your track has lots of obstacles and corners, you likely won’t need your top speed to win the race.

If you take a moment to reread the manual that came with your RC car, there should be recommendations on some gear ratios and the right pinion sizes to try out. Also, check the motor after your race, and if it is too hot, you may need to opt for a smaller pinion.

Lastly, adjust the gear mesh to cater to the different sizes of the gears. This will ensure the gears move smoothly, which translates to your RC car running better. If the gears are meshed together too tightly or too loosely, the effects could be a slower car, more friction, noise, batteries draining faster, and even a shorter lifespan for these components.

Replace the battery

How to Make RC Cars FasterAn old, exhausted, and inefficient battery could be the reason your RC car is not performing to the best of its potential. You can remedy this with a new battery. Notably, you don’t just go out and buy a new battery and hope for the best.  You have to do some homework.

We recommend Li-Po batteries over Ni-Mh and Ni-Cad variants. With a brushless motor in your RC car, the Li-Po batteries could bring performance to new heights. Further, there should be an improvement in the electronic speed control of the car as well. Lastly, a smaller, lighter battery in the car will reduce weight and may give you the edge you need for the race.

Upgrade the motor system

At the heart of your RC car is a motor that makes it move. As such, swapping out your old motor for a higher caliber option with a better performance rating will likely translate into a faster car. This can be likened to replacing an engine in a race car with a more powerful option.

Let’s not forget that the manufacturer likely put in an affordable motor in your RC car, to begin with, resulting in mediocre speeds. Besides the speed bump, you might note a longer runtime in your radio-controlled car.

Notably, there are several motor systems available on Amazon for your RC car. Consequently, you can find one without having to dig too deep into your pockets. However, the more money you can spend, the higher the performance rating of the motor.

Getting the motor and the ESC as a two-in-one purchase can help you keep the cost of the two upgrades down. This could be why some RC truck drivers who’ve tried different upgrades recommend the GoolRC 2435 motor with ESC. The universal fit of this motor will also be handy during installation.

Notably, the extra kick of the new motor can come as a shock if you’re inexperienced. According to previous reviewers, you can get the Traxxas 3350R motor as it caters to this situation by having a training mode. This training mode will cap the throttle’s performance at 50% and will help you get used to the new motor in a short amount of time. The sport and race modes of the motor also work for different use scenarios for your RC car.

Pro tip: Brushless motors are usually more efficient and pack more power, although the downside is the higher price.

Change the tires

Consider replacing the tires as well. They might not be old and worn out, but they might be incompatible with the track in question. The different types of surfaces on RC car tires are smooth, mini spikes, mini pins, and lastly, full-size spikes.

The smooth tires, also known as slicks, seem to work best on the tarmac. If the race is on your lawn, going for the full spike tires is the best solution. The full spikes also offer the best traction on muddy terrain. Notably, AstroTurf is different from regular grass, and thus your RC car will perform best if you have mini pins on your tires.

Owing to the similarity in design between AstroTurf and most carpets, mini pins are also ideal for racing in your rug-covered living room. Ideally, you should have these three types of tires at home, and you can switch them out depending on the race. That said, you do have mini spike tires as the last type, and these can pretty much handle anything you throw at them.

How to Make RC Cars Faster

Replace the bearings

Next, you can look into what the manufacturer used to prevent friction in the rotating wheels. You’ll either find bushings or bearings. If the former is in your RC car, switching the bushings out for bearings can increase speed. If you do find bearings, you can check on their state, and if they are worn out, replace them.

Reduce the car weight

We might have hinted at this when we mentioned that lighter and smaller batteries might be better since they reduce the car’s overall weight. That said, there may be other unnecessary components on the car’s body that lead to a drop in speed. Removing them will correct the issue.

Nevertheless, the extra weight can be useful in keeping the car on the ground and may be why you have traction. As such, if you remove it, the RC car may lose stability and its edge when taking corners.

Another approach to shedding the car’s weight is replacing heavy parts with alternatives made from lighter materials. A pro tip is that graphite and aluminum components are usually quite light compared to plastic parts.

Check the suspension

It’s no secret that suspension affects your experience when driving, which is why you have your mechanic check on it periodically. If any problems are discovered, you replace some parts and even fine-tune them for better performance. You should also do this regularly with your RC car.

When checking the suspension in your RC car, start by removing dirt and debris, then follow up by replacing the oil in the shock absorbers. Also, ensure you’re using the same shock shaft for all tires in the car. If any component of your suspension is damaged, you may have to replace it.

Finally, remember to account for the terrain when adjusting the ride height. Notably, with rough terrain, the ride height needs to be a little higher.

Use the body shell with better aerodynamics

You also likely know all about how aerodynamics affects various vehicles. Just like how a jet needs a pointy tip to reach top speed, your RC car might be better off with a more streamlined profile. That’s right; if you want to win that race, you might have to give up that bus or truck profile that you love so much in your RC car.

The speed difference won’t be jaw dropping, but if it could get you to the finish line even one second faster, you’ll have achieved your goal.

Use the right RC car for the right terrain

Often overlooked, but a change in cars can mean all the difference. For this, you might need to have a few RC cars lying around for every occasion and race, but it can be worth it in the long run. You can test out each new RC car in different scenarios to see where it works best. That said, we’ve provided a few tips with regard to terrains and the right cars to use.

Dirt/gravel/grass/sand dunes

How to Make RC Cars FasterThese are among the more challenging types of tracks even when using your car. As is widely publicized, trucks don’t struggle as much as saloon cars with these types of terrains. For RC cars, the situation is similar. You can use monster trucks, stadium trucks, and short course trucks. Additionally, buggies and rock crawler RC cars will also make light work of these four types of terrains.

The fluffy carpet is likely similar to grass in texture, and the RC car types listed above may work for that as well. If you’re new to these machines and want an ideal car for racing on the sand, the Losi RC Truck has received high praise from previous buyers. Other benefits of the truck are that it is waterproof and the motor is sufficiently powerful.

Pavement/tarmarc/ indoor floors

Pavements, tarmac, and the indoors are among popular race tracks since they are easy to navigate and are smooth. Notably, the RC car types mentioned above can also hack it on pavements and tarmacs. However, the aerodynamics may reduce their top speed in comparison to drift and civilian cars.

Final thoughts

If you only make one modification at a time, the rise in speed won’t be very high, and you’ll easily get used to how fast the RC car is going. However, if you make all the adjustments mentioned above, the bump in speed may be quite significant. There aren’t any rules against doing this, but we do advise that you be careful. That said, now you know exactly how to make RC cars go faster, and you can show off that new knowledge at your next drag race.

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