* This post may contain affiliate links, and we will be compensated if you buy after clicking on our links. Learn more on our Affiliate Disclosure Page.
Remote control cars, often referred to as RC cars, are one of those rare phenomena that have remained relevant across generations. While many advocate the benefits RC cars have for kids, the truth is that these cars are equally enjoyable for adults of all ages. In Europe and many Southeast Asian countries, remote control car racing is viewed as a serious sport with its competitions involving participants ranging anywhere from 9 to 90 years in age.
It might seem like buying a remote control car is a simple task but the truth is that there are a number of factors to consider before deciding which car is the right one. Here, we discuss some of the most important factors to consider when buying a remote control car.
Toy-Grade and Hobby-Grade Remote Control Cars
It is important to note this important distinction when looking to buy a best remote control car; is the RC car being purchased as a toy for a child’s entertainment or is it being bought with more serious pursuits in mind. RC cars in the market come in two different grades.
- Toy-Grade RC Cars: these are built with design and affordability as the main priority. Toy-grade cars are made with harder to find spare parts and their steering is typically limited to three positions- full right, full left and straight. These are ideal for introducing your kids aged anywhere between 5 to 10 years to the world of RC cars, though adults will find it great fun too.
- Hobby-Grade RC Cars: these are typically used in professional RC car racing competitions. They tend to have many more features than toy-grade RC cars. They are also upgradable and customizable. Due to the more challenging functional requirements, a hobby-grade RC car is built to be more durable, have greater control and precision, and be faster.
The Different Types of Remote Control Cars
The first most important thing to know is the different types of remote control cars in the market. Here, we list the most popular types of remote control cars you will find in the RC market.
A) RC Touring Car
A typical RC touring car has four wheels and independent suspension involving a lower arm, upper arm control. The four-wheel-drive system is designed to facilitate drifting and the chassis is modeled to run on flat surfaces, making this RC car suitable for on-road adventures only. In fact, this is the fastest on-road RC car type. Additionally, the RC touring car comes with two options for tires: foam tires or rubber tires. Most enthusiasts have a preference for rubber tires.
B) RC Trucks
RC trucks are one of the more popular types of remote control cars in the market. While they can run on-road, they are quite slow and tend to flip a lot at higher speeds. RC trucks’ specialty is off-road terrain. This type of RC car is particularly good for you if you are into challenging competitions or wish to drive mostly in woody or grassy terrains. RC trucks can be further divided into two categories:
- RC Short Course Truck: this RC truck can run on all types of terrain be they flat or rough. This type of truck is particularly good for those enthusiasts who like to customize their RC cars. Overall, short course trucks are powerful, durable and versatile. The four wheels of this RC truck are protected by the bumpers and the shell of the truck, lending strength to its frame.
- RC Monster Truck: This monster machine is one of the coolest-looking RC cars in the market. It is a high-powered, all-terrain RC truck and is considered to be the most popular type of RC car in the market. The kind of power this RC car has, it requires lipo batteries of the highest quality with high energy density and discharge rate. A typical off-road car, this truck can run on rough terrains such as grass, dirt, sand dunes, and puddles, do all kinds of entertaining stunts and entertain you in your very own backyard.
C) RC Buggy
RC buggies are a cross between on-road and off-road RC cars. They are the second fastest on-road RC vehicles but are the slowest off-road due to their narrow wheelbase. Due to its all-terrain suitability, the RC buggy is a very good option for those who have not yet developed a preference for the type of RC car they want.
D) RC Truggy
Truggies are like buggies, just built to be more suited to off-road pursuits. They are designed with a buggy frame and a monster truck’s tires. These machines are the third-fastest RC cars on-road and the second-slowest off-road.
E) RC Rock Crawler
As the name suggests, these RC machines are built to conquer terrains no other RC car can. Designed to move on rocks, mountains, and other rough terrains, these cars also move at the pace their name suggests: they crawl.
RC Car Sizes
RC car sizes can be quite confusing. They are basically a scale system measuring the RC car size against a full-size vehicle. The most popular RC Car scale sizes are 1:6, 1:8, 1:10 and 1:12. Among them, 1:10 is the most common scale size used as spare parts and components are widely available for this size.
A common question faced by enthusiasts of hobby-grade RC cars when buying is what power source to go with. RC cars can be powered any one of three ways listed below:
- Electric: this refers to the use of batteries. Electric remote-controlled cars are powered by rechargeable batteries. They are fast, easy-to-use, low-maintenance, and make virtually no noise. Developments in battery technology have led to the production of extremely fast electric RC cars with longer run-times. They also incur little to no cost of maintenance over time.
- Nitro: Nitro-fuel is a combination of nitromethane, methanol, and oil. Pre-mixed nitro-fuel is easily available and relatively inexpensive. Nitro-fueled cars are known to be fast, powerful and noisy. They are generally heavier, easy to break, and require considerably more maintenance time than electric-powered RC cars.
- Petrol: 2-stroke petrol is used as fuel for RC cars. It is made of a combination of Unleaded fuel and 2-Stroke oil. Petrol-fueled cars are reliable, with long run-times and some really good upgrade options available. Petrol is cheaper than nitro and readily available. However, petrol-fueled engines are much bigger in size. Therefore, petrol-fueled RC cars do not come in some of the most popular sizes such as 1:8 and 1:10.
Types of Motor
Remote control cars can have any of the two types of motors:
- brushed: brushed motors are cheap but inefficient with little power to offer. They do not tend to last longer than a year at most.
- brushless: brushless motors are durable, faster, more efficient, and powerful. Brushless motors are not known to have an expiration date.
What Types of Kit Do RC Cars Come With
RC cars come with different types of kits:
- Ready-To-Run (RTR): the term is self-explanatory.The car comes fully assembled, requiring only batteries, normally included, to start running.
- Assembly Kit: cars that come with an assembly kit are ones that require complete assembly. The kit is likely to come with a hundred or more pieces and a detailed instruction manual. The process can take anywhere between 5 to 10 hours.
- Almost-Ready-To-Run (ARR): this is when cars usually come almost fully assembled but a part or two needs to be purchased separately.
What’s The Best RC Car For Beginners
There isn’t one right answer. In fact, there are a few factors that a novice needs to look into when buying his first hobby-grade RC car.
- Ready-to-Run: starting out, it is best to get a fully assembled car with eveyrthing required to run it, provided with the car. This will ensure a hassle-free start
- Preferred Terrain: it is important to know where the car is intended to be used most. If the car is to be run on rough terrain then the RC cars proficient in off-road tracks are more suited. Conversely, on-road cars would be the better option for flat surfaces
- Durable: starting out is a bumpy process. The learning process can be filled with a lot of accidents. It is therefore important to get an RC car that is durable and strong
- Popular Size: with a greater likelihood for accidents, there are greater chances.of needing spare parts often. Choosing a popular scale size such as 1:10 can help ensure easy availability of spare components
- Electric-Powered: these are easy-to-use, clean, low-maintenance cars without the hassle of having to periodically buy fuel.
Ultimately, it is crucial for beginners to keep it simple and easy while starting out. There will be plenty of time to upgrade to heavier models and more complex, high-maintenance RC cars in the future.
It is clear that the world of RC cars is not a simple one and the decision of buying an RC car is not as straightforward as it seems. There are a lot of different factors to consider before coming to the final decision. However, as RC car enthusiasts all over the world would promise, the joy and entertainment that comes from these little machines makes all the effort, time, and research worthwhile.