Knowing how to clean your RC car properly will keep it running like new every time you take it out for a drive. Regular cleaning should be part of your RC car's maintenance program.
RC cars are rugged and built to get dirty. But, they have to be cleaned and maintained just like a real car. Beginner RC car owners may not know how important cleaning your car is to keep it driving its best.
Dirt and debris can work their way into your bearings, servos, and other moving parts. Your car is packed with sensitive electric parts, so you can't simply spray off your car with the hose and call it a day.
Having the right tools and knowing how to clean your RC car properly will make the cleaning process a breeze. This post will provide tips and tricks to clean up your car and keep it performing its best.
How To Keep Your RC Chassis Clean
A chassis cover is one of the best purchases I made for my cars. This is a lightweight cover that you fit over the chassis, and it keeps mud, grass, leaves, and other junk out of your chassis.
This is a must-have product if you hate cleaning your RC car. All you have to do is cover it up and go bashing!
What tools do I need to clean my RC car?
Cleaning up a dirty RC vehicle requires a few specialized tools and general household cleaning items. Most of these items are inexpensive and are probably already in your workshop.
To clean up your car, you will need:
- A set of paintbrushes in various sizes
- A large toothbrush
- A kitchen brush with a handle
- An air compressor with a blowgun
- a small water spray bottle
- A bottle of de-greaser or cleaner like simple green
- Basic household cleaners like 409 or ammonia-free glass cleaner
- Rags, paper towels, or microfiber cloths
- Lubricants for moving parts
- Tools to take apart your car
- Safety goggles
- a small bucket
Pro tip - I like to use paintbrushes to help remove that hard-to-reach dirt.
Also, If you don't have an air compressor and blow gun, you can always use a canned air duster, like the type you use to blow out a computer or keyboard.
Prepping to clean your RC car
Safety first, put on your safety goggles and heavy-duty gloves. You don't want de-greaser, specks of dirt, or small rocks getting into your eye. Make sure to read any warning labels on your cleaning agents and follow their safety recommendations.
I suggest cleaning your car every time you finish driving it for the day. Cleaning your RC after driving will prevent rust, and it's also much easier to clean off mud and dirt before it hardens to your car.
Remove all batteries before you start cleaning your RC car
Before you get started cleaning your car, make sure to unplug and remove all battery packs. I can't stress enough how important this step is. Before cleaning up your car, throw your batteries on the charger.
Remove the RC Car Body
The body is probably the easiest part to clean. Spray it off with the water hose, wipe it down with a rag, and set it aside to dry.
Remove your wheels and tires
Removing your wheels and tires will make it easier to access all those nooks and crannies around your suspension components and linkages. Dirt loves to hide in those hard-to-reach places.
How to Clean your RC Car Wheels and Tires
RC tires are vented and may have holes in them. Make sure you don't get water inside the tires while scrubbing them. If you have vent holes in your tires, see if you can cover them. If not, use soapy water sparingly.
Start by lightly dipping your brush in the soapy water and shake off any access dripping water. Next, give the wheels and tires a good brushing. Finish up by spraying off the wheels with clean water or wiping them with a rag.
The critical takeaway is to try not to get water inside your tires because It can be hard to get the water out and ruin them.
If your wheels are filthy, you can spray them with a foaming de-greaser and scrub them with the brush.
You may prefer this method over soap and water. Pick whichever method you feel most comfortable with.
Blow off your car with compressed air
Once all the bulky components are out of the way, start giving your car a good blow down with your compressed air.
Blowing the car first will quickly remove most dust, dirt, and debris. I like to use a blowgun attachment to help blast away loose dirt.
Be careful not to use too much pressure when blowing down your car. Start with a lower PSI and work your way up. 100 to 120 PSI should be plenty of pressure to last the entire cleanup process.
Start by cleaning off the chassis by blowing from the front to the back. Flip the car on its side, upside down, and at any other angle to get all the dirt blown off the car.
Something small like this light and quiet air compressor will provide plenty of blowing power to rid your vehicle of dirt and other junk.
Use a bristled brush to clean Your RC Car
Start by gently brushing down the suspension, servos, spur, and pinon gear. The brush will knock off any dirt that the air compressor missed.
The goal is to brush those hard-to-reach areas where loose dirt builds up or gets trapped. You can even use your air compressor to blow debris as you brush.
You don't need anything fancy to brush down your RC. I use some old kitchen brushes and think they work just fine.
Cleaning Your RC car with De-greaser
De-greasing products work great! But, I suggest only using them as a last resort. Over time, these products could start to break down the components of your car.
You have two options when it comes to cleaning with de-greasing products. You can spray the de-greaser onto a cloth or use a foaming de-greaser directly on your car.
If your car is filthy and covered in mud, you may want to use a foaming de-greaser. If you spent most of your day driving in the grass, you might want to spray a cloth down.
The foaming de-greasers are more heavy-duty and could wear out plastic parts faster or make them brittle. You aren't going to break down plastic components after one or two uses, but if you spray your car daily with heavy-duty cleaning products, you can expect some parts to start to wear out or not function properly.
I have found that Muc-Off is a bit less abrasive and works great. Spray down your car, let it sit for a few minutes, and then wash away all the dirt and grime. If you haven't tried Muc-Off, I suggest giving it a shot. It is cheap and lasts a long time.
Cleaning your suspension and steering components
A foaming de-greaser is good for cleaning the suspension, springs, rods, steering linkages, and other metal parts. But, as I mentioned earlier, use it sparingly. You can opt for a targeted approach to spraying cleaner directly on your car.
Start by spraying on the foaming cleaner and let it sit for 3 to 5 minutes. The manufacturer may have longer recommendations, but 5 minutes is usually enough.
After letting the cleaner sit for a few minutes, spray the cleaner off with compressed air or wipe it down with a rag and your brushes. All dirt and loose debris should come right off your rig.
Lubricating your RC Car
Joints, moving parts, exposed bearings, and bare metal surfaces require lubrication. You especially need to lubricate any moving parts that may have been sprayed with water or de-greaser. That's pretty much all of them.
You can use lubricants like Wurth dry lube, WD-40, White lithium grease, or any other type of grease recommended for RC cars.
A little WD-40 can go a long way. Don't saturate your suspension parts with it. Give a light spray, work the shocks up and down, and give it another spray.
How to clean Your RC car Conclusion
Whether you drive off-road cars or stick to the pavement, your RC cars will get dirty and need regular cleaning. By spending a few extra minutes cleaning up your car after driving it, you will increase the longevity of the expensive mechanical parts. Your car will also perform its best when clean and well oiled.
Buy a plastic tote to store your supplies and build up your car cleaning kit. When you get home from driving RC cars, put your batteries on the charger and give your cars a good cleaning. After a few sessions, cleaning your car will become second nature.
I know cleaning up isn't the most fun, but it is a necessary task. I promise you will sleep well knowing your cars aren't sitting in your garage building up rust.