Introduction on How to make RC car faster
My favorite part about RC cars is tinkering with them in the workshop. I love to shop around for a new high-performance motor, adjust the car's gear ratios, test different battery packs, and try to reduce the car's overall weight.
All of my efforts are for one thing; speed. It's so fun to see your performance mods and how to make your RC car faster.
This post will cover everything you need to do to boost your RC car's performance. These tips and tricks will make your RC car faster!
Replace All bushings with ball bearings
If you have an entry-level RC car, you may have bushings instead of high-performance bearings. Make sure to inspect your car for bushings and replace them with bearings where possible.
Bearings help your car to perform better and place less stress on the battery and motor. Don't worry; upgrading to ball bearings isn't complex or expensive.
A steel-bearing upgrade will cost you 20 to 30 dollars. You can also pay a bit more for a ceramic bearing kit. Ceramic bearings are higher-performing but will cost you around 60 dollars for most RC cars.
Ceramic bearings are widely used in road track racing because they don't get as dirty and last longer. You can use ceramic bearings on a dirt track car, but you should expect to clean and replace them more often and replace them
How do Bearings help your car go faster?
Bearings help your wheels spin with less friction. Most RC car enthusiasts spend time and money upgrading and maintaining their car's bearings.
A bearing upgrade will help your car go faster by:
- reducing friction
- improving battery life
- reducing weight
- lowering inertia on startup
If you determine that your car already has ball bearings, you still should clean them and lubricate them regularly. Dirt and other debris can build up inside the bearings, causing your car to slow down. You don't have to clean the bearings all the time, but it should be part of your car's maintenance plan.
Change the Gear Ratio
The pinion gear and the spur gear are the main gears that power your car down the track. You can adjust the gear ratio to increase the maximum speed of your RC car.
What is RC car Gear Ratio?
The gear ratio measures how many revolutions the pinion gear spins compared to the spur gear.
The pinion gear
The motor on your RC car will connect directly to the pinion gear. This gear is small and connects its teeth to the spur gear.
By increasing the size of the pinion gear, your RC car will go faster. But, this increase in speed will come at a cost.
A larger pinion gear will stress your motor and electronic speed controller. By running a larger pinion gear all the time, you can expect to replace your motor more frequently.
This type of mod is something you can experiment with back at your workshop. You can increase the pinion gear size little by little until your find the right fit. Pinion gears aren't costly and usually cost around 3 to 10 dollars.
Depending on what type of driving you are doing, swap out a smaller pinion gear for a larger one when looking for more speed.
The spur gear
The spur gear is the larger gear in the drive system. By reducing the size of the spur gear, you can increase the maximum speed of your RC car. Again, this type of modification comes with more wear and tear on your motor.
You can try different spur and pinion gear combinations and see how your car performs.
Upgrade Your Battery packs
If you have an electric RC car, your battery pack is essential to its performance. Battery packs come in all shapes, sizes, and configurations. The number of cells in a battery is called its "S" rating. You may have heard of 2S, 3S, or even 6S battery packs.
Voltage and cell count on your battery are related. The greater the number of cells, the higher the voltage.
Increasing the voltage of your batter will help improve performance. IF you want to increase your battery's voltage, look at upgrading from a 2S to a 3S battery pack. This upgrade will take you from 7.4 volts to 11.1 volts, and a higher voltage means more power.
Higher voltage battery packs are more expensive. But, if you want that speed boost, you have to strap in a 3S battery pack and watch your RC car fly off the road (literally.)
Why are Lipo Batteries Better for my RC Cars?
Many beginner RC cars have a nickel-metal hybrid (NiMH) battery pack. If you fall into this category, upgrading to Lipo batteries will give you a performance boost.
Lipo battery technology is newer than NiMH and comes with many performance gains.
Lipo performance benefits include:
- They are lighter
- They have a higher power output
- They discharge power at a steady rate
- They can store more power in smaller space
Upgrade Your Electric Motor
Just like battery packs, electric motors come in various configurations. Electric motors are either brushed or brushless.
If your car came with a stock brushed motor, upgrading to a brushless system will instantly improve your max speeds. If you plan to upgrade to a brushless system, make sure you learn about electronic speed controllers (ESC.)
Brushless motors require the right type of motor-ESC-combination, so you can't pop in a new brushless motor without purchasing the right type of ESC.
Brushed motors are cheaper than brushless motors. They produce more friction and heat, drain your batter faster, and wear out quicker. Brushed motors are also slower because they do not operate as efficiently as a brushless motors. I own a brushless Traxxas Slash 4x4 and it has a max speed of 60 miles per hour. A Traxxas Slash with a brushed motor has a top speed of 30 miles per hour.
I can't promise that a brushless motor will double your speed, but it certainly does for the Slash.
If you want to learn more about brushed motors, check out this post.
A Brushless motor is a better choice if you want to make your RC car faster. They are more efficient, produce less heat, and have a longer lifespan.
However, there are some disadvantages to brushless motor systems, and they are more expensive and require the right type of ESC.
I would make all other modifications to your RC car first and if you still want more speed, upgrade your motor.
What is an Electronic Speed Controller?
An ESC is a component that regulates the speed of your RC car's electric DC motor. This ESC receives the input signal from the throttle of your transmitter and adjusts the motor's output.
Make sure to research the proper current rating when pairing up your ESC with your motor. A general rule of thumb is to buy an ESC that is rated for a higher current than your motor will draw.
If your motor draws 12 amps, you would want to get a 20 amp ESC. Don't purchase an ESC that has a smaller amp rating than your motor.
Reduce your car's weight
Any weight reductions you can find will make your RC car go faster. The battery is the best place to look when trying to lighten up your RC car. As discussed in the battery section, Lipo battery packs are lighter materials. So, look to reduce weight by upgrading your battery packs first.
Advanced Tactics to reduce RC car weight
Any component on your RC car made of steel may have a titanium or aluminum replacement. Titanium and aluminum are lighter than steel and are excellent weight reduction materials.
Here is a list of parts you can try to replace with titanium or aluminum parts:
- Pivot balls
- Suspension pins
- Chassis plate
- Skid plates
- center shaft
- wheel washers
Please note that titanium isn't always the answer for every component. Sometimes aluminum parts, like hex hubs, can be a great alternative.
Be careful when using aluminum. Although it is a lightweight material, it isn't as strong as steel or titanium. Make sure not to over tighten aluminum hardware.
Are there carbon fiber parts for your RC car?
Many RC car part manufacturers make carbon fiber upgrades. Carbon fiber is a lightweight and strong material. You could research swapping out these stock parts with carbon fiber ones:
- Upper Chassis
- battery tray and hold down
- top plate
- steering plates
You will have to research all of your car's components to see if there is a suitable replacement. Just because one type of RC car has a carbon fiber or titanium upgrade kit does not mean one is available for your car.
Also, it may not be wise to upgrade to lighter-weight parts if your car crashes often or takes a beating on the track.
Upgrade Your Wheels and Tires
Tires can help your car go faster, but you have to match the tire to the type of terrain you are driving on. For example, paddle tires are great for driving in the sand but will slow you down on the grass. A dirt track tire is not as good on a blacktop surface as slick tires.
The key thing to remember is to swap out your tires to match the surface you are driving on. Not only will your car go faster, but your battery life will last longer by running the appropriate tire for the surface.
Do I need lighter wheels for my RC car?
Wheels are a component that could save you several grams in weight per wheel. It depends on what type of wheels your car came with. You can remove one of your wheels and weigh it will an electric scale.
Take the weight of the wheel and multiply it by four. Head over to Google and start looking for wheel upgrades. If you find a set of wheels that is significantly lighter than your current set, you can decide if it is worth the money to purchase the lighter-weight wheels.
At some point, the cost of reducing the weight of your car becomes too expensive to really matter. If you have the money and want to completely optimize the weight of your car, go for it!
I am one of those RC enthusiasts that want the absolute best of the best. No component is too expensive if it will make my car go faster!
How to make my RC car faster conclusion
There are so many different parts you can replace that will help make your car go faster. There are gearing ratios, engine hop-ups, tire types, and weight reduction parts out there that will help boost the speed of your car.
I think the main point to take from this article is to research.
Put a list together of parts that you think could help better your car's performance. Weight your options and start to replace the stock parts.
After a few upgrades, take your car out and test it out. Did these parts make a noticeable difference? If so, head back over to your list and see what else you can modify.
I always love working on and tinkering with my cars. It is a hobby after all and the main goal is to have fun!