In the world of RC cars, understanding the mechanics of your vehicle is key to enhancing its performance and optimizing your driving experience. One aspect that plays a pivotal role in the behavior of your car but often remains overlooked is damping. Damping, essentially, is the resistance your RC car provides to shock compression or extension. It may seem like a complex term, but in layman's terms, damping is what prevents your car from bouncing uncontrollably due to the springs that keep it off the ground.
Three crucial components work together to achieve effective damping - shock oil, the springs, and the piston. In this article, we delve into the workings of these components, explore how they affect your car's handling on various terrains, and discuss how temperature influences the performance of your shock oil. Whether you're a seasoned RC car enthusiast or a novice looking to enhance your knowledge, this guide will equip you with the understanding you need to ensure your RC car performs at its peak in any condition. So, let's get started and turn you into a master of damping and suspension.
In this post, we will cover what is shock oil used for and how the right shock oil will help the performance of your RC vehicles.
What Is RC Shock Oil: Understanding The Basics
Shock oil and pistons are two essential parts that work together to keep your RC car stable. These components cooperate to govern damping, a key procedure that prevents your car from bouncing too much as a result of the spring system.
Think of shock oil and pistons as the caretakers of your RC car's suspension. The shock oil is essentially the fluid within the shock absorbers, and the pistons are parts that move through this fluid when your car encounters a bump or lean. As the pistons move through the shock oil, they encounter resistance, which slows down the spring's bouncing effect. This damping effect keeps your car stable, providing a smoother ride and making it easier to maneuver.
Choosing the right shock oil and adjusting your springs can have a significant impact on your RC car's performance and handling. The type of surface your car is driven on, as well as the ambient temperature conditions, are important factors that influence these choices, as we will discuss further. You will significantly improve the control and responsiveness of your RC car by mastering the art of damping, making your driving experience more enjoyable and competitive.
For example, I live in a colder climate and sometimes will use a lighter-weight shock oil went the temperature starts to drop. When summer rolls around, I may use a heavier-weight shock oil when temps start to hit 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
Different Weights of Shock Oil For RC Cars
There are many different shock oil weights to choose from, but this list will cover the most common RC shock oil weights:
- 20 weight
- 25 weight
- 30 weight
- 35 weight
- 40 weight
- 45 weight
- 50 weight
You can buy shock oil in individual weights or in a pack that comes in a range of weights. If you are looking for a solid shock weight kit, the Losi kit is a great RC shock oil kit to add to your garage.
Picking The Right Shock Oil Weight For Different Terrains And Driving Styles
Selecting the proper shock oil weight is essential for your RC car to perform at its best on various terrains. In essence, the viscosity or thickness of the oil is indicated by its weight, which is marked on the bottle. Thicker oil and higher weight provide greater resistance to the piston's movement.
Lightweight Shock Oil Conditions
Lighter shock oil (lower weight) is typically recommended when driving on surfaces with lots of bumps and irregularities. Lighter shock oil makes it possible for the suspension to react to the terrain more quickly, allowing the wheels to move up and down with it and the chassis to roll in corners. Your car's quick spring response and lighter shock oil enable better traction and stability on rocky terrain. If you are bashing out in the backyard or offroad, try testing out a lightweight shock oil to see if you have greater control.
Medium weight Shock Oil Conditions
On the other hand, for smooth surfaces or well-paved tracks, thicker shock oil (higher weight) becomes the optimal choice. Thicker oil slows down the piston movement, reducing the speed at which the springs compress and extend. This helps in controlling the car's roll, making it stable and easier to handle at high speeds.
Heavy Weight Shock Oil Conditions
Finally, if you are hitting big jumps, I have had better experiences using heavier-weight shock oil. The heavier weight shock oil helps the vehicle absorb the hard landings.
The take-home point here is to get a few different weights and test them out to see which works best for the terrain you usually drive on and the type of driving you are doing.
|Type of Activity||Recommended Shock Oil Weight|
|High Speed Runs||Medium Weight|
|Bashing Off-Road||Lighter Weight|
|Racing with Jumps||Medium-Heavy Weight|
|Hitting Big Jumps||Heavier Weight|
Ambient Air Temperature and Shock Oil
The air temperature is an important consideration when choosing your shock oil weight. Shock oil has a variable viscosity that varies with the surrounding temperature. Shock oil typically tends to thicken in colder climates and thin out in hotter ones.
When racing in colder conditions than usual, you might need to opt for a lighter oil as the oil's natural thickening could slow down your springs too much. Conversely, in hotter conditions, a heavier oil might be necessary to counteract the thinning effect and maintain sufficient damping. Significant temperature changes might even necessitate a viscosity change of 10wt/100 cSt or more. By taking the weather into account, you can ensure your car maintains its performance, no matter what the climate throws at it.
Keep in mind the relationship between shock oil, pistons, and springs is dynamic and intricate. Understanding and adjusting these elements in harmony is key to getting the most out of your RC car.
The general rule of thumb is the colder the temp, the thinner the oil. If it's getting hot, use a thicker oil.
|Starting Shock Oil Weight (at 70°F)||Adjusted Weight for 50°F||Adjusted Weight for 60°F||Adjusted Weight for 80°F||Adjusted Weight for 90°F|
|20wt (400cSt)||15wt (300cSt)||18wt (360cSt)||23wt (460cSt)||25wt (500cSt)|
|30wt (600cSt)||25wt (500cSt)||28wt (560cSt)||33wt (660cSt)||35wt (700cSt)|
|40wt (800cSt)||35wt (700cSt)||38wt (760cSt)||43wt (860cSt)||45wt (900cSt)|
|50wt (1000cSt)||45wt (900cSt)||48wt (960cSt)||53wt (1060cSt)||55wt (1100cSt)|
The Significance of Springs in RC Cars
In an RC car, springs serve a critical role in the suspension system. They work in tandem with shock oil and pistons, playing a significant role in the damping process. Essentially, springs are what prevent your car from sitting flat on the ground, and they are responsible for controlling the vertical movement of the wheels relative to the chassis.
When your RC car goes over a bump, the springs compress, absorbing the energy from the impact. This keeps the wheels in contact with the ground, allowing for consistent traction and control. Once past the bump, the springs extend, pushing the wheels back down to maintain contact with the ground.
The choice of springs also affects how the car handles, similar to shock oil. Softer springs make the car more responsive to smaller bumps, similar to lighter shock oil. They allow the wheels to track the ground more accurately, keeping the tires in contact with the surface for better grip. This makes them ideal for rough, bumpy terrains.
Conversely, harder springs reduce the car's response to bumps, similar to thicker shock oil. This makes the car more stable at higher speeds and during jumps, as the car is less likely to bottom out. They are generally better suited for smoother surfaces or when hitting big jumps.
It's worth noting that while shock oil and springs serve similar roles, they are not interchangeable in their function. Shock oil mainly controls the speed at which the springs compress and extend, while the springs primarily control the ride height and the basic up-and-down movement of the wheels. Both need to be fine-tuned in unison to get the desired handling characteristics from your RC car.
In the next section, we will delve into how to find the right balance between shock oil, pistons, and springs.
Achieving the Perfect Balance: RC Shock Oil, Pistons, and Springs
Finding the optimal balance between shock oil, pistons, and springs is important when finding the perfect performance and handling in your RC car. But remember, 'perfect' is subjective and greatly depends on individual preferences, terrain types, and weather conditions.
Start with a basic setup - use the manufacturer's recommendations for shock oil weight and spring stiffness as a starting point. From here, you can begin making adjustments based on your driving style and the conditions you typically drive in.
- Testing and Adjusting: It's essential to test your RC car after each adjustment. Make one change at a time - such as changing the shock oil weight - and observe how this affects the car's handling. If you adjust too many things at once, it becomes difficult to understand which change caused what effect.
- Balance: Using the same shock oil or springs on the front and rear of your car is not always beneficial. Sometimes, heavier oil in the front or a stiffer spring in the rear of the vehicle could lead to better performance.
- Consistency: Keep track of your changes and how they affect your car's handling. This will help you understand how each component impacts performance and allow you to make more informed adjustments in the future.
- Practical Understanding: Over time, you will develop an intuitive understanding of how changes in shock oil weight, piston size, and spring stiffness affect your RC car's performance. This practical understanding is invaluable and is only acquired through time and experience.
Remember, patience is key when fine-tuning your RC car. It takes time to understand and achieve the perfect balance. And even when you think you have found it, changing conditions or new terrains might require further adjustments. But that's part of the fun and excitement of RC car racing - there's always something new to learn and improve upon.
Troubleshooting Common Suspension Issues
Even with the perfect balance of shock oil, pistons, and springs, RC cars can sometimes exhibit unexpected behavior. Here, we'll go over some common issues and provide suggestions on how to rectify them.
- RC Car Bottoms Out: If your car bottoms out frequently, especially when going over bumps or landing from jumps, you may need to consider a thicker shock oil or stiffer springs. These will slow down the compression speed and prevent the chassis from hitting the ground.
- Car Is To Bouncy: If your car is excessively bouncy, it indicates insufficient damping. Consider using thicker shock oil or smaller pistons to slow down the extension of the springs.
- Loss of Grip in Corners: Losing grip during cornering can be due to several reasons. It might be that the shock oil is too thick or the springs are too hard for the tires to maintain contact with the ground. Experiment with lighter oil or softer springs to see if the grip improves.
- Car Leans Too Much in Corners: If your car leans too much during cornering, it can cause a loss of grip on the inner wheels. Thicker shock oil or stiffer springs can help keep the car more level during cornering.
- Performance Changes with Weather: Remember that shock oil changes viscosity with temperature. If you're noticing significant changes in performance with the weather, refer back to the table in section IV. Adjust your shock oil weight as needed based on temperature changes.
|Common Issue||Potential Solution|
|RC Car Bottoms Out||Consider a thicker shock oil or stiffer springs|
|Car Is Too Bouncy||Consider using thicker shock oil or smaller pistons|
|Loss of Grip in Corners||Experiment with lighter shock oil or softer springs|
|Car Leans Too Much in Corners||Thicker shock oil or stiffer springs may help|
|Performance Changes with Weather||Adjust your shock oil weight as needed based on temperature changes|
Troubleshooting is a significant aspect of RC car maintenance and tuning. Learning to identify and rectify issues will improve not only your car's performance but also your understanding of how different components interact with each other.
Frequently Asked Questions
How does shock oil weight affect the performance of my RC car?
Shock oil weight affects the damping of your RC car, which is its resistance to shock compression or extension. Thicker oil (higher weight) slows the suspension response, providing stability at high speeds and smooth surfaces. Lighter oil (lower weight) allows for quicker suspension response, which can be beneficial on rough or uneven terrain.
How does temperature affect shock oil viscosity?
The viscosity of shock oil changes with temperature. It thickens in cold weather and thins in hot weather. Thus, you may need to adjust the weight of your shock oil based on the ambient temperature to maintain optimal performance.
Why does my RC car bounce, and how can I fix bouncing?
Excessive bouncing could be a sign of insufficient damping. This could be due to too light a shock oil or too large a piston hole. Consider using a thicker shock oil or a piston with smaller holes to slow down the extension of the springs.
What is the role of springs in an RC car's suspension?
Springs absorb the energy from bumps and jumps to keep the wheels of your RC car in contact with the ground, allowing for consistent traction and control. The stiffness of the springs can be adjusted to change the car's responsiveness to bu
RC Shock Oil and Suspension Conclusion
Driving, bashing, and racing RC cars and trucks is an engaging hobby that combines technical knowledge with hands-on application. Whether you're a beginner or a veteran, there is always something new to learn, especially when it comes to understanding and adjusting the complex interplay of shock oil, pistons, and springs in your RC car's performance.
Remember, fine-tuning an RC car is as much an art as it is a science. While we've provided some general guidelines and solutions in this article, the optimal setup is highly dependent on your specific car model, the terrain you're driving on, the weather conditions, and your personal driving style. So don't be afraid to experiment and make changes. That's part of the fun and what makes RC car racing so rewarding!
And always remember to have fun! RC car racing is about more than just optimizing your car's performance. It's about the thrill of racing, the excitement of making that perfect jump, and the satisfaction of knowing that you've tuned your car to its optimal performance.
Whether you're prepping for a race or just enjoying some off-road bashing, always remember why you got into RC cars in the first place. The joy of the hobby comes from both the journey and the destination. So keep tuning, keep learning, and keep driving. Happy Racing!