Choosing an rc car

How Do I Choose an RC Car?

For those who have immersed themselves in the thrilling world of remote-controlled vehicles, choosing the perfect RC car may seem effortless. However, if you’re new to this hobby, don’t worry…

For those who have immersed themselves in the thrilling world of remote-controlled vehicles, choosing the perfect RC car may seem effortless. However, if you’re new to this hobby, don’t worry if you need some additional time to make your decision.

RC cars come in a delightful array of styles, price points, and brands, catering to a wide spectrum of preferences and budgets.

While certain names like Traxxas dominate the scene with their immense popularity among enthusiasts, there are lesser-known gems like Arrma or Begzar.

But hold on; don’t let the obscurity of some brands mislead you. Quality isn’t always synonymous with fame in this realm. Often, it merely suggests that these brands require a tad more exposure to garner the recognition they rightfully deserve.

Now, let’s address the crucial question: What is the process for choosing the perfect RC car?

If that query is still lingering in your mind, fear not. We’re here to provide you with essential insights into the world of RC cars, starting with the crucial aspect of classification.

RC Main Classes: Car, Truck or Buggy?

A. RC car

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This sums up the idea of what an RC car looks like to most people. If you’re new to this hobby and someone asks you about RC cars, the first picture that pops up in your head is likely this type.

They look like those that take part in NASCAR racing. They have physical traits that make them suitable on asphalt roads. They usually have an independent suspension, a lower deck, an upper deck. This combination prevents the body from flexing.

They are also available in some tire variants. Some have rubber tires, while others come with foam tires. If you want an RC to speed up on the road, this is a good pick.

B. RC truck

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RC trucks are suitable for off-roading because they’re designed to tackle rugged terrain. Broadly speaking, they come in two types, short course trucks, and monster trucks. The former can be identified from the addition of shock absorbers and bumpers around the wheels.

They’re versatile for different road conditions, including grass and gravel. The second type is monster trucks, which are among the most favorite RC vehicles.

People like them for their great power and sporty design. One of the differentiating factors is the wheels, which are considerably larger than others.

C. RC Buggy

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RC buggies are also a perfect introduction to beginners because they are designed to be all-terrain vehicles. They can run fast thanks to their slim and lightweight design. Being low to the ground also helps with stability during acceleration.

That said, don’t be fooled by the appearance. Though they look like they’re perfect for the fast lane, they can handle muddy and rocky roads very well, too. The presence of a shock absorber is a tell-tale sign that they’re capable of that.

Purpose of Buying

A. Bashing

Bashing refers to a way to use an RC car that’s not racing-related. Basically, it means using an RC car without rules or regulations. If you bash your car, you use it in a way that pushes it to the limit.

You can use it to do maneuvers or drive on rough surfaces without fear that it may land badly. In this activity, you use the car to satisfy your needs for performance.

B. Racing

There’s a clear distinction between bashing and racing. We’re sure you already have a preconceived idea of what racing is. A race is usually conducted on a professional level.

There are rules and requirements put in place, and as a racer, you have to abide by them. Besides the fact that such events are organized professionally, the cars involved in them are also focused on speed. That’s because they will crown the fastest one as the winner.

With that in mind, RC cars designed for this purpose are more lightweight. Being lightweight is advantageous because it allows a car to run faster. It’s also powered by a powerful motor.

As for the shell, rigid material is usually used. The key takeaway is everything used to construct a racing RC car should positively affect its performance on flat roads and corners.

Where to Use

A. Pavement

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It’s not hard to pick an RC car that works for the pavement because it doesn’t give much resistance to moving tires. If you want to use a car on asphalt road, you can choose any model. It can be a car, a buggy, or another.

Now it all comes down to the features and performance you ask for. The more powerful the car, the faster it can accelerate.

B. Grass

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Grass can be found everywhere. For this reason, it’s reasonable to choose a car that performs well on this type of surface. Though you don’t run the risk of breaking your car by driving it through the grass, it’s still one of the difficult surfaces to tackle.

The car should hold strongly onto it or else, it will struggle moving forward. Besides, grass varies in height. Some are taller, while others are shorter.

Hence, pick a unit designed specifically for this surface if you plan on using it in the backyard. There are some types that should work, such as monster trucks, short course trucks, and rock crawlers.

C. Sand dunes


Most RC cars can run on sand, but not all would perform well. Those with a low ground clearance will have difficulty running on this surface. To avoid this problem, choose one of taller stature. Besides, it also needs to be high-powered.

A low-powered RC car will barely make it through the sand. Another important requirement is the tire as it has a direct influence on the contact patch. Ideally, tires should provide a larger contact patch, so that the car can have a better grip on the sand.

Now for the type, there are some options available, such as monster trucks, stadium trucks, rock crawlers, and buggies.

D. Dirt/gravel

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Many RC cars can deal with this road condition. The one you can’t count on is racing variants because they have things that will put them at disadvantage, e.g. low ground clearance.

But even so, there are some designed to handle this environment, so read the specs to find out if one has the capability for that.

Some of the types already mentioned have no problem driving through mud and gravel, such as buggies, crawlers, and trucks.

The Power Plant: Electric vs Gas (nitro) Power

A. Electric powered RC

Electric RC cars are common. In fact, these are the type you’ll see a lot during your search for an RC car. As the name suggests, an electric-powered RC requires a battery pack to provide electricity.

This variety offers several benefits. First, they have low noise outputs. If you don’t want to bother your neighbors, choosing an electric RC car is the right thing to do. Second, they’re easy to use. There’s no need to worry about how to put together all the components because they’re ready for use right out of the box.

Other than that, they’re also available in various models. There are buggies, cars, monster trucks, etc. When it comes to power, they can compete with nitro counterparts.

B. Nitro powered RC

Nitro cars rely on an engine to deliver power. They have specific components, such as pistons, clutches, carburetors, etc, which remind you of parts of the average gasoline vehicle.

Another vital component is the fuel system, which plays a part in the delivery of fuel in the system.

How do they differ from electric cars? Apart from the technical differences, there are things that make them attractive to RC enthusiasts.

First, they offer a sense of realism because they generate smoke and noise as real cars do. Second, they operate for a very long time. As long as you have fuel ready, there’s no need to wait for several minutes to get in on the fun.

With an electric car, you need to charge when the battery runs out. And since retro cars resemble real ones in many areas, you can learn about engine tuning and all other stuff. Though they offer many benefits, they’re not perfect. If you’re not fine with a loud car, this is probably not your cup of tea.

Type of Motor: 2WD Vs 4WD

These terms sound familiar, don’t they? That makes sense because they’re used for full-size cars, too. The meanings remain the same when we use them for RC models. 2WD basically means power is delivered to the rear and front wheels. And while one set of wheels has drive, the opposite end has none at all, which makes it more challenging to operate. In comparison, a 4WD RC car allows for power distribution to all wheels. Let’s delve deeper into the comparison.

2WD System

This system on a car has several benefits. Mechanically, a 2WD car is simpler, which in turn makes it a great introduction to people who just got into RC cars. Being simple also affects their affordability.

Yes, 2WD cars are pretty affordable, which again will benefit first-timers. If you consider yourself an amateur, you would want to learn to use an inexpensive car because the chances of randomly bumping into objects are high. Once you can control a car properly, you can upgrade to a more expensive model.

The biggest challenge with a 2WD car is probably the maneuver. Starting with this car is actually a good decision as many find it quite difficult to use and need some control knowledge. But once you’ve acquired the skill, it will be easier to practice with other types.

4WD System

4WD cars are also good for beginners. First, they’re more than capable of cornering. Second, they’re easy to use and the difference is palpable when compared to the 2WD models. On top of that, they come in many form factors.

For rugged terrain, you can go for the off-road type, such as a monster truck, a short course truck, or a rock crawler. To speed up on asphalt road, you can choose the race car type.

Price-wise, they are quite diverse, too. If you’re tight on budget, then stick with an affordable unit. But if you’re willing to spend more, there are many high-end models available with top-notch performance and remarkable features.

Choosing a Brand

A. Bashing

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For bashing, you’d want a car that can handle extreme use. ARRMA is perfect for that since the products are designed for those who want to test the limits of their RC car. They’re also suitable for rough surfaces.

If you’re looking for one to drive through difficult terrains, you can buy a unit from this brand. Traxxas is another we’d recommend.

In fact, it’s one of the widely recognized brands in the RC scene. It has a lot of products that you can use to take things to extremes. Yes, they are somewhat costly, but the quality isn’t up for debate.

B. Crawling

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Axial should be on your list if you’re looking for a crawler. The cars are ready to move past obstacles scattered on the road. It’s also an expert in making quality plastic tube chassis modes.

In addition, you can expect waterproof properties from some of its products. Axial cars should have no problem driving through rugged terrain thanks to the capable machine.

They also have the shock-absorbing quality, which is attributed to the perfect configuration of aluminum shocks and other internal components. Other brands you can consider are HAIBOXING and BEZGAR.

C. Racing

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HB Racing is one of the brands that we’d recommend for racing. The name gives a clear sign of what direction these cars take when it comes to tackling the road.

The products provide different types of customizations that allow you to rev up performance. If you’re into building your car, this brand can accommodate that. With this, you can get a car that speaks volumes about your personal preferences.

Final Thoughts

So, how do I choose an RC car?

Hopefully, all we’ve explained can increase your knowledge of RC cars. You may be familiar with certain form factors, but it’s important to look beyond that.

There are many other important terms and things to familiarize.

For example, there are 2WD and 4WD types. These drivetrains are not visible from the outside but can be identified by having a hands-on experience with both.

Last but not least, let’s not forget about all the brands that produce RC cars.

There are so many of them in the market. So yeah, there’s a lot to learn especially if you’re a beginner in the hobby.

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