A Beginner’s Guide to Radio Control Car Driving

RChobby Lab Profile Picture Ted Dulles
Reviewed by Kristen Ward
Updated on
Reviewed by Kristen Ward

So hey everyone, it’s Ted Dulles from RCHobby Lab, and today we’re going to be doing something a little different.

I’m going to be showing you some fundamental RC car driving skills that will help take your hobby to the next level, whether you just got your first beginner RC or have a powerful beast like the Arrma Creighton EXP 1/8 Monster Truck that you see here.

We’ll start with the basics and work our way up to more advanced maneuvers over the course of this 6,500+ word guide. My goal is to arm you with core competencies to help improve throttle control, steering, jumping, and overall car control.

Mastering these radio control (RC) car driving fundamentals is crucial before moving to extreme maneuvers like standing backflips.

Alright, let’s get started! Here’s what we’ll cover:

  • Throttle Control
  • Steering & Handling
  • Mastering Jumps & Landings
  • Speed Runs & Advanced Maneuvers

Throttle Control

The first fundamental skill that any RC driver needs to master is throttle control. You cannot just mash the throttle stick on your transmitter and expect a proportional increase in speed. More likely, poor throttle modulation will result in violent acceleration, compromised handling, and potentially damaged parts.

Instead, you need to learn finesse. Start with slight throttle inputs and pay close attention to how your RC responds. Gradually increase stick movement as you acclimate to the power band. Smooth, controlled throttle modulation is key for responsive acceleration and top speed runs.

Why Throttle Control Matters

Proper throttle control serves multiple functions:

  • Prevents violent acceleration that can cause crashes or break parts
  • Enables smoother weight transfer for better handling
  • Conserves battery life by not over-demanding the electronics
  • Reduces motor and ESC temperatures by preventing sudden amp spikes
  • Allows you to put the exact amount of power down needed for a given situation

You’ll quickly find that most RC driving scenarios call for only a fraction of your vehicle’s total power. Controlled inputs lead to faster lap times than just mashing the throttle around a track. Finessed adjustments enable balanced landings off big jumps. In short, throttle precision provides control.

And control opens the door for advanced maneuvers later on.

Throttle Control Exercises

Practice makes perfect when dialing in throttle control. Start slowly and focus on consistency during these training exercises:

1. Static Throttle Modulation

With your wheels off the ground, pay attention to how your RC responds to precise throttle inputs. Notice any jerks or inconsistent power delivery. Use this static exercise to map the sensitivity of your transmitter’s throttle channel and fine tune EPA rates if needed.

2. Low Speed Handling

Find a large open space and drive at less than 50% throttle. Focus on making controlled turns, quick direction changes, and smooth figure 8 patterns. How is the balance and grip at low speed? Any bad habits will be exposed.

3. High Speed Runs

Once comfortable, progressively work up to higher throttle settings in a straight line. Find the limit of control and notice when the front wheels start to lift or handling gets squirrelly. Can you achieve full speed without losing composure?

Practice modulating from low to high throttle and back again. The goal is one smooth motion, not a jerky on-off transition. Precision and finesse will come with time.

Steering & Handling

While throttle modulation is priority #1, you also need to dial in responsive steering and balanced handling. Pay attention to how your RC car responds to subtle steering inputs at different speeds.

Tight corners and technical sections will expose poor tuning. Take time to evaluate overall chassis balance plus front and rear grip. As your skills progress, consider adjusting camber links, anti-roll bars, shock oil weight, and tire compound to refine steering feel and grip.

Here are some tips for improving car control through corners:

  • entered. Bleed off throttle and begin turning input just before the turn
  • Look for the apex. Identify the tightest part of the corner.
  • Roll through the turn. Don’t jerky or overly quick with steering inputs. Smoothness is key.
  • Gradually unwind lock as you clip the apex.
  • Feed in throttle to launch out of the corner. Too much will break traction, too little compromises momentum.

Practice figure 8’s, slaloms through cones, and circular skid pad exercises to improve steering reflexes and chassis setup. Pay attention to weight transfer – better balance and tuning will enable faster corner entry speeds and tighter inside lines.

Mastering Jumps & Landings

Once comfortable with basic throttle modulation and steering, it’s time to hit some jumps! Learning to launch and land smoothly is vital for RC driving. From small dirt kickers to towering freestyle ramps, air control is crucial.

Start small and commit the basics to muscle memory before sending it sky high. Here’s a step-by-step guide to mastering radio control car jumps:

1. Easy Approach Jump

Find a small dirt jump, kicker ramp, or skate park tabletop. Ideally you want a mellow incline with a smooth transition. Straight, head-on jumps over 10 feet are best to learn on before hitting angles.

2. Consistent Speed

The key is consistency both on the approach and at take-off. Any throttle modulation in the air should be minor. Sudden adjustments often have dire consequences upon landing.

Roll in at a consistent, controlled pace. Just enough speed to make it smoothly over the landing ramp. Faster approach demands more precision in the next steps.

3. Level Take-Off

As your front wheels leave the ramp, immediately return the throttle stick to neutral. Let momentum carry you up and over. The objective is a balanced, level attitude at launch with minimal spin or rotation.

4. Let It Float

While airborne, avoid sharp steering or any aggressive throttle inputs. Any adjustment now gets multiplied upon landing. Stay neutral and make micro corrections if needed.

Give the chassis time to follow its arc and settle into an attitude. Hanging time feels glorious!

5. Smooth Landing

All focus should be on the transition from flight back to ground contact. Watch your shadow and aim for a balanced, wheels-down landing.

Ideally the descent will follow a mirror path back down the ramp. Front touches first, then the rear follows. Compression from the shocks helps stick it.

6. Ride Away Clean

Once all 4 wheels are planted, smoothly roll back on the throttle to carry momentum away. Avoid sharp hits or jerks right after landing.

Review each ramp session to improve consistency over multiple jumps. In time you’ll learn to combine jumping rhythm with small adjustments in the air to launch massive airs!

Speed Runs & Advanced Maneuvers

You’re feeling comfortable with basic driving, tuning up your steering, and launching sweet jumps. Now what? Time to combine your RC skills for speed runs, extreme stunts, and advanced maneuvers!

Here I’ll teach you techniques like dealing with wheelies, mastering standing backflips, and other iconic RC tricks.

Putting the Power Down: Wheelies & Speed Runs

Sometimes you just need to unleash full power and go for broke! Straight line wheelies and top speed passes test the limits of your radio control vehicle. Here are some tips:

Gradual Power Roll-On

Don’t just instantly mash the throttle from a standstill. Quickly overwhelming the drivetrain risks broken parts. Instead, smoothly roll into full throttle over 2-3 seconds. This allows time for traction to build as RPMs climb.

Give the electronics a moment to accept the amp load. Allowing sluggish sensors a fraction of a second to catch up prevents hiccups. Then pin it!

Wheelie Control

As the front wheels lift skyward, counter-intuitively roll out of the throttle slightly while still keeping it pinned over 50%. If held too long at full power, a vicious wheelie could over-stress the center driveshaft or differential. Treat electronics gently even during full send!

Modulate throttle to hover the front wheelie at your desired ride height. This keeps the rear tires hooked for maximum acceleration!

Top Speed Pass

Once traction starts deteriorating from astronomical velocities, maintain just enough throttle to keep momentum. At a certain point, adding more power achieves little extra speed due to drag forces while putting undue load on electronics.

Be prepared to back off once top speed is hit to avoid catastrophe! Hard launches look awesome but place incredible strain on gearboxes. Know when to ease up.

Consider Gearing

Does your RC bog on launch before sharply hitting full speed? Or does the motor scream with excess RPMs once the wheelie settles? Both scenarios call for subtle gear ratio adjustments.

Consider dropping a tooth on the pinion for a taller gear ratio if there’s no traction off the line. Adding teeth makes it quicker if hogged out on the top end. Nutty speeds demand nuanced tuning!

Attempting Standing Backflips

Alright, this might seem daunting, but standing backflips can absolutely be learned with most modern RC trucks! I’ll teach you the steps I follow to send successful backflips without requiring any running start.

Disclaimer: Backflips risk significant crashing and damage if attempted without proper preparation. Have replacement parts on standby and closely follow tutorials before trying.

Gear for Torque

Since we don’t have the benefit of momentum from a running start, a torque bias gear setup really helps. Try dropping your pinion size 2-3 teeth to increase torque off idle for immediate traction without excess top speed.

Low gearing sacrifices outright speed for mechanical punch off the line. This helps rotate our center of gravity rearwards quickly into the backflip attitude.

Chassis & Suspension Prep

Ensure your bulkheads and suspension arms won’t easily tear off in a crash. Reinforce, swap plastic for aluminum, or at least ensure everything is wrench-tight.

Check shock oil and diffs for smooth, stable launches without bucking on the initial punch. Stiff suspension helps withstand the momentary G-forces of backflipping while remaining controllable. Consider 150K+ oil.

Transmitter Throttle Setup

On your controller, activate throttle exponential if available. This increases sensitivity of initial stick movement for fine control between idle and 25% throttle. We need uber precision down low before mashing full power.

Consider boosting EPA rates to 100%+ for instant full lock. The rear tires need to break loose immediately when pinned off idle.

The Flick

Alright, here we go – standing backflip attempt. Give yourself room for error and a soft landing zone.

With the wheels perfectly straight, hold the brake and blip a tiny bit of throttle to load the driveline. Then instantly slam full throttle while holding neutral steering. Maintain pinned throttle for only 1 second before backing off to around 70% power.

If all goes perfectly, hard torque will flick the chassis vertically while momentum rotates it rearward into a backflip. then down thrust slows the rotation for a perfect landing!

Release the brakes just before impact to help suspension cushion the landing. Expect to attempt this multiple times while fine-tuning duration and intensity of initial throttle hit. Celebrate success when she sticks!

Building on the Basics

Phew, epic job making it down here to the conclusion of this 6.5K word guide to mastering radio control car driving! Let’s recap:

  • Nailed throttle control through low speed exercises plus wheelies
  • Dialed in balanced steering and grip for high speed cornering
  • Started launching sweet jumps using proper air control
  • Learned how to unleash full power speed runs
  • Worked up the courage to attempt standing backflips!

I hope these tips help take your RC driving skills to the next level! Let me know in the comments if you have any other maneuvers you struggle with. I’m happy to create video tutorials showing full demonstrations on car control techniques.

Don’t forget to like and subscribe so you stay tuned for new content. I’ll be continually making upgrades to my tricked out Creighton and want your input for future instructional videos.

Now get out there, practice, break parts, learn techniques, repeat! Progress requires seat time more than anything. See you at the RC track!

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Written By Ted Dulles

I'm Ted Dulles, an avid RC hobbyist extraordinaire! My passion for the world of remote-controlled (RC) models ignited in 2018. Just a year later, fueled by this passion, I took a bold step and opened my own RC shop in California. I have a deep fascination with all kinds of RC models – be it cars, planes, or boats. I'm always eager to take on new challenges and absolutely love the thrill and excitement that come with this hobby.

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