12 Common Mistakes Every RC Car Beginner Should Avoid

RChobby Lab Profile Picture Ted Dulles
Reviewed by Kristen Ward
Updated on
Reviewed by Kristen Ward
Blog cover: RC newbie mistakes you shouldn’t ignore

You just bought your first RC car, or you’re doing some research right now before you buy your first RC car, and you want to know what mistakes you should avoid.

I will give you 12 common newbie mistake list that you should avoid.

Let’s get right into it!

1. Choose the Right RC Vehicle

Just be true to yourself when you’re walking into the store.

I know a 1/8 scale nitro racing buggy looks really cool, but it’s not the best place for you to start. Especially if you’ve never worked on an RC car, you might find it a little scary once you start.

Put this car aside and find something that’s more suitable for getting into RC. Something like an electric trail truck like this Axial SCX10 II or the Traxxas Slash. They come ready to run and are really easy to use.

rc drift car

Of course, they all have very detailed instruction manuals.

So, find the right vehicle for you, talk to your local hobby store, and they’ll point you in the right direction and start with something you can manage.

2. Don’t Read the Manual

Common newbie mistake number two: not reading the manual.

I know you’re really excited; you just got your first RC car, and you want to head right outside and drive it.

Because I’m the same.

But take the time to read the manual.

schumacher mi5evo manual amainhobbies

Trust me, and the manufacturers put a lot of time into these things to make sure everything you need to know is explained right here.

It’ll tell you about your electronics, charging, how to simply turn it on and off, and how to do repairs.

There’s a lot of valuable information.

Just be familiar with everything on your RC car; when you do go outside, it’ll be pure fun.

3. Glue Your Tires

The ready-to-run came with the tires pre-mounted, but when you buy your first set of aftermarket tires, most likely you’re going to have to glue them yourselves.

So, you need some tire glue and probably need some cleaner as well.

You need to use this cleaner to clean the bead of the tire and the rim, and then use good-quality tire glue to seal that bead up.

dtxc2943 short course front tires w 12mm amainhobbies

That way, when you go out and give your car full throttle, your tires don’t blast off in any direction.

4. Charge Your Battery

I’ve seen so many customers come back to a hobby store and they’re in a rage because their car only worked for a few seconds or five minutes and then it stopped.

Well, nickel-metal batteries pretty much come dead; they need to be fully charged when you first get them. LiPo batteries come about half charged, and while you could get some use out of them, they again need to be charged as soon as you get home.

tra2960x 7-Cell Stick NiMH Battery Pack 8.4V 5000 mAh

So, get yourself a good charger, and when you go home, charge up your batteries. Make sure they’re fully charged, and then you can go outside and have some fun.

5. Don’t Over Oil

Your RC car is unlike your real car; it does not need a huge quart of oil inside the transmission.

On your RC car, if you do take the transmission apart for maintenance, you just need a light coating of grease on the gears.

And if you go and rebuild your shocks, a certain amount of oil also goes in them. What you want to do is take a look at your instruction manuals and see what the manufacturer recommends as far as how far to fill it.

6. Where to Start

When you head to the track for the first time, and you’re going to put your car down for practice, DO NOT put your car down on the front straightaway.

I’ve seen so many new racers, and they go put the car down on the straightaway and then go walk up to the driver stand.

In the meantime, somebody else is blasting down the straightaway, rear-ends the car, and takes both cars out, damaging both cars.

rc tracks indianapolis

This is a common mistake I see time and time again.

Usually, tracks have areas where you can set the car down. If you don’t see that right away, just take your time and see where other racers are placing their car.

If you went ahead and bought your first nitro RC car. Well, these next two newbie mistakes are geared toward you.

7. Charge Your Glow Igniter

The first one is not charging your glow igniter.

Now, most glow igniters come with their charger, so put it on charge for about four hours before you try to start your engine.

I’ve seen so many customers return to a hobby shop with a sore arm because they’ve been wrenching on the pull-start for an hour and are furious that their car won’t start.

All the hobby shop owner does is take a charged glow igniter and fire it right up.

tlr70000 team losi racing twist lock glow igniter

So, save yourself some time and strength. Go charge this first.

8. Break Your Engine in Properly

When you go and finally get it fired up for the first time, it’s going to sound really cool and you’re going to see the smoke pouring out, and you just want to go run it.

But take the time to break the engine in properly.

Almost every manufacturer includes break-in instructions with a nitro vehicle. Take the time to read through these instructions and follow exactly what they do.

Make sure you have the right fuel, make sure you’re giving it the right amount of throttle, and make sure your needle valves are set properly.

9. Not Having a Proper Tool Kit

When you start getting into RC, you’ll quickly realize that you’ll need to do some maintenance and repairs on your car.

But many people try to get by with just a few basic tools. They failed.

phbtrx632 powerhobby tool kit nut drivers

Having a proper tool kit will make your life much easier.

Invest in a set of hex drivers, nut drivers, pliers, and a good-quality Phillips and flat-head screwdriver.

These tools will make working on your RC car much more enjoyable and help prevent any damage caused by using the wrong tool.

10. Don’t Over Tighten

Now, let’s say you do need to go ahead and wrench your RC machine. You don’t need a big automotive ratchet like this to tighten down the hardware.

Most hardware on RC cars just needs to go a little past snug.

But there are a few exceptions, like your motor, pinion gear, or a nitro engine. Those need a little more force to tighten them down to ensure they’re secure.

Most hardware on the suspension or chassis just needs to be tightened down a bit past snug.

If you go too far, you risk the chance of stripping out the hole, or you may strip out the head on the screw, and then it’s much harder to remove that hardware later on.

Okay, we’re nearing the end here.

11. Set Your Charger in Properly

I can’t stress enough how important this step is, and I probably should have put it earlier in the newbie mistake list.

First, make sure you get a good-quality charger. The second step is to make sure that you put all the settings into the charger so it charges your battery properly.


RC Chargers: The Complete Guide

If you don’t, it could have some disastrous effects. I’ve seen a lot of LiPo fires. Please ensure you set your LiPo battery properly and never leave it unattended while charging.

12. Not Asking for Help

Ah, so you thought we were done? Not just yet. I have one more tip I want to share with you.

The RC community is generally very friendly and supportive, and plenty of experienced hobbyists are more than willing to help a newcomer.

rc groups website

If you’re not sure about something or run into a problem, don’t be afraid to ask for help, either at your local hobby shop, at the track or even online in forums and social media groups.

Most people are more than happy to share their knowledge and help you get the most enjoyment out of your RC car.

Final Thoughts

There are 12 common newbie mistakes to avoid when getting into RC cars.

By being aware of these mistakes and taking steps to avoid them, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying your new hobby and getting the most out of your RC car.

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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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