Popular Hobby RC Cars: How to Build your Own Rock Crawler

Remote control software has added many conveniences to our lives and has provided us with the ability to perform fun activities, such as flying drones and changing channels on the TV. One simple, yet fun activity that involves controlling devices remotely is the RC hobby. This hobby allows you to control vehicles such as planes, cars, trucks, and even ships The fun part of it is that you get to hang out with friends while drifting your car on the asphalt or climbing over rocks with an RC rock crawler. The latter seems to have taken the RC world by storm despite its slow decline in recent years. These type of RC vehicles, as their name suggests, are able to climb over rocks and other obstacles with ease. They can be driven over any type of terrain, and nothing can stand in their way and in the way of your fun times with them, especially if you build them yourself.
rc hobby man in rc store

Kits vs. RTR

Create an RC rock crawler all by yourself may seem difficult at first, but there are kits specifically made to make this task a lot easier. Alternatively, you have the option to get a pre-built one (RTR), but the excitement and knowledge you get from building your own vehicle with an RC rock racer kit will allow you to learn how RC vehicles work inside-out. Sure, an RTR (ready-to-run) version of a rock crawler allows you to jump straight into the fun, but it doesn’t give you the freedom to decide how your rock crawler will look and perform. What’s in the box is what you’re going to get, and you can’t customise an RTR rock crawler and you surely won’t learn anything about it. With a kit, you’ll get to know the internal parts of your vehicle and thus, if an issue arises you’ll be able to fix it yourself.

How to Build a RC Rock Crawler


Before you start building your RC rock racer kit, you must ensure you have a well-lit and uncluttered workspace. This will allow you to find any part that you might need at any given moment without having to unnecessarily spend time searching for it. Do not open all the bags at once as this will make your workspace all messy. Instead, you should read the instruction manual first so you know exactly what you need to do for each step.
rc workbench garage


While you don’t have to memorise the whole thing, try to read the manual at least once and remember the most important points. This way you’ll know which step you can take your time with and make any corrections if issues arise along the way.


Now comes the part where you need to put everything in its own place. Organise the parts into different groups based on what their purpose is. For example, put all the screws in one place, the wheels in another place, the plastic parts in a third place, etc. This will make it easier for you to find what you need and thus complete building your RC rock crawler quicker. Double-check if you’ve emptied every single bag from the box and proceed by installing the screws. For identical parts, make sure you clip them from their sprue (tree) and place them in a bundle.
mobile rc field box

Don’t just throw them around as you’ll have to then cut each part off the sprue before using it. It’s better to cut them all off beforehand as it will save you a lot of time and the glue can dry off before you stick the parts together. Some parts are assembled using glue and others are assembled using screws. This depends on the manufacturer and the skill level the kit is meant for.


When it comes to engine-mount screws, you’ll need to apply a thread-lock, especially if those screws thread into metal. If you skip this, the vibrations from the motor will loosen the screws. This is even more important if you get a nitro-powered rock crawler. If there are no thread-locks supplied in the kit, you’ll have to get some yourself. Just make sure to get tread-locks with “medium” strength as they’re perfect for screws on RC vehicles in general.


When building an RC rock crawler, or any type of RC vehicle for that matter, after you install the screws you’ll need to apply some grease. You only need a dab of grease on the moving parts and a thin film of it on the shafts. If you apply more than that, the grease will attract dirt and make a huge mess. Again, take your time and don’t rush it as this part needs to be done carefully.

Centre Output Shafts

The output shafts on the servos need to be centred before you install them. To do this, turn on the transmitter and plug the receiver battery into it. Then, plug in the servos and use the wheel along with the trigger to ensure the servos are working. Once that’s done, set the trim knobs so that they are in the centre position. This way you’ll have adequate servo throw and you’ll only have to do a few minor adjustments to the servo’s centre points.