Radio-controlled cars have quickly become one of the most popular hobbies for both kids and adults. While most people associate RC cars with kids’ toys, the reality is that there are just as many, if not more adults who indulge in collecting and racing with these cars.
RC cars are can be powered a few different ways, and they constantly change based on newer technologies. Toy-grade RC cars are less expensive and are more popular among people who aren’t too invested in the hobby, i.e kids, and people who don’t want to spend too much money to have fun every once in a while. Hobby-grade models, on the other hand, are more expensive, but they’re also superior in performance and ability.
That being said, if you’re just looking to get into the world of RC cars, then you might be better off getting a toy-grade RC car, and once you get hooked you can consider a hobby-grade RC. Having that in mind, here are the most important factors to consider before buying an RC car.
As briefly mentioned, toy-grade models are more affordable than hobby-grade models. Not only are hobby grade RC cars more expensive to buy, but they’re also more expensive to maintain, as they come with more parts that might need repairs or replacing. However, most people who are into RC cars enjoy customising their cars with various parts, such as rims, tyres, body kits, motors, etc. The cost of these parts can slowly add up substantially.
Maintenance and Repairs
Once you get your RC car, you’ll inevitably have to spend some time doing repairs and basic maintenance to keep it in a proper working condition. This may include tuning the motor, oiling gears, adjusting suspension, repairing cracks and dents, chassis alignment, or just adding extra fuel. It’s quite similar to taking care of a real vehicle, considering there are so many parts involved.
Type of Vehicle
You have to decide whether you want to buy and build RC car kit yourself or get a ready-to-run model. With ready-to-run models, you don’t have to worry about assembly. However, if you’re crafty and enjoy tinkering with parts and putting them together, then you might want to build RC car kit yourself.
Furthermore, you have to decide whether you want a nitro or electric-powered model. Electric powered RC cars are simpler, more affordable and quiet-running. All you have to do with electric-powered RC cars are put in the batteries and you’re good to go. Nitro-powered RC cars, on the other hand, are more expensive, noisier, but typically have more speed in them. However, the speed gap is slowly closing and it’s almost non-existent, as electric-motor and battery technologies have come a long way in the past few years.
RC Vehicle Accessories
No matter what type of RC vehicle you end up choosing, you’ll usually need to purchase a few extra accessories, such as a charger for the batteries and battery packs (if electric RC models). These are essential in providing power to the RC car and are usually excluded when you purchase the kit. You can build a battery pack yourself with a soldering iron and upgrade the electronics with low-resistance connectors. The most popular batteries for RC cars are Li-polymer and Lithium-ion.
On the other hand, you might need to buy a glow plug heater to start the engine of nitro-powered RC cars and 4 AA or rechargeable 6V 5-cell batteries to operate the electronics. You’ll also need a starter box, pull-start and battery-operated roto start of an electric drill to crank the nitro vehicle’s engine. You’ll also need post-operational oil, fuel and spare glow plugs.
Furthermore, there are many sources available for people who want to upgrade their RC vehicles. These parts can either improve performance, it’s durability and life-span, and everything in-between. However, you can skip most of this if you just go for a ready-to-run model that just requires adding batteries or fuel and getting in on the fun right away.
Places to Buy RC Vehicles
You can buy RC cars, trucks, boats, buggies, planes and other RC vehicles from hobby stores online, or directly from manufacturers. Some of the most famous RC vehicle manufacturers are Tamiya, Traxxas, HPI, Axial, ARRMA and HSP. Alternatively, you can go to your local hobby shop, or join an RC hobby club.
There are also many online forums that you can join and get advice and tips. The RC hobby is best done with friends, so try to get your friends into it, or just make new friends who are already into it. This may get you to start competing at local races, win prizes, and make a name for yourself in the local RC community before taking it to the next level and becoming an RCRA legend!