Introduction: The (almost) COMPLETE Guide to Electric RC Cars

Picture of The (almost) COMPLETE Guide to Electric RC Cars

Hey everyone I'm back for one final Instructable...or one of the last at least. I have recently gotten into the hobby of RC cars and at first I didn't know too much about, well basically everything. I have decided to help everyone else out by sharing everything I have learned over the last year. And by the way, I appreciate positive comments since this is still a work in progress. I will be adding on more weekly and most of it will be related to comments. Thanks for the help :) Check out my homemade snow machine!

Step 1: The Brands

Picture of The Brands

These are some of the biggest brands to choose from for buying an rc car. I know there are plenty more but these seem to be the most popular.

Traxxas cars are very fast, durable, and high quality. If you buy one of these, you will very rarely need to replace broken or worn parts. However, these cars and trucks start at about $300 and do not always include a battery pack and charger. To buy visit

Out of all of these, Exceed cars are the cheapest, but they often require spare parts and a rather high level of maitenence. I own an exceed, so I can personally tell you to only get an exceed if you do not want to spend a lot of money and you are willing to pay $10 for shipping every time a few pieces break. The cars start at $90 and are most of the parts are good quality. To buy visit

HPI cars are not all that popular, mostly because they are as expensive as Traxxas but not as good quality. There is not much I can say about them other than from what I've read they have good quality parts and will not need many replacements. To buy visit or

Tamiya is the classic RC car brand. They've been making good cars for more than 30 years. I own the Grasshopper from about 1984 or something but its actually really nice. I have never broken a part on it and I've been driving it offroad for a year now. They start around $200 but are reasonably slower than other brands for that price due to the classical "Low-Tech" designs. To buy visit

Team Associated
Coming soon

Coming soon

Step 2: The Car Types

Picture of The Car Types

There are about 5 car types. I am not going to explain too much about each since they seem rather straightforward.

These are your average street cars. They are the fastest and the best on paved, flat surfaces. Do not get this if you are looking to drive in your backyard or want something with more power.

Drift cars are like on-road cars but with slick tires. YOu can slide around turns and still get almost as fast as an on-road car. They are good if regular cars bore you but you like to drive fast. Drifting is hard, however, so be warned.

Buggies are a cross between offroad and onroad cars. They are the second fastest on road but the slowest offroad usually due to their low wheelbase. Buggies are good for those who cant decide what type of car they want, since they can use it for both.

Truggies are also a crossover like buggies, but they are more for the offroad. It basically takes the frame of a Buggy and puts monster truck tires on it. These are the 3rd fastest on road and the 2nd slowest off.

Trucks are your monster trucks. They are amazing offroad but very slow onroad. They may flip a lot when trying to make high speed turns so these are not the best foron road and you should get these if you want to drive in the woods or in the grass the most.

Step 3: Electric or Nitro

Picture of Electric or Nitro

Now that you know the brands and types of rc cars its time to decide if you want to go with electric or nitro. Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Less Maintence
Better for at-home use
Cars have faster acceleration in general
Limited run times
need to wait hours to recharge batteries
Brushless motors are expensive

Longer run times
nice sound
Need to buy gas
Smells bad (my opinion)
a little more expensive to buy the car
cars are more complex (more can go wrong)

Step 4: Electric Motors and ESC

Picture of Electric Motors and ESC

There are two different types of rc motors. Brushed and Brushless. Each motor type has its own kind of ESC (Electronic Speed Controller). Without an esc, your motor would just do nothing or go full throttle when you wanted to drive. Brushed motors are cheap but very ineffecient and lact power. The ESC's are also cheaper. Brushless motors are efficient, powerful, fast, and last much longer. Brushless motors and ESC's do not really have an expiration date, while brushed usually last about 6 months to a year. The main visual difference between the two is the brushless is sealed completely and has three wires, while the brushed has ventilation holes and two wires.

Step 5: Brushless Upgrades

Picture of Brushless Upgrades

If you are looking to buy a brushless motor you have a few choices. First, choose your brand. Hobbytron is the cheapest. There is also Mamba Max and Sidewinder but these are a bit more expensive. If you are upgrading from a brushed car, you should buy a combo, which includes the brushless motor, a brushless ESC, and usually a programming card so you can change your preferences (ie. brake force, inital punch, low voltage cutoff, etc.). These usually cost between $70 and $200 depending on size and a few other variables. A good place to buy brushless combos cheap is There are a few other places so google it to see if you can find them cheaper.


brushless motors are labeled with two things, a large number followed by "kv" and a smaller number followed by "t". Basically, you need to check the ESC for that motor and read up a little. It will tell u what numbers followed by "t" will be good for your use. So if you want it offroad you will want more "t", but you will get less "kv". On-road is the opposite.

KV stands for the amount of rotations per minute per volt. So if this basically means the bigger the number, the faster your car will go. Just make sure if you want your car to drive good offroad you get a motor with the correct "t".

For example, my brushless motor was a 6000kv 5.5t brushless combo. I checked the ESC and it said you need greater than or equal to 5.5t for on road and greater than or equal to 8.5t for offroad. I got an on-road motor so i could go fast (about 45mph). If you wanted to go offroad you could buy the 4000kv 8.5t motor, which goes about 35mph but has more power. If you do not understand something here pm me. I will be glad to help.

Step 6: Electric Car Layout

Picture of Electric Car Layout

This is the basic layout for exceed 1/10th scale rc cars and trucks. It has all the parts of other brands but the other brands have things in different places..

Step 7: LiPo or Ni-Mh

Picture of LiPo or Ni-Mh

Most of the time when you buy a car they come with a battery, but some may not. If that happens, you may be faced with this choice, LiPo or Ni-Mh. LiPo battery packs are the batteries of the future and if given the chance, make the investment. For $10 more you can get a battery pack which will give not only longer run times but also more power. They also do not lose their charge over time. Ni-Mh batteries are cheaper and "safer" (LiPo batteries CAN explode if improperly charged) but in the long run they are not worth it. Spend a few extra dollars and save a lot in the long run.

LiPo batteries are rated by two numbers, and Ni-Mh are rated with only one
the mAh of the battery packs is the capacity of the batteries. The larger the better.

Only LiPo's are rated with "c" which is basically how fast they can deliver the power. Most battery packs are between 20-30c but you can find some that are 5000mAh 50c battery packs (those are VERY expensive; ~$50) or even an 8000mAh 50c battery pack (around $100) but BE CAREFUL!! Make sure you but a battery pack that will fit in your car!! Some battery packs are larger!

Battery packs are available at and (or google it)

Be sure you buy a battery pack with the correct connecter, otherwise you will have to buy a connecter set off of for about $4

Step 8: How to Pick the Right Car.

Picture of How to Pick the Right Car.

Okay if you are buying an rc car this is how you should pick it out

pick an answer and go to the # in parenthesis. If there is a hyperlink in parenthesis click it and that is the car or cars that fit you best. (Note. I am including 1/10th rc cars only. These are the "Standard" size but feel free to either go smaller (1/16) or larger (up to 1/5)

1. I want to have a family friendly car that i can drive immediatly when i want to (2)
I want a car that is a little faster but dont mind taking more time to prep and costs more (11)

2. I want a durable car and am willing to spend more money (3)
I want a cheap car that may break in the future (7)

3. I want an offroad car (4)
I want an onroad car (6)
I want something inbetween (5)

4. I want a fast car (E-MaxxSlash_VXL, or Stampede_VXL )
I want a slower but cheaper car (Summit,Slash, StampedeE-Maxx, or a Tamiya )

5. I want a fast car (E-Revo_Brushless,Rustler_VXL,Bandit_VXL)
I want a slower but cheaper car (E-Revo, Rustler, Bandit, or a Tamiya)

6. I want a fast car (Get a brushless HPI on-road car or drift car)
I want a slower but cheaper car (Get a brushed HPI on-road car or drift car)

7. I want an offroad car (8)
I want an onroad car (9)
I want something inbetween (10)

8.  I want a fast car (Rally Monster_Pro or Dynamite-Pro)
I want a slower but cheaper car (Rally Monster or Dynamite)

9. I want a fast car (Champion_Pro or Drift_Star_Pro)
I want a slower but cheaper car (Champion or Drift_Star)

10. I want a fast car (Sunfire_Pro)
I want a slower but cheaper car (Sunfire)

11. If you want a nitro car you're on your own. sorry.

Look I know there are pleanty more choices for each section but I just wanted to give everyone an idea about what the car they want may look like and so on. There are more cars you can buy then I listed so please understand that.

You're all done. Now go research the the cars that match your style and find out which one to buy. It is smart to research simmilar cars also. Just keep in mind what you will want for the future. I made this mistake and now I have to pay a lot more money to maintain my car.

Step 9: Recommended Accessories and Final Tips.

Picture of Recommended Accessories and Final Tips.

I would definantly recommend buying a complete extra set of tires for your car and some CA glue the day and minute you buy your rc car. The tires wear very quick so be prepared. I highly recommend making an investment when you buy your car and get a good quality one. I promise you it will pay off in the long run. I know from experience and I believe that over about a 2-3 year period, the amound of money spent on most cars and spare parts, no matter what the quality, will be about the same. Dont be a cheapskate...unless you are under 18. If you are not sure on the car you want to get there are pleanty of forums out there about the specific car you may want. Please just research before you purchase, I don't want anyone crying to me because I said they shoud get this car and they hate it.

Step 10: More Coming Soon!!


KatieS8 (author)2015-02-22

hi, I'm so sorry to bother you with what's possibly a dumb I'm apologizing beforehand. Lol....anyway, I bought my son two rc cars so we can race! I bought two COMPLETELY different makes and models, because I didn't want cross controlling! I.e one remote controlling both lol......BUT unfortunately it's still there a way of stopping this, or changing the control channel??? X

NeonM (author)KatieS82017-11-12

By controller from HobbyTown

slapponagato (author)KatieS82015-12-10

You would need to change the crystals that came with the cars. Look on the transmitter (remote ) and see if it has a number like 27.145 mHz. If both remotes have that same number, just buy a new set of crystals for one of the remotes. They come in a set of 2, one says tx for transmitter (remote ) and the other says rx(reciever). The reciever has the annt attached to it in the car. Hope this helps out.

Makefate (author)2015-12-24

Hi everyone I bought a tacon soar brushed rc car it's my first rc I made a little track in the back to race it I'm having problems with the breaks the car doesn't stop fast at all and sometime I have to push the trigger to revers twice before it actually reverses can anyone help me out with this? I kinda want it to crop "on a dime" or as fast as possible! Thanks!

NeonM (author)Makefate2017-11-12

Go to your nearest HobbyTown USA go give you all the tips and heads

micke1405 (author)2015-06-28

I am 39 years old, and am just getting into R/C the first car i got was an Arrma Fury. I upgraded to a brushless motor (castle sct sidewinder ) the body is not as durable as some. However, this car is just as fast as a traxxas or any other car after the mods. Things break. But parts are easily available. Most cars are upgradable. Most important. Have fun!!!

NeonM (author)micke14052017-11-12

Go to your nearest HobbyTown USA will give you everything you need and everything that you want

TonyJ23 (author)micke14052015-11-18

I am also 39 and getting into RC cars again - the last time I had one was a Grasshopper. I splurged on a Traxxas Rustler VXL and and so happy with it! it was amazing to drive! My 9yr boy learned how to drive it too. He filmed this video of the first complete jump! Video is here:

Than we took it out of training mode. Vrooom this car is so fast an fun to drive! I naturally smashed it into a curb at full speed. Opps! I'm still trying to get used to steering at that speed. Damage was basically a cracked front chassis and plastic arm connections. Wondering if I should try the metal versions? I found an exploded view which is helpful but still not sure on the correct parts to order to fix and prevent reoccurrence. Anybody know of a good 'front chassis area' parts package out there?

68834 (author)TonyJ232016-01-20

Hey, om i was going to ask if i can borrow your rc car for a project im doing in school

wdroberts2011 (author)2017-09-25

Do you know anything about the Tamiya Chassis TT01? Looking at building my own drag racing car. I know I will have to upgrade all the parts but wanted to see if any one had input.

nizamk (author)2016-09-30

whats the diff b/w 1/10 , 1/5th etc?

cyrusramsey97 (author)nizamk2017-04-02

This refers to the overall size of the vehicle. 1/10, etc. is a scale proportion, so a 1/10 scale vehicle would be (approximately) one tenth of full size. 1/5 would be one fifth of full size, and so on (higher number is smaller). Most 1/10 vehicles are around 2 feet long (size varies by individual model). "Mini"-size 1/16 or 1/18 vehicles are around a foot long (again, size varies). Most people will never need anything bigger than about 1/8 scale. (Note that some cheaper, toy-grade R/C vehicles also advertise by scale - in general, these are slightly smaller than their hobby-grade counterparts).

sherriman64 made it! (author)2017-02-03

I just found these in my shed. trying to find out if they work, I dont know anything about this stuff. Can anyone help.

Motor guy (author)2017-01-30

I'm trying to figure out if my little R.C Audi R8 would go better on dirt gravel rocks or sandals?.

sumsmum (author)2016-12-27

A friend has just bought her first RC truck and expressed a desire fr old-school controls. Jo sticks? Are these available?

Messi10life (author)2016-11-07

how do I build one

JonM125 (author)2016-08-07

I crashed my Helion Contakt truggy into the curb, now it doesn't turn, only goes fwd and reverse. Do you think I have to replace the modular and servo?

ClaudiaR35 (author)2016-08-05

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JoshB183 (author)2016-08-04

I have a himoto buggy 1/10 scale but im not sure what model or anything becuase i bought when i was around 10 so i didnt really look around or anything (im 14 now) I was looking to upgrade my motor and esc to a brushless version. What motor should i look for if i want to be quick and have good torque? Also i would like to run a 11.1 lipo in it aswell. Help would be much appreciated ?

AtliA (author)2016-06-29

Im looking for an upgraded motor for my off road electric car and I would prefer that it would be going a bit slower I think the standard motor is 27T, so for my car to be torquier I would need a higer T motor.. like a 35T or 55T ?

Grafer90 (author)AtliA2016-07-24

Correct. What is the car you have and what are you using it for?

AtliA (author)Grafer902016-07-24

The car is a Tamiya CC01 and im going to be using it for Scale crawling/trailing

Grafer90 (author)AtliA2016-07-24

35T brushless would probably be good for that

daksh k (author)2016-07-12

please send next steps

daksh k (author)2016-07-12

please send next steps

TafariG (author)2016-04-21

What parts in need to rebuild my srt need some help asap and were can i get the parts for the low

Slodogian (author)2016-03-24

Ok, so I am also 14 and will soon get a new RC car.So I ve been into short course trucks recently,and with research I found the Traxxas Slash 2WD.I will buy it mostly because I heard its quality and its not very expensive,only 300 euros.

And Also because all the parts come with it,so I can easily get into the RC hobby and then work on builds.

Can any professional person say if its worth the money? That would be nice ;)

BrandonR35 (author)Slodogian2016-04-04

The slash is a great starter rc truck. Very easy to upgrade and parts are plentiful. I have several RC's (not a slash yet), most of which are Traxxas. Good luck and have fun.

Slodogian (author)BrandonR352016-04-05

Yeah Im probably going to buy the Ford Raptor SVT Which is basically the same,but better body ;)

And I have been on the tamiya site looking for rally cars and I found this:

If you can give any information on the tt-02 chassis and tamiya cars it would be appreciated.

WayneC32 (author)2016-03-21

Hi,ive almost finished my tamiya rc drift spec skyline but the wiring is stumping me there is a red white black ribbon cable coming from both servo and esc box with male connectors,do i join these together? Any help much appreciated its my first rc build.....

BrandonR35 (author)WayneC322016-04-04

The servo wires go to your receiver. Just make sure you plug them into the correct channel.

WayneC32 made it! (author)2016-03-21

Wiring issue on first build

DestNap (author)2015-10-22

Hi a need a metor for a project in school I'm make a rc car. Would you be willing to be a metor?

steventaitinger (author)DestNap2016-02-05

You can check out my blog where I am posting how to design a custom rc car.

slapponagato (author)2015-12-10

Ive been working with rc cars for about 8 yrs now and have doealt with both nitro n electric. Nitro is great but is also messy, loud and has to be done outside. Electric is easier to uses and most novice users got with them since you can get the cheap store brand ones ei tyco or newbright. I started with an Associated Nitro TC3 and it shot out of hand from there. Now i own 7 of them, 3 nitro and 4 electric mostly Associated and my other 2 are a Traxxas Stampede and a Tamiya TA01. Its a fun but expensive hobby just like any other hobby ao be prepared to ivest if you want to fix and improve.

Makefate (author)slapponagato 2015-12-24

Hi I just bought a tacon soar brushed rc car it's my first rc I was wondering if you can help with the only problem so far! When I try to make it stop it doesn't stop fast it's really slow and when I try to make it reverse it's almost like I have to press the reverse twice and idea how to make it more responsive to stopping?

orsegev (author)Makefate2016-01-21

if you got a tuneable controller make share its setted correctly (like u can tell it when the trigger is pulled to max and when to full revers).

unless that u should go threw your manual to check how to change esc settings, you will might need a programing card

orsegev made it! (author)2015-10-19

thanks, you helped alot,

ended up with a rc10 classic and im really happy with it

68834 (author)orsegev2016-01-20

hey, where are you cause i was going to ask if i can borrow it for my science project

68834 (author)688342016-01-20

i sware i wont break it

orsegev (author)688342016-01-21

lol, i broke it first :P

any way i wont land it to anyone but unless u need a 40 kph speed demon you wont need a car like this.

if you want to make a robot a cheap rc car or the tamyia bases will fit

ethan_johnson99 (author)2016-01-10

There are also gas rc cars. Also, for an electric rc car, a fast charger can charge your car in as little as 15 minutes.(compared to 6+ hours)

CoryH17 (author)2015-12-17

New to RC's and just want to know how much smaller a 1/16 is compared to a 1/10. I mean obviously I get the fraction then correlates to the size, I just mean are 1/16s like really small? Looking at the Traxxas Summit 1/16 and just don't know enough to guess how big it is going to be. And I know this becomes incredibly simplistic but try and compare it to something...loaf of I just don't want a vehicle that is the size of a grapefruit. Sorry...Ha!

AndrewM177 (author)CoryH172015-12-24

What do u mean by how big like in motor?

AndrewM177 (author)2015-12-24

K I have a traxxas 4x4 electric if I get a brushless how fast will it make it go it's about 110 dollars for the brusless

Zefolas (author)2015-11-27

I recently found an IX cyclone 1 rc car and i would like to get it working. It doesn't have the charger or the remote, but it has a battery. The battery says: Nickel Cadmium AA 700mAh 9.6V and a sticker on the car that says BAND 49 mhz. What controller should I get? I've heard getting a controller that is 49 mhz may not work with a different car that is 49 mhz. Where can i find a charger for the battery? Thanks for any info provided.

GaryE7 (author)2015-10-26

Have you ever heard of

corman.frieze (author)2014-08-29

Based off the explanation, a street car can become a drift car if you change the ttires and tune it a bit, and vise versa, right?

orsegev (author)corman.frieze2015-10-19

u gotta make some more modefys , but in a nutshell , yes

saqib.naeem.188 (author)2015-03-01

you have even told us the most important thing for the rc car

how every components work, how does the transmitter transmit, and how does the antenna receive data and how does it cause the motors to move, you have told us how it works, or the construction.

please can you tell us what every components does, please don't just tell the functions tell us how it does the functions,

e.g how do we move my arm?

the muscles give us the ability to move the arm

but how does the muscle work in order for us to move our arm?

when we want to move, the muscles automatically become shorter, and the tendons are attached to the muscle and the other end of the tendon is attached to the forearm bone, the tendons are attached to the forearm bone so when the muscle gets shorter, the arm moves, it pulls the forearm bone. this is how the arm moves

this is how the arm


how does the car move?

the transmitter and the receiver and the motor give the car the ability to move

but how does the transmitter and the receiver and motor work in order to for the car to move?

pleas someone answer this in the detail, without using big words, just explain everything simply. but tell literally everything.

About This Instructable




Bio: I have moved on to better things...aka YouTube. So I will most likely not reply to any comments, sorry for any inconvienience. If you ... More »
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