How To Choose RC Cars

Selecting the right type of RC car is an essential first step if you want to build or buy one. Here are some helpful tips for choosing the right type.


Consider the terrain you plan to drive the car on. If you plan to drive on paved surfaces, an on-road RC car is the best choice, whereas an off-road RC car with larger wheels and better suspension would be more suitable for rough terrain, etc.

Overall, there are four different terrain types to consider:

Tarmac / Paved Surface

If you plan to drive your RC car on a smooth, flat surface like a road, parking lot, indoors, etc you’ll want an on-road RC car.

These cars are lightweight, have low ground clearance and a sleek design to help them achieve high speeds.

There are different styles, including touring cars, formula cars, drift cars and pan cars. Touring cars are the most popular and are used for racing, due to their excellent handling and maneuverability. Formula cars are modeled after Formula 1 cars and have a more aggressive design. Drift cars are similar to touring cars, but have different tires and typically four wheel drive system that allows them to slide and drift. Pan cars are similar to formula cars but have a lower profile.

On-road RC cars can be powered by either electric or nitro engines. Electric cars are quieter and easier to maintain than nitro cars, making them a great option for beginners. Nitro cars, however, provide higher speeds and power but are more challenging to operate and maintain.

Overall, on-road RC cars are ideal for those who want to focus on speed and precision handling on flat surfaces. They are a popular choice for racing and can provide an exciting experience for drivers of all levels.

Grass / Unpaved

Off-road RC cars are designed to drive on rough terrains, such as dirt, grass, and sand. These cars are built to withstand harsh conditions, and they have high ground clearance and large, deep-tread tires that provide better traction and stability on uneven surfaces.

Off-road RC cars come in various styles, including buggies, trucks, and truggies. Buggies are typically lightweight and designed for fast speeds and agile handling. They are perfect for racing on off-road tracks and provide excellent maneuverability in tight turns and twists.

Off-road trucks, on the other hand, are designed for rougher terrain and have more suspension travel than buggies. This extra suspension travel helps to absorb bumps and jumps, making them perfect for jumps, hill climbs, and rocky trails.

Truggies, as the name suggests, are a hybrid between buggies and trucks, offering the agility of a buggy and the durability of a truck. They are designed for high speeds and excellent handling on off-road tracks and can handle jumps, bumps, and rough terrain with ease.

Off-road RC cars can be powered by either electric or nitro engines. Electric off-road RC cars are ideal for beginners and are quieter, cleaner, and easier to maintain than nitro cars. Nitro cars, on the other hand, are powered by a gasoline-based fuel that provides more power and speed, making them a popular choice for experienced drivers.

When choosing an off-road RC car, it’s important to consider the type of terrain you plan to drive on and select a car that’s designed for those conditions. Some off-road RC cars are designed specifically for sand, while others are better suited for rocky terrain. It’s also important to consider the size of the car and its scale, as this will impact its performance and handling on different terrains.

Overall, off-road RC cars are a fantastic option for those who want to experience the thrill of driving on rough terrain. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced driver, there is an off-road RC car that can provide you with hours of fun and excitement.


RC cars made for crawling rocks are called Rock crawlers, also known as rock climbers. They are specifically designed to climb over rocks, boulders, and other obstacles. These cars have a unique design with four-wheel drive, low gearing, and high torque motors that allow them to crawl over almost anything.

Rock crawlers come in various sizes, ranging from small 1/18 scale models to large 1/6 scale models. They typically have a more substantial frame than other types of RC cars, with features such as solid axles, suspension links, and adjustable shocks. These features allow rock crawlers to traverse difficult terrain with ease, such as steep inclines, uneven surfaces, and tight spaces.

Rock crawlers are available in both electric and nitro models, with electric being the most popular choice. Electric rock crawlers are quiet, efficient, and have a longer battery life than other types of RC cars. They’re also easier to maintain and more affordable than nitro models.

One of the unique features of rock crawlers is their ability to be customized with various accessories, such as specialized tires, winches, and LED lights. These accessories not only improve the car’s performance but also add to its overall appearance.

When choosing a rock crawler, it’s important to consider the type of terrain you’ll be driving on and select a car that’s designed for those conditions. Some rock crawlers are better suited for rocky terrain, while others are designed for mud or sand. It’s also important to consider the size and scale of the car, as larger models are better for more challenging terrain.

Overall, rock crawlers are an excellent option for those who want to experience the thrill of climbing over rocks and challenging obstacles. They offer a unique driving experience and can provide hours of fun and excitement for drivers of all levels.

Your Skill Level

Determining your skill level for RC cars is an important step in choosing the right car and equipment for your needs. Here are some factors to consider when assessing your skill level:


Your level of experience with RC cars is a significant factor in determining your skill level. If you’re a complete beginner who’s never driven an RC car before, then you’re a novice. If you have some experience but are still learning, then you’re an intermediate driver. Advanced drivers are those who have been driving RC cars for some time and have a good understanding of how to control the car and make adjustments.

Driving style

Your driving style is another factor to consider when assessing your skill level. If you prefer slow and controlled driving with fewer aggressive maneuvers, then you may be a beginner or intermediate driver. However, if you enjoy faster speeds and more aggressive driving, then you may be an intermediate or advanced driver.

Knowledge of RC cars

Your knowledge of RC cars and how they work can also impact your skill level. If you have a good understanding of the different types of RC cars, their features, and how to maintain and repair them, then you may be an intermediate or advanced driver. However, if you’re still learning about the different types of cars and how they work, then you may be a beginner or intermediate driver.

Racing experience

If you have participated in RC car races and have a good understanding of the rules and strategies involved, then you may be an intermediate or advanced driver. On the other hand, if you have never participated in a race, then you may be a beginner or intermediate driver.

Skill Level Ratings

RC car manufacturers often include a skill level rating on the packaging to help buyers select the right car based on their experience level. The rating system usually spans from beginner to advanced, with some manufacturers including additional levels like intermediate or expert.

Several factors, such as the car’s speed, size, complexity, and controls, are taken into account when determining the skill level rating. For instance, a beginner-level car may have a top speed of 10-15 mph, while an advanced car could go up to 30-40 mph or higher. A beginner-level car may also feature simple controls and fewer functionalities, while an advanced car could have more complex controls and advanced features like suspension adjustments or differential tuning.

The skill level rating on the packaging provides consumers with useful information to make an informed purchase decision, reducing the likelihood of accidents or frustration due to the car’s complexity. However, buyers should keep in mind that the rating is only a general guideline, and there could be variations within each level based on the manufacturer’s interpretation. Consumers should also consider their own skill level and experience when selecting an RC car and not rely solely on the rating mentioned on the packaging.

It’s essential to be honest with yourself about your skill level so that you can select the right type of car and equipment that suits your needs. Starting with a beginner-level car and working your way up as you gain more experience and confidence is always a good idea if you’re unsure about your skill level.


When building or buying a ready-to-run RC car, the budget is an essential factor in determining the quality of components you can afford. Various factors determine the cost of building an RC car, such as the type of car, quality of components, and level of customization. The cost of the complete car can range from dozens of dollars to thousands.

The costliest part of building an RC car is the components, such as the motor, battery, and controller. The quality of the components determines the performance and durability of the car. High-quality components are expensive, but they offer better performance and longer lifespans than low-quality ones.

Apart from the components, you also need tools such as screwdrivers, pliers, wire cutters, and a soldering iron. Depending on the type of RC car you’re building, you may require specialized tools like tire irons for off-road cars or calibration equipment for racing cars. The cost of tools adds up and should be included in the budget.

It’s essential to consider additional costs like shipping, handling fees, and taxes while budgeting for an RC car build. These expenses can increase your overall cost, especially if you order components from different suppliers.

Setting a budget before starting the build is crucial. A budget helps you determine the type and quality of components you can afford, preventing overspending. It’s essential to stick to the budget as much as possible. Although you may need to adjust the budget as you progress through the build, having a general idea of the maximum spending limit helps make informed decisions.

In conclusion, budgeting is vital when building an RC car, ensuring that you can afford high-quality components and tools for a reliable, high-performing car. By carefully considering your budget, you can make informed decisions about the components and tools to purchase and allocate your funds effectively.


This might seem like a minor detail when selecting an RC car, but actually is quite important.  RC cars come in different sizes starting typically from 1/24 and going all the way to 1/5, check out our RC scale size overview article for more details. There are exception to the above scales, but those are rare and would not represent a general trend.

Small cars are cheaper to buy and easier to control, the general rule is that with the increased scale, the complexity grow proportionally, so if you are novice, it is suggested to start with 1/24 – 1/18 scale RC cars.


Various brands offer different types of vehicles, parts, and accessories, each with its own unique advantages and features. Opting for a reputable brand ensures that you have access to high-quality components and reliable customer support.

One of the primary aspects of selecting a brand is to ensure that they provide a wide range of products. A brand that offers various cars, components, and accessories can help you save both time and money, as you can purchase all the necessary parts from one source. Furthermore, brands that have been in the industry for an extended period and are well-known are more likely to offer superior products.

Another crucial factor to consider when selecting a brand is the availability of spare parts. Components often wear out or break during use, and being able to replace them easily is essential for maintaining your car’s optimal performance. Brands that offer readily available spare parts and after-sales support are ideal options for RC car enthusiasts.

It’s also essential to assess the level of customization provided by a brand. Some brands offer cars and components that are easily customizable, enabling you to personalize your car and optimize it to your specific requirements. Brands that offer a wide range of customization options can assist you in creating a unique car that delivers outstanding performance.

Lastly, it’s vital to consider the brand’s reputation in the RC car community. Brands that have a positive reputation for quality and performance are generally a better option than less reputable or unknown brands. Conducting research online and reading reviews from other users can provide you with valuable insights into the brand’s reputation and product quality.

Some of the most reputable RC car brands are:

To learn more about them, check our best RC brands article.

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