How To Make RC Car Go Fast?
There are multiple ways you can make your RC car go faster which depend on how much you want to spend on it and the extent of changes.
Below, we have broken down changes into Major Improvements and Minor Improvements to guide your decisions. Let’s get into it!
Major Speed Improvements
The most straightforward way of increasing the speed of your RC car is by upgrading the motor. There are mainly two types of motors: brushed and brushless.
Brushless motors are generally faster, more efficient and longer lasting than brushed ones. If you have a brushed motor, switching to a brushless one can result in significant speed gains. If you already have a brushless motor, you can opt for a higher KV (RPM per volt) motor to increase the speed.
Pros of Upgrading a Motor:
- Increased Speed and Power: One of the most direct benefits of upgrading a motor is the noticeable increase in speed and power. A higher-performance motor can make your RC car much more more competitive if you’re into racing, or more fun to drive if you’re just enjoying the hobby casually.
- Better Efficiency: More advanced motors, particularly brushless motors, are usually more efficient than their brushed counterparts. They can provide more power with less heat generation, which can extend the run time and life of both the motor and the battery.
- Longer Lifespan: High-quality motors generally last longer than cheaper alternatives. This is particularly true if you’re upgrading from a brushed motor to a brushless one, as brushless motors have fewer parts that wear out.
- Less Maintenance: Brushless motors require less maintenance than brushed motors because they don’t have brushes that wear out over time. This can save you both time and money in the long run.
Cons of Upgrading a Motor:
- Cost: The most significant downside of upgrading an RC car’s motor is the cost. High-performance motors, especially brushless ones, can be quite expensive. The cost becomes even greater if you need to replace other components to support the new motor, such as the ESC or battery.
- Complexity of Installation: Installing a new motor can be complex, particularly for beginners. You’ll need a basic understanding of your RC car’s electronic system, and possibly some soldering skills. Incorrect installation can damage the new motor or other components of the car.
- Increased Power Requirements: More powerful motors often require more power, which can mean you’ll need a more powerful (and often more expensive) battery. Your run times may also decrease unless you also upgrade the battery.
- Potential for Increased Wear and Tear: A faster, more powerful motor can put more strain on the car’s other components, leading to increased wear and tear. This is particularly true for the drivetrain, which may need to be upgraded to cope with the increased power.
- Risk of Overheating: More powerful motors can generate more heat, especially if they’re not adequately cooled. This can potentially lead to overheating, which can damage the motor and other components if not properly managed.
NOTE: Remember, before deciding to upgrade your motor, it’s important to consider your specific needs, budget, and technical skills. And always make sure that the rest of your RC car’s components can handle the upgraded motor.
The most straightforward and effective way of increasing speed is by using a battery with a higher voltage.
More voltage equates to a faster spinning motor, and thus, more speed. Most RC cars use 7.2V NiMH or 7.4V LiPo batteries, but if your car and motor support it, a 11.1V or even 14.8V battery can provide a significant speed boost.
Always ensure your car’s ESC (Electronic Speed Controller) and motor can handle the higher voltage before making the switch, else you can ruin both the ECU and the motor.
Pros of Using a Higher Voltage Battery:
- Better Performance: Higher voltage batteries usually mean more capacity, which can provide consistent performance throughout the duration of the run.
- Easy Installation: A new battery, given that it fits, is really easy to install.
Cons of Using a Higher Voltage Battery:
- Overloading: Using a battery with a voltage that’s too high for your RC car’s motor and electronic speed controller (ESC) can overload and damage the motor and ECU.
- Motor and ESC Lifespan: Even if your motor and ESC can handle the increased voltage, the additional power can put more strain on these components, potentially shortening their lifespan.
- Weight: Higher voltage batteries are usually heavier than their lower voltage counterparts. This can affect the balance and handling of your RC car.
- Bigger Size: High voltage batteries may be physically larger, which can pose a problem if your RC car doesn’t have enough space to accommodate them.
- Cost: High voltage batteries are generally more expensive. Also, if you have to replace or upgrade your charger, motor, or ESC to accommodate the higher voltage, this can further add to the cost.
NOTE: Before switching to a higher voltage battery, always make sure that your RC car’s motor, ESC, and other electronics can handle the increased voltage. If you’re unsure, consult the manuals for these components or ask the manufacturer or a knowledgeable hobbyist.
Change Spur & Pinion Gears
Your RC car’s speed can also be increased by optimizing its gearing consisting of pinion and spur gears.
Using a larger pinion gear or a smaller spur gear will increase the car’s top speed but reduce its acceleration.
Conversely, a smaller pinion or larger spur gear will increase acceleration but reduce top speed.
So, adjusting the gearing of your RC car can help fine-tune its performance to better match your driving style or the conditions of the track and not only make it go faster.
Pros of Optimizing Gearing:
- Efficiency: Properly optimized gearing can improve the efficiency of your RC car, allowing the motor to operate in its ideal power band, which can increase the car’s speed and acceleration, and can also prolong the lifespan of the motor.
- Customizable Experience: Gearing adjustments give you the ability to customize the driving experience according to your preference. Whether you want more speed, more torque, or a balance of both, you can achieve it through changing the size of pinion and spur gears.
Cons of Optimizing Gearing:
- Technical Knowledge: Understanding how different gear ratios affect your RC car’s performance requires a certain level of technical knowledge. Incorrectly adjusting the gear ratio can lead to suboptimal performance or even damage to your RC car.
- Risk of Overheating: Aggressively gearing your car for speed (i.e., increasing the gear ratio) can put more strain on the motor and potentially lead to overheating if not monitored closely.
- Wear and Tear: Changing the gear ratio affects the load on the motor and drivetrain. Gearing for more speed can increase the load and cause faster wear and tear on these components.
Overall, optimizing the gearing of your RC car allows you to tailor its performance to specific conditions or driving styles, but it requires a good understanding of how gearing affects performance, and it can potentially lead to increased wear and tear on the motor and drivetrain.
Minor Speed Improvements
The less weight your RC car has, the faster it will be able to move. You can achieve weight reduction by replacing heavy parts with lighter alternatives, or by simply removing non-essential parts.
Keep in mind, however, while reducing weight, make sure that the car still maintains its balance and stability.
Some options to reduce weight are:
- Replace Heavy Parts: Some parts of your RC car may be made of heavier materials that can be replaced with lighter alternatives. For example, aluminum parts can often be replaced with carbon fiber or plastic parts. Shop for after market alternatives.
- Remove Non-Essential Parts: Look for parts on your RC car that aren’t essential to its operation and consider removing them. This could include cosmetic accessories or even some components of the chassis or body that aren’t necessary for structural integrity.
- Lighter Electronics: While the weight savings might be small, choosing lighter electronics (receiver, servos, ESC, etc.) can contribute to overall weight reduction.
- Drilling Holes: In some cases, you might be able to drill small holes in certain parts of the car to remove material and reduce weight. Be very careful with this approach, though, as it can weaken structural elements if not done correctly.
- Smaller or Lighter Battery: If your car doesn’t need a lot of run time, you could consider using a smaller, lighter battery.
- Use Lighter Tires and Wheels: Different tires and wheels can have significantly different weights. Opt for lighter ones if possible, but be aware this can affect the car’s handling and traction.
Choose wheels with a tread pattern that aligns with your preferred racing method. This ensures that they will perform optimally under challenging conditions and fully complement the speed enhancements provided by other modifications to your car.
The key is to pick the right wheel tread and there are a couple to choose from:
- Full spikes – offer more traction on uneven surfaces like mud and damp grass.
- Mini pins – perform well on carpet, turf, and other uneven terrain.
- Bald and slicks – great for hard, smooth roads like paved roads and tarmac.
If you’re looking for a good all-around tread, try mini spikes. They strike a balance between speed, grip, and maneuverability.
Lastly, consider the size of the wheels.
- Wheel Diameter: Larger diameter wheels will cover more distance per rotation, which increases the top speed of the RC car. However, larger wheels will also effectively increase the gearing ratio, which could result in a slower acceleration. Conversely, smaller wheels will provide quicker acceleration but a lower top speed.
- Wheel Width: Wider tires have more surface area in contact with the ground, which can increase traction and potentially allow for higher speeds in corners. However, wider tires also create more rolling resistance and can slow the car down overall. On the other hand, narrower tires reduce rolling resistance and can potentially increase top speed, but they might also decrease traction.
- Weight of the Wheels: Larger wheels are often heavier, and this increased rotating mass can slow down acceleration. It takes more energy to get heavier wheels spinning, and more energy to stop them. Conversely, smaller, lighter wheels can result in quicker acceleration.
- Effect on Center of Gravity: Larger wheels can raise the car’s center of gravity, making it more prone to tipping or rolling over at high speeds or when cornering. Smaller wheels will lower the center of gravity, potentially making the car more stable.
Overall, there’s always a trade-off between acceleration and top speed, and between stability and maneuverability when choosing the size of the wheels. The right size for you depends on what kind of driving or racing you plan to do.
For example, for a straight drag race, you might want larger diameter wheels to increase top speed. For a race with a lot of tight turns, you might want smaller wheels for better acceleration and stability.
Upgrade With Ball Bearings
Ball bearings are critical components in an RC car, as they reduce friction between moving parts and help everything run smoothly.
Upgrading your ball bearings can slightly enhance the performance and speed as well as longevity of your engine and here is how:
- Reduced Friction: High-quality ball bearings reduce friction between the rotating parts (such as wheels and drivetrain) and the fixed parts of the RC car. This means that the motor has to do less work to move the car, which can increase both the speed and the efficiency of the RC car.
- Increased Durability: Better-quality ball bearings are often more durable than their lower-quality counterparts. They can better withstand the stresses of high-speed operation and resist wear and tear. This can lead to smoother operation over a longer period, maintaining the speed capabilities of the car.
- Better Heat Dissipation: High-quality bearings often have better heat tolerance and dissipation, reducing the risk of overheating under high-speed operation.
- Lighter Weight: Some high-end bearings are made from lightweight materials, which can help reduce the overall weight of the car. This can potentially increase the top speed of the RC car.
- Precision: Premium ball bearings are typically manufactured with greater precision. They fit better and spin more smoothly, leading to better efficiency and potentially higher speed.
Lastly, it is crucial to maintain and lubricate your ball bearings regularly to keep them in top condition. Over time, dirt and debris can get into the bearings and degrade their performance, so regular cleaning is essential.
Also, if you have not chosen yourself and RC car, but are already thinking about how to make it go faster, check out our guide on how to choose the RC car for yourself first!