Do you want to give your electric RC car a little more oomph?
If you are here, you probably do.
Electric RC cars can be a lot of fun. But do you know what makes them even more fun? Being super fast.
Luckily for us, RC cars lend themselves to modifications in multiple ways.
So how can I make my electric RC car go faster? To make your electric RC car go faster, you can change the battery and motor. This results in the most dramatic increase in speed, but it is expensive. Alternatively, you can make your electric RC car a lot fast by modifying the gear ratios. Proper maintenance of the suspension system and wheels is also important for speed.
Regardless if you are looking for just a tiny little boost or you want to have the Usain Bolt of RC cars, here you will find everything you need to know about it.
So without further ado, let’s dive in.
Change the Pinion Gear
The pinion gear is the smaller gear which is attached directly to the motor’s output shaft.
The bigger the pinion gear, the more teeth it has. And the fewer turns are needed for the pinion gear to turn the spur gear. In a way, you are transferring the motor RPM a lot more efficiently.
Thus your low-end power will decrease while the high-end power will increase. This means that your RC car will go faster but will lack in power when moving at low speeds.
Changing the pinion gear is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to increase the speed of your RC car.
But here’s the thing.
This does not simply mean we can switch to as big of a pinion gear as we like.
The increase of the pinion gear should be very gradual – adding just a few teeth at a time.
The bigger pinion gears will increase the strain on the motor and subsequently can lead to overheating problems.
Change the Spur Gear
By decreasing the spur gear (lowering the tooth count), you can make your RC car go faster because this increases the high-end power.
However, going down with two teeth on the spur gear will have a smaller impact than going up with two teeth on the pinion gear.
Similarly, you need to be careful not to go down too much, as this can lead to the motor overheating.
Overall the gearing system (both the spur and pinion gears) has a big say in how fast your RC car can go.
Change the Battery Pack
A simple battery upgrade can lead to a massive increase in speed.
There are different labels on the battery pack, but what you should be interested in is the type of battery pack you are using and its voltage.
First, there are two main types of batteries: the lithium-polymer batteries (Lipo) and nickel-metal hydride batteries (NiMH).
NiMH batteries have multiple cells, and each cell usually rates at about 1.2 volts. So a 6-cell NiMH battery has 7.2 volts.
Lipo batteries are the battery type of choice for many. It supplies more power and is a lot lighter.
The voltage of the Lipo battery pack corresponds to the number of cells it has. Usually, each cell has 3.4 volts. So a two-cell battery will have 7.4 volts and a 3-cell battery 11.1 volts and so on.
If you upgrade from a 2-cell (2S) battery to a 3-cell (3S) battery, you will be getting as much as 33% more power (and potentially speed).
That sounds amazing, doesn’t it?
Unfortunately, there are a few caveats here.
You need to make sure that the ESC, electrical wiring, and the motor can all handle the higher voltage. More information on that can be found in your user’s manual.
Don’t try to run your electric RC car on a higher voltage than what it is rated for.
This can lead to the ESC, the motor, and the other electrical components overheating and even catching fire.
Switching from a NiMH battery to a Lipo battery is doable; however, make sure the ESC is Lipo-compatible. Make sure to stay within the recommended voltage levels for your RC car.
Change the Bearings
Many of the cheaper RC cars have brass bushings.
It is very easy and inexpensive to change these to high-quality ball-bearings.
You don’t need to have any technical knowledge or be tech-savvy to replace them.
Ball bearings have less friction, which can translate into higher speeds and even better battery life.
Change the Tires
Three aspects of the tires affect the speed of your electric RC car.
First is the profile of the car tire. A taller tire will allow your car to go faster. But the downside to this is that a larger tire will create more strain on the motor, which can lead to overheating.
Secondly, the type of tire will also matter. For example, the slick tires are the perfect choice for on-road RC cars, while the paddle tires do well on sandy terrain, and spiked tires are great for muddy areas and wet grass.
And last but not least, check if the angle of each tire is set up correctly. This can be done easily with a camber gauge.
Make sure that each tire is setup the same. Even a single tire that is not aligned properly will result in a slower-moving RC car. Frequently people prefer to go for a -1 camber.
Change the Motor
This is where things get serious.
The problem is that changing the motor (and the gearing system) usually involves a lot of math.
And depending on what you are looking for, sometimes a bigger motor may not be worth it as you might be able to get a similar increase in speed by just changing up the gear ratio.
If you want to add just a few miles to your car, a new motor may be overkill.
The reason I am saying this is because when people are changing the motor of their RC car, they are trying to gain as much of a speed boost as possible. If this is your goal – then this is the way to go.
Frequently this involves going from brushed motor to brushless. However, it is not as simple as taking your old motor out and putting the new motor in.
Frequently you will need to change other things as well, like the gearing, ESC, and battery pack, for example.
So this requires you to have a decent understanding of how the whole RC vehicle works and be able to afford it as these changes can end up being very expensive.
Adjust the Motor Timing
If you have a brushless motor, there should be a little dial-like marking on its side. This represents the motor timing.
You may have to open the motor, so make sure that it is disconnected from any power sources before you do.
This is one of the little tricks that you can do to give your electric RC car a little extra boost. However, this usually requires a lot of fine-tuning and adjusting. It is recommended to do it with a motor dyno, but it can be done manually.
The motor dyno will allow you to see what exactly is happening to the motor and what timing you are using. Without a motor dyno, you are sort of going it blind.
The increase in the RPM of the motor can lead to overheating, so make sure to keep an eye on the motor’s temperatures.
Check the Suspension
It may seem obvious, but a lot of people may overlook it, so I feel like it is worth mentioning.
Check the condition of the suspension arms and shock absorbers.
Keep each part well-maintained and clear from dust and debris.
Replace the oil in the shock absorbers, and make sure that the shock shaft matches across all shocks.
If any part feels loose, wiggles, or is damaged, make sure to replace it. Loose, worn out, or damaged parts can reduce the stability and speed of the electric RC car.
Next, make sure to use the right height for your RC car, depending on what terrain you intend to drive it on. You can use a ride height gauge to measure and adjust the height of each suspension absorber. Use the same height for both the front and the back.
Offroad RC cars usually go with higher clearance while the on-road ones can go a lot lower.
Reduce the Weight of the Car
This is a decent way to give your car a tiny bit of a boost, but it is usually not going to be the prettiest thing to do to it.
It involves replacing any plastic and other heavier parts of the car with ones made from lighter materials like graphite or aluminum.
However, there are some disadvantages to this method.
First, well, it may not be the same beauty as it once was.
And second. If you go all in and make the car as light as possible, you are risking losing traction and stability, especially in corners and sharper turns.
Without traction, all the power in the world will do nothing for you. You need just enough weight to push down the wheels to the ground.
Practice, Practice, Practice
This is going to be one of the most simple ways you can make your car go better.
And of course, I am not talking just about regular practicing. This goes without saying. I am also talking about practicing and experimenting with the different setups I have mentioned in this article.
After each little adjustment, take your RC car for a spin, see how it feels.
The more you use your RC car, the better and deeper understanding of it you will develop. Having the fastest car does not always win a race.