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Nitro Powered RC Cars and Trucks: Fast Remote Control Cars

Updated on January 23, 2018

Generally born and raised to be a "lady", you can imagine my parent's surprise when I began to show even the most remote interest in nitro powered remote controlled cars and trucks. Throughout grade school and high school, not only had I dedicated myself to frequent piano lessons, but what I'd come to know as a fairly diverse interest and skill set also came to gradually uncover my interest in a variety of sports, as well as, these powerful (albeit, resilient) hybrids of recreational prowess and sheer unbridled luxury. Admittedly, passion and love emerged as a result of my first exposure--many years ago--to the world of nitro powered remote control cars and trucks.

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Nitro powered RC truck in action: notice the dirt and water spray. These things are tough!
Nitro powered RC truck in action: notice the dirt and water spray. These things are tough! | Source

When most people think about remote controlled cars, they consider the cheap plastic things that you got at Christmas as a kid. With a weak range and low power, they were fun for about a half hour, and then they were forgotten. Imagine, though, a truly fast remote control car: one as fast as a real car!

They exist! Nitro powered RC cars and trucks are here, and they are amazingly fast and fun! Not so much toys as hobbies, a nitro powered remote control car burns real fuel and can travel incredibly fast, with great agility. Fun for racing, off-roading and jumps, doing tricks or just tearing around the neighborhood, you'll never grow tired of these things.

This article is all about nitro powered RC cars and trucks, and what makes them tick. We'll talk about the technology behind these fun little beasts, and what makes them stop and go. We'll talk about care and maintenance, and lastly what you can expect in terms of price if you want to pick one up!

Technology That Makes Fast Remote Control Cars Tick

As you can no doubt imagine, a nitro powered RC car is a little bit more technologically advanced than your typical 'toy grade' RC car. (Toy grade refers to any low powered remote control car, like the ones you're used to finding in your Christmas stocking).

Nitro remote controlled cars utilize a combustion engine and very advanced radio technology to give you high speed and long range. These cars are quite a bit larger than your typical toy grade rc car for a number of reasons. First, they need to be able to withstand more abuse. That means bigger wheels, shocks, and a stronger frame.

Another reason nitro remote controlled cars are a bit bigger is all the guts they need to contain. Every one will have a radio receiver in it, a fairly powerful receiver that gets the transmissions from the control and carries out the commands. Movement on most nitro powered RC cars is carried out by 'servos', which translate the electronic commands of the transmitter into physical action: moving the wheels or acceleration for example.

Nitro powered RC cars and trucks operate on 'Nitromethane' fuel which is burned in an internal combustion engine, and most models have an engine size around 0.12 to 0.35 cubic inches. The engine is usually two-stroke in operation and can achieve very high levels of power for its size, meaning that nitro powered remote control cars can achieve very high speeds for their engine size.

Maintenance and Care of Nitro Powered RC Cars

Nitro powered remote control cars and trucks will require some degree of care. They contain moving parts and burn a fuel, meaning that they will need cleaning and maintenance to run properly over the long run.

First off, you'll notice that nitro powered RC cars require a fair amount of cleaning. They burn oil in their two-stroke engines, so they will get a coating of oil over time, especially near the exhaust area. You can use compressed air and solvents to achieve this. You'll also need to know how to tune your air/fuel mixture, or else your vehicle won't run properly or may wear out too quickly.

Nitro RC cars require attention to detail. If any dirt or grime gets into the carburetor you can expect engine failure, meaning you'll have to rebuild it. In fact, rebuilding the engine on a nitro powered remote control car is common practice after extended periods of use; they lose compression and performance over time. Also high speed collisions are inevitable too, since they move at high speed, so it's pretty important to learn how to replace suspension and frame parts.

Even though running fast remote control cars can be pricey, it's a very 'zen' experience. The true enthusiasts love taking their vehicles apart almost as much as they love driving them. It's a tinkerer's dream hobby!

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Many users will use nitro powered RC cars and trucks for off-road, drift, or drag racing, depending on what they like best.
Many users will use nitro powered RC cars and trucks for off-road, drift, or drag racing, depending on what they like best. | Source

Different Types of Driving Nitro Powered RC Cars and Trucks

There are a lot of different styles of riding for nitro powered remote control car enthusiasts. Here are a few that you might want to get into:


Many nitro powered RC truck owners prefer to use their RC cars for offroad driving. They will take them to a track, a trail or just a big pile of dirt to play around in. These things are tough, and it can be a lot of fun running through dirt and taking jumps!

Nitro RC Drift Cars:

Because of their extreme ability to drift, many owners love to use them for just that. Taken to tracks, the owners will work on their drift racing skills with other enthusiasts. It's tons of fun to watch these high powered nitro RC cars scream around the track!

Drag Racing:

For the tinkerer who builds his nitro powered remote controlled car for high speed and nothing else, drag racing can be a big draw. It's a real skill driving them in a straight line at high speed, so drag racing definitely requires talent and practice.

Where to Buy: Retail Suggestions

There are lots of places you can purchase a nitro powered RC car or truck, depending on your budget.

Your local hobby shop should be able to point you in the right direction. If they don't carry nitro powered RC cars themselves, they should know who does, or they might be able to order them in. Hobby shops are your best bet, most big retailers won't have what you're looking for.

Online shopping is a great option for you too. There are many good retailers out there, such as Hobby King. They will have a ton of selection of nitro RC cars and trucks, as well as many other varieties including gas powered rc cars and electric.

If you're looking to save money, I'd suggest looking for a used model. Many users have lots of cars and trucks and are willing to part with some. The advantage here is you might get some maintenance advice if you're a newbie.

Wherever you choose to buy, be prepared to spend in the hundreds for a good quality nitro RC car or truck. It's well worth it considering that these things can go up to 60 mph!

Good Luck, and have fun.

Nitro powered remote control cars can be purchased online, at a hobby shop, or used (usually found in online classifieds).
Nitro powered remote control cars can be purchased online, at a hobby shop, or used (usually found in online classifieds).


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