RC car cleaning basics, how to Clean you RC car

RC car cleaning is essential if you RC is spinning out when braking, out of control when accelerating, and if your engine is overheat? Most of the time this happens because the car doesn’t roll freely or some part of your RC car suspension is stuck.

I will show you RC car cleaning basics, how to clean and perform basic maintenance to your RC car to avoid these problems before they occur so you can enjoy your time at the track or just bashing around in the back yard or parking lot.

Your RC car should roll freely and all moving parts should not bind. Arms, suspension parts, steering system and kingpins should all roll freely, to ensure maximum performance and enjoyment from you RC car.

Well here we go!


Step 1. Whip out your manual

I know, I know, nobody uses these things you might need this as a reference especially if this is your first time doing major work on your RC car. If you don’t have a manual, lost it, or just don’t know where it is you can download from your RC car manufacture.


Step 2. Gather all the tools you will need

If you don’t know what is needed, check your manual under the “tools needed for assembly” section, which is usually in the first couple of pages.

• Tools most likely: Allen wrenches, Philips screw driver, flat head screw driver, socket driver among others. Dynamite Startup Tool Set are recommended.

• Large towel or two

• Tooth brush

• Brush cheap 2-3 inch

Degreaser and dish washing soap

• Pipe cleaners

• 2 inch silicone fuel tubing with a screw attached to one end of it.

Cleaning putty (optional)

• Paper towels

• Thread lock, medium strength

Note: I like to separate the RC in “segments”; the engine, radio tray with the upper deck, and front and rear assemblies.


Step 3. Remove the inch silicone fuel tubing’s from the engine.

Plug the fuel engine intake with your 2 inch silicone fuel tubing that has the screw attached to one end.  You don’t want anything entering your carburetor, this will make tuning your engine a nightmare.

Plug the end of your exhaust pipe with a paper towel to prevent it from leaking oil everywhere (you want to be able to remove it with ease and not get any stuck inside your exhaust.)

Depending on how dirty your engine/exhaust is use your brush (I prefer the toothbrush) and some degreaser to remove the dirt and grime from the engine. When clean place the engine/exhaust on your clean towel with the mounting crews.  Remove the air filter and plug  the carburetor  with no lint paper towel or carburetor caps again the purpose is to protect the nitro engine.  With care wash the air filter with dish washing soap util no more dirt or oil comes out.  When dry oil the air filter properly and set aside.


Step 4. Remove all the RC car “segments”.

The engine, radio tray with the upper deck, front and rear assemblies from the chassis and place them with their corresponding screws on your “dirty” towel.


Step 5. Chassis

RC car cleaning would not be complete if you didn’t your chassis.  You can clean with a towel, or if grime persists wash with dish washing soap or spray with a degreaser, scrub the tight spots with a toothbrush then rinse well and dry immediately. If you run a carbon chassis I would just wipe it down with a towel, I don’t like using degreaser’s on carbon but that is just me.  Now you have a clean chassis to start assembling your RC car.


Step 6. Upper deck with fuel tank and electronics

Using you toothbrush, brush, and/or towel clean your receiver, servos and the upper deck with the fuel tank. If you have cleaning putty it greatly helps getting dirt and grime from night spots. If not a toothbrush really comes in handy. When satisfied with your cleaning efforts set everything on your clean towel.


Step 7. Front assembly

Make a note of were your caster clips are located in you upper arms (example 2 front 2 rear). Depending on your RC car remove the hinge pins from the upper and lower arms and clean them. Insert a pipe cleaner in the arms (where the hinge pins were located) and move in and out a couple of times to clean. Repeat this for all the front arms. With a brush or toothbrush clean all the plastic parts of the front end arms, differentials, shock-absorbers, bulkheads etc . You can also remove the wheel and differential bearings and clean there too if needed. Spin the ball bearings between your finder for any excess resistance or a  “gritty” feeling.  They should roll freely and smoothly.  A stuck or hard to turn bearing might overheat your engine because of increased friction or drag.  (Your engine has to push harder to accelerate the RC car) I is also recommend checking if your hinge pins are straight, roll them on a flat surface, like your setup board or a glass table. If they wobble replace as needed. Take a look at the cars belts for any ware and tear if any teeth are missing you could change them too.

Pro tip:  This video is specifically for front RC differentials but the theory is the same for all geared differentials.  If you haven’t rebuild your diffs before and your manual confuses you,  it will help you.  Make sure to use the diff silicone your manual recommends especially if you are new to RC cars.


Step 8.  Reassembling your RC car

When you get everything as clean as you like, start to attach everything to the chassis, you basically work backwards.  I know this is oversimplifying the process but that is the basically how you go about it.  Here is were your handy manual comes in!!  (I’m a huge fan of manuals but that is just me.)  A point I want to stress here (especially if this is your first time attempting disassemble and reassemble your RC car) is you WILL make mistakes, this is part of the learning process.  No worries though if you come across a problem don’t hesitate to contact me, your local hobby shop or a friend to help you out.  Most of the time just referring to your manual will solve most problems.


Step 9.  Moving on to the rear assembly

Remove both suspension arms by pulling out the hinge pins.  Depending on your RC remove the rear shock tower or the upper plate to gain access to your differential.  At this point most of the rear assembly should be in pieces, arms, differential, shock tower, drive axel etc.  Clean everything with a brush or toothbrush; if grime persists you can use a degreaser on non plastic parts and the cleaning putty on plastic parts.  As a side note I would like to mention not to use the degreaser on ball bearings because it will penetrate the bearing and remove or degrade the bearings lubrication.  I would also run a pipe cleaner through the arms to remove any dirt or grime.


Step 10.  Putting together the rear assembly

Now that everything in nice and clean, start putting together the rear assembly and attaching it to your chassis.  If you get stuck and don’t know what goes where take a look at your manual for guidance.

When done with the rear assembly bolt on your upper deck with electronics and the fuel tank.

Finally, secure the nitro engine on the chassis and attach the corresponding fuel tubing and exhaust back pressure tubing.

Note:  Please be sure to align the clutch gears with the two speed transmission correctly.  If the gear mesh is too tight it will create unnecessary drag and could even destroy the clutch bell bearings.  On the other hand if the gear mesh is too far apart, it will probably strip you plastic gears.

Well there you have it, RC car cleaning is on your done list of things to do!  When cleaning your RC car by disassembling it you get the chance to really see how it works and if any needed maintenance should be done like belt replacement, leaking differentials or shocks, if there are any holes in the fuel tubing etc.  Everyone has a slightly different approach to cleaning their cars but the result is mostly the same.  Now you have checked all moving parts for binding you know the next time when you hit the local track, parking lot or back yard your car will be more stable, lower engine temps because of unnecessary drag, no spinning out because of some part of your suspension is binding.  At this point I would arrange some time to get out and have some fun with your RC car.

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