By Joe Rich
Do all RC Cars have brakes?
For many kids, remote controlled (RC) cars are something that we grew up with. Zooming them around the backyard, creating customized tracks, jumping them off of huge jumps; these are the things that made having RC cars so fun.
What you may not have realized is that RC cars are so much more complicated than previously assumed.
For instance, did you know that RC cars come in electric, gas, and nitro powered models?
This provides variations across RC cars that make them different in subtle ways.
But one question that gets asked frequently throughout the hobby community is “do RC cars have brakes?”
The short answer to that is “yes,” but to better understand how they work on each model, it requires a bit more of an investigation.
Electric Powered RC Cars
These are the most common kinds of RC cars available.
Generally speaking, this type of RC car uses a built-in battery that charges using some kind of port or by plugging it into an electrical outlet.
Charging times can vary based on usage and age of the battery.
But the more important question surrounding “do RC cars have brakes?” is how they work in the electric models.
Technically speaking, the electric RC models do not have brakes, at least not in the way that traditional cars have brakes.
Instead, the braking is performed by the speed control of the car.
This happens by making the motor essentially run as a generator and, in some of the more high-frequency speed controls, you can actually charge the batteries during the braking process.
The adjustment of the “brakes” takes place when you are adjusting both the speed control and the transmitter itself.
It is also worth noting that there are different types of transmitters for electric RC cars to consider.
For the pistol-grip variety of transmitters, all you have to do is push forward with your trigger finger to apply the brakes.
As opposed to the pulling motion that is required for the throttle, the motion for the brakes is much less sensitive and you essentially have an on-off control for the braking unless you have a great feel for the trigger.
There is also the amount of braking that occurs during neutral moments – when your finger is off the trigger – that are worth taking into account.
This ultimately controls how your car not only enters turns, but goes through them.
It is a process of figuring out how much pressure to apply and when to really get an understanding of how to appropriately use your braking system.
It isn’t like traditional brakes (as covered) and it takes a bit of a learning experience to truly grasp the proper way to use it.
Nitro Powered RC Cars
Unlike the electric system, these have physical brakes that actually need to be maintained and cared for as they would on a traditional car.
They actually have little brake pads and discs – like a traditional car – that initiate the braking process.
Much like the electronic variation, too much braking can be a bad thing.
This is because the brake input can cause the wheel to lock up or excessive heating to what is known as the ESC as well as the motor.
The question here isn’t “do RC cars have brakes?” it’s more “how do I tone down the brakes on my RC car?”
Perhaps the best way to do this is to use a medium-level or above radio.
This is because they have adjustable brake output and throttle settings, allowing you to lower the brake side.
This means that you can adjust the brakes more on the fly and are typically assigned to a button that allows you to “dial up” the brakes while you are driving the car itself.
By turning down the master brake settings, it allows you to find the settings that work best for you instead of having to conform to a pre-setting.
Like the brake controls, speed controls can be adjusted in the same manner.
This process has many different names – brake force, brake power, overall brake, brake feel, max brake, push brake, and so on – but they all achieve the same thing in the end.
Your car, provided you bought it from the store and not secondhand, should come with a manual.
The manual will elaborate on the type of setting that you need or are interested in, allowing you to cut out some of the guesswork in the process.
For more seasoned RC car enthusiasts, the manual can work in conjunction with some of the on-the-fly adjustments that are available in the RC car transmitter.
This allows for the precise feel that is unique to each driver.
Additionally, there are also brake tuning options to take into consideration.
Because there is so much involved in this process, it is simpler to try out all of the potential options available with this method.
Try using small changes as well as the full changes to get a better idea of the scope of these changes.
By testing each speed variation, as well as all of the options available, you can not only get a better feel for how they work, but for what they do as well. Sometimes, there is nothing better than experiencing these options rather than reading about them.
Gas Powered RC Cars
Gas powered RC cars tend to be a little more expensive because they function much the same as a normal car and can run so long as you have fuel for the car.
What’s crazy is that you can get very powerful motors that can leave your car running as fast as 60 MPH.
Much as the nitro and electric powered versions work through a transmitter, the same is true for the gas-powered version.
The difference is that the gas-powered cars have engines that are modelled after standard vehicles.
Unless you are taking apart the engine and reconstructing it, however, the real importance comes in the transmitter.
The transmitter is one of the universal aspects of RC cars of all types. It not only makes the car “go,” it controls the braking system as well.
In addition to the RC servo – which controls the steering of the RC car itself – the transmitter also has the brake lever that stops the car or allows it to slow down when going into turns so that speeds can be controlled more tightly.
The transmitter works basically the same as the nitro and electric counterparts, controlling the car’s ability to stop through those transmissions.
Generally speaking, the transmitters are all built in the same fashion so that controlling an RC car of any kind is straightforward.
Replacing or Repairing the Braking Systems
As covered in each of the sections, the braking systems inside the cars themselves can differ quite greatly depending on which car you go with.
This makes repairing or replacing those braking systems a challenge if you are not familiar with the three different types.
The quickest way to make adjustments to your braking system is through the adjustable brake output settings that come on your transmitter.
This allows you to find the best and most personalized control for your braking system so that you get the control that you desire.
But when it comes to the physical brakes themselves, this can be done by almost anyone thanks to video tutorials out there.
They are less complicated than your standard brakes on a traditional car, but they require patience and experience.
With the right tutorial of your car, you can see how to take apart the system, what parts to implement and how they fit specifically into the braking system of your RC car.
Following those steps to the letter is essential so that you don’t assemble the braking system incorrectly and potentially damage or ruin the car itself.
Enjoying Your RC Car
For many, part of enjoying the RC car is in taking it apart and seeing the inner workings for oneself.
Learning how the cars work, what makes them tick, and possibly finding improvements are all a part of the process of learning about the RC cars.
Of course, if the wrong changes are made, it can render the car into a moot point.
The goal is to get your RC car roaring around the course as quickly as possible, implementing precise control into each and every turn along the way.
One of the first steps in this process is knowing how the brakes work on each of the three variations of RC cars, how they relate to the transmitter for each car, and understanding what changes will have what impacts.
At the end of the day, implement knowledge and experience while using your RC car and you can unlock a world that you were not previously aware of.
They might not be the exact same as traditional cars, but RC cars can bring to you a miniature motorized experience unlike any other.