By Joe Rich
Do RC Cars have a Clutch?
Most RC cars have a throttle and brake, but no clutch. The only exception to this rule are nitro RC cars that use an engine with a centrifugal clutch.
There are a ton of aspects to RC cars out there that make them so popular.
Being able to fully customize them, to work with kits to provide advancements and upgrades, it is almost like having a full-sized car without the serious cost and time spent working on them.
RC cars are so detailed, as a matter of fact, that they mimic their life-sized counterparts.
That means working on real components of an actual car just on a much smaller scale.
This can include changing the tires, tweaking the brakes, and making changes to the engine to give your RC car the ultimate in performance.
One aspect of these RC cars that can be changed out and customized is the clutch.
In this guide, you will learn more about what the clutch of your RC car can do, how to adjust it, what to look for in a properly adjusted clutch and more.
Here are a few things that you need to know about RC cars, their clutches, and what changes you can make to them to get the performance out of your car that you desire.
What Clutch Is fitted to RC Cars?
Known as the slipper clutch, there are basic kits out there that allow you to get the quickest fix on your vehicle, getting it back out onto the course or terrain in no time flat.
Most slipper clutch kits are fairly universal and interchangeable, meaning you should be able to get relatively similar results out of just about any kind of factory kits.
Understanding the components, what they do, how they interact and connect to other aspects of the car, and what adjustments can and should be made come next.
This comes with a little bit of knowledge and experience, allowing you to find the sweet spot for your slipper clutch that delivers the results that you have been looking for.
What Slipper Clutch Components Are There?
The slipper clutch is generally attached to the transmission of almost all 2WD electric vehicles as well as many 4WD vehicles of both the buggy and monster truck variety.
There are several useful purposes to the slipper clutch.
The slipper clutch is meant to help reduce wheel spin whenever your car accelerates.
This helps your vehicle reduce the chance of spin-out whenever it needs to speed up when exiting a corner or any time that you punch down on the throttle quickly.
Most basic slipper clutches have a backing plate that connects to the top shaft of the transmission, followed by a slipper pad and spur gear.
A second pad follows with a backing plate closing everything off.
All of these components (which can be found on Amazon) need to be keyed and need to fit together in a very specific way.
This ensures that everything is aligned properly before tightening the spring down.
This can take some time, effort, and experience to properly master, but it allows you to make adjustments when you feel your car is underperforming.
Tuning the slipper clutch can be done somewhat easily depending on your level of experience.
The vast majority of guides will tell you to tighten down the slipper clutch to a fully compressed state.
There are others that want the slipper clutch to slip about a foot or two.
Really, this all depends on personal experience and what you desire from the performance of your car.
Adjusting the slipper clutch is a great way to add a little bit of speed into the mix, though it has to be done carefully and properly to ensure maximum effectiveness.
How to Set up Your RC Car Clutch
Before beginning, you need to ensure that you have the proper tools.
Most every kit (and RTR car) will come with a four-way tool that allows for individual adjustments on the various items of your truck or car.
Do your research beforehand so that you can ensure that you have the right size hex wrench to take the slipper nuts off.
For RTR cars, the slipper clutch that was set from the factory is as close to perfect as it gets.
This is what you should use prior to making any adjustments.
If you are working off of a kit, set it per the specifications in the instruction manual.
This makes for an excellent starting point.
From there, you would turn the transmitter on and throttle in short bursts after you have made certain the car is secure and won’t get out of your hand.
The front of the vehicle should slip off the surface; if it doesn’t it generally means that your slipper clutch is too loose.
Tightening it until the front jacks align properly ensures that you have achieved the proper tightness to prevent your clutch from sitting too high or too low.
The best part about this is that you can test out the changes made on your RC car and tweak them as you see fit.
Have some quality hex wrenches on hand to make the entire process a bit easier, allowing you to tighten and secure nuts throughout the process.
The last thing you need is to be unprepared to make the changes that you want.
What Is the Slipper Clutch Meant to Do?
To make the best adjustments for your vehicle, it is important to know just what the slipper clutch is meant to do.
Otherwise, you could wind up making the kind of adjustment that ends up being detrimental for your RC car instead of leading to the positive outcome you were hoping to achieve.
The slipper is ultimately meant to reduce wheelspin when the car accelerates from lower speeds.
This allows the car to hit faster speeds while being less prone to spinning out, especially when exiting turns on slicker tracks.
Not only that, the slipper will also give more of a sure-footed landing when taking on jumps.
This means that the car will handle jumps and rougher sections of the terrain far better than it might without the proper adjustments.
In addition to those factors, the slipper is also meant to reduce the sudden forces that the inside of the transmission can produce, especially when it comes to the ball differential.
It can take a while to learn when to loosen or tighten the slipper clutch, implementing trial and error along with some experience.
Generally speaking, most beginners will leave the slipper set too loose; this makes the car much easier to drive when it comes to taking on turns or rougher terrain, but will make it far slower overall.
Knowing specifically what happens when the slipper clutch is too loose or too tight is important to know so that you can avoid making the wrong adjustments.
What Happens If the Clutch Is Too Loose or Tight?
When making adjustments to your RC car, it is important to know the difference between leaving your slipper clutch too tight or too loose and the implications on the rest of the car.
Without this knowledge, you could do serious damage to your RC car, resulting in repairs or replacements that need to be made.
Leaving the clutch loose actually benefits in saving the engine or motor.
The engine or motor undergoes a lot of strain throughout the life of the car and keeping the slipper clutch loose can help preserve the life of your engine or motor for far longer.
When the clutch is tightened, it means that your car can go much faster.
The thing is that it has serious effects on the engine or motor.
If you keep your slipper clutch too tight, you will be able to achieve better maximum speeds, but at a greater cost to your engine or motor.
Each time that you adjust the slipper clutch, be sure to test out the effects of what each adjustment has.
This can help you find the right slipper clutch setting for your needs without completely ruining the engine or motor.
It is recommended that the slipper clutch be let loose enough that it slips the first two or so feet under full throttle from a stop to prevent maximum wear and to allow for the best possible acceleration without degradation to the motor or engine.
Be careful, though: too loose of a setting will lead to a lot of heat and could even result in smoke in some older models.
Perhaps do a little research beforehand to see what your model of car has for a recommended clutch setting; this can act as a good baseline for how to handle the tightening of your clutch without ruining the car.
The slipper clutch on your RC car is a tricky component to master, but it could be worth getting to know.
There are obvious benefits to adjusting the looseness or tightness of the clutch depending on what you are looking to get out of the performance.
Try some things out when adjusting your slipper clutch and you can get to know this complex aspect of your RC car.