How to Service and Maintain Your Nitro RC Car

How to Service and Maintain Your Nitro RC Car

by Joe Rich

How to Service and Maintain Your Nitro RC Car

Knowing How to Service and Maintain Your Nitro RC Car is the most important and enjoyable part of owning a nitro RC car.

Do you have a nitro RC car? If so, then this blog post is for you! Nitro RC cars are a lot of fun to drive and they require some maintenance in order to keep them running. This blog post will give you all the basics on how to service your nitro RC car so that it can run as long as possible.

If you have a nitro engine powered RC car the maintenance is a little more involved than electric powered car.

But nitro engines need to be broken in we have a article about this click here to read.

But the maintenance is critical for engine long life and reliability.

It is just like your family car if you neglect the servicing it will run inefficiently break down or not start at all.

So in this article we are going to look at how to service and maintain your Nitro RC car.

But how long does a nitro engine last to read our article click here

Here is a list of the tools and materials that are needed.

  • Screwdrivers and small hand tools
  • Plug spanner
  • Brushes for cleaning
  • Cleaning cloths or any old rags you have laying around
  • Household cleaners like washing up liquid
  • RC nitro cleaner or denatured alcohol
  • WD40
  • Spray bottle for cleaning fluid
  • Air compressor (if available)
  • Air filter oil
  • Thread lock
  • After run oil

I know that after you have had a good time out with your model racing around the last thing you want to do is go home and start pulling it to pieces.

The processes we talk about in this article don’t need to be done all the time.

Lots of factors will determine when servicing needs to be done.

If you were running your car in a dusty or wet and muddy area then it would be good to do basic clean on the car and its filters.

So talking of filters let us start with the air filter.

We have a article about the best RTR nitro cars click here to read.

How to maintain a Nitro car air filter

Air filters play a crucial role in the performance and longevity of Nitro RC cars. These components are designed to keep the engine free from dust, dirt, and other contaminants that can potentially damage internal parts and decrease the car’s overall efficiency.

What is an Air Filter?

An air filter is a component found in the carburetor of a Nitro RC car. Its primary function is to filter out harmful particles from the air before it enters the engine. By doing so, it ensures that only clean air mixes with the fuel to produce efficient combustion.

Types of Air Filters

There are two common types of air filters used in Nitro RC cars: foam filters and paper filters.

  • Foam Filters: These are the most commonly used type of air filters due to their durability and ease of cleaning. They’re designed to catch small particles, providing superior protection for your engine.
  • Paper Filters: Paper filters are usually found in larger scale models. They provide excellent filtration but are not as durable as foam filters and need to be replaced more frequently.

Maintenance of Air Filters

Regular maintenance of the air filter can significantly improve the health and longevity of your Nitro RC car’s engine. Here are some tips for maintaining your air filter:

  1. Regular Cleaning: Depending on how often and where you drive your RC car, the air filter should be cleaned after every few runs. This ensures that any accumulated dirt or debris is removed promptly.
  2. Frequent Inspection: Regularly inspect the air filter for any signs of wear or damage. If the filter appears to be in poor condition, it’s best to replace it immediately.
  3. Proper Oiling: Foam filters should be properly oiled using a specific air filter oil. The oil helps trap dirt particles and prevents them from getting into the engine.
  4. Replacement: Even with proper maintenance, air filters will eventually need to be replaced. A good rule of thumb is to replace the air filter every three to six months, depending on usage.

Cleaning and Replacing an Air Filter

Cleaning and replacing an air filter in a Nitro RC car is a straightforward process:

  1. Removal: Start by carefully removing the air filter from the carburetor. Be sure not to let any dirt fall into the carburetor during this process.
  2. Cleaning: If you’re using a foam filter, clean it using warm soapy water. Rinse thoroughly and allow it to dry completely. If you’re using a paper filter, it’s best to replace it as these cannot be effectively cleaned.
  3. Oiling: If you’re using a foam filter, apply a generous amount of air filter oil once it’s dry. Make sure the entire filter is coated but not overly saturated.
  4. Reinstallation: Once the filter is clean (and oiled if it’s a foam filter), reinstall it onto the carburettor. Ensure it’s securely fitted to prevent any unfiltered air from entering the engine.

Regular maintenance of the air filter in your Nitro RC car can significantly improve its performance and lifespan. Whether you’re a seasoned enthusiast or a beginner, understanding and implementing these care practices can make a world of difference to your RC experience.

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What is Air filter oil for a Nitro RC car?

The air filter plays a pivotal role in the performance and longevity of any vehicle or machinery. It acts as the first line of defense against airborne contaminants such as dust, dirt, and debris, ensuring that only clean air enters the engine for combustion. Given its crucial role, it is essential to keep the air filter clean and well-maintained. This is where Nitro air filter oil comes into play.

What is Nitro Air Filter Oil?

Nitro air filter oil is a specially formulated product designed to enhance the efficiency of air filters. Unlike conventional oils, Nitro air filter oil possesses unique properties that make it a standout choice for maintaining air filters.

Features and Benefits of Nitro Air Filter Oil

Nitro air filter oil boasts a distinctive formula that differentiates it from other products on the market. It has a slightly sticky consistency, allowing it to trap and hold onto dust particles more effectively. This property ensures superior filtration, preventing harmful contaminants from reaching your engine.

By improving filtration efficiency, Nitro air filter oil not only protects your engine but also extends the lifespan of your air filter. Keeping the filter clean and free from debris reduces wear and tear, saving you from frequent replacement costs.

Ultimately, using Nitro air filter oil enhances the overall performance of your vehicle or machinery. With cleaner air entering the engine, you can expect more efficient combustion, better fuel economy, and improved power output.

Application Tips for Nitro Air Filter Oil

Applying Nitro air filter oil is a straightforward process. Here are a few tips for best application:

  1. Clean your air filter: Before applying the oil, ensure your air filter is clean and dry. This may involve washing a reusable filter or replacing a disposable one.
  2. Apply the oil evenly: Pour a generous amount of Nitro air filter oil onto the filter and work it in using your fingers. Ensure the oil is evenly distributed across the entire surface of the filter.
  3. Let it sit: Allow the oil to sit for a few minutes before reinstalling the filter. This gives the oil time to penetrate the filter material.
  4. Regular Maintenance: Reapply Nitro air filter oil after every few uses or when the filter appears dry. Regular maintenance will ensure optimal filtration and engine performance.

Regular air filter maintenance is an often-overlooked aspect of vehicle or machinery upkeep, but it holds considerable importance. Using high-quality filter oil like Nitro can make a significant difference in the performance and lifespan of your air filter and, ultimately, your engine. By investing in Nitro air filter oil, you’re investing in the health and efficiency of your vehicle or machinery.

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What is a glow plug?

Glow plugs were invented in 1947 by Ray Arden.

A Nitro RC car, also known as a gas-powered RC car, is a type of remote-controlled car powered by nitromethane fuel, which gives them their name. These cars are favored by hobbyists for their speed, power, and the realistic driving experience they provide. The running mechanism of a Nitro RC car is similar to that of a regular car, comprising components like an engine, transmission, and a fuel system. One crucial part of this system is the glow plug.

What is a Glow Plug?

A glow plug in a Nitro RC car functions similarly to a spark plug in a full-sized gasoline engine. It’s a heating device used to ignite the air-fuel mixture within the engine, enabling combustion to take place, which powers the car. The glow plug is heated via a battery-powered “glow starter,” and it stays hot from the continued combustion in the engine during operation.

Types of Glow Plugs

There are several types of glow plugs available on the market, each designed for different driving conditions and engine types:

  • Cold Glow Plugs: These are best suited for high-performance, high-speed engines. They have a thicker coil, which makes them less likely to overheat during intense racing conditions.
  • Hot Glow Plugs: These are ideal for general use and lower-performance engines. They have a thinner coil, which heats up more quickly and efficiently, making them perfect for slower speeds or colder weather.
  • Medium Glow Plugs: As the name suggests, these fall somewhere in between cold and hot glow plugs. They’re suitable for a variety of conditions and engine types.

Choosing the right glow plug for your Nitro RC car depends on your specific engine and the conditions in which you’ll be operating the vehicle.

Maintenance and Lifespan

The lifespan of a glow plug can be impacted by several factors, including the type of fuel used, the engine’s tuning, and the overall maintenance of the RC car. Here are some tips to maintain your glow plug in excellent condition:

  1. Proper Tuning: Ensure your engine is tuned correctly. An engine that’s running too lean (not enough fuel in the air/fuel mixture) can cause the glow plug to overheat and fail.
  2. Clean Fuel: Always use clean, high-quality fuel. Contaminants in the fuel can clog the glow plug, reducing its effectiveness and lifespan.
  3. Regular Checks: Inspect your glow plug regularly for signs of wear or damage. If the coil is distorted or broken, it’s time to replace the plug.

The glow plug is a small but vital component in a Nitro RC car. Understanding its function and how to maintain it can significantly enhance your RC driving experience and the longevity of your vehicle.

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How do Nitro RC cars compare with electric RC cars we have a article all about this click here to read.

How to test a glow plug

Glow plugs are a critical component of your Nitro RC car’s engine. They work by heating up and igniting the air-fuel mixture within the engine, allowing for combustion and, ultimately, powering your RC car. If a glow plug has gone bad, the engine may not start or run properly. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to inspect your glow plug:

Tools Needed

  • Glow plug wrench or socket
  • Battery-powered glow plug igniter
  • Multimeter (optional)

Step 1: Signs of a Bad Glow Plug

Before you begin, it’s essential to know the symptoms of a bad glow plug:

  • Difficulty Starting: If your RC car is having trouble starting, it could be due to a faulty glow plug.
  • Poor Performance: If your car isn’t running as smoothly or as powerfully as usual, the glow plug might be to blame.

Step 2: Removing the Glow Plug

First, ensure your RC car is switched off and cooled down to avoid burns. Using your glow plug wrench, carefully unscrew the glow plug from the top of the engine.

Step 3: Inspecting the Glow Plug

Once removed, visually inspect the glow plug. Look out for any signs of damage or wear, such as a distorted or broken coil. Also, check if there’s any buildup on the plug, which could prevent it from working correctly.

Step 4: Testing the Glow Plug

Next, use your battery-powered glow plug igniter to test the glow plug. Attach the igniter to the bottom of the plug and check if the plug’s coil glows brightly. If it doesn’t, the plug is likely bad.

For a more precise test, you can use a multimeter. Set it to resistance mode (Ohms Ω), then touch one probe to the bottom of the glow plug and the other to the threaded part. If the multimeter reads infinite resistance, the plug is bad.

Step 5: Replacing or Cleaning the Glow Plug

If the glow plug is bad, you’ll need to replace it with a new one. When choosing a new glow plug, make sure it’s compatible with your specific Nitro RC car model.

If the plug is dirty but not damaged, you can clean it using a wire brush and some nitro cleaner. However, if it’s heavily fouled or worn out, it’s best to replace it.

Regularly checking and maintaining your Nitro RC car’s glow plug can significantly improve its performance and lifespan. Remember to handle the glow plug carefully during inspection and replacement, as it’s a delicate component. With these steps, you can keep your Nitro RC car running smoothly and efficiently.

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The Importance of Fuel Filters in Nitro RC Cars and How to Maintain Them

In the world of Nitro RC cars, maintaining peak performance is key. One component that plays a significant role in this is the fuel filter. This small but crucial part can impact the engine’s longevity and overall performance of your nitro RC car.

What is a Fuel Filter and How Does it Work?

A fuel filter is a small device placed in the fuel line that cleans the fuel before it reaches the carburetor and ultimately, the engine. It works by trapping and removing impurities such as dirt, debris, and particles that could potentially harm the engine.

Running a nitro RC car without a functioning fuel filter can lead to serious consequences. These impurities can clog the carburetor, cause wear and tear on the engine components, and ultimately reduce the engine’s lifespan. Furthermore, these contaminants can negatively impact engine performance, leading to inconsistent speeds and poorer control over the RC car.

Types of Fuel Filters and Installation

Fuel filters for Nitro RC cars come in various forms, but the most common types are:

  • Screen Filters: These have a mesh screen that catches and holds larger particles. They’re typically inexpensive and easy to clean.
  • Paper Filters: These use a paper element to trap impurities. They provide finer filtration but are usually disposable due to difficulties in cleaning.
  • Sintered Filters: These use a sintered bronze or steel element for filtration. They offer excellent filtration and are often reusable.

To install or replace a fuel filter in your Nitro RC car:

  1. Locate the fuel line that runs from the fuel tank to the carburetor.
  2. Cut the fuel line where you want to place the filter. Remember, the filter should be easily accessible for cleaning or replacement.
  3. Insert the fuel filter into the cut line. Ensure the ‘in’ side points toward the fuel tank and the ‘out’ side points toward the carburetor.
  4. Secure the filter and fuel line with zip ties if necessary.

Troubleshooting Fuel Filter Issues

If your Nitro RC car is showing signs of poor performance, the fuel filter is one of the first things you should check. Here are some basic troubleshooting tips:

  • Inspect the Filter: If the filter appears dirty or clogged, clean or replace it immediately.
  • Check the Fuel Flow: Disconnect the fuel line at the carburetor and check if fuel flows freely when the fuel tank is pressurized. If not, the filter might be clogged.
  • Examine the O-rings: If your filter has O-rings, ensure they’re in good condition and creating a proper seal.

Fuel filters is an essential component in maintaining the performance and longevity of your Nitro RC car’s engine. Regular inspection and timely replacement can save you from costly repairs and keep your RC car running at its best.

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How do Nitro RC cars compare with gas powered RC cars we a article about this click here to read.

Importance and Process of Rotating RC Car Tires

Just like their full-sized counterparts, RC cars also benefit from regular tire rotation. This process is essential in ensuring even tire wear, which can significantly impact the car’s performance. Uneven tire wear can lead to imbalanced handling, reduced grip, and potentially premature tire replacement.

Challenges and Considerations

RC cars pose unique challenges when it comes to tire rotation due to their size and the specific demands placed on the tires. For instance, certain RC cars may have tires of different sizes on the front and rear, making a traditional rotation impossible. Furthermore, the type of surface you’re driving on, whether it’s asphalt, dirt, or grass, can also affect how quickly and unevenly the tires wear.

Regardless of these variables, keeping a consistent tire rotation schedule for your RC car is crucial. Generally, it’s recommended to rotate the tires after every few runs, but this can vary depending on the make and model of your RC car and the surfaces you’re driving on.

Process of Rotating Tires

Here’s a simple step-by-step guide on how to rotate the tires on your RC car:

  1. Remove the Tires: Start by removing the tires from your RC car. This typically involves unscrewing the wheel nuts using a wrench or a similar tool suitable for your specific model.
  2. Inspect the Tires: Before rotating, inspect each tire for any signs of excessive wear or damage. If a tire is worn out or damaged, it’s best to replace it.
  3. Rotate the Tires: If your RC car has the same size tires on the front and rear, you can perform a traditional rotation by moving the front tires to the rear and vice versa. For cars with different front and rear tire sizes, swap the tires on the left and right sides.
  4. Reattach the Tires: Once you’ve rotated the tires, reattach them to the RC car. Ensure the wheel nuts are securely tightened, but be careful not to over-tighten as this could damage the wheel or hub.

Tips and Tricks

  • Keep a record of each tire rotation to maintain a consistent schedule.
  • Clean your tires and wheels during each rotation. This will not only help them last longer but can also improve performance.
  • If you’re frequently driving on abrasive surfaces like asphalt, consider rotating the tires more often to counteract the accelerated wear.

Rotating the tires on your RC car is a simple yet effective maintenance task that can help improve performance and extend the life of your tires. Just remember to adjust your rotation schedule based on your specific RC car and driving conditions.

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After-Run Maintenance Guide for Nitro-Powered RC Cars

Maintaining your Nitro-powered RC car not only enhances performance but also extends its lifespan. This guide will cover the essentials of after-run maintenance, including cleaning, troubleshooting, and tuning.

Tools Required

  • Soft Brush
  • Air Compressor or Can of Compressed Air
  • Nitro Cleaner or Denatured Alcohol
  • Clean Rags or Paper Towels
  • After-Run Oil
  • Needle-Nose Pliers
  • Glow Plug Wrench
  • Screwdrivers
  • RC Car Lubricant

We have a article about the best Nitro accessories click here to read.

Step 1: Cleaning the Body and Wheels

After each run, remove any dirt or debris from the body and wheels using a soft brush or compressed air. Wipe down the body and wheels with a rag dampened with nitro cleaner or denatured alcohol to remove any residual dirt or grease.

Step 2: Cleaning the Engine and Fuel System

Use a clean, dry rag to wipe off any dirt or fuel residue from the engine. If the engine is heavily soiled, consider removing it for more thorough cleaning.

Empty the fuel tank and make sure to clear out any remaining fuel in the lines and carburetor by running the engine until it stops. This prevents old fuel from gumming up the system.

Step 3: Applying After-Run Oil

Remove the glow plug using your glow plug wrench and add a few drops of after-run oil into the cylinder. Pull the starter cord a few times to distribute the oil evenly. This protects the internal parts of the engine from rust and corrosion.

Step 4: Checking for Wear and Damage

Inspect your RC car for any signs of wear or damage. Pay close attention to the tires, gears, suspension, and drivetrain. If you notice any issues, schedule repairs as soon as possible.

Step 5: Lubricating and Tuning the Engine

Lubricate moving parts like the throttle linkage and suspension components with RC car lubricant. Avoid over-lubricating as this can attract dirt and dust.

Tuning your nitro engine involves adjusting the carburetor settings to achieve optimal performance. It requires a good understanding of how your specific engine works, so refer to your owner’s manual or seek professional help if needed.

Maintenance Frequency and Troubleshooting

Perform basic cleaning and maintenance after every run. More thorough maintenance, like checking for wear and damage or tuning the engine, can be done every few weeks or months depending on how often you use your RC car.

Common problems in nitro engines include difficulty starting, poor performance, and overheating. These can often be resolved by cleaning the engine, replacing the glow plug, or adjusting the carburettor settings.

Regular maintenance is key to keeping your Nitro-powered RC car in top shape. By following this guide, you’ll not only enhance your RC car’s performance but also extend its lifespan, ensuring many more hours of fun and excitement.

We have a article on how to store your Nitro RC car over the winter click here to read.

Chassis maintenance

Do not neglect the chassis it is good practice to clean the chassis.

If it is really bad it may be worth removing the electronics to avoid damaging them.

Some electronic components are water resistant but not water proof.

While the electronics are off now is the time to check the wires and connectors and have a general inspection.

Warm soapy water and some stiff brushes will get the majority of the mud and dust off.

Clean out the cooling air fins on the engine to ensure maximum airflow.

Too much mud and rubbish can cause problems.

It can cause the steering to jam and affect the electronics.

It can stop the suspension from having the correct travel movement.

It can also hide chassis damage so this makes cleaning ever much more important.

Now everything is clean it is time to give the chassis a good visual inspection for any cracks missing screws or any damage to the suspension mounts.

Check that engine mounting screws are tight and these can come loose with all the vibration form the nitro engine, knocks and crashes.

If the engine becomes loose the gears will not mesh together properly causing a high wear rate.

Some dirt may have worked into the gear casing so this will need to be checked and cleaned.


Remove the shock absorbers check that each one is not bent or that the mounts are not cracked.

Try to compress each shock to see if there is any resistance, low resistance means that the shock may of lost some oil.

The loss of oil could be from normal usage or a seal could be damaged.

Any damaged shock should be replaced.

Check that all the suspension arms are clean undamaged and able to move freely.

If there is any binding or a feeling of notchiness then the pins or screws will need to be checked straightened or replaced.

Check pulleys and belts for dirt to avoid damage and belts slipping.

Drive shafts can become tangled with weeds and grass, remove these and check that the shafts spin freely.

What if you have got a gummed up engine

Nitro fuel has a long shelf life but after a while it does go bad.

Engines that have not been run for a while can have problems especially if the owner did not go through the correct after run procedure.

The after run routine will eliminate a lot of these problems.

The biggest mistake is to not drain all the fuel out.

Fuel that is left in the car will evaporate this will result in a thick sludge of oil being left in the tank, carburettor, fuel lines and engine.

This results in a gummed up engine. 

To begin with the fuel system will have to be drained of the old fuel and flushed out with clean nitro fuel.

If the engine will not turn over it will need to be removed and cleaned out and soaked in a cleaning fluid to free up.

How to trouble shoot your nitro engine.

If you start the engine with the glow plug igniters connected but the stalls when removed the glow plug is faulty and needs replacing.

If the pull cord is difficult or stiff to pull it means that the engine is flooded.

Remove the glow plug and use the pull cord to turn the engine over to remove any excess fuel.

Using the points above should help you keep your nitro car running well for a long time.

When you take the time to properly service and maintain your nitro RC car, it will last a lot longer. Nitro vehicles are more expensive than their electric counterparts; when they break down or have issues that require repair, this is going to cost you a bit of money.

Whether it’s an issue with the engine or something as simple as cleaning out old fuel lines, taking care of things now will save your from having to do so later on down the road.