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Know How: Basic Car Maintenance

Basic Maintenance

Every RC car needs regular servicing and inspection between runs to maintain optimal performance. Even though RC cars have robust design, they still require proper and regular maintenance. Basic maintenance of an RC car includes cleaning, tightening the screws (crucial especially after the first few runs with a new car), checking the condition of the bearings and greasing them and replacing worn out or damaged components.

The most important thing is to clean the car after driving. An easy way to clean your car after driving in dusty conditions is to use compressed air. If compressed air isn’t available, another good option is to use a soft brush (e.g. 25mm paint brush) and a cleaning cloth. Use a damp cloth (water and mild detergent) to finish after getting rid of most of the dust. Clean the areas around the bearings extra carefully, because dirt and dust make the bearings wear out faster.

If the dirt is stuck really fast, you can use mild detergent (e.g. Muc-off) and a toothbrush to remove it.

Once the dirt is removed, use a damp cloth to wipe over all surfaces.

When cleaning the wheel bearings, make sure to remove any hay or grass that’s spun around the axles. The hay typically gets between the rims and the outer wheel bearing, which can damage the bearing and jam the drivetrain. This is why it’s good to remove the wheels when cleaning and make sure there’s no hay spun around the bearings.

Note! Do not clean the car under running water.

When you’re done cleaning the car, make sure that none of the components are loose. Check especially the screws on the servo arm, steering linkage, the lower end of the shock absorbers, suspension arms and the upper links. These screws are subject to spinning movement during runs, which may make them come loose. Moderate tightening with a suitable tool is enough. Too much tightening can damage the threading on the screws.

Next, check the condition of the bearings. When checking the condition of the wheel bearing, pay attention to how much play there is. Excess play will result in wobbly tires. If the play increases after runs, it’s a sign that the bearings have started to wear out. A worn-out bearing will slow down the spinning of the wheel when under weight, thus overloading the motor. With proper maintenance and regular cleaning and greasing (especially before and after driving in wet conditions) you can easily extend the life span of the bearings. To grease the bearings, a few drops of oil is sufficient. Especially the outer bearings are prone to wearing out fast, so it’s important to replace them with new ones as soon as possible.

The condition of the drive train bearings can be checked by wiggling the outdrive and look at the play between the bearings. Rolling the chassis on the desk to make sure it rolls smooth. The car should always move freely without making any sounds.

Superficial cleaning and inspection are enough with the electric components. It’s good to check that the speed controller’s fan works and can spin freely. Also check that all the components are not coming loose. Check that all the wires are undamaged and that they’re not getting in the way of the drivetrain.

When cleaning the body, you can use water on the outer surface and a sponge if necessary. If necessary, you can use a brush to gently scrub dirt off the inner surface.

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