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RTR Car Start-Up Guide

Most people who are new to the hobby today select Ready-to-Run (RTR) vehicle as their first RC car. This is a big difference compared to the early days of radio-controlled cars, when there were no such option, and the only way was to buy an assembly kit and build the car before you could even think of driving.

RTR’s have since made it much easier to enter the hobby, and has been a huge part of the growth the hobby has seen during the past 20 years.

Even if every one of us want to drive our newly purchased RC car as soon as possible, there are good reasons why you should a have a bit of patience. While most hobby grade RTR RC cars today are built to proper quality standards, and they are sold as “Ready-to-Run’s”, there are still a number of things you should check before it’s time to drive. No one want to break their car on the first run, due to a lack of preparation.

Step one is definitely to read the instructions. The included manual, or simpler get started instructions, give a lot of important information, and by reading then you make sure you know the most basic things on how to operate your particular RTR car.

Once you have read the instructions, it is a good idea to quickly go through the screws on the car to check that no screws are loose. Especially with screws that go into metal parts it’s important to make sure they are tightened, as vibrations will quickly loosen such screws. This can quickly end your running as it might end in broken or lost parts. On an RC car you don’t need to use a lot of force when tightening screws though, as the screws and threads are small. Just make sure they’re not loose.

Next move onto the wheels and tyres. Check that the tyres are properly glued to the wheels from the factory. If you notice that they’re not, then glue the tyres with proper tyre glue. When you’re sure the tyres are well glued, check that the wheel nuts are tight, as loose wheels quickly causes troubles.

With these basic checks done, you start checking the functions of the car by switching on the transmitter and car. Most RTR’s come with radios that use AA batteries to power it, and here it is important to use fresh batteries.

Before you turn on the car, place it on a stand so that all wheels are in the air. With the car on a stand, and a freshly charged battery in the car, you can now turn on the radio. At this stage, check the steering by turning full left and right. Make sure the steering is not binding on anything, and check that the car steers enough, as well as approximately the same amount left and right. If not, use the EPA or dual rate adjustments of your transmitter to adjust. This is done differently on different transmitters, so read the instructions if you need to adjust.

When you’re satisfied that the steering works as it should, you can move onto the throttle. Again, with the wheels in the air, carefully open the throttle and check that everything seems to work as expected. If it’s not working as it should, check the troubleshooting pages of the manual. A recalibration of the ESC (electronic speed controller) can often solve problems. Instructions for this is usually also found in the manual.

After these checks, you can now go and enjoy driving your car, certain that you have checked what you can. During the first few run(s) especially, it’s always a good idea to take it a bit steady and quickly check a few times that all is in order.

After the first run, you should always check the car to make sure nothing has come loose. It’s quite common that screws threaded into metal parts can loosen during the first runs, so it’s something that you need to keep an eye on. Also check that wheel nuts are tight, tyres are still safely glued to the wheels, and that the damper caps have not loosened.

By following this checklist, you should have a trouble free introduction to your new RTR car.

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