Troublesooting Problems Common to Electric and Nitro

Posted by RC Masters on 20th Jan 2013

Have you tried this RC hobby and are somewhat intimidated? 

You may feel like there’s so much you need to learn and you may not know a lot about. Well, no need to fuss. Here, you will understand how RC cars work, learn about fast fixes and race-saving solutions to the most common hang-ups and problems related to both electric and nitro RC. This guide will offer valuable, must-know advice for any RC situation, from diagnosing the problem and providing basic troubleshooting technique, you can never go wrong.

  • Differential slipping – A well built and well-maintained diff is a must. Diff slips may damage the gears and this would need to be shimmed. A quick fix is to install a shim/washer to the crown wheel, which would provide the push needed onto the pinion so the gears mesh correctly.
  • Dogbones come out – This could be caused by a bent dogbone or there must be some loose parts. The solution to this could be a replacement of the bent part, tightening the parts that have come out loose or inserting a small rubber (cut out pencil eraser will do the trick) at the end of each dogbone. The dogbone should have a snug fit so try to loosen it out slightly and retighten it to do some adjustments with the fitting.
  • Steering servo not working – To test if the servo is faulty you can unplug both the steering servo and throttle servo from the receiver and try switching their plug positions and check if they have exchanged their functions. You must identify if the problem is from the servo or something in the steering assembly. First, make sure the steering is not too stiff. Try disconnecting the steering from the steering servo by removing the only screw that attaches the horn and check if you can move it by hand and see if it’s still tight.
  • Wheels spinning in opposite direction – Don’t think it’s much of a problem since wheels really turn in different directions when you let them spin freely. It’s normal for most RC cars to have a differential that could make them go around corners.
  • Tires falling off rims - Although the parts may fit together nicely, a bead of Cyanno glue helps keep the inserts inside and the tires on the rim. Gluing the tire to the rim will keep it from falling off.
  • Shocks leaking – Shocks could leak often due to extreme pressure inside it caused by expansion of the air due to heat. If it leaks small amount of oil it is quite normal but if you think it’s leaking excessively then you might need to replace and rebuild the shocks.
  • Battery not charging – For electric cars, if the battery won’t charge it is most likely defective and will need to be replaced.
  • Engine does not work or is jerky - Batteries are often the obvious and simple cause of many RC problems. Not running at all, running very slowly, or even stopping suddenly can be battery-related. So check your batteries first and use a multimeter to measure the voltage of the car battery. Simply slip the mulitmeter probes on back of the plug while the engine is running (car off the ground) and check if it shows > 7 volts. There are also a few things to check like the steering servo plug, ESC plug, ESC to engine plugs, switch to receiver, ESC to motor plug and the two crystals on both the transmitter and receiver for 27Mhz frequencies. Please note that all three receiver plugs are plugged in with the black wire normally to the outside of the receiver.
  • Smoking engine – Smoke may come out if your motor is running extremely hot. Try keeping your temperature under control and avoid too much resistance on the car. Dirt in the engine could be one factor, if so, just remove the bell housing and clean it out using an air compressor or some methylated substance.
  • Controls reversed – You have to check the settings of your transmitter first. A quick fix would be switching the controls to normal and that should work.
  • Radio control not working – There’s not much of a difference in troubleshooting nitro and electric vehicle when it comes to non-working radio controls. For both nitro and electric RC, make sure that the aerials are damage free, properly extended and screwed correctly. Check the batteries, too. You should ensure they are fully charged and that you have 8 cells installed in the transmitter and 4 in the car (for nitro) and 8 batteries in the transmitter and a large battery in the car (for electric). See to it that the transmitter aerial fits snugly but not too tight. Over tightened aerials could lead to loose aerial mounting screw in the transmitter. The crystals (27Mhz transmitters) and the receiver plugs must be fully secured. Also try unplugging all the receiver plugs and put them back in.
  • Shaking servos – Low battery power is the common cause of this problem. Especially on 1/8 scale trucks with very powerful steering servo, it can cause the voltage to drop below 4.8 volts. Rechargeable batteries may help you best in this kind of situation.

An RC that stops running, is unresponsive or just won’t really work can be so frustrating. But more often than not, it’s caused by something very simple and knowing basic troubleshooting techniques could pretty much solve your case. So before you get discouraged why not try looking at the most common reasons and consider fixing these trouble areas first. Always check the obvious, like the batteries and switches. It would help if you can eliminate the simple problems first before attempting even complicated repairs and adjustments.