If you just got the RC car or truck of your dreams, then we're sure you can't wait to take it out for a spin. But wait a minute. How does anyone learn how to drive an RC car🤔?
Well, the buttons and controls definitely look super easy to use. However, there's more to driving an RC car than knowing what to hold down. For example, pro racers use special tricks to swerve and drift their RC cars. Isn't that cool 😎?
We've got great news for you🤗. If you continue reading this article, you'll have step by step guide how to drive an RC car, and get all the RC driving tips and tricks that pro drivers use.
So, let's get right into it, shall we?
Learning the basics of the transmitter
Your transmitter is the handheld device you use to control your RC car or truck. Generally, it looks a lot like a pistol, and you'll find a steering wheel and a throttle on it. Let's start with the throttle.
- The throttle triggers: Most RC throttles have two triggers: one to move the car forward and the other for the brakes. Don't panic if yours only has one trigger. It could mean that your RC car is built to beat the speed limit 😜. However, we think that it isn't common to find an RC car without brakes.
- The steering wheel: Next, we have the steering wheel, like the one you have in a full-size car. If you turn the wheel to the right, then the car will follow suit. Simple right? Yep! However, things can get a bit tricky when your RC car is coming towards you.
Picture a car heading towards you. If any driver wants to avoid hitting you while also missing the block on their right, they'll turn to their left. The driver's left is your right. So, when you drive your RC car and its heading towards you, pretend you're on the driver's seat. That means you'll turn the steering to the left to move your RC car to your right.
- The reverse function: Some RC cars have reverse functions. But whether your car has this feature or not depends on the electronic stability controller (ESC). Check your RC car's manual to confirm if you can move your car or truck backward.
Step-by-step RC driving guide
Now, with the basic controls out of the way, let's look at how to drive an RC car😃:
- Master how to use the steering and throttle: Understanding your RC car's controls is quite different from actually using them. So, your first step is to go to the track and test out the controls.
Most throttles are designed for right-handed drivers, but don't worry if you are left-handed - here are some options for you. So, the rule of thumb is to use all your right fingers to control the steering and then place your forefinger between the throttles.
There's no hard and fast rule here. You can speed as much as you want (be careful not to get into anyone's way) and then see how the brakes react when you push them.
This step is key to learning how to drive. So, make sure you master this before you move on to the next.
- Learn how to trace out ovals and reverse: By now, you should be having loads of fun 😉. To trace out ovals:
- First, move at your preferred speed on a line.
- As you approach the turn, use the steering wheel to change the direction of the car to the left or right. Pretty easy, right?
- When you think you're good at making ovals, then move on to tracing out '8'. For this shape, you'll have to move along the diagonal after making the turn. You could also set cones and other obstacles to compel yourself into tracing out the perfect shape on the track.
- Finally, when you're sure you can do everything above, then try tracing out your name. That should be fun😋!
- Grasp how to jump with your RC car or truck: Next, let's move on to the juicy stuff😀: how to jump with your RC car!
Before you begin, make sure you have a ramp you can use to practice. The technique is pretty easy, and we're sure you'll love trying it out.
The first step is to throttle towards the ramp. But the critical aspect is getting the right speed to make the jump. If you don't throttle enough, then your RC car will nose-dive 😫when it gets to the end of the ramp. However, if you move at full speed, your car could flip in the air and crash-land. So, moderate speed would do.
Another thing that influences whether you get the jump or not is the angle you place the ramp. This factor is particularly important if you have a truck.
- Learn how to swerve: One mistake you shouldn't make (because we warned you) is to use the steering and throttle carelessly. Yes, we know it can be fun to try out, especially if you have a drift RC car. However, if you want to become a pro driver, then you also need to master control.
Here's how to swerve with your RC car:
- Get the cones and obstacles out again: Put them on a straight line on the track and make sure the space between them is enough for your RC car or truck to pass through.
- Position your car: Take it a few meters away from the obstacles.
- Throttle towards the obstacles: Remember when we told you to move at moderate speed for the jump? Well, that rule applies here too.
- Release the throttle and start steering when you get to the obstacles. It's okay if you don't get it at your first trial. With more practice, you'll become better at swerving.
- Master how to drift like a pro: The last step and the most important for RC car racing tip is to learn how to drift like the actors in Fast and Furious🏎. However, as tempting as it might seem, don't jump from learning the controls to practicing how to drift.
One thing we must tell you here is that not every car comes with drifting tires. However, you could still do this skill with your non-drift tires as long as you're on the right surface. So, how do you know which surface is the best? Well, anything that eliminates traction like macadam, or any smooth surface will do. But if you want to fully enjoy the drifting We definitely recommend you buy an RC car with drifting tires because this type of car is constructed for these actions.
Here's what to do when you want to drift with your RC car:
- Throttle at a constant speed on a straight line. Avoid steering your car at this point. Doing that can throw it off balance.
- Hold down the throttle, even more, when you're approaching the corner. You have to wait for the rear brakes to get lose before you go ahead to the next step.
- Finally, when the tires start sliding, then counter-steer your RC car. It's that simple😉!
Understanding the learning curve
We get that you might want to skip some steps and move on to the ones that interest you the most. Like we said earlier, this is a bad idea.
Generally, you can practice as many times as you want, going through the whole cycle. If you do this consistently and track how you've improved, then you should become a much better driver within a few weeks.
Your RC car type is one factor that can affect your learning curve. While those that work on nitro/gas provided amazing power, they usually require more maintenance and prep time. Your other option is to get an electric car. The learning curve for electrics are usually shorter, but you might crash it a whole lot more than nitro/gas-powered RCs.
Analyzing your performance over time
To become a better driver, you'll need to review your speed, time per lap, and the on-track decisions you made. From the records, you can also spot your common bad habits and things you need to improve on.
For example, when beginners start learning how to drive an RC car around a racing course, they often don't follow the inner path around a bend. This path is often the more efficient route, and the jargon for moving along it is 'hugging the corners.'
By the way, we've made the definitive guide about RC cars & trucks for beginners. If you are first-timer we highly recommend you to check it.
One thing you could try is to drive at a particular pace. If you can finish your best lap in 12.5s, then pace yourself to always complete any other lap at that speed.
Also, record yourself, change the track, or bring another driver to spot your errors if you have to.
How to drive on different platforms?
You might not always get the right platform you want to drive your RC car on. But as they say, if life gives you lemons🍋, make some lemonades🍹!
So, here are some tips for driving on different surfaces:
- Driving in the snow or rain: You probably know that water doesn't go with most of the components in your RC car. But that doesn't mean you can't drive during the rainy seasons. Instead, it just implies that you have to be a lot more careful.
To protect your car from getting water-logged, you can paint its body with rubber paints or use electrical tape to cover its components. And when you eventually get on the track, you have to switch up the speed. More snow on the tracks implies more resistance. So, you might have to throttle more.
Also, wet tracks are slippery to drive on. So, don't drift or swerve unless you want to crash your RC car or truck 😜.
- Driving on polished surfaces: Getting your rare brakes to grip on polished surfaces might be a problem, especially if you're just starting out with RC cars. However, speeding on these tracks can be fun.
So, to balance things out, we recommend you throttle at an above-average speed while on polished surfaces.
Tips and tricks to become a better RC driver
Here are the competition-winning RC driving tips that you might find really useful:
- Make sure there's nothing wrong with your car: If a lot of what we've mentioned above doesn't work for your RC car, then there might be a problem with it. So, to help yourself out:
- Check the screws.
- Inspect the electrical wiring.
- Clean your car before and after each use.
- Inspect the tires and the body of the car or truck.
- Look ahead: Seek the best position. It's definitely one thing that can give you a competitive advantage over other racers.
- Throttle when you should, not when you wanna: If your car isn't stable then, there's no reason for you to use the throttle. Getting the right timing is everything.
- Pay attention and always keep your hands on the wheel: You could get distracted while driving, and we all know how that's going to end. So, save yourself from taking the L home😞, and keep your eyes on the prize.
- Master when you should keep your car on the driving lines: A little improvisation won't hurt anyone, right?
- Read your car's manuals: You could find some tricks that would work only with your type of RC car or truck.
- Practice, Practice, Practice
Q1. Do I need a license to drive my RC car or truck?
No. You don't need a license. You can drive your car around most public places. But keep off places where you're not welcome.
Q2. Are there competitions for beginners that I can get into?
Yes. You'll probably find one in your local area because there are many in different states.
Q3. How long will it take before I become a pro racer?
Ultimately, the number of practice hours you get determines how soon you can start winning RC races. But if we were to give a rough estimate, we'd say it takes two to four weeks to leave the beginner zone.
So, there you have it😄!
We hope you had lots of fun going through our guide on the best tips and tricks to driving an RC car. Don't worry if you don't get some of the skills we've listed here. Just keep practicing and you’ll eventually get a hold of how to drive an RC car.
Good luck 🤝!