How To Maintain A Nitro RC Car Guide

Knowing how to maintain a nitro RC car is key to ensuring that your nitro RC car always performs at peak performance. In this guide, we will discuss routine maintenance and how to perform light cleaning for dusty vehicles, as well as deep cleaning for vehicles covered in heavy dirt.

How To Maintain A Nitro RC Car Guide

1. Routine Maintenance

You should check the screws on your nitro RC car after each run. If any have worked their way out or are neglected, it could result in a chain reaction of problems. You w ould want to apply blue medium strength threadlocker to those screws nested into metal.

Check Servo

Next, check your servos for proper operation (the ability to move it back and forth) after every couple of runs, as hard landings can damage the gears inside. Replace the servo if you hear any clicking sounds.


Check Throttle and Brake Linkage

Proceed to inspect throttle and brake linkages for smooth operation.


Check for Rocks and Debris

Conducting a rock and debris check is a good way to ensure a smoothly-running nitro car. Rocks can lodge themselves under center driveshafts as well as other hard to reach places.

Check Moving Parts

Once you’ve looked over the vehicle, make sure all moving parts can move freely.

Remove Remaining Fuel

Be sure to run all the fuel out of the fuel tank. If you are unable to run all the fuel out, suck out the remaining fuel with a fuel filler bottle . It is best to remove all the remaining nitro fuel because the fuel used in nitro-powered engine contains nitromethane which attracts moisture. If left untreated, the inside of a nitro engine may rust and corrode.

I recommend using after run oil after each day of runs to prevent moisture buildup. Simply place a few drops into your carburetor and turn the engine over a few times to drive the lubricant into the engine.

after run oil

You can also put a few drops directly into the cylinder by removing the glow plug, just remember to clean the inside of the head first. Dirt and grime have a tendency of collecting around the glow plug. If allowed into the engine, it will act as sandpaper scratching internal components.

Additionally, small debris can create a bad seal between the glow plug washer and the head. This can result in less compression and bad performance.

Simply use a cotton bud to clean the glow plug. As an added precaution, hold the vehicle upside down while removing the glow plug. If there is any dirt left in the head, it will fall from the glow plug hole.

cleaning the glow plug

Check Air Filter

Proceed to check your air filter. Dust and dirt will build up on the filter, and if left unattended a dirty air filter will cause the engine to run rich, resulting in loss performance. Clean the filter with liquid dish soap and water then let to air dry.

Once the filter is completely dry, you can re-oil it with air filter pre-treatment oil. You’ll want enough oil to catch the dirt, but not so much that it hinders performance. Be sure to use sticky filter oil for this step.

Check Fuel Line

Check fuel line for cracks and damages will help rule out unwanted air leaks. Air leaks in fuel line will cause erratic running characteristics and make an engine impossible to tune.

air leaks

Check Shocks and Shock Shafts

Keep the shock shafts clean and check shocks for leaks.

If the shocks look like it has just started leaking, try tightening the cap while wiping off any spilled oil. Keep an eye on the shock to see if it leaks anymore.

If it is still leaking, check the seals for damage and remove any dirt. If all seals are fine, refill the shock with oil and replace the cap.

shock shafts

2. Light Cleaning

After using your nitro RC car, you may require some light cleaning. Dirt and debris can collect while running on pavement and grass.

One of the most helpful tools to remove light debris is an air compressor to blow off dust and light debris. If you don’t have an air compressor, you can use canned air or a few different brushes and cotton swabs to clean your nitro RC car.

Do not rinse your vehicle as there are many things that need to be addressed before using water or other liquid. These next steps will be discussed in the deep cleaning section.

3. Deep Cleaning

If light cleaning is not enough to get your nitro car clean, then you will need to follow the steps below for deep cleaning. Be prepared to invest a few hours into this process.

First, remove all electronics, engine and fuel system. Keep in mind that the gearboxes and bearings will need to be addressed while deep cleaning.

To begin, set up a cleaning station. You will need:

cleaning station setup

Cleaning The Tires

We begin by cleaning the tires. Remove all four tires from the vehicle and spray them with simple green, then use an ordinary cleaning brush to scrub the tires clean then rinse off the dirt. Squeeze out any water that might have entered the tire.

It is key to remember NOT to submerge your tires in water when washing them as the air holes in the rims will allow water to enter thus saturating the foams and causing loss performance. Water in your tires can also develop a mildew smell.

If this happens, rinse out the stale water and drill small holes into the surface of the tire. Do not cut holes – you must drill or punch them, as the tire may tear if the hole isn’t round. Squeeze out any excess water and run the vehicle after mounting the tires, allowing any remaining water to be thrown out from the holes.

Now, you should only drill or punch holes into your tires if it is absolutely necessary as small holes in your tires can snag on rocks and thus tearing your tire. Hence, this method is mostly used on race-only vehicles when the vehicle is driven only on groomed tracks.

Cleaning The Chassis

Wet the cleaning brush and begin scrubbing the chassis with Simple Green. Spray the area off and check for any forgotten areas.

After the final rinse, dry the chassis with a towel or compressed air.

Cleaning the chassis

Soak all metal hardware on the chassis with WD-40 to displace water and prevent rusting. Be careful not to get any WD-40 on the brake assembly or clutch.

Although WD-40 is not a great long-term lubricant, it does contain silicon oil which will cause slippage resulting in poor performance and an eventual brake and clutch failure. Allowing the clutch to slip will also result in engine damage.

Cleaning The Ball Bearing

The ball bearing will need to be cleaned and re-oiled. Start by removing the bearing and spraying it with WD-40. Spinning the bearing while spraying the WD-40 will help flush out any dirt and water.

WD-40 was designed to be a water displacer and works great for loosing debris and displacing water, it does not do an adequate job of protecting the bearing. For this, you should instead use a high speed bearing oil .

Soak one side of the bearing and spin to get the oil in. You can feel the bearing smooth out when the oil has penetrated the bearing.

Cleaning The Gearboxes

While deep cleaning, water will most likely enter the gearboxes and will need to be removed. Unassemble each gearbox and remove all grease. Dry the inside of the box and the gears and re-grease.

This is not always necessary, but this would be a good time to change the oil or grease in the differentials too.

Reassemble Your Nitro Car

Once all the above steps are completed, proceed to reassemble your nitro car.

This concludes our guide and you now know how to maintain a nitro RC car!

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