How To Get Started With RC Cars – Your First RC Vehicle

How to get started with RC cars

Want to know how to get started with RC cars and RC trucks? Here’s a guide to help you get started with the right radio-controlled vehicles and all the information you will need.

Before we get started with the type of RC vehicles, it is important to know the difference between a hobby-grade RC car versus a toy-grade RC car. A toy-grade RC car is typically any RC gadget purchased from Radio Shack, Target, Wal-Mart, etc.

Toy-grade RC vehicles are cheaper, but they are not designed to accept performance-enhancing hop-ups or customization. Getting replacement parts for toy-grade RC vehicles is also difficult when they break.

Hobby-grade RC vehicles and equipment will cost you more up front, but they are made to last and their performance are way better than toy-grade RC vehicles. They are engineered for maximum performance with sophisticated suspension systems and power trains, and made incredibly durable to stand up to the extra abuse.

Types of RC Vehicles

Here are the various types of RC vehicles you can get:

On Road RC Cars

RC cars are mainly built for on-road racing, hence they have minimal suspension. They are tuned for pure speed and taking sharp corners. RC cars are great if you are looking for a classic racing experience.

There are two branches of on road RC car racing – the first is racing on very smooth surface, usually a paved outdoor or carpet indoor track. The second is the newer parking lot racing, also known as sedan or touring car racing. Cars are fashioned after a broader range from sports cars, to Indy cars, to stock cars, etc, and are designed to work well on pavement and are more capable in the dirt than the original On Road.

One of the best RC Cars is the Traxxas XO1 RC Car RTR .

Traxxas XO-1

Monster Trucks

Monster trucks have huge tires, oversized shocks and lifted suspension, and while they usually aren’t the fastest vehicle, the excellent ground clearance means they’ll run over pretty much anything. Monster trucks can take a lot of abuse and survive jumps that other RC vehicles can’t handle.

One of the best Monster Trucks is the Tamiya TAM58372 Ford F-350 .

Tamiya TAM58372 Ford F-350Off Road Buggies

Off road buggies are a mix between a RC car and a RC truck. RC buggies have the same fast speed that RC cars have and that RC trucks generally just can’t reach. Yet unlike RC cars, RC buggies also can go over steep dirt or mud inclines. This makes RC buggies well suited for both road and off road racing, but are preferred for dirt-track racing rather than going through grass and brush. They are great for both beginners and pros that want an all-in-one RC vehicle.

One of the best Off Road Buggies is the XRAY XB4 Electric Buggy .

XRAY XB4 Electric Buggy

Stadium Race Trucks

Stadium race trucks are similar to RC buggies but with a modified truck body and modified (usually higher) suspension. Good all-round stadium trucks will handle well on pavement, dirt and gravel, but can still get over grass without too much difficulty. Stadium race trucks are very dependable, quite rugged, and very fast.

One of the best Stadium Trucks is the Traxxas 1/10 Scale Rustler RTR Stadium Truck .

Traxxas 1/10 Rustler Stadium Truck

Short Course Trucks

Short course trucks are usually a bit narrower than Stadium Race Trucks or buggies and the outer body is widened to cover the wheels. They also typically have smaller wheels and a bit less suspension travel and ground clearance than Stadium Race Trucks. If you are starting out in RC, handling a short course truck probably isn’t the easiest and most user friendly vehicle to begin with because most short course RC trucks are more advanced and require more up keeping than other RC cars and trucks.

Short course trucks are good for pavement and dirt, but the lower body gives them some trouble with coarse gravel or high grass.

One of the best Short Course Trucks is the Traxxas Slash short course .


Traxxas Slash short courseRock Crawlers

Rock crawlers are a specialized version of Mountain Trucks with much better suspension components and you will be able to rip through any type of terrain – snow, mud, gravel, sand, steep, logs, ice, cliffs, streams and even jumps – although at a slow pace.

One of the best Rock Crawlers is the Redcat Racing Everest-10 .

Redcat Racing Everest-10

What RC car or RC truck should I buy?

If you are new to RC vehicles, you might be overwhelmed by the options available. While there is no one perfect vehicle for everyone, any vehicle from one of the main manufacturers ( Losi , Traxxas , Duratrax, Tamiya , HPI , Team Associated ) will be a great first RC car or RC truck.

The golden rule is that you get what you pay for – mostly. While there are deals to be found, there is a reason why the good brands cost more than the cheap ones. Buying a no-name brand vehicle might be cheaper, but those were not designed or built with reliability in mind and when they do break, you’ll will have a hard time finding parts.

That said, some would say that hobby-grade RC cars might not be a wise choice for beginners as they are not as easy to operate as electric RC cars, require lots of maintenance and are also rather costly.

If you want to start off with an electric-powered radio controlled car that can still run 30-60mph, then a brushless RC car or truck is a perfect option to go. Brushless RC cars or trucks is often considered a “hobby-grade car” because they’re now capable to deliver hobby-grade performance.

Ultimately, the best way to go is to choose an RC car that suits best to your level of skill, then go from there.

Here are our top five picks of the best “hobby-grade” RC cars and trucks for beginners, based on their performance, speed and overall value, that are available at Amazon now.

1. Traxxas 1/10 Scale Rustler RTR Stadium Truck

2.  Traxxas LaTrax Rally Car

3.  Redcat Racing Volcano EPX PRO

4. Losi Mini-Desert RTR Truck