How Long do RC glow plugs last? less than you think |2023|

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RC glow plugs don’t last as long as conventional car glow plugs (that can last thousands of miles). Because glow plugs are so crucial to the functioning of your nitro RC vehicle, knowing exactly how long they will last is very important.

Nitro RC car owners know that the RC glow plug is the part in the vehicle that gets the most replacement.

RC Glow plugs are manufactured to suit different heat ratings for specific conditions. Without properly functioning glow plugs, your Nitro RC car would struggle to start and you won’t have the fast experience you desire. 

How long will an RC glow plug last

On a well-tuned nitro engine, an RC glow plug can last 2-4 gallons of fuel or 5-10 running hours, which usually translates to several months of use. The lifespan of the glow plug depends on several factors such as the type of plug, nitro percentage of the RC vehicle, and frequency of use.

MetricHow Long Does RC Glow Plug Last
Gallons2-4 gallons
Running hours5-10 hours
Glow Plug lifespanSeveral months
A table showing the average life span of an RC glow plug according to different metrics – Gallons, Running Hours, Self Lifespan.

Your RC Glow Plug Should Match The Engine

How long your glow plug will last also greatly depends on the type of plug you are using and how often you use your RC. You need to choose a plug that is of good quality and is suited to the nitro percentage of your RC vehicle. 

A good sign of a badly tuned engine or an engine in need of urgent tuning is frequent plug blowouts. It is best to always have spare glow plugs with you wherever you are because glow plugs can blow out unexpectedly.

Using your RC vehicle at full speed may reduce the time you have left with a particular glow plug. But sometimes even without much use glow plugs still need to be replaced even if you haven’t fueled up your vehicle.

Why do RC glow plugs wear?

Factors affecting how long RC Glow Plug will last:

  • Type of plug used
  • Nitro percentage of RC vehicle
  • Engine tuning
  • Use of RC vehicle (full speed or low speed)

RC glow plugs are commonly referred to as the heart of your nitro engine. They provide the heat needed to make the fuel/air mixture explode.
In other words, glow plugs ignite the fuel/air mixture in the combustion chamber and allow your nitro engine to come alive. This is why it is important to understand a few things about this part of your RC vehicle, so you know just how to keep your engine running. 

Glow plugs wear out for several reasons. In some cases, they wear out simply because it is their time and in others cases, they could be worn out because of the things you do or more commonly, the things you don’t do. 

Driving your nitro RC car at full speed over large distances may reduce your glow plug’s lifespan.

Even if you decide to run your RC car once a week at low speeds, the glow plug might still end up needing a replacement after some time. Over time glow plugs will wear out like any other mechanical part and will need to be replaced immediately if you want your vehicle to keep running fast.

Read also this Shortlist: 4 Reasons Your RC glow plug keeps burning out

Is there a difference between Types of RC glow plugs

There are many brands in the RC vehicle industry. These brands produce high-quality parts that are crucial to the vehicles they manufacture. 

There are specific RC glow plugs for specific nitro engines. There are also preferred glow plugs produced by different brands.

Many RC enthusiasts have argued which is the best glow plug for years. Some of the best RC glow plugs are made by industry giants like HPI and Traxxas. But there a quite a few amazing glow plugs that are made by smaller brands.

To choose the one that is best for your RC nitro engine you will need to do a bit of research because there are several options.

When Should RC glow plugs be replaced?

A well-tuned nitro engine will allow your glow plug last through about 2-4 gallons of fuel before it needs a replacement. The 2-4 gallons of fuel mean you can use your nitro RC for about 5-10 running hours before you will need to replace your glow plug.

You need to look out for signs that let you know when your glow plug might need a replacement. Your nitro engine struggling to change over from low to high speed is a sign that your glow plug may have a fault.
If your nitro engine has trouble igniting or accelerating then your glow plug might need to be replaced. You can test your glow plug by trying to start your RC, if it comes to life immediately then your glow plugs are still functional. 

You may want to read this: 3 good signs of a bad glow plug (+Tips For a Longer Use)

make your RC glow plug last longer

Your RC glow plug needing a replacement is perfectly normal and there isn’t really anything you can do to elongate its lifespan.

Tuning your nitro engine may help your glow plug last a little longer. But you need to accept that your glow plugs will need replacing at some point and you can prepare for that day by buying glow plugs in bulk instead of a single one at a time.

If you buy more glow plugs than you need it will help you when your glow plug blows out suddenly. Using glow plugs past their expiration date in an attempt to make them last longer will only hurt your vehicle. 

Are RC glow plugs like ‘regular’ glow plugs?

Regular glow plugs or spark plugs as they are called are quite similar to RC glow plugs.

Unlike the nitro engine of your RC, your automobile runs on a gasoline engine that uses spark plugs to ignite the fuel/air mixture. Glow and spark plugs are basically for the same purpose but they differ in their mechanics.

Spark plugs receive electrical charges when you turn on your engine.


There is, unfortunately, no assured way to know how long your RC glow plugs are going to last. This uncertainty is why it is important to always have spares with you. Remember that the same way using a normal automobile at top speed will affect its spark plug, using your RC vehicle at full speed will also affect your glow plug and increase the amount of fuel you consume