How much horsepower nitro RC cars have (+how to increase HP)


Horsepower is an important specification in an RC car because it describes the performance power of your vehicle. 

If you own a nitro RC truck and frequently drive on off-road surfaces, an engine with more horsepower and more torque offers more reliability and accelerates more quickly. On the other hand, the same vehicle with lower horsepower will economize fuel for more leisure acceleration. Then, how much horsepower should nitro RC cars have?

In this guide, we discuss nitro RC cars and their HP ratings. 

How much HP nitro RC cars have?

HP is the standard unit for measuring an engine’s power. 

An engine designed with a .21ci displacement will typically produce between 1.5 and 2 HP at around 30,000 to 34,000 RPM, but this is not the same with a nitro RC engine.

Although small in size, nitro RC cars have an average of 1 Horse Power, meaning a basic nitro RC car will almost have more speed like its full-sized car at 45mph.
When you tune the exhaust system or increase the nitro percentage nitro engines can generate as much as 4 HP. 

If you own a colt .15 nitro 1/10 buggy, you’ll find that even when run on 5% nitro at 28000RPM, the engine can generate up to .7HP when you use a stock exhaust. 

What is the most powerful Nitro RC car?

The most powerful nitro RC car is the Traxxas T-Maxx. This Traxxas model is bigger than most, stronger, meaner, can go faster and generally has a tough backbone. 

In fact, with the Powerful 50,000RPM nitro-methane burning TRX 3.3 racing engine, the T-Maxx delivers 2 HP, incredible performance, extreme power and high speeds even on rough terrains. 

How much HP does the Traxxas 5407 TRX 3.3 nitro engine have?

The Traxxas 5407 TRX 3.3 Nitro Engine is one of the biggest nitro RC engines in the market today. 

This engine generates extreme power than every other nitro RC engine model. In fact, the TRX 5407 3.3 Racing Engine is so powerful that it generates more than 60% horsepower compared to the previous TRX 2.5 racing engine, making it produces 2.128 horsepower. 

Read all about the Traxxas TRX 3.3 Nitro Engine

Do nitro RC cars have more power than electric RC cars?

One of the major differences between an electric RC car and a nitro vehicle is their performance. 

Nitro engines are measured in horsepower, while electric motors use watts or kilowatts. Trying to compare the power of these two different powertrains is like comparing apples to oranges.

That being said, we can compare RPM and also speed of nitros and electric.
Nitro cars are thrilling race cars since the engine revs up to 40,000 rpm. Same with an electric car.

When it comes to speed, it is true that the fastest RC car is an electric car and offers speed levels up to 100 mph, but nitro cars can also reach very high speeds.

Many people believe that an electric RC car has more power when it comes to generating incredible speed because they are quicker off the line.
But trying to compare the two shows that when it comes to speed and power, nitro engines and electric motors are mostly equal.  

What determines the HP in a nitro RC engine?

Two major factors that determine the HP of a nitro engine are the materials used in their production and the method of use. 

Race-grade nitro engines will take on higher stresses caused by increased performance and speed levels. This means that for the engine to accelerate well and produce more HP, the materials used in making them have to be top-notch. 

On the other hand, if you’re considering using your nitro RC car as a low RPM basher monster truck or a high-speed race car will also determine the HP ratings of your RC engine.
Nitro monster trucks will not require a 40000RPM nitro engine because most bashing speeds do not exceed 30000 to 35000 RPM. These trucks, therefore, are comfortable with a low-producing HP engine designed for lower RPM torque. 

For speed racing cars, you’ll want their power and performance on higher RPM bandwidths. Hence, you’ll need a nitro engine that sacrifices some low RPM output to get increased HP ratings. 

Can you increase the HP your nitro RC engine makes

Yes, you can easily increase the amount of HP your nitro engine makes. Wonder how? Consider the following:

  • Increase the engine’s rpm while you try to maintain a flat torque.  
  • Increase the compression ratio of the engine by utilizing a high compression piston. This piston will help increase the effective pressure inside the engine. You need to carry out this process as slowly as possible as it has limits. 
  • Increase the volumetric efficiency of the nitro engine at higher RPMs with the help of a tuned exhaust. All you need do is change the length of the exhaust system and make the distance between the header and tuned pipe longer. But to achieve higher RPMs with this process, you’ll need to tune the throttle body.
  • Increase the nitro percentage. You can also easily increase the HP ratings by increasing the nitro content of the fuel while running at 20% nitro. 
  • Open the carburetor. Many nitro engines come with restrictors which allows you to tweak the horsepower and fuel efficiency

What is Horse Power?

Most people mistake torque, which measures the amount of force applied to do a job to horsepower. However, they differ. 

Horsepower is the power an engine produces. It’s calculated by the power needed to move a smaller vehicle or machine in one second or the power needed to move a larger one in a minute. 

In essence, horsepower measures the rate at which work is done. A higher horsepower will sustain a higher rate of work. Horsepower is gotten from torque and RPM. To get the horsepower rate of an engine, you need to consider the torque at a specific RPM. 


Electric RCs are fast, but Nitro RC cars are some of the most powerful RC vehicles in the hobby market today because of their engine. Although small, nitro engines like the Traxxas 5407 TRX 3.3 nitro engine can generate as much as 8,000HP. If your RC car does not offer as much horsepower as you’d like, you can easily tune them to increase the HP ratings and enjoy incredible power on the race track.