When you first enter the hobby of RC cars, the number of choices available in terms of which car to purchase can seem rather daunting.
The purpose of this article is to present a general guideline and review some different features you should consider when it comes time to buy your first RC car or upgrade from an existing one.
First You Need To Ask Yourself What You Are Looking For In An RC Car
A lot of people will just walk into their local hobby store and ask for “the best racing car” or the “fastest buggy” without taking the time to think about what they actually want out of an RC car.
The way we see it, there are 3 ways to enjoy this hobby.
- Racing – if you are buying an RC car and you want to race it against other people then you will be looking for one that is fast and has good handling in order to maneuver through corners.
When talking about racing there are two types of racing, off road and on road.
Off-road racing is mainly done on dirt or grass and the cars require a good amount of suspension travel and gearing for climbing hills, jumping and maneuvering through tight turns.
On-road racing, as you may have guessed, takes place exclusively on asphalt or concrete where there are no hills to climb over and the turns are relatively wide.
You can race with a kit car, a ready-to-run (RTR) car, or an RC car that you have built yourself.
Professional RC racers use either off-road or on-road race cars that are modified extensively to fit their needs. This type of cars can cost anywhere between $500 to $5,000 dollars, depending on the quality and performance you require.
- Building – if you are into building your own RC car we recommend that you start with a kit RC car and then modify and upgrade it as you become more experienced.
Kit RC cars are cars that you need to build yourself. The box contain all the parts and instructions for you to follow and its a great way to learn about different components and get a feel for how an RC car really works.
Building from a kit requires patience, so don’t get discouraged if it takes you longer than you thought.
When the time comes, you will be able to modify and upgrade your kit car to make it faster and handle better! This is what most of the hobbyists do.
- Driving – if you just want to have some fun driving your RC car around the block or your backyard then all you need is an RTR RC car.
An RTR (ready-to-run) car is an RC car that comes preassembled and tuned so you can just take it out of the box, charge up its battery, and go!
You don’t need to build or upgrade anything because all the necessary upgrades have already been done for you.
Driving can be on-road or off-road, depending on the type of driving you are looking for.
*Important thing to know about RTR cars is that the batteries and charger are not included, Most of them are sold separately.
Hobby-Grade vs. Toy-Grade
Toy-grade RC cars are usually found on department store shelves and are designed with the younger drivers in mind.
Usually, they aren’t very durable or fast but can be a good way to get your kid interested in the hobby of RC cars.
Hobby-grade RC cars are the higher performing of the two.
They can be either off-road or on-road, depending on their design.
Electric vs. Nitro RC Car
Electric RC cars come in either Ready-to-Run (RTR) or kit version.
The RTR electric car usually comes preassembled and already tuned so you can start driving right out of the box. The only thing left for you to do is to charge up its battery, which can take anywhere between 20 minutes to an hour.
Electric cars, both RTR and kit, are generally much lighter than their nitro counterparts and therefore they don’t need a lot of power to drive them around the track.
Nitro RC cars, on the other hand, are generally larger and heavier than their electric counterparts. What makes them different from electric RC cars is that they run on nitro fuel and require a small engine or motor to drive them around the track.
They come in Ready-to-Run (RTR) and kit versions as well.
The benefits of nitro RC cars are that they tend to be stronger than electric cars because of their weight, and they can go forever since you only need to refuel them and you can drive them again.
Now You Need To Know The Types Of RC Cars And Decide Which One Is Best For You
There are many types of RC cars you can choose from. We have listed a few down below:
- Buggy – this is a car that is designed to be consistently fast over jumps and with good handling.
- Touring RC car – this type of RC car made for on-road driving racing and it has a lower center of gravity for better handling.
- Drift Car – this type of RC car is built for drifting. These cars are typically not very fast but they have incredible turning ability and grip due to their specially designed drift tires.
- Drag Car – this is a car with a very powerful engine. Drag racing requires the least amount of driving skill and they are most suited for straight tracks such as drag strips or parking lots.
- Crawler – this type of RC car is mostly used for crawling over obstacles and rocks because it has a lot of suspension travel to clear bumps. They are also known as “Rock Crawlers”.
- Monster Truck – this type of RC car is typically very large and heavy for maximum stability in jumping and climbing.
Those are the main types of RC cars. After deciding on what type of car you need we can discuss more specific models.
3 Of The Best RC Brands In The Bussiness, And The Most Selling Ones
But the three mentioned above are generally more popular and can be found at almost any hobby store.
What RC Car To Buy? Here’s What We Recommend:
Best overall – Traxxas Slash:
If you are looking for the best hobby grade RC car we recommend the Traxxas Slash 4×4.
It has great suspension and is very durable, perfect for racing in your local track.
This model is also available in RTR (ready-to-run) or kit form which is what we prefer because it allows you to be in control of the car and save some money!
Best RC Kit To Buy:
If you like building things and working on your car then we suggest the Tamiya Lunch Box (TB-04).
This kit has metal gears, belt drive and fully ball raced steering.
It comes with a very powerful brushless motor which makes it capable of up to 45 mph!
Best RTR RC car to buy:
The ARRMA Granite is a monster-sized 1:10 scale off-road car.
It’s big and heavy and can climb steep inclines with ease.
This model is great for beginners looking to get into the hobby of RC cars without breaking the bank.
Best RC drift car:
Kyosho Mazda RX-7 RTR is a very well-built drift car.
It’s fitted with adjustable front and rear suspension and it comes in both kit and ready-to-run versions.
This model has plenty of upgrade parts available so you can make it even better over time!
Best RC buggy:
Team Losi 8IGHT-T 3.0 1:8 Scale Ready To Run Nitro Buggy
It’s big, fast and very durable.
This buggy is just the right amount of speed and power for a beginner to drive it without losing control all the time.
Best RC rock crawler:
The HPI Venture FJ Cruiser is a great rock crawler with plenty of articulation.
It can climb rocks and clear big obstacles easily due to it’s long travel suspension, locking differentials and huge tires!
This model does not come RTR but you can build it yourself if you choose one of the two kits available.
If you are looking for the best RC car to buy but don’t know where to start, we hope this article helped you make your decision.
Remember to first determine what type of car you need and then search for the model that fits your needs.