Is RC Cars Hobby Really Expensive (Compared and Explained)

“Is RC car racing expensive?” this is one of the most common questions I get asked when someone finds out about me RC racing.

Like every hobby, RC car racing does have its expensive side, but it also has its cheap side. You can spend a lot or you can spend very little and still enjoy this hobby as I do.

To answer this question shortly I will say, it is an expensive hobby if you decide you want to race every weekend, and if you buy a high-end RC car that needs a lot of maintenance and expensive parts.

If you decide to treat it as a hobby, and not as a professional hobby than it wouldn’t be more expensive than other hobbies.

Why Is The RC Hobby So Expensive?

There are a number of reasons why RC racing is considered to be expensive. The main thing is that people in this sport invest money into their hobby, and the more they do, the more expensive it becomes.

It’s common for experienced racers to have 5 or 6 different trucks in their garage. People forget that each hobby has its costs associated with it, and rc cars are no different.

The more you get into this hobby in a professional way, the more you can spend on it. You can pay top dollar for high-end parts for your RC car, and those can even be hundreds of dollars.

Sometimes this hobby can be expensive, but there are always ways to keep your expenses low.

Is rc cars an expensive hobby

How much does an RC car cost?

That really depends on the car you are looking for, but as an example I will mention one of my favorite cars.

The Losi 8ight-e 2.0 is a great example of how much rc cars cost, and it’s also an amazing racing machine.

the price is around 650$ but there are always sales, so you can get it cheaper. Also, this is a high-end RTR, so this price is more expensive than the average one.

Let’s try to find out how much would a simple RTR car cost.

The Traxxas Slash electric truck is a great car with durable parts and it will cost around 230$ for the RTR version. Running this car will be quite cheap since you don’t have to spend money on fuel, and since it’s a durable RC car you will not have to replace parts on it often.

How Much Will You Spend In One Year of RC Racing?

The answer to this question depends on several factors, such as:

  • How often do you race?
  • Do you have a team? 
  • Are you buying or building your own RC cars?
  • What type of car and parts are you using?
  • ETC.

The basic list for one year’s expenses for an experienced club member could be the following:

  • 50$ a year of club membership
  • 10$ per race day
  • 50$ for tires
  • 40$ per nitro gas
  • 40$ a month for parts and upgrades to your car.
  • If you have an engine or servo failure you can spend up to 200$ on repairs or rebuild.

In an average year, you can spend around 500$ for your first year. But this is just basic stuff, so the more active you will be in the hobby, The more you can pay for your car.

There are ways that you can save money. If you race locally, or race nationally it all depends on the type of racing you are competing in, and how professional you become.
For example, if you get the most expensive possible setup, and go race in other countries, you can spend a lot more on that hobby.

RC Cars compared To Other Hobbies

When asking if RC cars are expensive, it depends on which hobby you are comparing to.

If you compare it to not having a hobby at all, than yes, RC will be expensive. But if you compare it to other hobbies such as golf, cycling, or even go-karting, than RC racing is not so expensive.

For example, cycling will cost you a lot more per year since you have to spend money on cycling gear, bikes, and accessories.

Each hobby has its own expenses, but it’s important to remember that RC can be a family hobby, and doesn’t have to be individual.

Which Is More Expensive To Run – RTR or Kit?

First, I would like to make a disclaimer, most RTR cars arent built to be raced, while Kit cars are designed to race.

Some RTRs like the Losi 8ight-e would be great at the race track, but others arent.

High-quality RTR race cars will probably cost less than a kit car, but the thing is that you are getting what you paid for. If you want your RTR to be as durable as a kit car and for it to last a full racing season without having to replace many parts, you will probably end up spending more on that RTR than you would on a kit car.

If you just want to participate in a few races a year, and you are not going PRO, than don’t spend a lot of time and money on a kit car, a good RTR car will be just fine.

Is RC Racing Is Expensive? How Much Does A RC Race Will Cost?

As stated above, club membership will cost around 50$ a year for an individual.

Family membership will cost on average 75$ for two parents and three children.

When having a club membership, race day will cost about 10$ per day, and in some race tracks, this amount will be for one round.

And If I Don’t Want To Race? How Much Will It Cost Then?

If you are not looking to race, you can still have lots of fun with your RC car. Some people are just looking for a hobby to spend their free time on, so you can always do other things rather than racing.

In that case, the wear of your car will be slower, and you will need to upgrade less. You will spend less on tyres, part and gas (if you are using a nitro car), and you will not need the best RC car to win races.

The average spences for RC car hobbyists who don’t participate races is:

  • 300$ or so for a nice RC car.
  • 50$ for gas (for a nitro car)
  • 100$ a year for parts such as tyres or wear material.

Can you make money with RC cars?

As a rule of thumb, don’t expect to make a lot of money from your RC car. Obviously, there are exceptions, but it is extremely rare that someone makes a year’s salary from RC racing.

Some races have cash prizes, but most of them are for bragging rights or possibly some gear.

The best way to monetize your RC hobby is to get a sponsored contract, and even then, you are not likely to make much money.

There are not many sponsored drivers in this industry, and the ones who do have sponsors are mostly get paid 40k-50k a season. This means that even the best drivers will still need a 2nd job to sustain their hobby.

How Can You Save Money On Your RC Car?

There are several things you can do to enjoy RC racing without spending too much.

  1. First, you can only race if you belong to a club. If you are not racing, don’t bother with it.
  2. Secondly, upgrading parts of your car is always an option but make sure that the part you are buying is the ones for your needs. Check the reviews online before buying anything, especially if you are new to RC racing.
  3. Thirdly, get used parts, but make sure that they are compatible with your RC model. Buying used parts can potentially reduce your costs on some parts such as engines, and it will also help you save money by allowing you to sell the leftover of your RC car.
  4. fourthly, make sure the car your buying is the one you need. don’t spend thousands of dollars on a racing RC if you are not going to race.
  5. fifth, if you are using a nitro RC car, you can make your on fuel and save a lot of money.

What Is The Cheapest Way to Start RC As A Hobby?

The cheapest way to start RC as a hobby is to buy a good value-for-money RTR car.

Its better to spend a few bucks more and get a RTR car that is durable and that is going to last. A RTR car with a weak build might break quickly, so you will have to spend even more money to replace it.

The cheapest start is to find a good quality RTR car for about 250$ without having to spend a lot more money to run it. Just read reviews online to find the best car for you.

The Most Expensive Parts of An RC Car 

The most expensive parts of RC car racing are the engines and servos.

Both of these parts are considered to be wear items if you don’t take good care of them, so you will have to replace them frequently.

Engines can cost anywhere from 70$-400$, and this price is for new ones. Also, you should know that the higher the quality of your engine, the better it will perform on the track.

Servos typically cost more than 40$ and they can last from a few months to a year or more. RC cars can be quite expensive if you don’t take care of these parts.

To sum it up, RC car racing can be expensive if you decide to go pro. If you only want to enjoy it as a hobby, it can be much more affordable than you think.