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How To Perform After-Run Maintenance on an RC Vehicle

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Maintain Your RC

Maintain your RC in peak running condition

Photo © M. James
Just like a real car, RC cars and trucks require regular maintenance. After running your RC for a while you have to perform after-run maintenance. All radio controlled vehicles -- electric and nitro -- need after-run maintenance but some of the steps here apply only to nitro engines. Think you already know how it's done? Take the RC After-Run Maintenance Quiz first.
Difficulty: Average
Time Required: Allow 30-60 minutes for RC after-run maintenance if no major repairs are needed

Here's How:

  1. Perform a visual inspection.
    Look over your RC car to make sure there is no physical damage such as broken parts, cracks in the body, or tires that may have come unglued that you may need to repair.

  2. Wipe down the body.
    Upon completing visual inspection, if there are no defects or broken parts that need to be repaired, completely wipe down the RC body using paper towels or shop towels. In hard to reach places you could use a toothbrush or a small brush of some sort to get the dirt or anything else out of the small parts that you cannot remove with a towel.

  3. Drain the fuel tank (nitro).
    If you own a nitro RC and you're planning to put it aside for another race day make sure that you drain the fuel tank. Not draining the fuel tank can cause condensation to build up inside the fuel tank resulting in serious damage to your nitro engine. Nitro fuel is alcohol-based and it is susceptible to moisture (water) mixing with the nitro fuel.

  4. Clean and oil the air filter (nitro).
    Whether racing on the race track or running around with your buddies, dirt and other debris can get stuck in the air filter. Clean your air filter periodically to keep your nitro engine at optimum performance.
    How to Clean and Oil an Air Filter

  5. Add after-burn oil (nitro).
    After a hard day at the track you're ready to put your nitro RC to bed. Don't forget to add after-burn oil to the cylinder head to keep everything lubricated and ready for the next time you decide to race. Not doing so can cause serious damage to the cylinder head and your pocketbook.
    How to Add After-Burn Oil to a Nitro RC

  6. Check tires for damage.
    Hobby-grade RCs have a lot of torque in their high-powered engines which can cause tires to come loose after a long day at the track. Check for damage such as cuts, gashes, or missing pieces in the tires - replace the tires if necessary. Reglue the tires to the wheels if needed.

  7. Check shocks/suspension.
    Suspensions take a beating after doing long jumps, hair-pin turns, and other rough activities. Check your suspension and add oil to your shocks, if necessary.
    How to Add Shock Oil

  8. Check screws.
    Screws come loose over time. Even a couple of runs of a nitro engine at high speeds can shake loose screws, nuts, and bolts. Re-tighten loose screws. For screws that go into metal, if they aren't already coated with Loctite or another thread-locking compounding, add a coat of it to better secure the screws. For screws into plastic, make sure they fit snugly but don't overtighten or you risk stripping the plastic.

  9. Check your batteries.
    If you plan to store your RC for more than a week it is a good idea to remove the batteries from the controller as well as the RC vehicle to prevent any mishaps such as corrosion -- which can occur unexpectedly and result in costly repairs.

  10. Charge battery packs.
    If you are racing your RC the next day then removing the batteries is not necessary. But be sure to charge the battery pack(s) the night before or the day before you go racing so you will have all the charged batteries you need.

  11. Perform any other needed repairs.
    Reglue parts that may have broken off the body or patch holes and replace decals, touch up the paint job. If more than just minor repairs are needed, you may have to sideline your vehicle for awhile. Driving a damaged RC will only result in more, possibly irreparable damage to the vehicle.

Tips:

  1. Test your knowledge of RC care and maintenance with the RC After-Run Maintenance Quiz

What You Need

  • Your RC Vehicle
  • Shop towels or paper towels
  • Basic tools such as screwdrivers, hex wrenches
  • Liquid soap
  • Air filter oil
  • After-burn oil
  • Tire glue
  • Shock oil
  • Replacement parts as needed
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