Before You Buy Your First Nitro RC

Nitro 1/8 RC Car 4wd Wheelie

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Nitro RCs are fun to have but are also a serious hobby. If you are considering buying a nitro-powered RC vehicle you need to know that there are significant differences between electric and nitro RCs.

Nitro RCs are Expensive

Usually, the initial cost of nitro-powered RCs is higher than electric RCs. In addition to batteries, you'll be replacing fuel, oil, other fluids, and parts (such as tires, shocks, bodies) regularly. If you have a non-pull start engine you'll also need additional accessories such as a starter box or electric start system and a power source (such as batteries or a charger).

Nitro RCs Require More Driving Skill

Nitro-powered vehicles run faster and are more difficult to control than most electric RCs. With high-speed driving there is a tendency to crash more often and hitting a wall at these speeds can literally destroy the RC vehicle. Because of the use of poisonous, flammable fuel and the dexterity needed to control such a fast-moving vehicle, they are not a good choice for children.

Nitro RCs Require a Greater Investment of Time

Getting a nitro-powered vehicle ready to run involves more than just flipping a switch. You have to fuel it up, make sure it has fresh batteries for servos and receiver, double-check air filter and glow plug and check your tires. It also takes longer to do basic after-run maintenance. You'll need to be able to devote more time to care and upkeep to your nitro RC than for electric RCs.

Nitro RCs Have More Safety Issues

Nitromethanol fuel is highly flammable and poisonous. The potential speed of nitro-powered vehicles means that they can be extremely dangerous to run in crowded areas -- more so than the slower-moving electric RCs.

Nitro RCs Have Limitations on Use

Fumes from nitro fuel, the speed of the vehicles, and the noise of the nitro engine limit them to outdoor use only. The noise could be irritating to those in your surrounding neighborhood so you may have to limit late night or early morning run sessions.

Buying Your First Nitro RC

If you feel that you are ready to venture into nitro-powered RCs, I recommend starting with a Ready-to-Run car or truck. An RTR vehicle lets you get up and running quickly and is good if you aren't intimately familiar with nitro engines and model construction in general. Hold off on nitro airplanes or helicopters unless you are already an experienced RC pilot. Flying is more difficult than driving and an inexperienced pilot shouldn't be putting a gas tank in the air.