How to Fix an Electric RC That Won't Move

An Electric RC
By Traxxas - Traxxas, CC0,

You're all set to have some fun with your electric radio-controlled car only to discover it won't move. You have good batteries in the vehicle and the transmitter and you've turned on the ON switch—still, nothing. If your RC won't move forward or backward, there are a couple of things you can check and maybe even repair yourself. 

Basic Troubleshooting

It never hurts to first go over the basics, even if you're sure you've already done so. You've already checked the batteries and made sure you flipped the ON switch on. Did you check the antennas? That your vehicle is on the right frequency? If the answer is "yes," to all these questions, then you'll have to dig a little deeper into the problem.

If You Hear Noise

If you can hear the RC running or making some kind of noise, perhaps a grinding or whirring sound when you apply the throttle, then you may have a slipped pinion gear. You may be able to re-mesh the gears or you might need to replace them completely if they are stripped. On a toy RC, replacement can be tricky (and just getting to the drivetrain on some toy RCs is challenging), but for hobby-grade RCs, you can usually purchase replacement parts.

If You Don't Hear Noise

If your steering works but you don't hear any noise, you may have a loose wire. Trace all the wires to and from your motor, looking for loose connections or broken wires. On a toy RC, the wires will generally run to a circuit board. It may be necessary to re-solder any loose or broken connections. If there is no steering, no noise, and no movement, it's possible you have a bad or worn out motor that needs replacing. Either that or the wires to and from the batteries are loose or disconnected. On a hobby-grade RC, it could be your receiver that's the culprit. Try plugging your servos into a different receiver (with a matching frequency) to see if it works.