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A Beginners Guide To Remote Control Cars

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A Beginners Guide To Remote Control Cars

Written By:  
Date: 08/19/2015

Any parent knows that young boys love playing with cars, In fact, they are one of the most popular toys available and have been for countless years. But as children get older and harder to please (over three years old say), the 'push and go' model cars get a bit boring and many kids develop a longing for something that moves on it's own! Remote control cars therefore fit the bill nicely and that is why they are growing in popularity, year after year. And it's not just kids driving the trend, but adults too! There is a whole plethora of information about the hobby on the web, but little for beginners and that is why I wrote this article.

When trying to make sense of all of the different remote control cars available, a good place to start is understanding that there are two grades of remote control cars (or radio controlled cars as enthusiasts call them). The two different types are hobby grade cars and toy grade cars and both can provide hours of fun and enjoyment, for the right person.

Toy grade remote control cars are ideally suited to younger children because they cost less and if your child’s interest fades, you will not have spent the earth. Toy grade remote control cars are also safer for younger children, as they are generally not as fast, compared to say a petrol or nitro powered car (these can hurt if they hit you at 60 km/h!). Toy grade cars have other benefits too, such as;

Unbelievably detailed replicas are available, suitable for little & big boys who want to own their dream car.
Many are officially licensed by manufacturers like Range Rover, Land Rover, Audi, BMW, Ferrari etc. & they are generally cheaper than the replicas you can buy in most car show rooms.
Generally, they do not need to be built and are ready to use from the box.
They are an ideal gift & are cheaper than most hobby grade remote control cars.
They are safer for younger children (generally three & up) compared to faster hobby grade cars.
A great selection of toy remote control cars is available on Ebay. Some of the best can be found by clicking here.

Hobby grade remote control cars are different. They are more expensive, but offer several benefits if you are looking to take your hobby more seriously. For example, spares are often available & you'll be able to make repairs yourself (or even get your car serviced in a specialist shop). Hobby grade remote control cars are also generally faster, as they are powered by either high performance electric motors, petrol or even nitro engines! For this reason hobby grade remote control cars are not suitable for younger children, as they can reach speeds of up to 60 km/h. In fact, most reputable brands recommend that nitro powered cars are only suitable for teenagers and adults, due to their speed and the toxic nature of nitro fuel. You can also upgrade a hobby grade remote control car to make it faster, stronger, more adjustable or just to make it look better. Some even have optional bodies that you can replace whenever you want.

If you decide to opt for a more expensive hobby grade remote control car, you will have a few decisions to make, such as;

On Road Versus Off Road…

The most popular type of remote control car is the Off-Road Buggy. These normally have larger tyres with spikey treads, full suspension & go on almost any terrain. On-Road cars are usually lower, have slick tyres & sleek sporty bodies.

Kit Form or Ready To Run…

Some hobby grade remote control car companies specialize in producing kits that you can put together yourself. Although this can be rewarding if you have the patience, it is not really an option for younger children, as some models may require a small amount of finishing, for example bodyshell painting and fitting. Kit form remote control cars can cost more at first, but they can also be more durable and therefore economical in the longer term.

Electric, Petrol or Nitro Powered…

Electric remote control cars are typically powered by rechargeable NiCad, nickel metal hydride or lipo batteries. Electric models are the entry grade within the hobby class cars & this power source is considered to be safer compared to petrol or nitro powered models, particularly for younger drivers. They are also quiet and can be used indoors.

Petrol remote control cars are normally powered by small 2-stroke engines, similar in capacity to chain saw engines. They can be faster than electric models, but they are not particularly suitable for younger drivers. Petrol power is often used for larger cars.

Nitro remote control cars are usually powered by model 2-stroke engines that run on specially formulated model fuel, which is available from specialist shops and websites. They require more user knowledge, and are also not suitable for young children, as they are seriously fast and nitro fuel can be dangerous stuff! Nitro powered remote control cars can also be more difficult to start.

Scale - Big, Medium or Mini...

A whole plethora of different sizes (or scales) is available and it doesn't really matter which you buy, unless you intend on racing your car at a club in a specific category. Generally speaking the huge monster sized 1/5th size cars are petrol powered and are not really suitable for children due to their bulk. A good option for most and probably the most common sizes are either 1/10 or 1/12 scale. These cars are widely available with either a nitro or electric power source, and are small enough for most to carry. Smaller ‘mini’ sizes are also now quite common too, particularly in 1/18 scale.

Generally speaking, hobby grade remote control cars are sold at specialized hobby shops or websites. A great website for beginners is where you can find more information, videos, and details about magazines and clubs.

In summary, whichever type of remote control car you decide to buy one thing is guaranteed regardless of your age, you will have lots and lots of fun!

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