Beginners Guide to the Hobby of RC Trucks

RC Trucks

Beginner's Guide to RC Trucks

Beginner's Guide To The
Hobby of RC Trucks

Welcome to the hobby of remote control RC trucks. It is easy to get started. This page explains common terminologies and answers your frequently asked questions.

Gas / Nitro Trucks
Electric RC Trucks
Gas or Electric?
Where To Buy?

Guide to Remote Control Trucks


Here are some definitions of terms frequently used in the r/c hobby.

Scale - Refers to the size of the model kit. For example, 1/10 scale means the model is ten times smaller than the real thing. Relatively speaking, a 1/8 scale is bigger than a 1/10 scale. And 1/10 scale is bigger than 1/24 scale.

Ready-to-Run (RTR) - These usually refer to model kits that come with a radio control system and equipment needed for the model to run right out of the box. RTR kits make it easy for beginners to get started in the hobby. Usual there are just minor items left to be purchased, such as batteries for the radio control system and fuel for the nitro engine.

Radio Control System - This consists of a transmitter, receiver, and servos. The transmitter is what you hold in your hand. It sends signals to the receiver and servos mounted on your R/C truck. The servos in turn use mechanical movement to steer the truck and control the speed.

The transmitter usually uses 8-AA size batteries, while the receiver needs 4-AA sized batteries. You may use Alkaline or rechargeable batteries. 

Gas / Nitro Trucks

These are usually 1/10 - 1/8 scale remote controlled trucks powered by a 2-stroke gas / nitro engine. Items you need are the truck kit, engine, radio control system, nitro fuel, glow plug igniter, and starter.

RTR gas trucks usually include the kit, engine, and radio control system. You will need to buy the nitro fuel and glow plug igniter separately.

2-stroke Gas Engine - Common size are .12ci (1.97cc) and .21ci (3.5cc). These use special nitro fuel to run. Instead of a spark plug, the engine uses a glow plug.

Nitro Fuel - The term nitro and gas are frequently used interchangeably. For 1/10 and 1/8 scale models, the term nitro and gas means the model is designed to use a special blend of nitro fuel for R/C cars and trucks. You cannot use regular gasoline.

Not to be confused, there are large-scale models (i.e. 1/6 - 1/4 scale) that have lawnmower type engines which use regular gasoline.

Glow Plug - Device that ignites the air/fuel mixture inside the gas engine, similar to a spark plug. 

During the initial starting of an engine, a 1.5v supply is applied to the glow plug. The coils inside the glow plug heat up, igniting the air/fuel mixture. Once the engine is idling, the 1.5v supply is removed.

Glow Plug Igniter - The device that applies the 1.5v to heat up the glow plug.

For more info, visit the Nitro RC Trucks page.

Electric RC Trucks

These are usually 1/28 - 1/8 scale remote controlled trucks powered by an electric motor. Items you need are the truck kit, radio control system, battery pack and charger.

RTR electric trucks usually come complete with everything you need to get started. However, some RTR kits do not include the battery pack and charger.

Battery Pack - For 1/10 scale, a 7.2v battery pack is commonly used. The basic choices are NiCad and NiMH. NiCads are usually cheaper, while the NiMHs provide longer run times.

You will also notice ratings such as 1700 MAH and 3300 MAH. The higher the number means longer run times for your radio control truck.

For more info, visit the Electric RC Trucks page.

Gas or Electric?

Electric R/C trucks are recommended as a first model for beginners. Then as you gain experience you can buy the faster gas powered R/C trucks.

Here are factors to consider for buying gas or electric models. Items in yellow mean it is an advantage.

  Gas R/C Trucks Electric R/C Trucks
Speed Anywhere from 27-50 mph. Out of the box gas trucks are fast. Anywhere from 14-22 mph. Going faster would require expensive batteries and modified motors.
Run Time 5-8 minutes per fuel tank. Simply refuel and you can play all afternoon. 5-10 minutes per battery pack. Motor usually needs to be cooled down before running again.
Cost Initial cost is the same as electric models. The only major maintenance cost would be fuel and rebuilding the piston/sleeve of the engine every 2-4 gallons of running. Initial cost is cheap. However, to achieve speeds similar to gas trucks requires expensive motors and batteries.
Ease of Operation Gas engines can be finicky and sometimes refuse to start. Good engine tuning knowledge and skills are necessary. Simply charge the battery pack and start playing.
Realism The sound of the 2-stroke engine, the smell of nitro, and the shifting of a 2-speed transmission makes gas trucks more fun. -
Other Factors The noise factor must be considered. Your neighborhood or local city ordinance might have a law against noise.

Also nitro fumes require that you play in well ventilated areas (i.e. outdoors).

Quiet operation lets you play indoors and outdoors without disturbing anyone.

Buy / Shop

Where Can I Buy Remote Control Trucks For Sale?
The hobby quality remote control trucks are usually sold in hobby shops. You can visit your local hobby shop (LHS) to buy the model you desire.

If you do not live near a local hobby shop, try buying online. Factors to consider when buying from an online hobby shop are: brand, availability, reputation, merchant rating, and the total delivered price.

One good online hobby shop I recommend is HobbyTron


Below is the link to the homepage where you can find more guide, tips, and reviews of popular rc trucks.

RC Trucks - Remote Control Monster, Nitro, Electric, and Mini R/C Trucks
40+ MPH nitro gas powered rc truck, fast electric remote control truck, and fun mini r/c trucks.