How to Tune Petrol RC Cars

Updated April 17, 2017

One of the great things about hobby-grade radio-controlled vehicles is how they offer endless opportunities for modification and customisation. Your nitro RC's performance is directly related to the engine's settings. Out of the box, your nitro vehicle may exhibit behaviours that are't quite up to par with what you'd expect from a gas-powered RC. Learning how to properly tune your petrol vehicle will enhance the engine's functionality, drastically improving acceleration and overall top speed.

Set the engine to its factory settings, according to the user manual that came with your model. Fill your vehicle's fuel tank with nitro.

Start your engine following the instructions that accompanied your specific model. Allow the engine to run long enough to heat up to its proper functioning temperature; this usually requires a tank or two of driving.

Turn the hi-speed needle, which protrudes form the top of the carburettor, in incremental rotations to increase the power of the engine. Drive the vehicle after each adjustment, then stop once the engine accelerates quickly and revs to a high rpm without stalling out.

Turn the idle screw counter-clockwise to decrease the idle setting. Turn it incrementally until the engine no longer moves the car when the throttle isn't applied on the transmitter.

Allow the engine to idle down after a high-speed run. If it takes awhile to return to idle, rotate the low-speed needle until the engine's rpms return to a reasonable idle speed.

Things You'll Need

  • RC nitro engine
  • Nitro fuel
  • Phillips screwdriver
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About the Author

Michelle Course is a professional writer holding a bachelor's degree in English with a focus on world literature from North Carolina State University. With professional experience in the nonprofit advocacy industry, she covers social issues such as agricultural sustainability, holistic wellness and people and culture.