How to Build an RC Car From Scratch

Updated April 17, 2017

One of the most enjoyable aspects of hobby-grade radio-controlled cars is the fact that you can upgrade and modify every part of your vehicle. While purchasing pre-assembled kits are a convenient introduction to the hobby, building your own vehicle from the tires up is the most rewarding. Learning how to build a radio-controlled vehicle from scratch will provide you with the knowledge to diagnose and repair any problems you may face in the future.

Assemble the components of the chassis: Screw the frame together and push the wheel rims into the tires. Slide the axles into the transmission assembly. Fasten the shocks to the axles by tightening the two mounting screws. Connect the wheels to the vehicle's chassis with the four mounting nuts.

Peel a section of double-sided tape measuring around 2 inches in length. Stick it onto the chassis centred between the front and back wheels. Peel off the other side of the tape, then press the electronic speed control (ESC) firmly against the chassis to mount it.

Install the servo horn onto the steering servo and connect the two mounting brackets with the two screws. Follow the instructions for your vehicle to identify the proper location for the servo. Slide the servo into position and secure it with the two screws. Snap the steering mechanism of the chassis onto the shoe horn.

Insert the motor into the motor housing and connect it to the transmission panel with the two mounting screws. Slide the pinion gear onto the motor shaft. Tighten the small bolt inside the gear to keep it connected to the motor. Leave the mounting gears slightly loose and squeeze a sheet of paper between the pinion gear and the spur gear before tightening them completely. This will ensure that the gears are meshed properly.

Peel another piece of double-sided tape and press it to the back of the receiver. Peel the other side of the tap off and press the receiver onto the chassis as far away from the motor as possible. This will reduce any possible radio interference while you're driving the vehicle.

Connect the positive (+) and negative (-) motor leads to the matching connections of the ESC, then plug the ESC into the first channel input on the receiver. Plug the servo's connector into the second channel of the receiver.

Insert a fully-charged 7.2v battery pack into the chassis and connect it to the ESC. Turn on the vehicle and the transmitter and take your vehicle out for a test drive.

Things You'll Need

  • RC chassis
  • 4 rims
  • 4 tires
  • 4 axles
  • 4 spring shocks
  • Screwdriver
  • Double-sided tape
  • Electronic speed control (ESC)
  • Steering servo
  • Receiver
  • 7.2v battery pack
  • Transmitter
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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.