Are you new to nitro RC cars? Or maybe youve had your RC nitro for a while and not sure whether to run your RC vehicle in cold conditions. Anyone that lives in cold and snowy parts of the world know how these conditions play an impact on their real cars, so how does this effect our fun loving RC nitro vehicles? Lets find out.
RC nitro cars can run in cold weather but the engine must be warmed up before taking it out. Most RC brands recommend not to run your RC nitro car in temperatures below 2 degrees celsius. There’s a lot of preparation and maintenance needed to be done before and after driving your nitro RC car in cold, wet or snowy conditions to prevent damage and keep it in the best possible condition. Make sure electronics like servos, ESC’s and receivers are suitable for wet conditions. Spray any metal parts like axles, bearings and drive trains with WD 40 after a run to prevent rust.
OK, so lets go and have some fun in the snow! Well not quite. theres so many things to take into account and some proper preparation to be done with our expensive little cars if we want to keep using them to their full ability and avoid any hiccups in the future.
A change in temperature can have a big affect on all the parts of an RC car and can change the way the car behaves in these types of temperatures.
In this article, we will look at the effects that the cold weather plays on all the parts on your nitro vehicle and give the best solutions to ensure the best ride possible in these conditions.
What Should I take Into Account Beforehand?
For starters, the nice strong plastic body that protects your vehicle so well in normal conditions against bumps, crashes and doing crazy stunts will become brittle in very cold, snowy conditions, in fact, any of the plastic and some of the metal parts can become more brittle, meaning what you probably would get away with when not quite executing the best jump in the warmer weather could cause easy breakages to these parts when they are brittle.
The damp can be hazardous for your vehicle so you really must take care when exposing your vehicle in any conditions that produce moisture. You really should think how mud, puddles, snow and fog can have an impact on your car.
Are the electronics waterproof? Moisture can seriously damage any of these parts and could be quite costly to replace.
Anything metal like axles, bearings and drivetrain are not big fans of moisture, causing rust, so you must think about making sure your car is nice and dry before storing it after running in these conditions.
Now the main one is the engine,
- The engine won’t start if it’s cold.
- You might have to perform a special break-in and re-tune to adapt to these conditions.
- Extreme cold conditions can cause fuel to thicken, creating a kind of gel, this can really damage the engine.
How will your tires cope in these conditions? You might not get enough traction going through snow. How will the cold affect the rubber on your tires?
How Cold is Too Cold For Nitro?
Just be aware that running in the cold can wear the engine out faster and although many people do it, some RC car brands don’t recommend running in temperatures below 2 degrees celsius, 35 degrees Fahrenheit.
You really must know what you are doing and consider the risks you are taking if you are going to take your nitro car out below these temperatures, as mentioned above nitro fuel can gel up and seriously damage your engine.
There’s an awful lot to bear in mind, so read on, now its time to do the best possible preparations so you can have the safest run for your vehicle in these conditions.
How to Run Your RC Nitro Vehicle in Cold Weather.
Break-in Your Nitro Engine for Winter Temperatures.
Its really important to warm up the engine before doing a break-in. If the engine is too cold when performing a break-in it can cause excessive wear on the engines piston and sleeve and reduce the lifespan of your engine dramatically.
- Warm the engine up by taking your vehicle indoors and getting it to room temperature, a cold engine can be very hard to start. Make sure there’s no fuel in it, take this in to account when travelling with your vehicle and putting it into storage. Also, this will help the receiver batteries to function better.
- There’s a few ways to speed up the process by using a hairdryer or a heat gun. Be careful, you don’t want to burn and damage the filter!
- A good tip if you’re travelling to the park or wherever you’re going to run your vehicle is to set your vehicle down on the floor of the passenger side of your car, if you have a passenger with you, tell them to sit in the back! Set the heating so it blows around your foot space, this can bring the temperature of your engine up while you’re travelling saving you some time once you get to where you are going.
- Now the engine is running, in most cases, you need to keep the engine running at a temperature of around 200-230 degrees for a good break-in. Consider purchasing a temperature probe to do this. You can check out various temperature probes from Amazon here.
- To help you achieve this you can wrap the cooling head with a clean rag or one of your old socks to maintain the recommended temperature. some people use an un-cut body for this.
- Do not use a lean fuel mixture to try and achieve a hotter temperature. This will cause premature wear to your piston and sleeve. A richer mix provides the lubrication needed to prevent damage to the engine.
- You should protect the engine and carburettor with a good quality after run oil once you’ve finished running your vehicle.
Do not attempt a break-in if you’re not sure what you are doing, you could cause more damage than good.
Always check your manual or contact your brands support team for advice to correctly perform a winter break-in.
Some people that have a few engines usually keep the better ones for normal temperatures and the not so good ones for running in winter. This way you know you wont cause any possible damage to your good engines if you decide to have a go at this yourself.
As said above, the body and any plastic parts lose flexibility and will become brittle in cold conditions so take a little extra care to drive as smoothly as you can to avoid any breakages. Some metal parts will become brittle too.
It might be worth stocking up on a few suspension arms and other bits and pieces to be best prepared.
If you are going to use your car in wet or muddy conditions you might consider venting your tires, take a look at my article on venting tires, water and dirt can enter through the holes in the rims with nowhere to escape and soak up the foams. If you leave your tires like this, you may end up with a mouldy smell coming from your tires and you might need to replace your foams.
Venting your tires which is basically punching holes in them, allows for water and dirt to escape.
Try spraying some WD40 on your tires for some extra traction.
Parts That Can Rust.
Remember, anything metal can rust once it gets wet so its extremely important to clean and dry your vehicle after taking it out in any conditions where its exposed to moisture.
Once your car is nice and dry, spray any metal parts like axles, bearings and drivetrain with WD 40 or anything suitable that prevents rust to protect them.
Check your shocks, the oil used in them may have thickened, especially in very low temperatures, so replace if necessary.
Take special care with your engine, make sure its properly dry before storing your vehicle.
You may want to think about where you store your vehicle. You should always store your vehicle somewhere nice and dry. That damp shed is not gonna do any good to your vehicle!
Check out the next segment for optimal solutions to protect the electronics on your RC car.
How to waterproof your Electronics.
Always check your manual to see if the electronics are waterproof on your vehicle. If they are then that’s great but that doesn’t mean submerging your car in a swimming pool! Take this into account on how you are going to clean your car after a run, that hose might not be the best idea!
If you look online you’ll find loads of different ways to protect your electronics like balloons, bags or just taping. All of them work but the following is what I recommend for very wet conditions.
Like any electronic part on your car you need to make sure that water dosent get into your servos. If water does get in it could mess up your servo and youll probably find the gears have rusted and youll end up having to replace it with a new one.
The best way i find to waterproof your servo is to use something like marine grease, or anything similar, as long as its waterproof.
It’s quite simple to do this, undo the 4 screws from underneith your servo and pull the case off, exposing the gears, it’s a bit tricky so be careful. Now smear some of the waterproof grease over the gears and screw the case back on. The grease will prevent the majority of water entering through where the horn is exposed.
Marine Grease’s price can be checked here from Amazon.
Now there’s a few ways to seal the servo case like using plasti dip but that can be quite thick, but what I find best is to seal it with silicone. Don’t worry if its a bit messy, as long as it’s sealed and you can fit it back in it’s place. For extra measure, once it’s dry, usually after 6 hours or so, now this is a bit of an overkill but you can wrap the servo up with black tape, if you do this then you must carefully slice round where the horn is so it can move freely.
Most Esc’s these days are waterproof but check your manual to make sure.
If you take your ESC apart and you see that the circuit board has a funny kind of coating over it, this means its been coated with conformal coating, making it waterproof.
If you need to waterproof your ESC then you should buy some conformal coating spray (Make sure its suitable for electronics). You should find that buying the spray cans are fairly cheaper than buying tubs of it.
The best way to apply the conformal coating to to your ESC is to spray some into a small cup, or just use the lid of the spray can!, Leave it for a little while so it can thicken up and the apply it on with a small paintbrush carefully coating all the components.
Leave it to dry for half an hour or so. Once its dry check to make sure theres a nice coat all over it and make sure you havent missed any areas.
You can check the price for Conformal coating spray from Amazon by clicking here.
Receivers in general are not waterproof unless you buy one that is.
If theres any channels that you dont use then you can just blank them off by using some old servo plugs and get some extenders for the channels that you are using.
The best thing to use for waterproofing your receiver is plasti dip. Plasti dip is used on loads of things and gives a kind of rubber coating making whatever you’re using it on resistant to moisture, acids and corrosion. It’s best to buy a fresh tin of Plasti dip, don’t buy the spray, for waterproofing your receiver.
You can check Plasti Dips price on Amazon here.
I dont recommend using some Plasti dip thats been lying around for a while as the liquid tends to thicken up over time.
For extra measure before using Plasti dip, take your receiver apart and coat the circuit board with conformal coating, as explained above with conformal coating your ESC.
Ok, now you’ve put your receiver back together after conformal coating it, grab the top part of the ariel and wires with one hand and dip the receiver in the tin of Plasti dip giving the receiver a good coating and make sure you just coat the start of where the wires and the ariel are sticking out.
You know you’re gonna have great fun in the snow with your bundle of joy but just be careful, your car doesn’t like these types of conditions and you could pay big time if you don’t take precautions.
You know how the cold weather has an impact on your car and all of its different parts and now have the best solutions to protect them.
Always check your manual!
I really hope you found this article helpful. Please check out my other articles to help you with your journey in this great hobby.