Whether you are a die-hard RC car fan or just a casual hobbyist, a fast RC car will get you excited. There is just something very thrilling about zooming around with your little car. But do you have to spend a fortune to go fast? This guide is all about how fast cheap RC cars go.
In general, cheap RC cars can go anywhere from 5 MPH to 15 MPH. Higher priced RC cars can reach speeds of around 70 MPH. Cheaper RC cars are usually considered “Toy Grade” and are nowhere near to the standard of “Hobby Grade” RC cars.
I will not just leave it at that. There is much more to the whole story. Speed is dependent on a couple of things. Things like the type of motor, gear and batteries all play a factor. So, let’s get into all that with more detail.
How Fast Do Cheap RC Cars Go?
Some RC cars can go as fast as 15 MPH to 70 MPH, depending on the quality and also the motor. Low-end cars with weaker motors and batteries will pull numbers between 5 MPH to 15 MPH. RC cars that run at these speeds are usually very small so it seems like they are going fast.
There is something you should keep in mind. You should never buy an RC car based on speed and price only. Not only are cheap RC cars poorly made, they might also give you more trouble down the line.
Low-price RC cars will constantly break down and may not reach fast speeds either. If you are shopping for a RC car, it is always a good idea to buy something around the $150 to $200 mark. With that being said, you can spend much more on RC cars. There are $500 cars and higher.
If you are looking for a good toygrade RC car for your son or daughter, please see my related article here
But for someone who wants a good quality hobby-grade car, around $200 is a good place to start. ‘Cheap’ is relative. Your definition of cheap might not be the same as others. So, it is hard breaking it down to just a single price point.
Be wary of something called scale speed though. Some manufacturers may try to pull a sneaky move by listing a scale speed. In some cases, a 1/10th car will be listed as going 100 MPH. but to scale that will be only 10 MPH. which is a drastic change.
Think of How Much Speed You Actually Need
Do not get completely fixated on just speed. That is a slippery hole. At the end of the day, what you want is a high-quality and balanced RC car that will last longer, and of course, is fast too! You need to keep in mind your skill level and the space you have.
If you get a car that can go 70 MPH but you do not have the space for it to stretch its legs, honestly, there is no point is there? All those extra speeds (and money) are wasted. The same is true for skill level.
As I mentioned, if you are new to the world of RC car racing, do not jump the gun and go for a car that can hit 70 – 100 MPH. In simple words, you will regret it. It will be hard for you to control and there is a chance you will crash it.
Do not get disheartened though. Starting small and slow is the key. As you gather more experience, you will be able to handle even faster RC cars. Besides, you also do not want to spend way too much on a car when you are just starting before testing out the waters first.
If you buy a hobby-grade RC car, you can modify and upgrade it as your skill level improves
If you buy an RC car that’s around the $200 mark, don’t feel you have to buy a better car once your skill level improves.
The beauty of hobby grade RC cars is that parts can be changed to suit your needs, motors and gears can be upgraded for extra speed and so on. That initial $200 can be considered as an investment that can be improved as and when you feel you are ready.
See my article: What Is The Best Traxxas RC Car. In this post, I explain my picks for ideal RC cars suited for beginners.
Another small thing you should take note of is speed vs acceleration. These two concepts are very simple. Speed or top speed is the maximum speed a RC car will reach. While acceleration is how fast it will go to said top speed.
High acceleration will help your car be quicker off the line. But high top speed will help it go faster in long straights.
What Affects an RC Car’s Speed?
Before wrapping up, let’s take a look at what factors are at play when it comes to the speed of a car. If you know what are the exact things that help a car go fast, it will make it easier for you to choose the right car when you are buying one for yourself.
The motors and batteries are two of the most important factors. More on batteries a bit later. Motors are of two different types. You have brushed motors and brushless motors. The difference between them is exactly what you think – it’s the brushes.
Brushed motors generate charge by using friction. This is not the most efficient motor to have if speed is a major concern. Which, in our case, it is a concern. Since a lot of the energy is wasted through heat and noise, they are about 10 – 15% less efficient than brushless motors.
Brushless motors are much faster and more importantly efficient. This will help your car go faster. That is exactly what you want. There are ways you can determine whether an RC car uses a brushed or a brushless motor.
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The easiest way to determine is to check out the spec list. You can find it on the manufacturer’s website or the box of the car. I would recommend hitting up the website for a more detailed breakdown of the specs.
When it comes to batteries, the fight is between LiPo and NiMH batteries. LiPo stands for Lithium Polymer and NiMH stands for Nickel-Metal Hydride. For faster cars, you cannot go wrong with LiPo batteries.
They have a larger energy discharge and also higher density compared to NiMH batteries. This means, when your RC car needs more power, it can supply the required juice. NiMH batteries on the other hand are safer and are also easier to maintain.
But they come at a lower density and discharge rate overall compared to LiPo. Here is the cool thing. You do not always have to choose one or the other. Some cars support both LiPo and NiMH batteries. This makes it suitable for new users who want to have flexibility. But at the end of the day, LiPo batteries will perform better.
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Another thing you can do to give your cars a little extra oomph is modifying the gears. You can equip them with some spur gears or pinion gears to increase the overall performance. However, there are some balancing that needs to be done. The size of the pinion and spur gear combined will affect both the acceleration and top speed at the same time.
If you want higher top speed, a large pinion gear coupled with a small spur gear combo works best. If you are okay with sacrificing top speed a bit but want to get off the line quicker, meaning higher acceleration, just do the opposite. I mean get a small pinion gear and a large spur gear. All these tweaks should be enough to make your RC car go faster.
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There you have it. Now you know how fast cheap RC cars go. But the thing to remember here is not to go for the cheapest cars you can find since they are not worth it. They will break down quicker.
Spend something around the $150 to $200 range and you should be all good. Anything lower you spend, would be a total a waste of cash.