RC cars, or remote control cars, are fun little items both kids and adults alike can enjoy and collect. Fast, easy to control, and able to run on many different terrains, it’s easy to see why RC vehicles are such a popular hobby among Australians of all ages and walks of life. There are many different versions of RC cars out there that come in different sizes and are made by different manufacturers. That being said, there’s also the difference in how they’re powered.
There are basically three main ways your RC car can be powered – electricity or a battery, petrol fuel, and nitro fuel. If you’re new to the RC game, you might find these categories a bit confusing. Like, what’s the difference? You already know what a battery is, but are nitro and petrol the same thing? Which one is the fastest? What does one type provide that the other two don’t?
There are many questions, and luckily, I’m here with the answers. If you’re a fan of a more “realistic” RC experience, and you’ve already ruled electric cars out, you’re left with the choice between nitro and petrol RC cars. Let’s go over the differences between these two and determine which one is best for you.
Even though RC cars are basically scaled models, they’re not all made the same size. Some are bigger than others, and their size largely has to do with what they run on. Nitro cars and trucks are usually smaller than RC petrol cars, so if size matters to you, then this should be enough information to go on by itself. Still, let’s go into it a bit more and find out why this actually is.
If we compare them to, say, electric RC vehicles, it’s clear that they’re bigger in size because they need a fuel tank. While an electric RC car runs on a battery that can be recharged, petrol RC cars and nitro-powered ones need fuel to be able to operate, just like a regular car does. This obviously plays a part in the whole construction and look of the vehicle, hence the bigger size. Still, why are petrol-run RCs bigger than nitro-powered ones? Don’t both of them need a tank? They do, but the difference is in the way their engines work. Think of nitro as more of a diesel kind of thing and petrol is, well, petrol. The petrol RC car engine is bigger than the nitro engine is, hence the size of the vehicles being different.
Many people decide to go with a quality-made RC petrol car because the fuel is much easier to get. All you need to do is go to the closest gas station, fill up a container, and take it home with you to power your petrol RC car.
Nitro fuel, on the other hand, is only sold in specialized stores, as it is far more different in composition than regular petrol is, and since no actual vehicles really run on it, you can’t find it at a gas station. Many people find that they have to either search for a specialised RC store to purchase nitro fuel or order it online, which requires more time and money. Usually, RC enthusiasts are all about getting right into their vehicles, so imagine having to wait for your fuel to arrive just so you can take your car for a spin. It’s just not practical.
There is an option to turn a nitro-fueled car into a petrol-fueled one, but that’s a pretty lengthy process, too, and you’ll have to remove all the additions you’ve installed if you ever wanted to go back to nitro. It’s also not recommended for you to do this by yourself as you might damage the engine, so you’ll need to seek yet another middleman to perform the conversion for you. As for price, it’s already pretty obvious that petrol is much cheaper than nitro fuel is and is more easily accessible.
Maintenance & Speed
Finally, we have maintenance. Even though both of these types of RC vehicles require more maintenance than electric RC cars, petrol ones need much less than nitro-fueled RC vehicles. It’s somewhat common knowledge within the RC community that nitro-powered cars aren’t for those who don’t have much time to dedicate to maintaining their vehicle, as they require regular cleaning, part replacement, tuning, engine break-in, tweaking, and so on.
Don’t get me wrong, petrol RC cars need a similar level of maintenance, but since it’s something many of us already know, it’s not that big of a deal to get that knowledge down and take care of your vehicle properly. They may get a bit expensive to maintain but since the fuel is easier to get, it all goes in favour of petrol. However, you’ll need to make sure you’re getting your petrol from a reputable gas station as it is a mix of petrol and oil, so it’s a bit specific. However, when you look at the process of getting nitro fuel in your RC vehicle, this is nothing.
As for speed and performance, I honestly can say that they’re both pretty similar. The main differences are the ones stated here, so if you’ve read this whole article, I think you already know which way to go.