Can Nitro RC Cars Run on Diesel?

Can Nitro RC Cars Run on Diesel?

Nitro RC cars are a type of remote-controlled vehicle that runs on a nitro-based fuel. These cars are popular among hobbyists and enthusiasts who enjoy building, racing, and showcasing their custom-made vehicles. While nitro-based fuels are the primary source of energy for nitro RC cars, some people have been curious about whether it’s possible to use diesel fuel instead. This idea stems from the belief that diesel fuel can provide a cheaper and more accessible alternative to nitro-based fuels. However, the question of whether nitro RC cars can run on diesel is one that requires a closer look at the workings of these vehicles, the properties of diesel fuel, and any related experiments or tests. In this article, we’ll explore the concept of using diesel fuel in nitro RC cars and whether it’s a feasible or practical option for hobbyists and enthusiasts alike.

What are nitro RC cars?

Nitro RC cars are remote-controlled vehicles that run on a nitro-based fuel. Here are some key features of nitro RC cars:

  • They typically have a 2-stroke or 4-stroke engine that uses a nitro-based fuel as a power source.
  • They require a battery-powered starter to ignite the fuel and get the engine running.
  • They have an exhaust system that emits smoke and noise as a byproduct of the combustion process.

Nitro RC cars can be purchased pre-assembled or in kit form for custom building. They are popular among hobbyists and are often used for racing or other competitive events. If you’re interested in purchasing a nitro RC car, there are many websites and retailers that offer a range of models and parts, such as HobbyKing, Tower Hobbies, and NitroPlanes.

What do nitro RC cars run on?

Nitro RC cars run on a fuel mixture of nitromethane, methanol and oil. The nitromethane provides the power, while the methanol helps with cooling and adds some fuel to the mixture. The oil lubricates the engine.

If you’re interested in buying a nitro RC car or want to learn more about them, check out hobby shops or online retailers such as Amazon or Horizon Hobby.

What is diesel fuel?

Diesel fuel is a petroleum-based fuel that is predominantly used as a power source for diesel engines. Here are some key features of diesel fuel:

Properties Values
Chemical formula C12H23
Energy content 128,700 Btu/gal
Specific gravity 0.85-0.90 g/mL
Flash point 100-150°F
  • Diesel fuel has a higher energy content than gasoline, which means it can provide more power per gallon.
  • It is less flammable than gasoline and therefore less prone to explosions.
  • Diesel engines are known for their efficiency and durability, which is why they are commonly used to power vehicles such as trucks, buses, and boats.
  • If you’re interested in purchasing diesel fuel for your nitro RC car, it is important to consider the quality and grade of the fuel. Many retailers sell diesel fuel specifically for RC cars, such as Redcat Racing’s 20% Nitro Fuel or VP Racing Fuels’ Diesel 60 RC Fuel.

Which fuel is diesel?

Diesel is a type of fuel that is commonly used in diesel engines. It is made from crude oil and is a heavier, more viscous liquid than gasoline. Some key facts about diesel fuel include:

  • Diesel engines are generally more fuel efficient than gasoline engines
  • Diesel fuel contains more energy per gallon than gasoline
  • Diesel fuel produces lower emissions than gasoline
  • Diesel engines can run on biodiesel, which is made from renewable sources such as vegetable oil

If you’re interested in learning more about diesel fuel and its uses, a quick search online will yield a wealth of information. Many automotive and machinery manufacturers also offer resources on their websites about diesel engines and their fuel.

Can nitro RC cars run on diesel?

There is no definitive answer to this question, as it depends on various factors, including the engine type, modifications, and fuel grade. Here are a few things to consider if you’re interested in running your nitro RC car on diesel fuel:

  • Diesel fuel has a lower octane rating than nitro-based fuels, which means it may not be suitable for high-performance engines.
  • Some hobbyists have reported success in using diesel fuel in nitro RC cars, particularly in engines with modified fuel systems or those designed specifically for diesel fuel.
  • If you’re going to experiment with using diesel fuel in your nitro RC car, it’s important to start with a small quantity and mix it with other types of fuel to avoid damaging the engine. You should also monitor the engine’s performance and look for signs of overheating or other issues.
  • It’s recommended to use diesel fuel that is specifically formulated for RC cars, rather than conventional diesel fuel designed for larger engines.
  • Redcat Racing’s 20% Nitro Fuel is a popular option for nitro RC cars and boasts a high octane rating and clean burn characteristics. Alternatively, VP Racing Fuels’ Diesel 60 RC Fuel is specifically designed for use in diesel-powered RC cars and can offer improved fuel efficiency and engine performance.

Can you run a nitro RC car on gasoline?

No, you cannot run a nitro RC car on gasoline. Nitro RC cars require a specific fuel mixture that includes nitromethane, methanol, and oil. Gasoline does not have these components and will not work properly in a nitro RC car.

If you are looking for the right fuel mixture for your nitro RC car, there are various websites and products available that can provide you with the right information and products to ensure your car is running at its best. Some popular websites include and

Pros and cons of using diesel fuel

Before deciding whether to use diesel fuel in your nitro RC car, it’s important to weigh the benefits and drawbacks of this fuel type. Here are some factors to consider:


  • Diesel fuel is often less expensive than nitro-based fuels, which can save you money in the long run.
  • It can offer improved fuel efficiency, meaning you may be able to run your RC car for longer periods of time without refueling.
  • Some hobbyists have reported improved engine performance and power with diesel fuel, particularly in certain types of engines.


  • Diesel fuel has a lower octane rating, which means it may not be suitable for all types of nitro RC car engines.
  • Using diesel fuel may require modifications to your engine or fuel system, which can be time-consuming and costly.
  • Certain types of diesel fuel may be more prone to clogging or fouling your engine, which can cause damage and require repairs.
  • VP Racing Fuels’ Diesel 60 RC Fuel is a specially-formulated diesel fuel designed for use in RC cars and can offer improved performance and fuel efficiency. However, it is not recommended for use in nitro-based engines with a high compression ratio.

What are the best fuels for racing?

  • High-quality racing gasoline is the best fuel for racing.
  • Nitromethane fuel is used in Top Fuel drag races but requires special engine modifications and is not suitable for regular racing.
  • Ethanol fuel is a cheaper alternative to racing gasoline and is commonly used in some stock car racing events.
  • Methanol fuel can be used in some types of racing but requires specific modifications to the engine.
  • It is essential to check with the racing organization you are going to compete in for fuel regulations and requirements.

If you want detailed information about performance fuels or need to purchase high-quality race fuels, websites such as VP Racing Fuels and Sunoco Race Fuels can offer great products for racers.


While it may be possible to run nitro RC cars on diesel fuel, it is not a straightforward process and comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. While there are some potential cost savings and improved efficiency to be gained, the initial expense and potential damage to your engine may make it a questionable choice. Before attempting to run your RC car on diesel fuel, be sure to thoroughly research your engine type, fuel system, and the type of diesel fuel you plan to use. Consider talking to other RC car enthusiasts who have experience with diesel fuel to get their insights and opinions. Ultimately, the decision to use diesel fuel will depend on your individual circumstances and preferences.