How to Start a Nitro RC Car Without a Glow Plug: Alternative Methods and Precautions

How to Start a Nitro RC Car Without a Glow Plug: Alternative Methods and Precautions

Nitro RC cars are a popular hobby among enthusiasts for their speed, performance, and realism. These cars are powered by small gasoline engines that use nitromethane-based fuel to drive their drivetrains, resulting in breathtaking acceleration and top speeds that can reach up to 70mph. However, starting a nitro RC car can be tricky, especially when the glow plug, which provides the initial spark to start the engine, is missing or damaged. In this article, we’ll explore how to start a nitro RC car without a glow plug and provide practical tips to help you successfully start your car and enjoy your hobby without any setbacks. Before we delve into how to start a nitro RC car without a glow plug, let’s first understand how a nitro RC engine works and why the glow plug is essential.

Know Your Car

Before attempting to start your nitro RC car without a glow plug, it’s crucial to understand the workings of your particular car model. Some steps you might take in this respect include:

  • Refer to your car manual to check for specific details on your model
  • Ask a professional for advice
  • Find relevant resources such as forums or instructional videos online

There are different types of nitro RC cars and engines to consider, each with its own unique features and quirks. Some popular models include the Traxxas Revo 3.3, HPI Savage X 4.6, and Kyosho Inferno MP9 TKI4. Whatever model you have, make sure to familiarize yourself with its components and construction before attempting to start the engine without a glow plug.

Why is it important to know your car?

  • Understanding how your car works helps you save money by detecting potential issues early on and performing proper maintenance
  • You can ensure your safety and the safety of your passengers by keeping your car in good condition
  • Knowing your car can help you make knowledgeable decisions when it comes to buying a new car or parts for your existing one
  • You’ll have a better understanding of how to maximize your car’s performance and fuel efficiency

If you’re looking to learn more about your car, sites like and offer a wealth of information on vehicle maintenance, repairs and upgrades.

Use Alternative Methods

If you don’t have a glow plug or can’t get one for your nitro RC car, there are several alternative methods to start your engine. Some options include:

  • Use a hot air gun or lighter to heat the engine head
  • Try bump starting the car with a second vehicle
  • Use a glow plug igniter or starter box if you can get your hands on one

While these methods may work for some, they can be risky and even dangerous if not executed correctly. For instance, using an open flame to heat the engine could lead to accidents and burns. It’s important to exercise caution when attempting these methods and consider the drawbacks before doing so.

Potential Risks of Using Alternative Methods

Method Risks
Hot air gun/lighter method Fire hazard, risk of burns or injury, damage to the car
Bump starting Requires another vehicle, risk of damage to both cars, not feasible in all settings
Glow plug igniter/starter box May not work without the glow plug, require additional equipment, costly

It’s worth noting that while these methods can be effective in starting your nitro RC car without a glow plug, they aren’t considered the safest or most reliable option. It’s crucial to take precautions and consider the potential risks before trying any of these methods.

What can I use to help start an engine?

If your car engine is having trouble starting, you may need to give it a little help! Here are a few products and tricks that can be helpful:

  • Battery Charger
  • Jumper cables
  • Starting Fluid
  • Push Start (if manual transmission)

However, it’s important to note that these are temporary fixes and may not solve the underlying issue. Make sure to take your car to a mechanic if you are experiencing ongoing problems with starting your engine.

The Rubber Band Method

One of the most popular and reliable ways to start a nitro RC car without a glow plug is by using the rubber band method. This method involves using the inertia produced from the spinning flywheel to ignite the fuel mixture in the combustion chamber. Below are the steps to follow when using the rubber band method:

  1. Place the car on a flat surface and remove the air filter cover and filter element.
  2. Use a pair of pliers to remove the glow plug from the engine head.
  3. Insert an appropriately-sized rubber band into the empty glow plug hole.
  4. Put the car in neutral and spin one of the rear wheels to wind up the rubber band.
  5. Re-install the air filter components and put the car back on the ground with the rear wheels elevated.
  6. Start the engine by giving a strong pull on the recoil starter cord. The engine should start up if the rubber band is tight enough and the engine is in good condition.

It’s important to note that the rubber band method may not work for every nitro RC car and engine. You may need to experiment with different rubber band sizes and tension levels to get it right. However, once mastered, this method can be a reliable and easy way to start your nitro RC car without a glow plug.

There are many tutorials and videos online that demonstrate how to use the rubber band method for starting a nitro RC car without a glow plug. Additionally, some hobby shops and online retailers sell specialized rubber band starters designed for this purpose.

What is the best way to test glow plugs?

Here are the steps to test your car’s glow plugs:

  • Turn off the engine and remove the glow plugs from the engine block.
  • Connect the multimeter’s red probe to the terminal on the glow plug’s tip and the black probe to the engine block or some other ground.
  • Set the multimeter to Ohms and check the resistance. The range for most multimeters will be 0.2 to 2 ohms.
  • If the glow plug shows a high resistance value, it is faulty and needs to be replaced.

You can also use a specialized Glow Plug Tester available on online marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, or auto parts websites like AutoZone or O’Reilly Auto Parts. These testers can provide a more accurate diagnosis of the glow plug’s condition.

Precautions to Take

Starting a nitro RC car without a glow plug can be dangerous if proper precautions aren’t taken. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Wear protective gear such as gloves and goggles to protect against fuel and engine debris.
  • Never attempt to start the car in a confined space as the engine produces harmful exhaust gases.
  • Make sure the car is on a flat surface and doesn’t roll away unexpectedly during the starting process.
  • Be cautious when handling flammable materials such as fuel and lighters.
  • Familiarize yourself with your specific car model and engine before attempting to start it without a glow plug.
  • Consult with a professional or experienced hobbyist if you’re unsure about the safety or starting process.

Remember, safety should always be your top priority when handling nitro RC cars. By taking the proper precautions, you can enjoy the excitement of starting and driving your car without the need for a glow plug.

There are many online resources and forums dedicated to nitro RC cars that offer advice on safety and starting procedures. Additionally, hobby shops and specialty online retailers may sell safety gear and equipment specifically designed for nitro RC cars. You can check out the HobbyPartz website that offers a wide range of RC car products and accessories.

How do you start a glow starter on a nitro RC car?

Here are the steps to start a glow starter on a nitro RC car:

  • Charge the glow plug battery.
  • Attach the glow starter to the glow plug.
  • Hold the car down with one hand and use the other hand to turn on the transmitter.
  • Pull the starter cord while holding down the trigger on the transmitter.
  • Once the engine starts, let it warm up for a few minutes before driving the car.

It’s always best to consult the owner’s manual for specific instructions on your particular nitro RC car. You can also watch video tutorials on websites like YouTube or check out nitro RC car forums for tips and advice from other enthusiasts. If you need any nitro RC car parts, there are many online retailers like Tower Hobbies or AMain Hobbies that offer a wide selection.

Practice Makes Perfect

Starting a nitro RC car without a glow plug can take time and patience to master. Here are some tips to help you:

  • Start with a simpler method like the rubber band method before attempting more complex starting procedures.
  • Practice in a safe and open outdoor space where there’s plenty of room to maneuver the car.
  • Take note of any issues or hiccups in the starting process and try to troubleshoot them as you go.
  • Prioritize getting to know your specific car model and engine so you can develop an understanding of how it operates.
  • Don’t get discouraged if it takes a few tries to get the car started – it’s all part of the learning process.

As you continue to practice and get more comfortable with starting your nitro RC car, you may want to explore additional methods and techniques. There are many online forums and resources dedicated to nitro RC cars that offer advice and guidance on starting procedures.

In addition, hobby shops and specialty online retailers may offer products and tools that can make starting your nitro RC car without a glow plug easier and more efficient. From replacement parts to advanced starting systems, there’s a wide range of options available for hobbyists of all skill levels.

Remember, starting a nitro RC car without a glow plug can be a fun and rewarding challenge, but it’s important to take safety seriously and practice regularly to ensure a smooth and successful start every time.

Can you start a car without a glow plug?

Yes, you can start a car without a glow plug, but it can be difficult, especially in cold temperatures. Glow plugs help to warm up the air-fuel mixture inside the engine for easy ignition. Without a functioning glow plug, the engine needs to rely on compression to generate enough heat for ignition. This can take longer and result in a harder starting engine.

If you’re having trouble starting your car without a glow plug, here are a few things you can try:

  • Use a block heater to warm up the engine block before starting the car.
  • Use a fuel additive to improve the fuel’s ignition in cold temperatures.
  • Use a jump starter or a booster pack to provide extra power to the battery and starter motor.

If you need to replace your glow plugs, make sure to use high-quality replacements like those from Bosch or NGK. These brands are known for their durability and reliability.

For more information on car maintenance and repair, visit websites like Car Talk or AutoZone.


Overall, while starting a nitro RC car without a glow plug may seem intimidating at first, it is an achievable feat with the right knowledge and practice. Knowing your car and its specific engine, using alternative starting methods, and taking precautions are essential to a successful start.

Remember that your safety and the safety of those around you is of the utmost importance, so always take precautions when handling flammable materials and when operating your RC car.

With practice, patience, and persistence, you can master the techniques needed to start your nitro RC car without a glow plug with ease. Whether you’re an experienced hobbyist or just starting out, take the time to learn the necessary steps and techniques to get your car up and running without a glow plug.

If you’re ever in doubt about the best approach or technique for starting your nitro RC car without a glow plug, be sure to seek advice from a professional or an online forum to get the guidance you need.

So, get out there and start your nitro RC car without a glow plug and enjoy the thrill of this exciting hobby!