How to Start a Nitro RC Car: A Beginner's Guide

How to Start a Nitro RC Car: A Beginner’s Guide

Nitro RC cars are fascinating vehicles that are powered by a small internal combustion engine that runs on a specialized fuel mixture. For those new to the hobby, starting a nitro RC car can seem daunting and overwhelming. However, with the right tools and a little bit of know-how, starting a nitro RC car can be a straightforward and rewarding task. In this article, we will provide step-by-step instructions on how to start a nitro RC car, from gathering the necessary tools and filling the fuel tank to priming the engine and adjusting its performance. By the end of this article, you’ll have all the knowledge you need to confidently start your nitro RC car and enjoy the excitement and thrill it brings. Whether you are a seasoned hobbyist or just starting, having the correct information is crucial to getting the most out of your nitro RC cars.

Before attempting to start a nitro RC car, make sure you have all the necessary tools to avoid complications. Gather the following tools:

  • A nitro fuel: The fuel formula will depend on the manufacturer’s specification. Check the user manual to ensure you have the right fuel
  • A fuel bottle: Used for refilling the fuel tank
  • A glow plug igniter: Used for activating the glow plug, which heats up the engine and makes it ready to start
  • Alkaline batteries: Required to operate the glow plug igniter
  • A flat-head screwdriver: Used for adjusting the air and fuel mixture
  • An Allen wrench: Used for tightening screws and bolts
  • A funnel: Used for correctly filling the fuel tank

If you don’t have any of these tools, you can purchase them at your local hobby store or online. Ensure that you select high-quality tools to avoid any damage to your nitro RC car. With all the necessary tools at hand, it’s time to move on to the next step.

How do I start my nitro RC car?

Starting a nitro RC car can be a bit tricky, but with the right steps, you can do it easily. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Make sure you have fresh batteries in your transmitter and receiver battery packs.
  2. Prime the engine by placing your finger over the exhaust outlet and pulling the pull-start cord a few times until fuel is drawn into the fuel lines.
  3. Connect the igniter to the glow plug and turn it on.
  4. Hold the car and give it a sharp pull on the pull-start cord. If the engine doesn’t start, repeat the process until it does.
  5. Remove the igniter and run the car for a few minutes to warm up the engine before driving it.

If you need more help, there are many websites and products available online that can provide you with step-by-step instructions, troubleshooting tips, and videos. Some popular ones are and

Filling the Fuel Tank

The next step in starting your nitro RC car is to fill the fuel tank. Here’s how to do it correctly:

Step Description
Step 1 Ensure the car is on a flat surface and away from any flammable materials
Step 2 Open the fuel tank cap and remove the fuel bottle cap
Step 3 Insert the fuel bottle tip into the fuel tank, making sure there are no air bubbles
Step 4 Fill the fuel tank slowly, leaving a little space at the top to prevent spills
Step 5 Tighten the fuel tank cap before moving onto the next step

Some important things to keep in mind when filling the fuel tank include:

  • Do not overfill the fuel tank
  • Use a funnel to avoid spills
  • Ensure there are no air bubbles in the fuel line
  • Use the right fuel formula as specified by the manufacturer. Using the wrong fuel formula can damage your RC car’s engine.

By filling the fuel tank correctly, you’re one step closer to getting your nitro RC car running.

You can find high-quality RC cars and RC car accessories at top retailers such as Horizon Hobby and A Main Hobbies.

Why won’t my nitro car start?

Possible reasons why your nitro car won’t start are:

  • The glow plug is not working or needs to be replaced
  • The batteries are low or dead
  • The fuel tank is empty or the fuel line is clogged
  • The air filter is dirty or needs to be replaced
  • The carburetor is flooded or needs to be adjusted
  • The spark plug is fouled or needs to be replaced
  • The engine is flooded or needs to be primed

These are some common issues, but there could be other factors affecting your nitro car’s performance. It’s a good idea to consult the manufacturer’s manual or a knowledgeable technician if you are unsure how to troubleshoot the problem.

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Prime the engine

Priming the engine is the next step in starting your nitro RC car. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Remove the air filter and twist the throttle twice to open the carburetor valve
  2. Put a small amount of fuel into the priming bulb to lubricate the engine and to help with the priming process
  3. Firmly press the priming bulb so that the fuel gets into the carburetor and engine
  4. Put the air filter back in place before proceeding to the glow plug igniter

Some other things to keep in mind when priming the engine are:

  • Once you start priming, do not touch the throttle again
  • Avoid over-priming by only priming the engine a few times
  • If you think you’ve over-primed, wait a few minutes before trying to start your car

With these simple steps, you’ll be able to prime the engine quickly and easily, allowing you to move on to the next step of starting your nitro RC car.

Also, make sure to use high-quality brand fuel for your engine to ensure optimal performance.

How do you start a nitro RC car with EZ start?

To start a nitro RC car with EZ start, you’ll need to follow a few simple steps:

  • Make sure the battery is fully charged
  • Prime the engine by covering the exhaust and pulling the starter cord a few times
  • Insert the EZ start wand into the EZ start unit on the engine
  • Press the button on the wand to start the engine
  • Remove the EZ start wand once the engine has started

For more information about nitro RC cars and EZ start, you can visit websites such as or They offer a wide variety of resources and products to help you get started with nitro RC cars.

Use the Glow Plug Igniter

Once the engine is primed, the next step is to start it using a glow plug igniter. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Ensure that the igniter is fully charged
  2. Connect the igniter to the glow plug by placing it over the plug and pushing it in
  3. Hold the igniter in place for 10-15 seconds to warm up the glow plug and engine
  4. While holding the igniter, use your other hand to give the pull-start cord a quick, firm pull
  5. If the car doesn’t start after a few pulls, wait a few seconds and repeat steps 2-4
  6. As soon as the engine starts, remove the igniter to avoid damaging the glow plug

It is essential to be careful when using the glow plug igniter. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Never touch the tip of the glow plug after ignition as it will be extremely hot
  • Do not leave the igniter connected to the plug for more than 15 seconds to avoid damaging it
  • Always turn off the igniter and disconnect it from the glow plug before moving the car

With these safety tips and instructions, you’re now ready to use the glow plug igniter to start your nitro RC car.

You can check out some recommended glow plug igniters, such as the Dynamite Li-Po Glow Driver with Battery and USB Charger, to make starting your nitro RC car even easier.

How do you start a glow plug?

To start a glow plug, follow these simple steps:

  1. Connect the battery to the glow plug starter.
  2. Touch the starter to the glow plug and hold it there for a few seconds.
  3. Remove the starter and attempt to start the engine.

It’s important to note that glow plugs are commonly used in diesel engines and require heat to start. If you’re having trouble starting your engine with a glow plug, it may be time to replace the plug or seek the advice of a professional mechanic.

For more information on glow plugs and other engine components, check out websites like AutoZone, NAPA Auto Parts or Advance Auto Parts. These websites offer a wide range of resources and products for DIY mechanics and professionals alike.

Adjust the Engine

Once the engine is started, you may need to adjust it to achieve optimal performance. Here are some steps to follow:

Performance Adjustment

  1. Check the high-speed needle setting as it controls the amount of fuel and air mixture delivered to the engine when it is running at high speeds. It should be set to the factory default or a slightly richer setting to ensure proper lubrication and prevent overheating.
  2. Start the car and let it idle for a few seconds before revving it up a few times to check its response. If the engine stalls or hesitates, the high-speed needle may need to be adjusted
  3. Turn the high-speed needle in small increments, typically one eighth of a turn, clockwise to enrich the fuel mixture or counterclockwise to lean the mixture. After each adjustment, test the car to see if there is an improvement.
  4. Adjust the mid-range needle as necessary, depending on how the engine performs within the low-to-mid range settings. It should be leaner than the high-speed needle setting.

Idle Speed Adjustment

  1. Adjust the idle speed screw located next to the throttle servo until the car’s wheels are barely moving or at a complete stop.
  2. Turn the screw In clockwise to increase idle speed, and counter-clockwise to decrease it.
  3. Make small adjustments and test the car’s response after each adjustment.
  4. Ensure that the carburetor servo and linkage are properly aligned and adjusted.

Remember to consult the user manual or seek help from a professional if you are unsure about how to adjust the car’s engine. Also, regularly maintain your car, including cleaning it after use, changing the air filter, and replacing worn-out parts, to keep it in peak condition.

Don’t forget to check out the car parts section on our website for all your car maintenance needs.

How do you adjust the idle speed and idle mixture?

To adjust the idle speed and idle mixture of your car, follow these simple steps:

  • Start the engine and let it warm up for a few minutes
  • Locate the idle adjustment screw and the idle mixture screw
  • Turn the idle adjustment screw to adjust the idle speed to the manufacturer’s specifications
  • Turn the idle mixture screw to adjust the air/fuel mixture until the engine runs smoothly
  • Repeat the adjustment process as necessary until the engine runs smoothly at idle

If you’re not comfortable adjusting your car’s idle speed and idle mixture on your own, consider taking it to a mechanic or using a product such as the Carburetor Adjustment Tool to make the process easier.


Starting a nitro RC car can be intimidating, but with the right tools and procedures, it can be an exciting and enjoyable hobby. Remember to be patient, follow the steps carefully, and seek help if needed while starting the car for the first time.

Here are some key takeaways to remember:


Be sure to have all the necessary tools, including a nitro fuel, glow plug igniter, and fuel bottle, before attempting to start your nitro RC car.


The basic steps to starting a nitro RC car are filling the fuel tank, priming the engine, using the glow plug igniter, and adjusting the engine.


Regularly maintaining your nitro RC car is essential to ensure optimal performance and longevity. This includes cleaning it after use, changing the air filter, and replacing worn-out parts.

Now that you know how to start a nitro RC car, it’s time to have some fun and enjoy the thrill of driving it on the track. With a bit of practice and patience, you can become an expert at starting your nitro RC car and get the most out of your hobby.