Starting a Petrol RC Car: A Beginner's Guide

Starting a Petrol RC Car: A Beginner’s Guide

Petrol RC cars are a thrilling and exhilarating hobby for enthusiasts of all ages. Whether you’re new to the hobby or have been interested for years, getting started with a petrol RC car can be an exciting journey. However, it also requires knowledge of proper maintenance, care, and how to start the car. In this article, we will provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to start a petrol RC car, from preparing the car to troubleshooting common problems. With the right preparation and equipment, you can be well-equipped to begin your journey into the world of petrol RC cars, experiencing the rush and excitement of controlling your own miniature vehicle.

Preparing the Car

Before starting your petrol RC car for the first time, there are a few preparation steps that you need to take.

Fuel and Oil Mixture

One very important aspect to petrol RC cars is getting the correct fuel and oil mixture. Typically, this is a mix of regular gasoline and oil at a ratio of 25:1 or 30:1.

Battery Charging

The car’s starter kit includes a battery that you need to fully charge using the charger that came with the kit.

Air Filter Maintenance

It is essential to check the air filter for cleaning and replacement regularly. Make sure that the filter is clean and free of debris to prevent it from blocking the carburetor.

Filling the Fuel Line

To prime the engine, start by filling the fuel line with fuel through the use of a fuel bulb. Once the fuel is flowing through the line, the engine will be ready to start.

Essential Tools

You should keep some essential tools with you at all times for maintenance needs on the go. Some must-have tools include a fuel bottle, glow plug wrench, and an air filter cleaner.

If you’re unsure about the appropriate fuel and oil mixture ratio or need advice on what tools to purchase, several websites cater to petrol RC car enthusiasts and can offer helpful tips and product recommendations.

How do I prepare my car to start?

To prepare your car to start, follow these steps:

  • Make sure your car battery is charged
  • Check your oil, fluid levels, and tire pressure
  • Insert your key into the ignition and turn it to “on”
  • Wait for the engine warning lights to turn off before starting the car
  • Shift your car into the appropriate gear (automatic or manual)
  • Press down on the brake pedal and turn the key to start the engine

For more information about car maintenance and preparation, check out websites such as Car and Driver or products like the Haynes Repair Manual.

Starting the Engine

Once your petrol RC car is prepared, it’s time to start the engine. Follow these steps to get your car up and running:

Turn On Your Transmitter and Receiver

Before starting the engine, make sure that the transmitter and receiver are turned on.

Set the Throttle to Idle

To begin, set the throttle to idle or the “zero” position.

Prime the Engine

Next, use a fuel primer bulb to fill the fuel line with gasoline. This will help to prime the engine.

Pull the Starter Cord

Once the fuel line is primed, pull the starter cord firmly to start the engine.

Adjust the Carburetor

Finally, adjust the carburetor and ensure that the engine is running smoothly before driving the car.

Some interesting facts about petrol RC cars include:

Petrol RC cars can reach speeds of up to 70 mph.
– RC car racing is a popular hobby and has its own international governing body, IFMAR.
– Some petrol RC cars have advanced features like two-speed transmissions and digital radios.

If you’re having difficulty starting your engine, check out online resources such as forums or the manufacturer’s website for troubleshooting tips. For those who prefer a more visual approach, YouTube has several videos demonstrating engine starting techniques.

Table of Fuel Mix Ratios

To make life easier, here is a table of the common fuel to oil ratio for popular petrol RC car brands:

Brand Fuel to Oil Ratio
HPI Racing 25:1
Traxxas 20:1
Losi 16:1

Are petrol RC cars any good?

Petrol RC cars, also known as gas-powered RC cars, offer a more realistic and powerful driving experience. Here are some pros and cons to consider:


  • Higher top speed than electric RC cars.
  • Longer run times between refueling.
  • Realistic engine sound and exhaust fumes.


  • More expensive than electric RC cars.
  • Require more maintenance, including cleaning air filters and tuning the engine.
  • Can be louder and emit stronger odors.

Ultimately, whether or not a petrol RC car is a good choice depends on your personal preferences and needs. It’s important to do your research and choose a high-quality model from a trusted manufacturer. Websites like Horizon Hobby and Tower Hobbies offer a wide selection of petrol RC cars and accessories.

Driving the Car

Now that your petrol RC car is started, it’s time to take it for a drive. Here are some tips to help you get started:

Practice in a Safe Area

Before you start taking your car to the track or racing, it’s important to practice in a safe and open area. This will help you get a feel for the car and build your driving skills.

Be Mindful of Your Surroundings

When driving your car, it’s important to be mindful of your surroundings. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Drive in an open and flat area with no obstacles.
  • Be aware of other people or animals in the area.
  • Respecting private property and/or restricted areas is important.

Start Slowly and Gradually Increase Speed

Begin by driving your car slowly and gradually increase your speed as you become more comfortable behind the wheel.

Keep an Eye on Temperature and Fuel Levels

Keep an eye on the temperature gauge and fuel level during usage as gas usage can vary depending on throttle usage.

If you want to drive your petrol RC car off-road, you can look into tracks or local off-road areas and explore those terrains. Some popular petrol RC car brands include Traxxas, HPI Racing, and Losi. If you want to learn more about these brands or shop for parts, there are several online hobby stores that specialize in petrol RC cars such as Tower Hobbies and AMain Hobbies.

How long should it take to drive?

It depends on various factors such as distance, traffic, speed limit, and route you take. However, you can estimate the time with the help of online tools such as Google Maps, MapQuest, and Waze. Simply enter your starting point, destination, and preferred route to get an approximate duration of your drive. Keep in mind that these estimate times may vary due to unforeseen circumstances such as accidents, road closures, or weather conditions.


To keep your petrol RC car running in top condition, it’s important to perform regular maintenance. Here are some tips to keep your car running smoothly:

Clean the Car After Each Use

Dirt, dust, and debris can build up on your car after each use, so it’s important to give it a good clean. Here are some steps to follow:

– Use compressed air or a soft brush to remove any dirt and debris from the car.
– Use a damp cloth to wipe down the exterior of the car.
– Remove the wheels and clean them separately with soapy water and a brush.

Regularly Change the Air Filter

The air filter helps to keep dust and debris from entering the engine. Regular cleaning may not always be enough to keep it running, so it’s important to regularly replace it.

Check the Spark Plug

The spark plug is responsible for creating the spark that ignites the fuel in the engine. To ensure your engine runs smoothly, it’s important to check your spark plug regularly and make sure it’s clean and in good condition.

Change the Fuel and Oil Mixture

As recommended by the manufacturer of your petrol RC car, make sure to change the fuel and oil mixture regularly to ensure the engine runs in the correct conditions.

If you need to replace parts or perform additional maintenance on your car, you can purchase parts and kits from hobby stores that specialize in petrol RC cars. Online retailers like Amazon, eBay, and Banggood has these parts available for purchase.


Even with proper maintenance, issues can still arise with a petrol RC car. Here are some common problems and troubleshooting tips to help solve them:

The Engine Doesn’t Start

– Check that the fuel tank is properly filled with the correct gasoline to oil ratio.
– Make sure the fuel line is not clogged.
– Ensure the spark plug is clean and properly installed.
– Check the battery of the car’s starter kit is fully charged.

The Car Doesn’t Move

– Check that the gears are properly engaged.
– Ensure that the clutch is not worn out.
– Verify that the throttle servo is functioning properly.

The Car Stalls

– Adjust the carburetor until the engine runs smoothly.
– Check that the fuel tank is properly filled.
– Ensure the air filter is not clogged.

The Car Overheats

– Check the cooling system for clogs.
– Ensure the air filter is not clogged.
– Try adding a heat sink to the engine to dissipate heat.

If your petrol RC car is still not functioning properly after troubleshooting, contact the manufacturer or visit a hobby store that specializes in petrol RC cars for additional assistance. Online retailers like Amazon, eBay, and Banggood also have forums and communities where petrol RC car owners can help each other.

What’s better petrol or electric RC cars?

Choosing between petrol or electric RC cars depends on several factors, such as your budget, personal preference, and intended use. Here are some key points to consider:

Electric RC cars:

  • Cost-effective and low-maintenance
  • Quiet and ideal for indoor use
  • Beginner-friendly with easy-to-operate controls
  • Shorter runtime and slower speed compared to petrol RC cars

Petrol RC cars:

  • Powerful and fast with longer runtime
  • Realistic engine sound and exhaust fume emissions
  • Higher cost and require maintenance and cleaning
  • Limited indoor use, better suited for outdoor terrain

If you are looking for high-quality RC cars, consider checking out websites such as Horizon Hobby, Tower Hobbies, and RC Planet. These sites offer a wide range of electric and petrol RC cars with various features and price points.


Starting a petrol RC car can be a thrilling and enjoyable hobby. By following proper maintenance techniques, knowing how to start the car, and addressing common problems, you can help to ensure that your RC car runs smoothly and safely.

Further resources

If you’re looking for more information on petrol RC cars, there are numerous online resources available. Websites like RC Universe and RCCrawler have active communities where RC enthusiasts can share tips, ask for advice, and discuss the latest products and techniques. You can also find helpful tutorials and guides on Youtube and various other car enthusiast websites.

Consider supporting a local hobby store

If you’re looking to purchase your first petrol RC car or need help with troubleshooting, consider visiting a local hobby store that specializes in RC cars. These stores often have knowledgeable staff that can provide more personalized assistance and may offer classes or events for RC enthusiasts.

Overall, starting a petrol RC car can be a rewarding and exciting experience. With proper care and maintenance, your car can provide you with hours of entertainment and enjoyment.