Can Nitro RC Cars Run in Cold Weather? [Explained]

Nitro RC cars give you a thrilling acceleration. They are faster than electric RC cars. However, you might wonder if Nitro RC cars can give you the same thrill in winter.

Thus the main question arises- can nitro RC cars run in cold weather?

Yes.  But you must warm up the engine before you take it out. While the engine is warming up, take out one of the glow plugs from inside your car. Make sure you don’t put it backward. Or else it will jam and ruin your engine. 

This is just the tip of the iceberg of our guideline for RC in winter. If you’re interested and want to know more, just hold on to this wagon.

So, why wait? Let’s get started-

Is it Possible to Run a Nitro RC Car in the Winter?

Yes, it is. For starters, the nice strong plastic body protects your vehicle so well in cold conditions. They protect the car against bumps, crashes, and doing crazy stunts. However, some of the metal parts can become more brittle. 

In general, RC cars are only for play and fun in the sun. But there’s a lot of things you can do with RC vehicles. Such as you can blow snow from your lawn. Or use your car as a sled by putting it on its side on top of snow or ice. You can also drive your car into a layer of snow.

However, you can’t just run an RC car out in the cold. There are certain restrictions that we’ll need to be aware of. This leads us to our next segment-

Nitro Engine Break-in Temperature

Throughout the break-in process, the piston and sleeve keep wearing into each other. Which then forms a precise fit. To allow the piston and sleeve to accomplish this fit adequately, the engine must be heated. Up to a minimum temperature (at least 200 to 215 degrees).

If the engine can’t reach this minimum temperature, you can expect higher compression. This will increase your fuel consumption.

Again, the engine can’t operate below 2 degrees celsius for too long. So, take a look at the temperature before bringing it out

The break-in process also removes any residual machining oil from the surfaces of the piston and sleeve. The oil composition is similar to that of motor oils. There may be issues if the engine is started before the oil has been removed. 

These surfaces will be subjected to an excessive amount of wear. Extreme cold can cause fuel to thicken, forming a gel. This can cause serious damage.

So let’s see what we’ve to do to run nitro RC cars in winter.

Running Nitro RC in Winter: What You Need to Do

You can’t enjoy the pleasures of driving an RC car outdoors if you’re in a cold region. It’s not fun when the temperature drops below freezing point and starts to snow. That’s why we made this guide to keep your RC car working even during winter.

Some basic rules definitely apply to all driving conditions-

Keeping the Battery Charged

Ensure that your batteries are fully charged before driving in the cold. RC car batteries must be fully discharged, then recharged before drive time (to avoid overcharging). If you’re going to drive for a couple of hours, it’s better to charge the batteries the night before.

Warming Up the Engine

Always warm up your car thoroughly prior to driving on fresh snow or frozen ground.  Otherwise, your tires could slip away in freezing conditions and damage your vehicle. Another thing, your tires should always be properly inflated (check them beforehand with a pressure gauge).

Waterproofing Your RC Vehicle

A remote-controlled vehicle (RC vehicle) is a toy that can perform remarkable things. Such as driving underwater. If you want to keep your investment safe from any damage, follow these simple guidelines.

First and foremost, get a case for your RC car. It will safeguard your gadget from water damage and sharp object punctures. You should install waterproof internal components. Such as waterproof brushed motors.

Keep the batteries dry during storage, place them in a sealed bag with desiccant.

You can waterproof your servo using something like marine grease. Apply a thin layer of this grease to the gears. The grease will keep the majority of the water out of the horn’s exposed area.

You might not get marine grease at every store. So, we’ve listed down the best products to satisfy your purpose.

Most ECS’s are waterproof these days. But if the label on your one says it’s not, you should waterproof it. You can use conformal coating spray to waterproof your ECS’s. 

For the receiver, you can use a plastic dip to waterproof them. You can also use peel coats as an alternative.

These were the steps to waterproof different parts of your RC car. You need to follow these otherwise your vehicle might rust or disintegrate.

How Long Can You Run a Nitro RC Car?

Nitro-powered RC cars, as the name implies, run on nitromethane rather than gasoline. This gives them a substantially higher horsepower (HP) rating. As a result, you can race them at higher speeds than conventional RC cars. They also last longer on a single tank of gasoline. But how long will it take in cold weather?

One tank usually lasts around 10 minutes. This is plenty of time for a fast-paced race around your yard or basement. But in cold weather, this runtime is slightly less. We can assume that each tank will last 6-8 minutes in cold temperatures.

Problems You Can Face With RC Cars In Cold Weather

If you’re going to operate RC cars on a cold morning, here are a couple of things to know. 

Starter Fail

Due to extremely low temperatures, your nitro RC engine might not start. Well, you can start your nitro RC engine without a glow starter.

Motor Freezing

Any sealing rings on the motor have a good possibility of freezing up, especially in cold temperatures.

Skating Wheels

Most nitro cars aren’t optimized for snowy conditions. They don’t have deep snow chains or snow tires. Their wheels usually have no treads to help grip snow on slippery tracks.

Outer Surface Gathering Ice

Don’t let ice build up on the outside of the car. It won’t be able to move as easily if there is too much resistance in its movement.

These were some very common problems that you’ll face while running a nitro RC in cold weather. To avoid these, you can look at the tips in the next section.

Tips for Winter Time RC Adventures

We’ve learned about the variety of problems while driving nitro RC cars at cold temperatures. Here are a few things you can follow and avoid these problems-

Be Careful about the Fuel

Keep the engine inside to warm it up to around room temperature. In chilly conditions, starting the engine can be problematic. Note! If the model has fuel in it, do not bring it inside. When storing or moving the model, always remove the fuel.

Don’t Force the Engine

Don’t lean the engine to increase the temperature. Even if it’s too cold. This will decrease lubrication. And not to mention, causes the piston and sleeve to wear quickly.

Don’t operate any RC cars in the cold. There’s no way to regulate how fast they heat up and when. That means that if your car is running hot, getting cooled down will be hard. With no warning signs whatsoever, it leads to potentially costly damage. 

Maintaining Engine Temperature

You can use an uncut body to help maintain the right engine temperature. You can do this by blocking airflow across the engine. Put tape over the openings of the fuel tank and your problem will be solved.

We guarantee these few steps will come as a huge help to you.


Are nitro RC cars faster than electric?

If you’re a speed-junky, there’s nothing quite like a nitro-fueled RC car. I mean, RC cars are already pretty quick and all, but when they’re powered by nitro fuel the result is something magical—spectacularly powerful yet surprisingly smooth.

What is the maximum temperature of nitro RC engines?

The optimal temperature for a nitro RC engine is somewhere between 225-250 degrees Fahrenheit. Overheating your nitro engine to temperatures above 250 degrees can cause a lot of damage. It can also limit its life.

Can brushless motors run underwater?

Yes! Brushless motors can run underwater just fine. You will want to be careful with any waterproof encasings as these can be susceptible to water damage, but as long as it isn’t submerged for more than a couple of minutes, there should be no problem.

The Bottom Line

So, can nitro RC cars run in cold weather? We hope you have your answer by now. Nitro RC cars are becoming popular every day. Especially because they are easily available and aren’t too expensive. Besides, they are fast, loud, and exciting to drive.

But remember, nitro RC cars require more specialized care than electric or gas-powered cars.

If you have any other queries regarding RC nitro cars, feel free to share them with us. Best wishes!