Are Nitro RC Cars Dangerous? Is There Need To Be Worried?

You can get electric RC cars, and then you can get petrol RC cars, which are both capable of extreme speeds. However, nitro RC cars are much faster and stronger than their counterparts and are often considered dangerous, but is this true? 

As a general rule, nitro RC cars can be much more dangerous than other RC cars because of nitro fuel’s inherent speed and poisonous nature. These RC cars drive much faster and can catch on fire, which makes them extremely costly to run and makes them a dangerous type of RC car. Every type of RC car can be dangerous, but all types can be enjoyed when being aware of the possible dangers and being equipped to deal with them.

Knowing that a certain type of RC car is dangerous does not specifically mean that you will know why it is dangerous or how to avoid the problems of owning one. We always recommend that you have the right precautions and plans for a nitro RC car before simply buying one. 

Are Nitro RC Cars Dangerous?

What Are The Dangers Of Their Speed?

Nitro RC cars are significantly faster than normal RC cars, sometimes even faster than modern electric RC cars. This creates several issues that you may not be aware of when driving other types of RC cars simply because they do not exist.

The first and most obvious danger is driving a nitro RC car anywhere near a crowd, which can cause people to get significantly hurt if you lose control of your RC car. This can happen quickly because the power being delivered to the wheels means that suddenly stopping or changing direction is almost impossible.

A nitro RC car can be created to drive almost as fast as a normal car, with many standard cars not being as fast as these small cars. Because of this speed and the car’s small size, they can hurt a person significantly more than their counterparts; with the fuel also being flammable and toxic, it creates a perfect storm. 

Is Nitro RC Fuel Toxic?

Nitro fuel is not inherently dangerous if you inhale some vapors or if some of it is spilt on the floor, as long as it is treated with some respect. However, if an animal or a child were to consume some nitro fuel, it would be extremely poisonous and could cause death within hours.

However, this is true of all fuels used in cars, with nitro fuel only being specific because it reacts much faster than most other fuels on the market. Fortunately, if you throw sand or sawdust on a spill, the fuel can be cleaned up with ease, and no one can be hurt.

You should, however, not make breathing in the vapors from the nitro fuel a common occurrence, avoiding it whenever at all possible. A few vapors here or there won’t be dangerous, but all fuels have vapors that can cause cancer if you are constantly being exposed to them. 

See my related post on how to store nitro fuel: How, Where And When To Store Your RC Trucks

Can Nitro RC Cars Explode?

Yes, in a sense, nitro RC cars can explode if everything goes wrong; this rarely happens even in races where these cars are crashing into each other. Nitro cars have several safety systems to stop explosions, including several pressure release valves. 

Nitro RC cars usually catch on fire when they flip over or are in a crash, they don’t explode in these cases. This is not uncommon when someone loses control of their RC car as the pressure release valves will leak petrol if flipped over.

Nothing in an RC car will allow for explosions, with many people getting confused when enthusiasts are talking about their cars exploding. What is usually meant is that one or more cars got flipped over for much too long, and some fuel leaked out, causing a fire that was extinguished within a few seconds. 

How To Prevent Nitro RC Cars From Burning?

There is no real way to prevent a nitro RC car from burning, with most cars catching fire only if they have been flipped for too long and the engine is still running. However, nitro and petrol RC cars have fuel systems that are almost entirely gravity fed. 

This means that once they are flipped over, the cars start losing fuel in the engine, which quickly causes the entire system to shut down. Even leaked fuel does not ignite easily as there is no longer a spark to cause the fuel to catch fire. 

If a car does catch fire while flipped over, it may be because of an exposed wire or the engine has gotten so hot that the fuel combusts. However, if you are racing on a track or you have the right safety equipment, a fire extinguisher will be on hand to quickly kill any fire that may start. 

Related post: Fixing A Smoking RC Car – A Simple Guide

What Can Cause An RC Car To Be Dangerous?

Overall, we have only seen two things that can cause a nitro RC car to become conventionally dangerous, with many people not realizing why they may be dangerous. A speeding car is usually not thought about because it does not sound as amazing as an exploding RC car.

Fortunately, it is extremely unlikely for a nitro RC car to explode; if this is the case, it is because they have been heavily modified. This means that the car’s safeties are not present, causing damage, with the fuel tank no longer being kept safe from being burnt or melted. 


An overheating nitro RC car is possibly one of the most dangerous things on any RC track, which is usually why they need to be kept moving with plenty of ventilation. However, we have seen many people try to build their shells, completely forgetting to ventilate the RC car. 

If the engine or pistons of the nitro RC car cannot be cooled enough, then it may explode while it is being heavily raced. The explosion will usually be a lot smaller than most people expect, with the most dangerous thing being the now out-of-control RC car rather than any flying parts. 


This can be hard to avoid, and many custom RC builders face it when they build their first few RC cars. Normally it would not cause too many problems as the RC car cannot catch on fire from a sudden short; however, this changes drastically if the car has been flipped. 

A simple short in the servos or the wiring of the RC car that makes contact with leaking nitro fuel can cause the entire car to catch fire. This fire inherently does burn much hotter than a normal petrol fire, causing damage and many other problems that you will need to kill with a fire extinguisher; never throw water on a burning fuel fire. 

Check out this post: Nitro Fuel 20 vs 30: Which One Should You Use?


A nitro RC car can drive much faster than most other types of RC cars, and you will need to ensure that you are capable of always safely stopping it. However, if you have the practice and the presence of mind to use it correctly, it will be an extremely fun RC car to have.

Please always remember never to try to kill a fuel fire with water whatever you do!

I hope you found this article helpful. I have many more Nitro RC related articles that you will find useful.

(Amazon link)

Paul Good

This awesome hobby has something for everyone, whether you like to build your RC from scratch and keep modifying till you've got it to just how you want it, to track racing. You might be out with a boat, or perfecting your skills with a plane. Are you taking some cool pics with your drone? I'm sure my site will help you on your journey.

Recent Posts