Can RC Cars Be Used On Beaches?

You’re at the beach, the sand has a great consistency, and it looks ideal for driving your RC car on. The beach, sun, and sand may be a great combination to get that enviable tan, but without proper precautions, these are conditions that could damage your RC car.

As a general rule,you can drive your RC car on the beach. The beach offers different consistencies of sand to run on, hard but “muddy” at the waterline and soft and deep at the beach’s edge. Appropriately prepared and driven with care on the beach, it will be both enjoyable and safe for your RC car.

Beaches contain two ingredients (sand and water) that have potentially damaging effects on your RC Car. Sand is abrasive and wears down pointy surfaces like cogs and gears, and you must keep water away from electronics. If water does get into the RC car electronics, your RC car will be the loser. What preventative measures should you take and “post-beach” maintenance to protect your  RC car?

Close-up of a crab standing on the sand

RC Cars Can Be Used On Beaches

Taking the correct and appropriate precautions means you can safely use your RC car on the beach. It’s essential, however, to remember that the beach is a hostile environment, and if you want to keep the RC car in working condition, you need to prepare it before time and do some post-beach maintenance.

Remember running your car on the beach poses 3 main risks, other than seagulls attacking it.

  1. Water damage
  2. Sand Damage
  3. Rust

Water Is Bad For RC Cars Electronics

Getting water into the electrical parts of your car may result in these parts becoming damaged permanently. We will discuss ways to try and stop this from happening.

Sand Damage Can Disable An RC Car

The most significant single risk an RC car faces at the beach is sand. Indeed, sand gets everywhere; check your trunks after being on the beach. This is not great news for RC cars that run with minimal tolerances.

Rust Needs To Be Avoided

The air at the coast contains moisture that wind and evaporation have drawn from the sea. At the seaside, the moisture comprises high levels of sodium chloride or salt; when this meets iron, iron oxide forms, speeding up the rusting and corrosion process of all metal components.

RC cars contain various metal parts which are vulnerable to rust damage which can at the very least affect the performance of the car and, at worst, require parts to be replaced sooner than expected.

The Types Of Cars Suited For The Beach

The best beach driving preventative measure you can take is to select an RC car that incorporates the following features, making it better suited for driving on the beach.

The Car Should Have A Powerful Motor

Driving on loose sand, away from the waterline, takes a lot of power. The more powerful the motor in your RC car, the more fun you will have at the beach. An RC Car with a motor smaller than a 540 will struggle.

See my related post on how fast 540 RC motors go

The smaller motor will work harder, drain the batteries faster and suffer more wear and tear. This may even damage the motor, requiring replacement.

4 X 4 Is The Best By Far!

An RC car with four-wheel drive will manage to travel on very loose sand much more competently than a two-wheel drive car.

This feature is pretty much a prerequisite for maximizing the car’s ability to drive in this environment and increasing your fun level!

Speed Is King When Running On The Beach

A car that can travel at 30 mph or more will give you a lot more fun than a rock crawler unless you are into rock crawling!

A high-speed capability means you can retreat from the waves if you get too close and the surf is threatening the RC car.

See my related article for some of the best RC cars for sand dunes

An RC Car With A High Riding Height Is Best Suited For Beach Driving

If your car’s riding height is not sufficient, it will get stuck on even the most minor mounds; this makes for a frustrating day at the beach with your RC car.

A Waterproof RC Car Is Preferable For Beach Driving

Water must not enter the sections of the car which house sensitive electronics. An RC car that has been waterproofed at the manufacturing stage will be better able to keep the clever bits of the RC car free of both water and sand.

Preparing Your RC Car For The Beach

Sun setting from the beach

If your car does not have the features we have already mentioned, there are a couple of simple preparations you can take to protect your car from the rigours of beach driving.

These recommendations will help to protect your car in the beach environment so you can enjoy driving without too much concern about damaging the RC car.

Waterproof The RC Car

Even if your car was sold as a waterproof model, there are a couple of steps that you can take to enhance this protection.

  1. Spray a light film of WD40 on the chassis and electronics. This product has a water repellent function which will help keep the electronics dry and free of sand. See my related article: Is WD 40 Good For RC Cars?
  2. If you are unsure of your RC car’s waterproofing, wrap as many electrical components as you can (such as the batteries and RC receiver) in small plastic sandwich bags, which you can close off with cable ties.

You might find my articles on how to waterproof an RC truck and how wet can RC cars get? helpful.

Metal Gears Are Everything

Sand is an abrasive, brutal contaminant for your RC car. If it gets into plastic or nylon gears turning at high speeds, the wear will be immense and very speedy. This could cut short your day driving at the beach and require extensive part replacement.

If you plan to use your RC car on the beach, we strongly recommend that you look at replacing nylon and plastic wheels and gears with their metal equivalents.

See a range of metal gears from Amazon here

Consider Installing Paddle Wheels

Even RC cars capable of the best traction will struggle up loose dunes with regular tires. Fitting your RC car with paddle wheels will make all the difference in negotiating this terrain.

A wide selection can be seen here on Amazon

Special Precautions For Nitro Engines

If you are running an RC car powered by a nitro engine, you should take a couple of additional, simple precautions to protect the engine.

  1. Extra steps to keep sand out of the engine. We suggest the installation of an additional air filter cover. This can be as basic as an old pair of stockings. This precaution may reduce the engine’s power slightly, but it is worth the slight power-drop.
  2. Wipe a thin layer of grease between every part where foam parts meet plastic; this will help stop fine dust from getting in.

Running In Sand Causes High Battery Consumption

Running in the sand makes the motor work harder, which means it discharges faster. To extend your drive time on the beach, it is crucial to carry a few spare batteries.

Packing extra batteries will give you extra runtime on your RC car to explore beach driving, especially if you plan to drive the sandy dunes.

Safety Precaution

If other people not part of your group are on the beach, make sure you keep the car away from them. Travelling at more than 30mph makes this a potential missile that could cause serious injury.

Related post: RC Nitro Or Brushless? A Guide To Help You Choose

After The Beach, Carry Out The Following Steps On Your RC Car

When you get home, you need to carry some necessary maintenance. Follow the following 12 steps to ensure your RC car is ready for next time.

  1. Remove the batteries.
  2. If you have a nitro-powered nitro car that you will not use for a little while, remove all fuel from the tank.
  3. Remove your waterproofing. These will have gathered moisture.
  4. Empty any water from the car’s compartments. 
  5. If you can, remove the body from the chassis and give it a good clean and drying out. Before reinstalling the body on the chassis, make sure it is dry.
  6. If the tires are vented, squeeze them over a sink to force all the water out.
  7. Clean any moisture off all the circuit boards and wire connections.
  8. Clean ALL the sand out from the chassis and the body. 
  9. Remember, sand is an abrasive material, and if you don’t have metal gears, you will need to check all the gears, linkages, and cogs for damage.
  10. Once the car’s insides are completely dry, spray a small amount of WD40 on the surfaces. If there is any water lurking about, it will ensure that the water is dispersed and does not cause any damage.
  11. Use a high-quality multipurpose lubricant like the Justice Brothers lubricant (link to Amazon) on all moving parts, including shafts, bearings, and ball joint systems of the RC car, to keep them in good working condition.
  12. Place both the car’s receiver and the transmitter batteries on trickle charge.
  13. Store the RC car in a safe and dry environment, preferably keeping the batteries separate until they are needed again.

Related post: What Is The Toughest RC Truck?

Are RC Cars Allowed On Beaches?

You may be wondering, ok so if I take the correct measures, I know that my RC car will be ok after a drive on the beach.

But, am I allowed to take my RC car on the beach?

There are lots of beaches, some of them might have certain rules and regulations.

Always check the regulations of the beach in your state before jumping in and using your RC car.

This may not affect every beach but, In general, most states allow electric RC cars during certain times and in designated areas.

Gas or other fuel-powered RCs might be prohibited on certain beaches.

See my related post: Where Is It Legal To Use An RC Car? Inc Hobbyists Experiences


There is no doubt about it, RC cars are a lot of fun. Whether you race your friends’ cars on the beach or run through an obstacle course, you will always have a blast.

Beaches seem to be specifically designed for RC cars. The compacted soil at the surf line through to the soft dunes at the back provide challenges for even the most experienced RC car owner. With adequate preparation and subsequent maintenance of your RC car, not only will you have a great time, but you will be able to continue using your RC car into the future.

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.

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