When the winter season rolls around, you may think it is time to pack your RC car away and wait until the temperatures rise and the snow melts. Should you mothball your RC car until summer, or can you safely run your RC car in the snow?
As a general rule, an RC car can be run in the snow. Taking some structural precautions such as waterproofing and body reinforcements will help protect the car from damage. Adjustment in driving techniques such as lower throttle will help minimize damage to the car.
Running an RC in the snow is not only possible, but it can be an opportunity to test your driving skills in a new environment. Before hitting the fresh powder with your RC car, we strongly recommend that you follow some simple precautions, which will ensure your car keeps operating optimally, that the batteries remain healthy, and that the car’s running gear is not damaged.
RC Cars Can Run In Snow
Wintertime does not mean you need to put your RC car driving hobby on hold, but there are some crucial preparations you need to make to protect your car from the conditions. Does the quality of your car limit the possibility of driving your RC car in the snow?
You can run both a toy-grade RC Car or a hobby-grade RC car on the snow. A toy-grade car will struggle a little more than a hobby-grade car, but it is not an impossible task.
Winter driving will not only get you out of the house, but it is also fantastic fun. The unfamiliar environment provides you with a great opportunity to extend yourself and set some new RC car driving challenges in the snow.
Some of the fun you can look forward to when driving in the snow include the following.
- Creating snow roosters. You can generate “snow roosters” behind the car at full throttle.
- Try drifting on ice. You can learn to drift the car like a professional.
- Create a replica rally course. It’s fun to try and replicate a world rally car (WRC) championship course by creating many obstacles to run a time trial through.
- Challenging snow mounds. Snow piles created by the snowplow in your street make a fun obstacle for an RC rock crawler.
- Race on the snow against a friend. Racing two or more cars around a snow-covered track can create lots of hilarity and fun.
Such is the flexibility your RC car gives you when the winter snow has everyone else sitting on their couch! However, before running your RC car out in the snow, you must take a few precautions to protect the car against these adverse conditions.
Before you throw on your winter jacket and grab your RC car, there are a few pre-run checks you need to make to ensure your RC car will survive the experience.
Make Sure Your RC Car Is Suited To Driving In Snow
Not all RC cars are designed for use in the same conditions. Snow can provide a challenging environment for driving an RC car and can be hard on the car itself.
If your RC car is not suitable or geared up for driving in the snow, it may suffer a number of problems or even serious damage.
See my related article: The 10 Best RC Cars For Snow
The following problems can result from driving an RC car in the snow if it is not prepared correctly for this environment.
The RC Car Body May Be Easily Damaged In Snow
Some RC cars are built with very stiff plastic. If it is extremely cold, the plastic may become brittle, and in some temperatures, parts may even break off if you hit an obstacle.
Check the manufacturer’s instructions to see what range of temperatures in which the RC car can be operated safely. If the temperature is too cold, you need to exercise caution.
It would be wise to go easy on the throttle control until you acclimatize to driving in these conditions. Crashing into obstacles in extreme cold may damage the RC car body extensively.
If the temperature gets too cold, you may need to adjust your driving plans and reduce your driving aggression until the temperature increases a little.
Fluids In A RC Car Change Consistency In Cold Weather
Just as the fluids in a normal car can be influenced by cold weather, so too can the weather affect fluids in your RC car. If you have never closely examined the inner workings of your RC car, you may be surprised to find out how many parts rely on fluids.
RC cars contain fluids in up to four mechanisms.
- The differential. The differential contains silicone fluid.
- Shock absorbers. The shock absorbers are filled with silicone shock oil.
- Other moving parts. Shafts, bearings, and ball joint systems are lubricated.
- Fuel. Nitro cars need nitro fuel.
Related post: RC Shock Oils: The Only GUIDE You Need
All these lubricants stand the risk of changing consistency at very low temperatures. The change in the fluid viscosity can impact the efficiency of working parts, the performance of the RC car and, in some cases, result in damage.
Precautions To Take When Taking Your RC Car Is On The Snow
Electric and Nitro cars have different potential fail points. We identify which precautions you should take for each type of engine in the list below.
As a rule of thumb, a Toy-Grade RC Car will be less suitable to drive in snow compared to a Hobby-Grade RC car. Typically, parts used in hobby-grade RC cars are significantly higher-quality than in toy-grade cars. As a result, they can withstand the snow environment better than toy-grade cars.
Toy-Grade RC Cars are not precluded from operating in the snow, but you need to take more precautions when driving these cars in this environment.
Snow Is Frozen Water With An Attitude
Snow is frozen water that eventually melts and becomes liquid water! Driving your RC car in water without the proper precautions means potential water damage and ruined electronic parts.
- Most Hobby Grade RC cars are built to be waterproof. Despite this, we recommend that you spray all metal parts with WD40. WD40 acts as a water repellent and prevents moisture from building up in the car.
- In addition to WD40, use a proper lubricant on all the Shafts, bearings, and ball joint systems.
- If the RC car is not waterproof, it’s also a good idea to wrap the car’s electronic components in a plastic sandwich bag.
- Apply tape to any crack or joint to keep out as much cold air and moisture as you can.
Related post: Is WD 40 Good For RC Cars?
Be careful that the snow is not too deep and that the RC car does not remain submerged under the snow for extended periods. Even the best-protected fittings will experience some leakage, and extended time spent under the snow will exacerbate the problem.
Check The Temperature
Plastics are very susceptible to cracking and breaking in icy conditions. At extreme cold conditions, when the temperatures cause the plastics to freeze, molecular changes in the material occur, which cause it to become more brittle and susceptible to breaking.
In addition, as water freezes, it expands, which, when applied to an enclosed space in the RC car, may cause the plastic to snap.
Crashing the RC car into objects can cause more severe damage than the same collision would have caused in warm weather. Try to limit going near obstacles where the car could crash into them at high speeds.
Your car’s instruction manual should contain advice on the temperature ranges for which your RC car is suited and offer some additional advice for using your car in the snow.
A way to overcome this is to reinforce the parts of the car most exposed to potential damage. Another shorter-term solution is to heat the car before each run. Even simpler would be to keep each run in the snow as short as possible and keep the RC car in a warm environment between runs.
Check What Fluids Are In The Car
Special care should be taken to check and monitor all areas of the car that use fluids. Fluids should be checked before driving the RC car in the snow and periodically during your day out in the snow.
Periodically check the function of the following fluids in the car.
- While still in a warm environment, press the wheels up and down to make the shock absorbers compress and decompress. Try to remember the pressure you need to apply. After running the RC car for a time in the snow, conduct the same exercise. If the forces required to compress and decompress are significantly higher, it may be a good idea to stop for a time and return the car to a heated environment.
- Listen carefully for any unusual noises that the RC car makes. If it sounds different, the lubrication of the shafts, bearings, and ball joints may be changing consistency and becoming thicker and less effective; this would be a good time to stop until you can heat the car.
- If you have a nitro car, the fuel is the weak link in freezing weather. Most manufacturers recommend that you don’t use Nitro cars in temperatures lower than -35 degrees Fahrenheit.
At -29.2 Fahrenheit, Nitromethane, one of the ingredients of Nitro fuel, solidifies. At this point, the different fuel components may start to separate, and the fuel will stop working. The simple solution is to pre-heat your nitro fuel before running the car.
See my related post: Can Nitro RC Cars Run In Cold Weather?
- Batteries are susceptible to cold. If you have an electric RC car, your batteries will discharge sooner than they would in the summertime. This will make your sessions in the cold somewhat shorter than they would be in summer. A great solution is to carry more than one set of charged batteries with you.
If you have carried out the preparations, it’s all go for some fun in the snow.
Rules To Live By For RC Driving In The Snow
If you are unfamiliar with driving an RC car in the snow, we have some guidelines or golden rules we advise until you have gained some experience in this environment.
We recommend you follow the following precautions to keep your car safe and running well when driving in the snow.
- Don’t use the maximum throttle in the snow. Remember, the RC car is weaker and more prone to damage, and, in this instance, hitting an object in winter will cause more harm than doing so at the same speed in summer.
- If you have an electric RC car, another reason not to run at full throttle is that it may stress the battery. The battery will discharge much faster, and it may cause long-term charging issues.
- It’s not a good idea to drive your RC car into a deep snowbank, or for that matter, underwater, causing the RC car to become completely submerged. Even if the RC car is waterproofed at the manufacturing stage, or you have done a great job protecting it yourself, there is a possibility that water will get into the electrics causing damage.
- As discussed earlier, try to keep your RC car as warm as possible and as close to room temperature as you can manage before and in between runs.
- Don’t run your car with the body off when it is snowing. The body adds an extra layer of protection against the elements and will be a barrier against that pesky snow flooding your RC car’s electrics.
- After running your RC car on snow, and you still have to travel home, bring something along to carry your now dirty, wet RC car in the family vehicle.
- Last but not least, dress warmly in waterproof clothes.
If it is snowing and you need to get out but are not comfortable driving your RC car in the snow, why don’t you check your local area for any available indoor tracks?
Indoor tracks are a great way to meet fellow RC car hobbyists and enjoy a social occasion with like-minded people when most other people are stuck indoors.
Post Snow Maintenance For Your RC Car
If you want to keep your RC car running in top condition, there is a bit of work to do before you put it away after running it in the snow.
Remember, snow is not a friendly environment, and you need to make sure that the water is removed. Salt equals rust, so you must clean this off if the snowplows put salt down. Snow piles look pretty and white on the outside, but we all know the dirt and other debris it contains inside.
See my related article: How Wet Can RC Cars Get? Read This Cool Guide
Follow post snow run maintenance steps to ensure your RC car is ready for the next outing.
- Remove the batteries. If you are running an electric car, remove the batteries and thoroughly dry them, and the connector plugs with a soft cloth to remove any residual moisture.
- Empty the fuel. If you have a gas-powered nitro car that you will not run for a time, remove all unused fuel from the tank.
- Remove your waterproofing. Any sponges, padding, or tape used to waterproof the car will have gathered moisture, which should be removed from the RC car.
- Remove any pooled water. If the structure of the RC car allows it, remove the body from the chassis and give it a good clean and allow it to dry out. Ensure all components are completely dry before re-assembling the car.
- Drain vented tires. If the tires are vented, squeeze them over a sink or other container to drain all accumulated water out of them.
- Dry the circuit boards. Clean any moisture off all the circuit boards and wire connections using a micro-fiber cloth. A can of compressed-air will help to blow moisture out of hard-to-reach places and connectors.
- Use WD-40 to repel moisture. After you have dried all the components of excess moisture, spray a small amount of WD40 on the surfaces. WD-40 is an excellent moisture repellent, and it will take care of any residual moisture.
- Lubricate moving parts. Use a high-quality multipurpose lubricant like the Justice Brothers lubricant on all moving parts, including shafts, bearings, and ball joint systems of the RC car, to keep them in good working condition.
- Charge the batteries. Place your nitro car’s receiver and transmitter batteries on trickle charge. If the RC car is electric, put the main power batteries on charge.
- Store in a dry environment. Store the RC car in a safe and dry environment, which will help evaporate any moisture missed during the cleaning operation. Preferably keep the batteries out of the car and transmitter until they are needed again.
It’s snowing outside, and the family feels a little like a bunch of couch potatoes? Watching repeats on Netflix or watching Tik-Tok or YouTube videos is no substitute for the enjoyment you can get with your RC car.
Driving your RC car in the snow is possible. Making a few precautionary preparations will make your time out as fun and trouble-free as possible.