How Fast Do Nitro RC Cars Go? (+Top 5 Factors To Consider!)

Whether you are a fan of electric or nitro RCs, at some point, you might wonder about the speed of nitro RC cars. So, how fast do nitro RC cars go?

On average, Nitro RC cars can go at about 35 mph. The speed of a Nitro RC car can depend on several factors, including engine size, nitro percentage of fuel, gearing, and the way tires are built. 

Let’s jump in deeper and learn more about different aspects that determine the speed of nitro RC cars, their speed comparison with electric ones, the fastest nitro RC car, and some of my top recommended fastest nitro RC car models.

A nitro RC car on grass

How Fast Does A Nitro RC Car Really Go?

Generally speaking, nitro RC cars can run at about 35-40 mph. The speed of the RC car can vary primarily based on the type of nitro RC car you are driving and other factors like size, gearing, motor, and the surface you are running your nitro RC car.

Here’s a table that lists the top speed of some RC cars:

RC Car Model:Top Speed:
Traxxas TRX-4 9 mph
HPI Mini Recon15 mph
Traxxas Revo 3.3 (Nitro)45 mph
HPI E-Firestorm Flux77 mph
Traxxas XO-1100 mph
RC Car Top Speeds (Source)

Let’s talk more about the factors that affect the speed of the Nitro RC cars. 

What Are The Factors That Impact The Speed Of Nitro RC Cars?

Here are the top 5 factors you should consider while thinking about the speed of nitro RC cars:

#1. Gearing

The gearing can also impact the top speed of your Nitro RC car. In RC cars and trucks, there are typically two types of gear: Pinion Gear and Spur Gear.

The Pinion gear consists of 15 teeth, and it is usually made up of metal material. This gear is placed on a clutch bell which is further connected to the crankshaft of the nitro engine. 

Whereas the Spur Gear generally consists of 45 teeth and is made up of nylon material. 

In terms of working, the pinion gear is attached to the engine, which then connects with the spur gear, which then further operates the driveshaft.

The gearing enables the change in RPM to better adapt what is required at the wheel. So, for instance, a typical nitro engine can rev up to almost about 30 000 RPM; however, the wheels will tend to rotate at a considerably slower rate. The way this takes place is through gear reduction.

To help you better understand this concept, imagine on-road RC cars. These RC cars have smaller tires, but they travel at high speeds. (Gear ratios in these RC cars are generally lower than the average)

On the flip side, though, monster trucks have larger tires. But they travel at a slower pace compared to on-road vehicles.

As a general rule of thumb, you should remember that, in rough terrains, a larger gear ratio will offer more acceleration. However, keep in mind that its overall top speed will be less.

Whereas a smaller gear ratio will offer exactly the opposite; the RC car will struggle in terms of acceleration performance. But it will have more top speed.

Now theoretically, the low gear ratio from the bigger pinion size should offer the top speed. But in reality, the motor of the RC car should be capable enough to handle the extra load. 

#2. Fuel

If the nitro ratio is increased, the speed of the RC car also increases significantly. So the type of fuel can impact how fast your nitro RC car will run. 

As a general rule, you will find that most RC cars have a nitro consumption rate of about 20%.

On paper, you could raise the nitro percentage as per your preference, and you could get an infinite speed boost as a result. 

But, that would cause a huge amount of pressure on the shims and bearings of your RC car, which will further lead you to replace some of those parts when they are damaged. And the matter of fact is, nitro isn’t cheaper either! 

To get detailed knowledge about nitro RC fuel, you can read my article: What Is RC Nitro Fuel Made Of?

#3. Size

The size of the RC car can also be a decisive factor when it comes to its speed. The size of the RC car can have an impact on its acceleration. 

In general, the bigger and heavier an RC car is, the lesser the acceleration. However, this is not always the case!

If the RC car is large in size, then it may also have more room for powerful systems, motors, and all other equipment that can help it to achieve faster speed. So although this factor may play a role, it still varies based on the model and specifications of the particular RC car.

#4. Wheels

The way the tires are built in a particular nitro RC car can determine the speed of the car because, after all, tires are the ones that run your nitro RCs.

There are different types of tires available, and on suitable terrains, their performance can change significantly. Remember that the wrong type of tire can lower the performance of your nitro RC car.

Different tires will have the capability to run fast based on the terrains that are appropriate for those tires

For example, paddle tires can show the best performance and run quite fast in sandy terrain. However, the same tires struggle to give a good performance on flat land. 

Another example can be given of flat tires. These tires give a very bad performance on dirt and sand, but on gravel, they tend to perform better than any other tire.

So all this highlights the importance of tire type (based on the type of terrain) in determining the speed of an RC car.

#5. Surface

The surface where you run your RC car also affects the speed you will get. 

Usually, smooth surfaces offer better conditions so RC cars can run fast. So, as a rule of thumb, when you are racing the RC car, make sure to choose smooth surfaces for faster speeds.

If the surface is uneven, then it can impact the ease of running your RC car. Similarly, if the surface is wet or full of dirt, then you may have difficulties in getting to top speed. So it is vital to select a dry path for running your nitro RC car and get the best possible speed.

What Is The Fastest Nitro RC Car?

The fastest nitro RC car in the world is Traxxas Jato 3.3 truck. It can reach the speed of 65 mph+, and it can go from 0-60 mph in just 4.2 seconds. 

Although there have been some claims that nitro RC cars can even reach the speed of 120 mph, you know what, those nitro RC cars are specifically made and designed for those purposes.

Generally speaking, the position of the fastest nitro RC car seems to be taken by the Traxxas Jato 3.3 truck. One of the best characteristics of this RC model is Power. And possibly due to its power, it can reach the speed of 65 mph.

How Can I Make My Nitro RC Car Faster?

Here are some of the things to consider to make your nitro RC car faster:

#1. Adjust The Wheel Size

Previously, I already highlighted how the wheels can play a key role in the speed of the RC car. So keeping that in mind, you can adjust the wheel size to achieve more speed in your nitro RC car.

As a general rule, bigger wheels offer higher speed, provided the engine is capable enough to handle it. 

As you increase the wheel size, the distance travelled by the wheel per rotation will increase as a result. However, remember that it will also require more power. Hence, there remains a limit to increasing the wheel size.

#2. Add High-Quality Ball-Bearings

The bearing in an RC car is also essential when it comes to increasing the speed.

Have a look in your RC car and check whether it uses brass bushings or ball-bearings. Also, inspect all other gears to see if any bushings are present.

So after the inspection is done, now comes the time to take action. If you have found the bushings, then you should replace them with high-quality ball bearings. (Usually, if RC cars are cheap, then it is likely that they will have bushings rather than ball-bearings.)

Why do ball bearings help in increasing the speed of your nitro RC car? Because they offer much less friction as compared to bushings.

#3. Raise Nitro Percentage

By increasing the nitro content of your nitro RC’s fuel, you can easily raise its top speed. 

Do note that if you increase the fuel percentage, then you may have to adjust the head shims accordingly. The higher the nitro content you use, the more shims you will have to set up.

Also, nitro isn’t that much cheaper. So you do need to keep a check and measure carefully how much nitro percentage you increase. In short, this method for boosting speed is like burning money for increased speed.

Check out my article: Nitro Fuel 20 vs 30: Which One Should You Use?

#4. Focus On The Carb

Many engines come with carb restrictors. They allow the user to adjust the fuel efficiency and engine’s horsepower. So to get a higher top speed, you should use the largest possible insert to get the best RPM and horsepower output of your engine.

#5. Tune The Tuned Pipe

You can also tweak and tune the tuned pipe for switching the engine performance. To increase the speed, you can do two things:

  • Increase the exhaust system’s length and expand the length between both the header and tuned pie. Although this is possible only when the tuned pipe has a silicone coupler as there is no issue of handling the fixed length.
  • Use a tuned pipe that has a gently tapered shape to increase the RPM of your engine.

#6. Choose The Right Engine Size

In general, a .21 engine will give you some decent speed; however, a .30 will raise that speed and make your RC car reach a point faster. But before buying a new engine, it is also crucial to ensure that your nitro RC car is capable enough of accommodating a bigger one.

Moreover, you can also increase the speed of a nitro RC car by switching from an off-road engine to a high revving on-road engine.

See my related article: How Long Will An RC Nitro Engine Last? With Tips To Maintain It

#7. Decrease the Rolling Resistance

Before you run your nitro RC car, it would be good if you spare some time to check the rolling resistance of your RC.

You can spin the tires manually and check if there are no damaged bearings that could potentially lead to slow performance. You can use high-quality ball bearings (I mentioned in one of the previous methods) that spin more easily to achieve higher acceleration and top speed.

Also, ensure that the brake pads aren’t rubbing against the brake discs. You can make use of a small spring and keep it in between the pads to ensure that they don’t rub against each other. 

Likewise, you can inspect all the technical things and make necessary adjustments as much as you can to decrease the rolling resistance.

Which Is Faster: Electric or Nitro RC Cars?

Electric RC cars are faster in speed compared to their Nitro counterparts. On the one hand, the speed of the fastest nitro RC car is only about 100 mph. Whereas the top speed of the fastest electric RC car is nearly around 200 mph.

After the advent of brushless motors and LiPo batteries, the speed of RC cars has increased significantly. Previously, when brushless motors and lithium batteries were not present, Nitro RC cars were the only primary choice you would have to take at that time.

However, nowadays, this is generally no longer the case as electric models are performing better than the nitro RC cars. 

The Power system used in an RC car also plays a key role in determining the top speed of that RC car. Generally speaking, the higher the power, the higher will be the speed. 

Check out my article: Can A Nitro RC Car Run On Gas? READ THIS FIRST

However, it is important to note here that more power doesn’t necessarily always mean increased speed if the power can’t be put to the ground in a stabilized way. (This problem usually occurs with the high and short monster trucks).

After the arrival of brushless motors, many RC cars became so powerful that the chassis became incapable of handling the power. 

To better understand the role of power systems in RC cars, let’s compare the speed of a particular RC car model using different power systems. 

So, for instance, let’s consider the example of the Traxxas Rustler.

  • The top speed of the Traxxas Rustler Brushed model is 35 mph.
  • In the case of the Traxxas Rustler Brushless model, the top speed is 45 mph (70 mph – with optional gearing and 3S LiPo)
  • Whereas the Traxxas Rustler Nitro model offers a top speed of 50 mph.

So as you can see, depending on the type of power system used in an RC car, determines its top speed.

Top 5 Fastest Nitro RC Car Models You Can Buy

Nitro RC Car:Top Speed:Amazon Price:
Traxxas Nitro Jato 3.365+ mphCheck It Here
Traxxas Nitro Rustler: 2WD Stadium Truck50+ mphCheck It Here
Traxxas Revo 4WD Nitro RC Monster Truck45+ mphCheck It Here
Losi 8IGHT-T Nitro RC 4WD Truggy Vehicle40+ mphCheck It Here
Redcat Racing Red/Yellow Monsoon XTR Nitro Truggy35+ mphCheck It Here
Table of the fastest Nitro RC cars on the market

Also, I have already written a full article on who makes the best nitro RC car. I highly encourage you to check that out if you are interested to know more about it.


In short, nitro RC cars can go as fast as 35-40 mph on average. Although according to some claims, their speed can reach up to 120 mph. But as a general rule, the speed of the fastest nitro RC car, Traxxas Jato 3.3 truck, is about 65 mph+.

There are several factors that affect the speed of a nitro RC car. In addition, there are different methods to increase the speed of your Nitro RC car, which you have already learned in this article. I hope you found this article interesting and helpful.

Interested to know more about Nitro RC cars? Then I also recommend you to read my following guides:

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