How To Break In RC Crawler Tires

Breaking in tires before rock crawling is very important. It makes them softer and stickier. This allows them to grip on the rocks better which makes them perform better.

Many people are afraid of breaking in their tires because they worry about destroying them.

Others try to break in their tires by driving their crawler over rocks which doesn’t help break them in much. 

To break in your RC crawler tires you need to place the tires on a drill that will rotate while you scuff them. You also have to edge the tires to break them in. This process has to be done in the same manner on each tire for a balanced result.

If you don’t feel like going through the whole process of breaking in your tires, you can use some chemicals to soften them and make them more sticky.

These chemicals can often be found in most homes because they are common lubricants. Follow these 4 steps to find out how to break in your RC Crawler Tires properly and keep reading to discover which chemicals you can use to soften them. 

How Do You Break in RC Tires?

1. Mark Your Tires

The first thing you should do is make sure that you always run your tires in the same direction. You can mark your tires with a sharpie to remember which tire will rotate in which direction when you put them back on your crawler.

You will need a drill for breaking in your tires. This requires a drill piece that has a 0.47-inch hex on the end. You will take that end off, place the drill piece into the drill, put the wheel on the piece, and secure it with the hex.   

2. Scuff The Tires

Put a light layer of tire sauce and take a Scotch Brite pad to scuff off any release agents on your tires.

Make sure you rotate the tire slowly when applying the layer of tire sauce.

Tire sauce is slang for the liquid that’s used on RC tires to make them more grippy, some people use WD40 or brake fluid, amongst others for this process.

Take an applicator brush and work the sauce into the tire. You can use a toothbrush for this if you don’t have an applicator brush. Take the Scotch Brite pad, apply a bit of pressure, and scuff the tire.

Make sure that the drill is rotating in the same direction that your tire will be rotating in when on your crawler. 

You might notice that your tire starts smoking a bit depending on how much pressure you’ve applied. Don’t worry if it happens, it’s normal. 

3. Edge The Tire

Get a tire sander. If you don’t have a tire sander you can use regular sandpaper. Make sure you have both coarse sandpaper and fine sandpaper.

Start with the coarse sandpaper or the coarse side of the tire sander. Before you start sanding it, make sure that the tire is rotating in the right direction.

This process is a bit messy so expect tire dust. It’s also normal if your tires start smoking during sanding. How long you’ll sand your tires depends on how much tread you’re trying to knock off. 

Next, apply another layer of tire sauce. Turn the tire slowly to make sure you get the sauce all over it.

Use an applicator brush or a toothbrush to work the sauce into the tire.

Take a towel, fold it up, and press it down on the tire using 2 fingers. Make sure you press down hard. Turn the drill on to spin the tire.

Keep pressing the towel until your tire becomes hot and sticky and starts burning. This can take you anywhere between 10 to 30 seconds. Touch the tire to see if it’s gotten sticky and soft enough. If you don’t think that your tire is soft enough, do this process again. 

Once you’ve reached the desired softness, apply another layer of tire sauce and work it in with a toothbrush or an applicator brush. Let it dry completely.

4. Repeat on all tires

Your crawler won’t work properly if you don’t break in all your tires the exact same way. Make sure you do all the steps on the other 3 tires as you did on the first tire. 

Related post: Is RC Rock Crawling Fun?

How do You Soften RC Crawler Tires?

When your RC tires are too hard there is almost no traction. You want your tires to be soft and sticky because that means that your RC crawler will manoeuvre better. 


WD-40 has been proven to soften tires. It is commonly used to lubricate almost anything that needs lubricating.

You will have to spray your tires down with WD-40 and leave them for at least an hour to dry before you use your crawler.

This should make your tires more flexible and give them more grip. You won’t have to worry about mud sticking on the wheels of your car after you’ve sprayed them with WD-40. 

If you want to speed up the process you can wrap your tires in plastic wrap or put them in a zip lock bag. That way the chemicals will evaporate slower and they will absorb into the wheels better.

Another way you can speed up the process is to leave them in the sun so the rubber heats up the tire while the chemicals absorb and evaporate. 

Make sure you test spraying WD-40 on one or two tires before spraying it on all tires to make sure everything turns out okay. 

Simple green

Simple green is another commonly used thing to soften your tires. However, Simple green doesn’t really soften the tires, it cleanses them and makes them stickier.

You can soak your tires in Simple green overnight or spray them. If you decide to soak them, make a mixture of 50/50 Simple green and water. Otherwise, they will be too sticky. 

Many people like to use a toothbrush to make sure that the Simple green really soaks in the tires.

The tires are going to need a few hours to dry. You can choose to rinse them off or wipe them down when you’re done softening them.

Check Simple Greens price by clicking here, on Amazon

Liquid Wrench

Liquid Wrench is commonly used instead of WD-40. The results you get are very similar, the only difference is that Liquid wrench is a bit of a better value by volume.

You can use a Liquid wrench about half an hour before you use your car. You shouldn’t soak your tires in a Liquid wrench or let them sit overnight. 

If you want your tires to dry faster, you can mix the Liquid wrench with equal parts of non-chlorine brake cleaner.

See deals for Liquid Wrench here on Amazon

PB blaster

PB blaster is an alternative to the Liquid Wrench and WD-40. You can spray it on your tires and use a toothbrush to scrub. You can also wrap the tires in plastic wrap or put them in a plastic bag. This will help the chemicals absorb more efficiently. 

To avoid any waste when spraying your tires, you can empty whatever mixture you decide to use into a pressure release applicator. You can use a detergent-releasing dishwasher sponge for this. This will allow you to completely coat your tires without wasting any product. 

Don’t get discouraged if the first method you try doesn’t work. You will have to try out a few techniques before you find the best one for your car and your terrain. If you use a product that leaves your tires too soft and sticky, they will probably pick up some dirt and stones wherever they go. 

Make sure you’re always wearing gloves and are in a well-ventilated area when you’re softening your tires. There are some chemicals in these products used for softening that could be harmful.

You should always clean up the working space after you’re finished and keep all chemicals out of the reach of children.

Related post: What’s The Point Of RC Rock Crawlers? Let’s Find Out

Keep in mind that any lubricant that falls on the floor will make your floor slippery, so make sure you clean it up. 

If you soften your tires too often your tires will wear down faster. If you soak your tires for too long in some chemicals, they will expand and you won’t be able to use them anymore. 

Check PB Blasters price here, on Amazon.

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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