RC trucks are a blast. Nobody can deny it. But for them to continue being a blast, they need to be properly stored. However, proper storage practices sometimes have a lot of caveats to them.
This is why some of the questions many people may have are how, where, and when they should store their RC trucks.
RC trucks are best stored in dry locations at room temperatures. RC trucks should be thoroughly cleaned, and the engine and all moving parts lubricated. The batteries should be unplugged, and the fuel drained completely. RC trucks should be stored elevated with the tires sealed in an airtight container.
If you want to learn more about proper RC truck storage in order to avoid a lot of the common mistakes people do, continue reading below.
How to Store RC Trucks
When it comes to storage, there are two main points that you need to make sure you have absolutely covered.
These two are the engine and the batteries.
Just taking care of the engine and batteries will significantly increase the lifespan of your RC truck. There are also other steps that you should take before storing your RC truck, all of which I will be covering in this article.
How to Store the RC Battery
The battery is the heart of the RC truck. This is why RC batteries need to be stored properly.
You want to store the battery in a way that will not affect its ability to deliver the right performance and discharge.
People may often think that they need to fully charge their battery to avoid the battery going flat. It is true, leaving your battery completely discharged is bad for it, however, so is overcharging it.
This is important for a few reasons. First, the battery will discharge on its own over time, even if you do not use it. This is called self-discharge. Knowing the self-discharge rates of your battery will help you determine how long you can keep it in storage before going flat.
- The rate at which Lipo batteries self-discharge is between 2% to 5% per month, depending on the battery.
- Li-ion batteries also have slow rates of self-discharge of around 1% to 5% per month.
- NiMH batteries, on the other hand, have a self-discharge between 10% and 70%. (Sometimes even more.)
- NiCd batteries also have very high self-discharge rates between 10% and 20% per month.
- Alkaline batteries have a longer shelf life and a lower self-discharge of 2% to 3% per year, but cannot be recharged.
To understand how to store Lipo batteries, the best thing we can do is take a look at what the vendors recommend. (Their recommendations are usually fairly consistent.)
If you are storing your RC truck for a long time, make sure all the batteries are disconnected. (This includes the batteries in the remote, too.)
It is best to store Lipo batteries slightly discharged—no less than 50% but never fully charged either; the 60% to 70% range seems to be optimal. The batteries should be stored at 3.80v to 3.92v per cell. This is called storage charge.
Some chargers may also have a storage charge mode in which they will keep your RC truck’s battery in the optimal voltage ranges. Those are the most convenient ones, but many chargers may only offer a discharge option. (They are still useful; however, the discharge rates are usually very slow and time-consuming.)
Batteries should be kept out of direct sunlight and stored at 37 to 68°F (2 to 20°C) in cool and dry places. They are best kept in plastic tackle boxes or plastic bags in order to prevent any of the wires from connecting. Adding a few silica gel packs can also be beneficial as it will absorb any moisture.
Lastly, make sure to use a balancing charger (or the balancing mode of the charger) in order to keep all the cells closely matched and balanced. You want all the cells to have relatively the same voltages because getting them out of sync can damage the individual cells of the battery.
Make sure to check on the batteries every week or so and rebalance them every 2 to 3 weeks.
How to Store the RC Fuel
Before storing your RC vehicle for an extended period of time, drain the fuel. The nitro fuel attracts moisture over time, and if you leave your RC truck sitting with a full tank, the fuel will spoil; this will introduce moisture to the RC truck’s internal parts.
The nitro fuel is, naturally, combustible, so it should be stored away from heat, open fires, and direct sunlight. Temperature changes and air exposure are also bad for the fuel, as they will speed up its spoilage rates.
Nitro fuel should be stored in an airtight metal container off the ground and in a cool and dry area. (Do not store nitro fuel in your home.)
Those simple steps will significantly improve the shelf life of your nitro fuel.
When stored correctly and not used frequently, it may last between one to four years. A fuel that is frequently being opened or left open will usually last a lot less—about no more than a year.
In fact, properly stored nitro fuel is almost unheard of going bad. However, it can go stale, so to speak, and it will not have the same kick as when it was brand new. Over time the smell of the fuel will weaken, and its color will darken.
How to Store the RC Nitro Engine
The engine is the heart of your RC truck, so you want to make sure it is stored properly to prevent rust buildup on both the outside and inside.
First, as mentioned above, you want to run the RC truck dry, you do not want there to be any fuel left in the engine or the fuel lines.
This will keep all the internal parts and components of the nitro engine in good condition and prevent rust and other types of buildups that later may cause the engine to seize up.
Use an after run oil to keep the parts of the nitro engine well lubricated and protected. Drop a few drops of the oil in the carburettor. Switch on the RC truck and operate it, engaging the brake and acceleration, for 10 to 20 seconds so that the oil can get distributed in the carburettor.
Then remove the glow plug and drop a few drops of the oil in the combustion chamber as well. Give the pull start a few pulls in order to spread out all the oil around the crankshaft, piston, sleeve, rings, etc.
And lastly, you want to leave the piston at the bottom position.
When you are ready, you can return the glow plug back.
How to Store the RC Electric Motor
Electric motors also need to be stored properly. Otherwise, they can get irreparably damaged over time.
The electric motor should ideally be stored indoors. The motor should be kept in a dry and clean place.
If you are storing your RC truck for a really long time, you can put the electric motor in a clean and dry sealable plastic bag. You can also add a desiccant to keep moisture away from it.
The shaft motor should be rotated at least once a month in order to prevent damage to the bearings.
How to Store RC Tires
Leaving your RC truck for long periods of time on its tires can create flat spots. Depending on how long the RC truck has been left sitting and the ambient conditions, this may damage the tires. In most cases, however, the tires should be able to reshape themselves back, but it may take some time.
In addition, to tire damage, the suspension’s seals can wear out faster, and some plastic suspension arms can also start to sag over time.
RC trucks that have been stored long-term should be kept elevated. This can be achieved by putting your RC truck on an RC car stand, a spare rim, or another object that will keep the RC truck elevated off its wheels.
If you want to keep your tires in a pristine condition, consider storing them in an airtight container. A tire tube or a sealable plastic bag will keep air away from the tires, keeping them softer and fresher for longer.
Short-term storage can also be achieved through the use of standard shelving. Keep in mind that if the RC trucks are staying on the shelves, they could roll off, fall, and break.
How to Store the Internal Parts
Often RC trucks will be marketed as waterproof. However, this usually refers to the electrical components like the servo, receiver box, and the ESC. The other parts of the RC truck like the chassis, the nuts and bolts are not.
While using your RC truck, mud, dirt, and moisture can start accumulating in all the little cracks and parts of the RC truck, which could introduce rust over time.
Before storing your RC truck, you need to thoroughly clean all the internal parts in order to remove any residue, dust, dirt, rust, and grime. You want the internal components to be clean and dry before storing the RC truck long term.
A good rule of the thumb is to spray all the metal and any moving parts with WD-40 to prevent moisture and rust.
When to Store RC Trucks
RC trucks should be stored if you are not planning on using them for a month or more. This may happen if you are traveling and cannot bring your RC truck with you, if you do not feel like using your RC truck, or if you have particularly bad winters in your area and you are not keen on bashing in the snow.
In any case, the most common period of the year for RC trucks to be stored away is in the winter—especially if the temperatures go very low—since it is not recommended to use RC trucks in temperatures below 35°F (2°C) as the plastics can become very brittle.
Where to Store RC Trucks
A lot of people store their RC trucks and equipment in their garages. Storing your RC truck in the garage is perfectly okay. However, a few things need to be considered first.
First, there is always the chance of theft.
Second, you want to store your RC truck somewhere where the humidity is fairly low, and the temperatures are relatively consistent.
Batteries and fuel are best stored at room temperatures. They do not respond well to very low or high temperatures. Some garages are not heated, in which case temperature-sensitive equipment like the batteries, transmitters, and chargers should not be kept there. They should be kept in the house where the temperatures will be more balanced.
Common RC Truck Storing Mistakes
Not Cleaning the RC Truck
You want to clean your whole RC truck thoroughly. This includes the chassis, the rims, the internal electronics, the tires, and the air filter—everything.
Another important note is that before removing the glow plug, you should clean everything around the cylinder head to prevent dirt and grime from falling inside the engine.
Storing the RC Truck Wet
One of the most common mistakes when storing an RC vehicle is not drying it thoroughly after it has been used.
Every time you drive your RC truck in the rain, snow, or even fog, it should be properly cleaned and dried before storage.
Storing the RC Truck in a Humid Place
Humidity and moisture are the biggest enemies of any RC vehicle. Usually, a lot of people store their RC trucks in their garage. However, if there is a lot of moisture and humidity in the garage, this will eventually damage and corrode the on-board electronics.
The humidity of the place you store your RC truck is more important than the temperature as dry cold will normally be okay if you follow the proper storage practices, but high humidity, moisture, and cold are a bad mix.
Not Getting the Fuel Out
Making sure there is no fuel in your RC truck before winterizing it or leaving it sitting for long periods of time is mandatory. The fuel will go bad, and you want to prevent that from happening.
Sometimes there can be leftover fuel in the fuel lines, which can be easily overlooked. It can be removed with a bulb syringe or a regular syringe without the needle.
Not Plugging in the Exhaust Pipe
Plugging the exhaust pipe can be achieved with a simple paper towel and will prevent anything from going inside and up the exhaust pipe.
Leaving the Battery on the Vehicle
Always unplug the batteries. This will keep the battery from discharging since some of the electric components can slowly drain the battery over time, even if the RC truck is not in use.
Storing the Battery Flat or Overcharged
Probably one of the most common storage mistakes is not storing the battery with an appropriate charge.
Not Storing the RC Truck Elevated
A storage mistake that is frequently overlooked. However, keeping your RC truck elevated is beneficial for both the suspension and the tires.
What Happens If You Do Not Store RC Trucks Properly?
There is nothing that you can do to make your RC truck’s batteries last forever. It is just how batteries work; they have a certain lifespan, which is usually between 300 and 500 cycles. However, not storing them properly can significantly reduce their ability to deliver the advertised performance.
Leaving your battery discharged may cause over-discharging, which can be extremely detrimental to the battery, making recharging it more difficult or even impossible.
Leaving your battery fully charged even for a week is enough to cause degradation to its performance and internal parts and destabilization. In fact, that degradation usually begins as soon as 24 to 48 hours of being left fully charged. (Batteries that have lower self-discharge rates usually can tolerate better being left fully charged.)
The cold can actually affect more than the plastic parts on your RC truck. It can affect the metal parts and the on-board electronics, making them a lot more likely to break on impact.
The cold can also affect both the batteries and fuel’s performance.
Old nitro fuel that has not been stored properly should not be used. In any case, nitro fuel is not that expensive, and it is better to go with a new batch than experiment with old fuel.
A fuel that has gone bad will usually not have the same power output—the engine will be hard to start, and it may not run well. Bad fuel can also give you high temperatures.
Tire and Suspension Damage
Leaving your RC truck sitting without being elevated will eventually damage and wear out the suspension. Over time it will also create flat spots on the tires, and they will become stiffer due to the oxygen exposure.
Rust and Corrosion Damage
One of the biggest concerns is corrosion and rust that can start to develop on different parts of your RC truck. Rust can cause irreparable damage to the internal electronics and all metal parts of the RC vehicle.