Top 7 Reasons RC Car Steers But Won’t Move (& What To Do!)

So you’re ready to go with your RC car. But, as you try to get going, the RC car steers, but damn, it doesn’t move. So why does that happen?

If the RC car steers but won’t move and you don’t hear any sound, the most likely cause is a loose connection in wiring. However, there can also be other reasons like the problems with batteries, frequency, antenna, servo, motor, and ESC.

I will share all possible reasons for an RC car that steers but doesn’t move and what you can do about it in this post. I will also provide detailed information about the same issue, but specifically related to Traxxas RC cars. So without further ado, let’s dig in!

A golden toy RC car With the wheels turning on some steps

RC Car Steers But Won’t Move: Possible Reasons & What To Do!

#1. Loose Connection In The Wiring

Is the steering working, but you do not hear any noise from the vehicle? Then most probably, the wires are loose in your RC Car.

What To Do? Try to trace all the wires based on the location they originate and end with respect to the motor. And while doing so, check if there are any loose or broken wires. And fix as per the need.

If you have a toy RC car, the wires usually go to a circuit board. So if you find any loose or broken wires, you may have to re-solder those wires.

#2. Problems With Battery

Even though it may sound pretty basic, problems can also be due to the batteries. Maybe the battery is not attached properly. Or maybe, it needs recharging.

What To Do? Ensure the batteries are tightly fitted in their correct slots and there’s no loose connection. Also, don’t forget to check if the battery is fully recharged. Its wise to check the batteries of your RC car and also the transmitter. 

Moreover, check the batteries are placed in the right orientation inside the slots. Also, you can recharge the battery if you suspect you forgot to charge it properly. And then test to see if the issue is solved.

You can also clean the batteries by taking them out. Then, reinsert them afterwards and check.

Related post: Will A Lipo Battery Make My RC Car Faster?

If you think are batteries are too old, then inserting a fresh set of batteries might do the job. And if you are using your RC for the first time in a while, then maybe air and moisture have led to some corrosion. So cleaning the battery contact points is very important.

#3. Problems With Frequency

Sometimes not having the accurate frequency can also cause improper functioning. 

It is essential to have your RC receiver and the RC transmitter at the same frequency. If the frequency is close enough but still not accurate, the RC car may steer. However, it may not turn.

Please check out my article if you ever wondered if WIFI interferes with an RC car?

What To Do? Check and try to set the exact frequency needed to run your RC car. 

Refer to your RC car’s manual to learn how to set the accurate frequencies based on your specific model.

You can also watch this video that explains how to change the frequency of an RC car:

#4. Problem With Antenna

Again a simple thing, but it can be overlooked, so I’ll mention it anyway. If you haven’t set up the antenna appropriately, that could also be why your RC car isn’t moving.

What To Do? Make sure the antenna of your RC car and the remote are properly raised. This way, they can function properly. 

#5. Problems With The Servo

Is your RC car reacting to only certain commands from your transmitter but not the rest? For example, the wheels are turning, but the RC car isn’t moving. Then most likely, the problem is with the servo.

A servo is a device in an RC car that controls the steering of an RC car. It also controls the throttle in the IC-engined cars. Basically, it is a small motor used to steer and operate the throttle in RC cars.

The battery powers the servos to convert the electrical directions into physical movements. On your RC cars, you will find at least two servos, one for throttle and the one for steering. 

What To Do? You need to check whether your servos have gone bad. To do that, first, unplug the servo from the receiver and try to attach it to a receiver that you know is functioning properly.

If the RC car still doesn’t respond, you can confirm that the problem is mainly with the servo.See my article: How To Choose A Servo For Your RC Car: Ultimate Guide

If you don’t feel comfortable doing this yourself, no problem, you can always take your RC to your local hobby shop and they can test for you.

#6. Issues With The Motor

The motor can also be the cause why your RC car isn’t moving. And to make sure, you need to check whether the motor is getting power to it.

What To Do? Have a multimeter by your side. If you don’t have any, check out some of the best multimeters here on Amazon. As I’ve mentioned in a few of my articles, the one I use, Is this one by Etekcity. There are better but I have found this ideal for what I need with my RC’s.

Use a multimeter to check whether your motor is receiving adequate power.

  • Turn on your RC car and the transmitter. Then connect the multimeter with your Traxxas motors. 
  • Push the gas or reverse and observe the reading
  • If the volt goes up, then it indicates your motor has gone bad and you need to replace it.
  • However, if no volt reading is shown, the problem could be with the wirings and the connection.
  • And if wirings are all okay, the most likely problem is with the battery pack.

If you don’t want to deal with all this, then once again, you can seek an expert who can help you with this task. 

#7. Issues With ESC

ESC (Electronic Speed Controller) is a device that enables us to control the speed and power to an electric motor. You can think of it just like the brain of the RC vehicle. 

See my related article if you want to know how to tell if your ESC is bad

Sometimes, if you have a faulty ESC, it can also stop the RC car from moving. Luckily, you can test your ESC with a multimeter.

What To Do? So grab a multimeter and have it by your side. Then follow these steps to test your ESC:

  • First, thoroughly inspect your ESC to see if there is no physical damage
  • Then put your multimeter into continuity mode. 
  • Finally, test the connectivity and look for any short or continuity. 

While testing, if you hear any beep sound, it is an indication of a short or continuity. 

I highly recommend you to watch this video to learn how to test ESC with Multimeter:

Why Does My Traxxas Steer But Not Move?

The lack of appropriate calibration is the most likely reason your Traxxas steers but won’t move. If batteries are fully charged, all the wiring connections are properly set up, and parts are working properly, the next best fix is to re-calibrate your Traxxas.

Follow these steps to re-calibrate your Traxxas RC Car:

  • First, remove the body of your Traxxas RC car or truck.
  • Next, turn off the Traxxas RC car and the controller.
  • Then, ensure all the batteries are fully charged and insert them appropriately in their respective required locations.
  • After that, turn on the controller, and you will observe its light become on.
  • Hold down the EZ set button on the Traxxas RC car and let the green light appear. Keep it held and leave it once the green light changes to red.
  • Now, when the light flashes one time, you are supposed to hold the trigger on your controller. 
  • You are supposed to hold it to throttle forward, and the light will blink two times.
  • Once the light flashes twice, you are supposed to press the trigger in the forward direction (away from you) so that it can get programmed for reverse.
  • After all these steps, you should see your Traxxas RC car moving!

Since understanding these instructions can be tricky by just reading the text, I recommend you to watch the following video. In it, the same points are discussed and demonstrated practically:

If needed, you can also refer to your manual. It will allow you to see the accurate instructions to your specific model.

If the re-calibration didn’t solve your problem, there could be other likely reasons. 

Servo Is Not Plugged In Properly

If your Traxxas RC car is steering but not moving, it could be because the servo is unplugged. 

So you need to check if the steering servo is properly plugged into channel 1 and the throttle servo is plugged properly into channel 2 on the receiver.

Wondering what RC channels are? Check out my complete guide on RC channels after reading this post.

Your OptiDrive Is In Fault Mode

An OptiDrive is a module that electrically monitors the vehicle’s speed and controls the front and reverse shifting. The controlling action is done electronically instead of mechanically, which decreases the number of components in the transmission.

The OptiDrive shows light that can signal different things based on an associated issue.

For instance, a red light in the OptiDrive would mean a fault, and it will shut off the power to the throttle servo. 

You can follow this chart to understand the indications of different lights:

Green Shift Allowed
Red FlashingLow Battery
RedBroken Sensor Circuit. Disconnected wires, broken wires, or damaged sensors
Blue FlashingNormal operation as the vehicle moves and indicates signal pulse from the sensor. Based on the position of the rotor, solid blue or off when your vehicle is at rest.
Table of light indications

Important note: When you make large adjustments to the throttle trim and the linkage, you may have to reset the OptiDrive for proper shifting action.

The Servo Lead Wires Are Cut

If there is damage to wires, this can also cause issues while trying to get your Traxxas RC car to move. So have a look at the wires and connectors. 

Check to see if theres any damage. If you can fix it from your end, then that’s good. But if not, then you can send the complete servo to Traxxas for repair.

Failed Receiver

RC cars have four main parts: transmitter, receiver, motors, and a power source. The receiver comprises the antenna and circuit board that receives the signal from the transmitter and activates the motors based on the commands provided by the transmitter.

Related post: RC Car Not Responding To Throttle? Here’s Why

If the receiver fails, your Traxxas RC car won’t move. So you need to test the receiver. If you find it problematic, you will have to replace it or return it to Traxxas for servicing. 

Failed Servo

If there is any damage in your servo, which can also be the culprit. Or maybe, the whole servo has failed. 

So test your servo to check for the functioning and operation. Otherwise, you can try to repair it or replace it.

Watch this video about how to check for a bad servo:

Failed Transmitter

The transmitter is a component you hold in your hands to control your RC car. It sends radio waves to the receiver. The transmitter is just another way to say controller, and it sends signals to the vehicle to tell it what to do.

Transmitter failure can also be the cause for your Traxxas RC not moving. So you can either replace it or return it for servicing.

Related Read: RC Car Remote Control Not Working? Here’s What To Do

Failed Motor

If the motor fails, that can also hinder your Traxxas RC car from moving. Watch this video about how to see if your Traxxas motor is bad:

Once you discover if there’s motor failure, you can repair or replace it.

Problems With ESC

If your Traxxas RC car is not moving, it can also be because of problems with your ESC. Your ESC may require programming or a complete replacement.

Final Thoughts

In short, there can be many reasons like problems with wiring, battery, frequency, antenna, servo, motor, and ESC.

You need to start with the very basic troubleshooting steps and see how all of it goes. If the problem gets resolved with the basic steps, that’s great. But if not, then you can further narrow down until you can find the root of the cause. 

Once the primary cause is found, you can implement the fix accordingly. Of course, if the fix or repair is not possible, you may have to replace those parts. But I hope your problem gets fixed without spending any extra bucks. Good luck!

More RC Resources That You Can’t Miss Out On As A Hobbyist:

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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