RC Nitro Or Brushless? A Guide To Help You Choose

The world of RC cars used to be all about electric vs. nitro. But times have changed. Thanks to newer technologies, brushless electric RCs have entered the market and taken it by storm. With the endless possibilities that they offer, the burning question in the RC industry is: RC nitro or brushless?

Nitro RC cars are similar to real-life cars. Their build, sound, and the smoke they produce all resemble typical motorcars. Nitro RC Cars require a lot of build time and knowledge. Brushless RC cars are more suited for pure driving. They mostly come ready to run, so no building is necessary and, in some cases, run faster than Nitro RC cars. Brushless electric RC cars have fewer customization options.

RC Nitro Or Brushless? A Guide To Help You Choose
Nitro RC car facing an electric RC car

With nitro RCs, you’ll get the feel of a real car. And that includes the maintenance and the break-in period as well. On the other hand, some enthusiasts say that brushless RCs may be too fast for beginners. 

RC Nitro: Benefits And Drawbacks 

The RC circuit gathered its fame through nitro RC models. They make you feel as if you’re racing with real cars. The only difference is that you have a controller in your hands instead of a steering wheel. 

The secret behind a nitro engine’s popularity is its engine and how it derives its power. It uses a methane-based fuel that consists of nitromethane. That’s where it got its name. 

With a more sophisticated build, the nitro engine has everything a real-life car or truck has. Well, everything except the size. Air filter, clutch, glow plug, crankshaft- you name it, it’s got it. 

It even comes equipped with a separate heatsink to dissipate the heat buildup, which is one of the killer features of RC cars. 


RC Nitro Or Brushless? A Guide To Help You Choose
Close up of a niro RC dragster

There are a whole plethora of reasons behind the popularity of nitro RC. The following has caught our eye. 

Options For Customization

One of the vital reasons why people opt for nitro RCs is their tunability. As we said earlier, nitro RCs have a more complex engine. With that complexity comes the option to customize. 

Related post: How Fast Do Nitro RC Cars Go? (Plus 5 Top Factors To Consider)

In the RC circuit, everyone wants their car to be unique. Unfortunately, there’s not much to tune or tinker with electric RCs. 

But when it comes to nitro RCs, you can tinker with both the engine and the body. And after you’re done with your customization, you can turn your typical RC car into something totally different. 

The Thrill of A Real Car

Most of us who are into RC cars have had a fascination for car races since childhood. Putting aside the danger of it, real-life races are way too costly for most of us. But nitro RCs can give us a part of that experience! 

Related post: Who Makes The Best Nitro RC Car?

The loud noise as you accelerate and the smell of the burning fuel – all adds up to an experience of real-life car racing! Except it’s much less costly. 

Longer Runtime

One critical issue with RCs is that they tend to run out of power way too soon. Just when you’re starting to have some fun, your electric-powered RC can die on you. But that won’t be the case with nitro RCs.

Nitro RCs have a long runtime. On a full tank, a nitro-powered remote-controlled car can go about forty-five minutes before you need to fill up the tank again. 

Moreover, you won’t have to wait until you fill up the tank. Once you top it up, your car will be good to go again. 


It’s better to know what you’re trading in for all those benefits. After all, not everything is fine and dandy about a nitro engine. So, it’s best to weigh out your options. 

Related post: Too Noisy? How To Make Your RC Nitro Car Quieter

Needs A Break-In Period

When operating nitro RCs, you’ll need a break-in period. That’s right. It’s the driver who’s going to need a break-in period, not the car itself. That’s because operating this type of car takes a bit of skill. 

So, before you start running off to the race track, you might want to practice by yourself first. But once you get over this learning curve, you’ll find yourself in a whole new level of RC racing! 

Higher Operational Cost

Unlike electric-powered cars, nitro RCs run on nitromethane. While this has its upsides, there are some certain downsides to this feature as well. 

In the case of electric RCs, you can just recharge the battery. While you do have to wait for the battery to recharge, there aren’t any additional costs associated with this. On the other hand, you’ll need to top up the fuel tank of the nitro RC with nitro fuel. 

Let’s say each quart costs around 20 to 25 USD. Over time, this can rack up your operational costs. 

RC Brushless: Benefits And Drawbacks  

Compared to nitro-powered RCs, their electric-powered counterparts were lagging. Nitro engines used to rule the RC circuit with their power and durability before. But that’s only because electric cars didn’t offer much power and were comparatively less durable than their nitro counterparts.

However, those days are long gone now. After the brushless motor entered the market, it’s now the fastest engine in the RC circuit. That’s right-it has an even higher power rating than RC Nitro! 

Brushless engines, as the name implies, lack contact brushes. That means there’s less friction. So, there’s less heat produced, which can improve the performance of your machine. 


RC Nitro Or Brushless? A Guide To Help You Choose
Electric RC car with the body off

You may be wondering what’s so special about the brushless motor that’s got everyone so excited about it. Lets dig in!

Sheer Power

Since there’s no need to worry about excessive heat, the brushless engine’s motor can handle quite a high voltage. This means that it can transform that huge voltage at quite a high speed. It’s one of the main selling points of a brushless motor. 

Little To No Maintenance

Except for its lack of contact brushes, there’s not much difference between the typical brushed motor and a brushless motor. That means that a brushless motor shares the same simple engine layout as its brushed counterpart. (Check out my detailed guide about Brushed vs. Brushless RC motor to learn more.)

As a result, there’s not much you’ll have to do to make sure that the car remains operable. So, if you’re not a fan of maintenance work, you might want to invest in a brushless electric RC. 

By the way, if you are curious to learn about the inner wirings of a brushless motor and how they work, I highly encourage checking out this guide: Why Do Brushless Motors Have 3 Wires?

Higher Durability

Since a brushless motor doesn’t have any contact brushes, there’s a significant reduction in friction. With a lower amount of friction, the engine produces much less heat. With a less strained heat dissipation system, the motors remain sealed from debris and water, resulting in a longer lifespan. 


While brushless RCs offer plenty of useful features, they have their own set of drawbacks as well. Here are a few you should know about.


As it’s a newer technology, the initial price of the brushless RC is relatively high. However, it has a lower operational cost compared to nitro engines. And even if you use a brushed motor, you can later upgrade to a brushless version for a specific price. 

No Similarity To Real Life Cars

This feature is a subjective one. If you’re a fan of the sound and smell of the Nitro RC, you may not appreciate the lack of those features in a brushless model. 

Related post: Fastest Brushless RC Truck: The Three You Must Check Out

However, many find the sound and smell to be a bit excessive. For those of you, this may be a blessing in disguise. 

Final Words

In short, Nitro RC offers the style and the thrill of a full-sized car that many car enthusiasts may appreciate. Moreover, they provide a good deal of speed as well, just not the fastest in the market. On the other hand, brushless RCs are more focused on performance. They also require less build knowledge and maintenance, compared to their nitro counterparts. 

All in all, both types of engines have their elegance. It’s up to you to choose which one you would prefer. So, you should decide which part appeals more to you and choose accordingly. Whether it’s RC Nitro or brushless, you won’t be losing with either option!

I hope this article has helped you in making your decision. Please check out some of my other articles, I have a lot of posts covering all topics in the RC world. Im sure you will find what you’re looking for! Thank you for reading.

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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