RC Car Blinking Red? These Are The Reasons Why

RC cars are built on electronics, which have no other means of indicating a problem other than flashing some LED lights to let you know something needs attention. Many of the operations to set up an RC car and an RC remote involve monitoring flashing lights, so what does it mean if your RC car is flashing red?

If your RC car is blinking red, the problem could lie in the ESC or receiver. Some simple process of elimination checks will help you determine the cause and resolve the problem. Most flashing red lights can be resolved by checking some settings or recalibrating the ESC.

RC Car Blinking Red? These Are The Reasons Why

We have come to associate red flashing lights in our world with an emergency or a problem that requires immediate attention. RC cars use the same indicators to show there is a situation with your car that needs immediate attention. We will discuss what these red lights mean and what you can do to fix the issues.

Why Is My RC Car Blinking Red?

Many electronic parts in the RC hobby use flashing lights as indicators of the status of each component. From the RC controller to the battery charger and the RC car itself, we need to become experts at deciphering flashing lights and understanding what they mean.

If you are new to the RC hobby, you may hear some scary terms bandied about, like “the red blinking light of death,” striking fear into you that your RC car is toast and needs extensive part replacements!

While the red blinking light on your RC car can indicate a serious problem, it is not always the case. When your RC car blinks red, it is generally the Electronic Speed Control or ESC unit displaying these lights.

Let’s look at the possible causes and what you can do about it to get your car going again as soon as possible!

Why Is My ESC Blinking Red?

ESC Blinking Red
The ESC on my Traxxas Slash blinking red

Do you have Traxxas and is its ESC blinking red? Then I highly recommend checking out my detailed guide where I explain the exact reasons and troubleshooting guide of why Traxxas ESC blinks red.

One of the most common indicators on the ESC is a blinking or flashing red light when the RC car is turned on.

The red light indicates an error state in the ESC, but the type of error is not clear since the light illuminates due to several different possible error scenarios. It is up to the RC car owner to figure out whether the problem is serious or a simple issue that is easily remedied.

If you switch your RC car on and the ESC  light flashes or blinks red, try turning the steering control on the controller to see if the wheels respond to the signal. If the wheels respond to your steering control, then the ESC unit is receiving a signal from the controller.

If the red light is flashing, there will be no response to the throttle. What does this indicate, and how can you fix it?

Check out my article: How To Tell If Your ESC Is Bad

How To Fix An ESC Blinking Red on Your RC Car

An adjustable knob on your RC controller labeled “TH” stands for “Throttle” and is used to feather the throttle control in certain situations. The position of this adjustment knob is crucial when switching on the RC car.

The TH control will have a “zero” position, indicating that the throttle trigger on the controller is in the neutral position (you are not pressing the throttle at all). 

When the TH knob is not zeroed when the car is switched on, the ESC goes into an error state because it thinks the throttle on the controller is being triggered

This is a safety feature to ensure the car does not go careening off when switched on and the throttle is accidentally not in the neutral position.

If the TH knob is not in the neutral position when the car is switched on, this safety feature is triggered, and the ESC blinks red and will not respond to throttle control signals.

The fix is quite easy. Switch the RC car off and turn the TH knob on the controller to the zeroed position. Switch the car back on, and with a little luck, you will find that the red light does not blink, and the ESC responds to the throttle control.

If this solution does not work, the ESC may need to be calibrated to tell the ESC where the neutral and full positions on your throttle are and the left and right steering signals.

The calibration process is different for each ESC, so try a recalibration if our recommended fix has not resolved the issue.

Why Is My RC Car Blinking Red And Green?

Depending on the type of ESC in your RC car, you may have a blinking red light or a blinking red and green light when you power on the car with “low voltage detection” or LVD enabled and NiMH batteries in the car.

This indicates that the ECS must be recalibrated to recognize the batteries correctly to eliminate the low voltage error detected with NiMH batteries.

This fault often arises when you switch from LiPo batteries to NiMH batteries in your RC car. Low voltage detection is important when using LiPo batteries but must be turned off when using NiMH batteries.

Recalibrating the ESC with the NiMH batteries installed will allow the ESC to change settings for the new battery type, and you will be ready to go in no time!

Why Is My RC Receiver Blinking Red?

If you have just put your RC car back together, or you have been riding over rough terrain, and you discover that the receiver is blinking red when you turn the car on, it indicates an error for the receiver.

The most common causes for this problem are the connector wires not plugged in properly, the wires plugged into the wrong channel, or the receiver is bad.

Double-check to ensure the plugs are properly seated on the receiver. If this does not resolve the problem, check to see if the wires are plugged into the correct channels on the receiver. You may have swopped some of the wires around when you plugged them back in.

If these solutions do not work, the receiver will likely be faulty and requires replacement.

Why Is My RC Controller Blinking Red?

You may notice that the LED on your controller starts to flash red. In most cases, this is a relatively simple problem and easy to fix.

There may be some differences between different controller types, but a blinking red light on the controller usually means the batteries are close to being depleted and must be replaced.

Most controllers have a solid red LED to indicate the controller is switched on and is ready to control the car. Consequently, a steady red light on the controller normally means the controller is good to go, while a flashing light indicates attention is needed.

Also read: RC Car Remote Control Not Working? Here’s What To Do

Why Is My RC Car Battery Charger Blinking Red?

RC Charger Blinking Red
My RC battery charger flashing

While an RC car battery charger is not directly linked to a problem on your RC car, we decided to include this topic or “red flashing lights” in the RC hobby.

If your RC car battery charger is flashing red, it generally indicates one or more of the following situations have arisen.

  • The battery is not connected properly. A faulty or inconsistent connection between the battery and charger can result in an error state and a flashing red light. Ensure the battery is seated properly in the charger.
  • The battery is too hot. If the battery has come straight out of your RC car, the temperature may be too high for safe charging, and the charger light will flash red. Take the battery out of the charger and give it time to cool down before trying again.
  • The charger is too hot. If the charger has been left in the sun or other warm location, its internal temperature may be too high to start the charging process. Place the charger in a cool place to let the temperature normalize before trying again.
  • The battery voltage is too low. Check the battery voltage with a voltmeter to ensure it is within the expected range. If the voltage is too low, the battery may not be able to take a charge and must be replaced.

These are general faults and solutions that may differ from your particular charger. Always consult the manual for the charger to find out what the flashing lights mean to ensure safe battery charging. 


A blinking red light can indicate a serious problem with some of the car’s electronic components, but if your car has not been subjected to getting wet, it is likely the problem easily be fixed.

Before you replace expensive components, run through the basic checks we have discussed to see if they will resolve the problem.

I hope you found this article helpful. Here are some more articles that may be of interest;

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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