The Difference Between Nitro And Petrol RC Cars

When it comes to RC cars, there are generally two different types that you can choose from: Nitro RC cars and petrol RC cars. Over the years, there has been a continual debate between hobbyists over which is best, with everyone having their own preferences.

Today, we are offering our professional knowledge on the main differences between nitro and petrol RC cars, helping you make a more informed decision when you come to purchasing one or the other.

What are nitro RC cars? 

Nitro RC cars are also known as nitro-powered RC cars. They’re powered by small two-stroke engines fueled by a mixture of methanol, nitromethane, and oil. This fuel is called nitro fuel or glow fuel.

They have nitro engines, which use glow plugs for ignition. The glow plug’s circuit is heated using a 1.5v battery glow igniter.

Although there are various igniters available, rechargeable ones are the most common, and because of this are frequently included in the majority of nitro starter kits.

The glow igniter is usually removed from the plug once the engine has been started, because the heat produced by combustion causes the engine to re-ignite.

When it comes to fuel type, Nitro fuel combines nitromethane, methanol and oil.

What are petrol RC cars?

Petrol RC cars are powered by a combination of unleaded petrol and 2-Stroke oil, and run with a small internal combustion engine in the same way that nitro RC cars do.

Both nitro RC cars and petrol RC cars are known for their speed and performance capabilities. Their engines provide a high power output, meaning that these cars can reach impressive speeds. As well as this, they make a distinct sound of a small-scale internal combustion engine, adding to the realism and excitement when it comes to operating them.

What are the pros & cons of both types of RC car?

Like with every type of RC vehicle, there are pros and cons to both nitro RC cars and petrol RC cars. It’s important to note that these two types of RC vehicle are more similar than an electric-powered RC vehicle would be, but there are still key differences that help you to define your RC experience more personally.

Nitro RC Cars:

  • Nitro RC cars have long run times, high power outputs, and a realistic sound and smell due to the small Nitromethane-based engine.
  • Individual parts for nitro RC cars are relatively cheap to replace. For example, glow plugs only cost a few pounds.
  • They are capable of speeds of up to 50 mph.
  • Compared to other RC vehicles, nitro engines are incredibly loud. This makes them thrilling and realistic.
  • The weight of a nitro RC car is evenly distributed compared to petrol RC cars. This allows for maximum performance.
  • Nitro RC cars can operate for 10 to 15 minutes on a full tank before needing to be refuelled while the engine is still running. This means that they can effectively work all day.
  • The engine requires a reasonable amount of maintenance. This may mean that you have to drain the fuel tank, check the clutch, tighten screws, clean the air filter, and adjust the carburettor needles.
  • Due to nitro RC car fuel, these cars are the most costly to maintain and use. Each use typically consumes at least one whole tank of fuel, which is more expensive than regular petrol at around £17 per litre on average. As well as this, if you don’t live close to an RC hobby shop, finding fuel can be quite a challenge and more expensive.
  • A 3-5 tank engine break-in period is necessary for each brand-new nitro-powered RC car, to ensure their long-lasting efficiency and engine life. This is essential for the longevity of the RC car.
  • There are always ongoing costs with nitro RC cars, such as glow plugs, after-run oil, air filter oil, and nitro fuel.
  • Unpredictable minor faults are inevitable in any engine, so you will need to do some small fixes and repairs typically.
  • Nitro RC cars require a deeper cleaning after use because the engine oil causes the car to become very dirty.

Petrol RC cars

  • The running time of these cars is generally superior to nitro RC cars, with petrol cars lasting between 40-50 minutes on a tank of fuel.
  • Petrol RC cars are more cost-effective, as they use fuel that can be sourced from any petrol station at normal prices. The engines are also more fuel efficient than nitro engines.
  • Although they require a fair bit of cleaning due to engine oil, petrol RC cars require far less maintenance than nitro engines do.
  • Compared to nitro RC cars, petrol RC cars are slightly slower and less powerful.
  • Petrol cars are generally more expensive, because they come in larger sizes to accommodate the engine.
  • They are heavier than nitro RC cars, and this weight is not spread equally. This means they are sometimes more challenging to use because of the uneven weight distribution.
  • Petrol RC cars are loud but less noisy and authentic than nitro models. It depends on personal preference whether you prefer a nitro RC car noise or a petrol RC car noise.

To conclude, nitro and petrol RC cars are two very distinct types of remote control vehicle that both offer unique experiences for enthusiasts, hobbyists and those interested in all things RC.

Nitro RC cars utilize specialist fuel blends in their internal combustion engine, providing a realistic sound and high-performance capabilities. On the other hand, petrol RC cars rely on regular petrol in their internal combustion engine to become one of the most cost effective RC vehicles available.

These cars both offer different levels of convenience and availability in terms of fuel, and it all depends on your experience, technical skill and knowledge of these cars when it comes to working out which would be best for you.

Understanding the differences between nitro and petrol RC cars allows hobbyists to choose the option that aligns with their preferences and objectives, whether it’s for racing, recreational enjoyment, or technical interest.

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