4 Important Considerations for Buying Your First RC Vehicle

I remember when I first got into the RC hobby world just how excited I was to take my newly bought RC rock crawler out for a ride in my backyard. I drove it around the patio and grass until the batteries ran flat and I was instantly hooked. A few years later, I have more RC vehicles than I’d like to admit, and I’ve become part of the local RC community and I spend some of my weekends hanging out and racing against other enthusiasts. If you’re looking to get into the vast, exciting world of RC vehicles, you may find yourself a little confused by all the different on road and RC offroad vehicles available today. In my personal experience, getting the first RC vehicle you buy right is one of the most important factors for sticking to the hobby. RC vehicles come in a wide range of designs, speeds, sizes and durability, and there are a few dozen brands that all claim to have the best products. So how does someone with no previous experience in RC vehicles pick their first?

Type of RC Vehicles

rc vehicle
source: RC Car Action

The first step is to decide what type of RC vehicle you want to go for. The three most popular types are cars, trucks and buggies, each of which has their own distinct advantages and disadvantages.

  • RC Cars – RC cars are speedy, reaching speeds of up to 50 km/h or more, depending on the type of motor they have. RC cars can be on-road, rally or drift, so it’s important to consider the type of terrain you want to drive on before making a decision. Cars excel on flat, hard surfaces, while they fall short off the road.
  • RC Trucks – These are the best RC offroad vehicles, as they excel in climbing mountains and racing around deserts. The two most common types of RC trucks are stadium and monster trucks. Depending on how you intend to do with them, the best one for you will vary. Monster trucks are great if you want to drive off the road. They’re powerful, durable and heavy-duty, making them ideal for bashing into things and getting covered in mud. Stadium trucks, on the other hand, are usually used for racing in stadium or indoors. The suspension parts and tyres stick out from the body more, making them stable, speedy and incredibly fun.
  • RC Buggies – RC buggies are the most versatile out of all RC vehicles. They perform well both on and off the road. RC buggies are fitted with long shock absorbers allows them to tackle dirt piles and uneven surfaces, and they also perform great on loose surfaces like gravel or grass.

RC Vehicle Sizes

rc vehicle in dirt
source: Thought Co

For the unfamiliar – RC vehicles are sized in scales, which refer to how many times the RC model is sized relative to the real life vehicle it replicates. Most RC vehicles are sized 1:10, 1:12, 1:24 or 1:48. However, keep in mind that two vehicles of scale 1:10 can still differ in size from one another if their real life models have a notable difference in size. The most common RC vehicle scales are 1:10 and 1:12, which is what I’d recommend you start with, simply because they allow for many options when it comes to upgrading the engine, motor and other parts.

Ready-to-Run Kits or Build-it-Yourself Kits?

driving rc vehicle
source: The Elite Drone

If you’re looking to get your RC vehicle started as soon as possible, and are a beginner in the RC world, you’ll want a ready-to-run kit without a doubt. These RC vehicles come completely assembled, and all you have to do is put in the batteries, which can be included in the kit, but are sometimes left out. Ready-to-run vehicles make it easy to learn the mechanics through fixes and maintenance without the hassle of assembling them yourself. 

Build-it-yourself RC kits are for people who like to put together things themselves and learn how they work in the process. These kits will have most of the parts and equipment included, although you’ll need to purchase some parts separately, such as the servo, speed control, battery, motor and radio system. Although this can be a rewarding experience that can kickstart your knowledge of the RC world, it’s not the easiest of tasks. If your RC vehicle breaks, you’ll have the knowledge and skills to fix it yourself, and you can also dig into your creative side and paint the RC vehicle’s body however you want.

RC Vehicle Prices

rc buggy
source: RC Car Action

Obviously, the cost of the RC vehicle will be an important consideration. It’s important to remember that you get what you pay for, and while getting a cheaper model may be tempting as a beginner, you’re probably going to spend more money in the long run by replacing broken parts and maintaining it. That being said, try not to go overboard, especially if you’re not completely sold out on the RC hobby. There are decent, durable RC vehicles at affordable prices, so just shop around and read reviews online before you make a final buying decision.