Nitro Radio-Controlled Car Buying Guide

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Nitro Radio-Controlled Car Buying Guide

Fuel-powered radio-controlled cars are a serious hobby for males and females all over the world. Available to buy on eBay, they give the user a chance to drive a scale model of their favourite vehicles on varying terrains at a fraction of the cost of the car itself.

This buying guide will explain what makes up a Nitro-Radio Controlled Car,, the best way to search one out and how to attain one of these high-powered vehicles from eBay safely and securely.

Where do they come from?

  • Nitro-RC cars originated in the 1970s when the first 1/8 scale model was created by Associated, and the term Nitro was only added as a buzz word by companies marketing the products.
  • It grew from there with many variations being created and companies across the world deciding to develop cars for the popular hobby that is seen today.
  • After buying the first Nitro-RC car it becomes a blank canvas and can be continually tweaked and tuned with replacement parts available for every component of the car.
  • Nitro refers to the fact the car’s specifically designed engine is powered by fuel that is composed of between 10% and 40% nitro methane mixed with methanol. The higher the percentage of nitro methane the more influence it will have on the speed of the car in question.
  • Two-stroke engines are in every Nitro powered car with everything down to the noise, smell and speed are designed to replicate their on-track counterparts.
  • When buying your first Nitro-RC car there are questions that need to be answered and the following sections will highlight the most pertinent of nitro-controlled cars.

RTR or Kit?

  • When buying a Nitro-RC on eBay it’s of utmost importance to check whether the item is Ready to Run (RTR) or “Kit”.
  • RTR does what it says on the tin and once out of the box the only other work required is to fill it with Nitro fuel.
  • “Kit” cars must be built before they can be used. This can be as easy as assembling the outer shell or as laborious as building the entire interior of the vehicle from scratch.

On-Road or Off-Road

Before buying a Nitro-RC car it’s very important to consider where it will be doing most of its miles as an on-road model can sustain considerable damage if used on rugged terrain. Underneath is a quick synopsis on what you can expect from each type of car:

  • On-Road – They are fitted with engines that come into their own when the car is at mid-to-high RPM. The tyres are less heavy duty and suspension is more suited to road use. On-road cars look like those on racetracks the world over and perform very similarly.
  • Off-Road – Generally easier to drive and fitted with engines that perform well at all levels. Heavy-duty tyres make it a match for any terrain and long shock-absorbers let them drive over any obstacle that gets in the way. Buggies are a good example of an off-road Nitro-RC car.

Nitro Methane Percentages

The performance of a Nitro-RC car has a huge dependence on how high the nitro methane percentage is in the fuel. Generally speaking, the percentage of nitro methane comes in the following variations; 16%, 20%, 25% and 30%.

The table below outlines the different percentages of Nitro Fuel available and how they affect a car’s performance:

Fuel Percentage



Lowest amount of nitro methane means low influence on engine performance. Life of engine will be longer because of more oil.


Considered one of the two optimum percentages of nitro methane. Performance is increased while not being as detrimental to the engine’s life.


Slight boost on the RPM from 20% will lead to a shorter life for the engine. The increased speed will be worth it.


A huge boost to RPM will have a damaging effect on the life of the engine.

Which Scale Works?

Like all models, Nitro-RCs comes in a wide variety of different sizes. These are expressed as a ratio or fraction and are in relation to their size when compared to the real-life equivalent.

Scales differ hugely between manufacturers. As a first-time buyer it would be handy to Ask the Seller many questions about the size of the model before purchasing.

Below is a list of the most-common scales you will come across when buying a Nitro-RC car:




Best size for beginners. Bigger and thus easier to control than smaller varieties.


Most commonly owned size and chosen by owners as a second purchase to achieve higher speeds.


Owned by experts and experienced Nitro-RC drivers. Huge amount of control required.

Customise Your RC

One of the lures of a Nitro-RC car is that you can take customisation to the limit. Take the engine as an example and it is made up of all the components that are contained within a real car engine.

Below are three lists outlining what type of engine and starters are obtainable, followed by an extensive run-down of spares that are available for modification purposes:




· Dual-Start

· Non-Pullstart

· On-Board Electric Start

· Pullstart

· Roto-Start

· Starter Box

Engine Starters

· Bump Start

· Drill Start

· EZ Start

· Roto Start

· Starter Box

Engine Spares

· Carburetors

· Clutch & Flywheels

· Con Rods

· Cover & Back Plates

· Crank Cases

· Gasket, Seals & Shims

· Gudgeon Pins

· Heads

· Needles

· One Way & Engine Bearings

· Pistons & Liners

· Pull Starts

· Starter & Crank Shafts

· Under Head Buttons

How to Buy Nitro Radio-Controlled Cars on eBay

  • There are thousands of Nitro-RC cars available to buy on eBay with new and used items from the industry’s best-known suppliers. Sellers on eBay are the most competitively priced retailers around and each seller is incredibly reliable as well as being experienced in everything there is to know about Nitro-RC cars.
  • To search for Nitro-RC cars, visit the Toys & Games category. From there scroll down to the Radio-Controlled sub-category and under that choose Cars. On that page select Nitro under the Power Source tick box list on the left and it will provide all the items available on eBay.
  • You will notice a number of other tick-box lists underneath the Power Source category and these can all be used to narrow down your search to exactly what you want.
  • Alternatively, you can use the search box present on any page to search for a specific model or type of Nitro-RC car. This will give more of a chance to find exactly what you want amongst the vast array of items available on eBay.
  • When looking through the cars make sure you are constantly reviewing everything that is available on the page and that it looks like what you want to buy.
  • If at any time you are unsure about specific details, Ask the Seller a question to find out more. Visiting the Buying Tips page will provide more valuable information.
  • Once ready to make an acquisition, file a Bid, go to the Buy it Now button or place your Best Offer. Using PayPal will make sure the transaction is secure and goes through as smoothly as possible.

Safety Considerations When Buying

  • Make sure before any purchase that you read the product description. The description will normally have details about the type of engine, size, dimensions, and any customisation that’s been added to the radio-controlled car.
  • When buying any items from a seller on eBay you must take note of the individual person’s transaction history, especially when it comes to item sales. Has there been negative feedback left on the profile? If so, why has it been left there? The majority of eBay sellers will have some feedback, and this should be analysed before making a purchase.
  • One thing to be wary of is if it’s the first time they’ve sold an item of this nature and whether similar items have got neutral or negative feedback.
  • Read through the conditions of sale a number of times and if there’s anything you’re unsure about be sure to Ask the Seller.


Nitro-RC cars give the chance for petrol heads everywhere to drive and tune scale models of their favorite super cars at just a fraction of the cost. When looking to buy one of these items remember to consider the following questions:

  • Will it get most of its use on a smooth flat surface or on rugged terrain?
  • Is the recipient a beginner or is this car an addition to a large collection?
  • Is the item being bought RTR or will it need significant assembly?

Those questions should in turn inform your decision concerning the size of the vehicle and what nitro methane percentage the fuel should be.

None of these answers should limit you at all and at the end of the day the decision will come down to exactly what the buyer desires.

Though, once you know the answers to all of these pertinent questions, eBay is one of the best ways to find a Nitro Radio-Controlled Car online.

There are few other places that will get you a better deal and remember to use PayPal to pay for the transactions so as to make sure everything goes through smoothly.

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