Buying Your First Nitro RC Car

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I am writing this guide about buying a Nitro RC car for the first time because when I found myself buying one There were no guides on ebay to help and videos on youtube often told me to do certain things and others told me never to do these things, I had no idea so me and my friends learnt the hard way.

First thing i will say about buying a Nitro RC car is the price you see on the screen is never the price you pay, even if it claims to be RTR (ready to run) you still need may other things to even start your car. I recently bought my second car, a HPI savage 4.6, it cost me £270 but yet I spent in total well over £300 getting it running. even when they are running you have consistant running costs, i.e fuel, replacing parts, new batteries etc.

Secondly, look at the brands that you always see when searching RC cars. they will include; HPI, HoBao, CEN, Traxxas, Losi and a few more. These are the brands to stick to if your looking for a car that will work, go fast and not break very often. My friend decided to do the cheap and cheerful option and after 7 weeks of owning the car he managed to get around half a litre of fuel out of it before it broke and after finally finding the spares to repair it the thing broke again so he just gave up. This is a prime example of what happens when you buy a cheap or not very well known car. Please do not make the same mistake as him.

Thirdly, after finding an ideal car first hunt around for the same thing cheaper. There will always be a car being sold the same as yours for much cheaper than you think. In the shops my current car (HPI savage 4.6 RTR) costs £400, on I found it at about £330 but the cheapest price I found was at £270. There is always someone selling what you want for cheaper. After looking for the best price you can it's time to have a look on youtube to see how the car actually drives. Remember the people driving these cars on youtube are just like you, they are not tring to make it look good or sell it to you, they are just showing you how it drives and what it can do. And yes you do get the odd idiot that doesn't bother to run their car in or runs it far too lean and other stupid things that I will explain later but on the whole most know what they are doing.

Now you've seen how the car goes it's time to buy. Remember if your buying from ebay its best to buy brand new, ask if the car comes factory sealed and what condition the box is in, if you don't you could get a nasty surprise when it comes. Also check the feedback of the seller you are going to buy from and read through some of the negative feedbacks and see what the seller is not so good at. If you feel that you are ready to buy your first car after doing all this then maybe it's time to do so. Remember to also purchase a failsafe, a device that returns your car to the idle position if anything goes wrong. If you don't use a failsafe you pose a serious risk to your car and also people around you as these cars are not slow, they are around £12 and a good investment for your car.

So now you've recieved the car, you've just opened the box and tried the suspension out etc and all you want to do is drive it! Do not straight away start it up and drive it! There are many checks and processes you must go through before doing this.

Firstly there may be some final assembly of your car to be carried out by you. Remember  to have a quick flick through the instructions and read about how you finish building the car. Also fit the failsafe you bought with the car according to the instructions. After you have done this it's time to check all the screws and bolts are there and that they are all securly tightend. Don't over tighten the bolts, just enough for them to stay in and not fall out. after going over your whole car checking screws and bolts etc its time to put the batteries in and check all the electrics work. Insert all the batteries into your car and transmitter, turn on the transmitter first, then the car. This way you always have control over the car and your car does not suffer any interference problems. To check that your failsafe works leave your car switched on when the engine is not running but turn off your transmitter and your car should assume the position that you set the failsafe up to make. Operate all the controls on the controller seperatly and watch all the small servo linkages move around and work, make sure they move freely and do not rub against anything.

Now that you have checked over your car for anything unusual or broken its time to start your car for the first time. Your first car will probably have a pullstart unless you are lazy, rich or just fed up with pull starts, in which case your car will have a seperate starter motor. I will explain the pull start method of starting your car first.

A top tip for starting your car for the first time is put a few drops of after run oil into the engine. follow the instructions on the after run oil container to do this.

Firstly fill your fuel tank with fuel. Then switch on your cars electrics. Now remove your air filter (foam piece) from your engine and check that the carb is only allowing a small amount of air through into the engine. If you pull the trigger towards you the carb will open and this is your car at full throttle, after letting go of the controller the carb should slide back and leave a hole about 1mm. You do not want the car to rev any higher than an idle when starting for the first time. If you move the controller but nothing happens the servo linkage is not connected, your car is switched off, you have the wrong controller or the batteries are flat.

Put your car onto a platform or blocks so that the wheels are not touching the ground and are not making contact with anything. Prime the engine by either using the primer on the fuel tank or if you dont have one put your finger over the exhaust exit and pull the pullstart until you see the pipes going to the engine fill with fuel. You will need a small amount of fuel in the engine to start it so prime the engine a futher two pulls. Next insert a glow start into your engine head.

(If you do not have a glow start or any other tools or equipment for starting a nitro car the best thing to do is buy a starter pack from ebay or your local hobby shop, they are around £15.)

After putting the glow start into the engine head attempt to start your car. Remember your trying to start your engine, not stoke it or rip the pullstart out.

If you are using a starter motor then you may be lazy like me but it makes starting your car easier done than said. Insert your starter motor into the plate on the engine, put your finger over the exhaust, push the button and wait for the fuel to enter the engine. Hold the button down for a further second or so for fuel to get into the engine. next insert the glow start and push the button to start your car for the first time.

On both types of car you may find that when removing the glow start the car stops. Simply leave the glow start in the engine. your glow start will last around 1 tank of fuel before needing a charge but I used this method and it definantly worked for me. Once you have your car running it should be just ticking over and the wheels should be turning slowly or not at all. If your car is not idling you should IMMEDIATLY turn it off by putting your finger over the exhaust and check the carb position and also make sure there is no interference with other cars. Then try again.

Running your car in

The most important part of setting up your new car is running in the engine. You should let the engine idle through two tanks of fuel. After each tank before starting allow the engine head to return to cold. It's also about the only time that you should not run your car without a body shell. leave the bodyshell off for all stages of running your car in but from then onwards you should never go out without it.
After your two tanks you should then go to a flat tarmac area such as a supermarket carpark on a late sunday afternoon as the shops will be shut and there will be a large empty flat space for you. This is where you start your car and drive it for the first time. Follow the starting procedures explained above to start your car. If you flood the engine this means you have primed it too much and there is too much fuel in the engine cylinder for the car to start. take off the glow plug with a glow plug tool, put a rag over the engine head and turn over your engine by either pulling the pullstart rapidly or using the starter motor. Then reprime your engine and try to start it. Once you have your car started you should drive your car around in circles using nothing more than half throttle for one tank, the next tank do the same only on a straight you should go up slowly to full throttle just for less than a second and then return to under half and repeat this 3 or four times in your last tank of running in. The best idea of knowing how to run your car in is that you should vary the engine rpm by using low rpm mainly but also some mid rpm. The slower you drive your car when your running it in the faster your car will go after you've run your car in, but don't take this to heart and do a constant 3mph speed, you should vary the speeds as much as possible and not reach top speed. After you've run out of fuel on your fourth tank your car is now run in and ready for tuning. If you are not sure about tuning your car its best to leave it until a later date but if you want to then tuning is best explained by the experts at HPI and their videos can be found all over youtube.

Thats about all you need to know for buying and using your first car! Have fun.   

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