Why Does My Remote Control Vehicle Have a Mind of Its Own?

by Josh | Last Updated:   5 months ago
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I loves remote control vehicles growing up and would run them until they broke in most cases, Washington state is wet and thats a bad combo for a long life! They were amazing to take out and fake being a driver and pull of stunts and things no real driver could do short of the movies.

Every once in a while though the RC car runs by itself almost like freaking out and drive forward or backward on its own, almost as if moved by an unseen hand which led me to ask why my rc car drives by itself and why does my remote control car move on its own?

Many cars may move on their own if they receive signals from another source on the same frequency band, interference in signal, or with power and wiring not being able to deliver the expected stop commands. If this occurs you may want to check out your battery, wiring, and servos on your RC car.

Playing with a remote-controlled car is lots of fun. But, there is always an issue that can come up when driving around where the car seems to move by itself, so, why does my electric RC car go by itself?

As soon as you find a phenomenon where your remote-controlled car moves on its own, you will want to dig in and take a look for the key causes or factors that contribute.

This phenomenon actually encompasses a full-throttle movement like reversing when it’s driven, slight rolling when you want to stop it, and other motions you don’t initiate physically on your controller.

Shared Transmission Frequency

The most common issue is that someone in your area has the same remote transmission frequency which is actually having impact on your car movement.

Since your car is fully controlled by a remote, it is possible that the transmission is intercepted by somebody else who also using a similar frequency remote control.

This may seem odd that with so many cars out there that this could happen but what is interesting is that 99% of all remote-controlled cars actually run on either 27 MHz or 49 MHz frequency.

Therefore, when you are playing with your RC vehicle where others may be also playing with their remote controlled vehicles, your transmission has a high chance of being disturbed.

If the power is higher than yours, they will be able to control your RC car even when not attempting to.

Signal Interference

There can be other issues that aren’t related to other interference that other hobbyists or vehicle remotes that can cause a large impact on your play.

There are other things that can operate within bands you use, like radio signals like CB, which can actually derail your plan to play with your remote-controlled vehicles or at best cause additional havoc. 

Low tech signals from simple things like fluorescent lights have the ability to mess with your vehicle depending on the frequency of the car causing movement and other side effects.

Many fluorescent lights to function release electromagnetic waves that operate on similar wavelengths which are able to interfere with the radio frequency.

The last part in overall signal disruption and interference comes in the form of the actual body of the RC vehicle, depending on what materials have been used this structure itself can be a cause of disruption.

Materials such as steel are very good conductors, not that your vehicle is made of steel but it shows materials matter a lot to performance. The more steel is used in your nearby, the less radio signal receive to move your remote-controlled car.

Use of materials like these can lead to absorption of the radio frequency signals and the issue with communicating entwine the control and the vehicle.

Potential Causes of Interference

There are many things that are man made or natural that can cause issues, the most common for us will be man made interference that are around the area where we choose to play with our vehicles.

Before you begin you may want to look around at the area and look for anything from the list below that could cause you to have issues with your remote control and cause frustration.

Fencing

This applies more to metal fences similar to a chain link fence that construction companies will use to circle around and keep people out. When radio waves interact with a chain-link fence the signals can be warped by the metal openings leading to poor functionality in your vehicle.

Steel Construction

As we discussed above steel is amazing for creating strong buildings, unfortunately it is horrible for our radio controlled vehicles as the steel can and will absorb much of the chatter. Try to avoid racing in and out of concrete structures or if planning to race inside make sure you always have a clear line of site to your vehicle.

Lighting Fixtures

Much of the fluorescent lighting we use can send out wavelengths that have the ability to disrupt our radio frequencies causing poor reception and function in our RC vehicles. If you suspect these to be at fault you can turn them off or move further away to allow your radio to function properly again.

Damaged Wires

One thing that you should always take time to look at prior to play and after play is for any physical damage to the RC vehicle as damage to wiring and structure can impact function.

For example: due to unusual movement or motion of your RC car it can be easy to catch sticks and impact the body and wiring.

It is also advised to check the wires for damage as this can lead to poor connectivity and may cause irregular behavior on your vehicle. To overcome this, you can solder the wire or replace it with a new one.

Poor Connectivity to Motor or Servos

The servos are the cores of an RC vehicle’s activity. They are sent the order in order to perform a specific motion in the vehicle like turn the wheels, spin the props and much more similar behaviors like a rc car accelerating on its own.

If you should happen to have a poor connection at the servos, some of this information isn’t entirely processed correctly to your remote controlled vehicle.

This servo issue will be seen as a huge impact directly by way of your vehicle showing very erratic or sometimes jerky motion. If you have an ability to repair things, try to fix the wire for better connection.

Assuming you are like me, when you are playing with your remote-controlled vehicle and it doesn’t do what you want it to you may feel a little bit annoyed.

The thing to keep in mind is that no matter whether somebody else is messing up with your car’s frequency, damaged fires, or poor connection of the servos, there will always ways to fix the problems.

When shifting channel or frequency of the car doesn’t work, you probably need to change the location. Before playing around, it is better to look around whether there is high-power electrical line, radio tower, steel construction or not.

Whenever you find that there is a potential interference in the radio frequency, just keep away from it.  Overall, changing your location whenever your remote-controlled car act like it doesn’t suppose to be is the best decision.

Easy Resolutions To Issues With Interference

There are a few ways you can try to adjust how you are playing with your remote controlled vehicle to save you the frustration of quitting. Some may be easier than others as the more expensive the vehicle the better functionality options occur.

Imminent Remote Battery Death

Many of us will begin to play on a new day without checking our remotes batteries prior, should you see signs of loss in control or believe your batteries are starting to die then try and bring your vehicle back or go collect it.

Once you have collected your vehicle then you want to turn it off and replace the batteries to ensure your remote is as powered as it can be. For many this is all that will be needed to regain control of your vehicle again.

Change Channel Settings

Now for people with less expensive RC vehicles this may not be an option due to the way they build them. Should your vehicle have the option to change out the channel and frequency then you should try to swap them for a better chance to enjoy your day.

This can help you to split yourself away from the issue with the current signal whether it be a person or just native interference in an area from construction, etc.

An important side note is that you HAVE TO MAKE SURE when you make a change to the channel and frequency that this same change is done on both sides, the vehicle and the remote.

Increase Distance From Fellow RC’ers

The simplest fix and maybe most painful if you want to hang out is to distance yourself from the other racers. For most remotes this would be around 75-100′ to ensure you don’t lose control of your vehicle any longer.

This is definitely the least social way to fix the issue but it will give you the ability to race again once you exit the cross channel issues.

Final Thoughts on Why Does My Remote Control Car Move on its Own

Having your own remote control car is a pleasure as a kid and as an adult they have become even more fun with drones and planes you can literally have the sky available as the largest playground in the world!

Todays families can share in the enjoyment of remote controlled vehicles and these allow for some quality entertainment outside of your home and electronic screens that we all stare at fat too often!

If you love radio controlled vehicles leave me a comment below on if this was helpful to you and if I missed a tip that could help others share the knowledge and lets get back out there!

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