What Is A Better RC Car: Electric Or Gas

by Josh | Last Updated:   3 months ago
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It has been a never-ending debate between RC enthusiasts over what car is better – electric or gas. Each has a loyal following based on their differences in the actual operation of the RC car. 

So which one is better? let’s have a look at a compilation that will allow you to see in which area which RC car type is better. 

Car SpecsElectric RC CarNitro RC Car
SpeedMax 100-200 mphIncredibly high speed with brushless motorsMax 35-60+ mph Moderately high speed with brushed motors
DurabilityThe design and material used is more durableLess durable and susceptible to heat damage
LongevityLonger life10-25 mins runtime in a single chargeShorter life30-45 mins runtime in one fuel tank
ResistanceWaterproof and crash resistanceModern nitro models can be semi-waterproof
CostLow long-term costsHigh long-term costs
MaintenanceGeneral maintenance requirementsGeneral maintenance and additional care or regular replacement of car accessories

Although a nitro gas RC car offers a realistic driving experience, an electric car trumps this with its high speed and cost-efficiency. Electric RC cars run on batteries that last long and come with robust capabilities for a speedy performance. 

However, gas-powered RC cars come with their own sets of advantages that may be missing in some electric models. The decision comes down to what you prioritize in an RC car.

Continue reading for more information on how to pick between an electric and a gas RC model. 

Electric v/s Gas RC Cars Comparison

To get a better idea of which car is best suited for your performance needs, listed below is a comparison of the two types. It gives a breakdown of electric and gas RC cars based on six distinct specifications.

So let’s dive into these right away!

Speed

In the early days of RC cars, nitro cars were ideal for a speedy and aggressive performance. In fact, its driving performance is comparable to that of a real motor car. They will bring you great acceleration and top speed capabilities ranging from 35 – 60+ mph. 

However, today you will come across highly advanced electric motors that allow electric cars to overpower nitro cars speed-wise. Electric RC cars can reach a boosted speed of up to 100+ mph. 

In fact, the fastest speed of a battery-powered car is currently recorded at 202.02 mph!

This is thanks to specifications like brushless motors, LiPo batteries, and even the center of the electric RC car.  

While gas cars have brushed motors, electric RC cars have brushless motors. Brushless motors, as the name suggests, do not require frequent cleaning by brush. Since it does not come in contact with brushes as much, there is less friction and heat. 

Lesser the friction, the better the motor performance. That is why electric cars handle a higher voltage for faster speed.  

Furthermore, electric cars can maintain this fast speed through jumps and turns due to a stable center of gravity. Nitro cars have a less stable center of gravity, rattling and going off course due to the fuel tank’s constant movement. 

So if faster power is what you are looking for, then electric RC cars are your best bet. 

Durability 

Both models offer good durability. However, gas RC cars require a little more care and caution so that it stays durable. 

Since it uses liquid, gas RC cars are also susceptible to leaks and damages to the internal systems. These models also produce a lot of heat, affecting the engine’s ability to stay cool. If it overheats, the damage can call for a complete replacement of the car. 

Now a nitro gas model with metal parts like an aluminum chassis can still beat the heat. That way, it will have better durability, comparable to the electric models with carbon fiber or metal chassis and other components. 

Electric RC cars have fewer parts and are cleaner, requiring fewer periodic checks. Since these models have a better build, material and are easy to maintain, they are also more durable. 

Different brands and models will vary in terms of durability. With either RC car type, you cannot guarantee indestructibility. So keep some spare parts readily available in case of any emergencies. 

Longevity

An electric RC car runs on batteries, and a gas RC car runs on fuel. Overall, the longevity of an electric car is better than a gas car. Since electric models are cleaner and easier to maintain, they have a longer life. 

However, they tend to have a shorter run time than gas models. With gas RC cars, all you have to do is fill it up with fuel. You will be good to go for the next 30-45 mins before the next refuel. Fuel tank sizes range between 75cc and 125cc. A bigger size and a well-tuned engine will give you more running time.  

On the other hand, electric RC cars have running times ranging between 10 and 25 mins per battery charge. You will also need to think of the time it will take to charge the batteries every time they run out. 

It will take a minimum of 45 mins to charge your batteries. Sometimes, this charging time can go as high as several hours!

So if you value a long-running time, you will get the most use out of your nitro gas RC cars. 

Resistance

An ideal RC car should be able to resist any hazard to give you lasting performance. This means handling different terrains, crash and water resistance, and so on. 

Although some gas RC cars come as semi-waterproof, they do not have the electric model’s high resistance capabilities. 

Electric RC cars come with waterproofing and crash resistance. Since they have a stable center of gravity and are lightweight, you can maneuver them through rough turns and jumps. So, you can drive an electric RC car through puddles, snow, or even high terrains. 

As for gas cars, they will be very sensitive to any kind of wet terrain. If they come in contact with water, they experience permanent damage to their internal system. 

Cost

Costs vary based on the RC car brand, the build, and the material used. In their early days, electric RC cars were the cheaper alternative to gas RC cars.

The recent advanced technology of electric cars, however, has given these models a higher price tag. 

This is because electric models use brushless motors that are more expensive than brushed motors. The purchase price may be higher, but you also have to consider the maintenance costs here.

Nitro gas RC cars require you to buy fuel regularly. Every quart of nitro fuel costs about $20 to $25. You may also need to upgrade some of its stock parts and do the regular maintenance of several car accessories. This adds up a significant amount to the previously low purchase price. 

With electric RC cars, you will just have to buy a battery pack. These batteries last longer than a quart of nitro fuel. The battery pack price can be as high as $150, but you will not have to repurchase them. All you will have to do is recharge them next time they run out. 

If you think about it, an electric RC car will be less costly than a nitro gas RC car in the long term. The price of a gas model will keep getting higher over time.

Maintenance

Both RC car types require good upkeep. You should clean the system, rotate and check the tire and tire rims, and tighten any screws that got loose over time. Where the two models differ primarily is in the additional maintenance after use. 

As mentioned already, nitro gas RC cars require much more maintenance than RC cars running on batteries. 

Before using it, you will need to properly break-in the nitro engine to avoid the consequences of hastily driving the RC car. After use, you will drain the fuel tank and oil up the air filters.

Other accessories that require routine checking in such cars include shocks, ball bearings, drive pulleys, drive belts, and so on. 

You will need some mechanical knowledge to handle the regular cleaning of the fuel system and the internal components of a nitro RC car. The glow plug is also changed regularly, making this maintenance task even more tedious. 

There is a very low chance of an RC car’s electric system going wrong. These cars do not have a lot of parts. So, at most, you may need to make some minor replacements in case something goes wrong. 

Even those with minimal mechanical knowledge and skills will be able to replace or clean the electric model components. 

Final Verdict

Now that you have compared the two RC car types let’s go back to the original question. What is a better RC car – electric or gas?

As you can tell from the comparison table, an electric RC car is superior to a nitro gas RC car in almost every criteria. The runtime may be short, but electric models more than make it up for it with better power, durability, and resistance.

When you ultimately make the decision, it will come down to personal preference. An RC enthusiast may prefer gas RC cars for their aggressive performance and sound, akin to a full-sized car or truck. 

As a result, gas cars can provide a more fun experience, but only if you are familiar with the mechanics of it. If you are new to the world of radio-controlled vehicles, an electric RC model will be more up your alley. 

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