Best RC Upgrades & Accessories For Your New RTR Car or Truck

Picking out hop-ups for your new RC cars is one of the best aspects of owning it, but what are the best RC upgrades to look at, and will they make that much of a difference? The holiday season brings many first-time RC folks who might be having some of these questions. So we’re going to break it down for you. Are these hop-ups worth it, and which ones should you be looking at for your new RC car?

What are the Best RC Upgrades for your car or truck?

What is an RC Hop-up?

Option parts, hop-ups, upgrades, and accessories; these terms simply refer to parts that offer some enhancement to your vehicle that the original factory part does not. An example of this could be something as simple as upgraded rubber tires with a tread pattern that suits the surface you drive on. Of course, that could be a whole lot better than the tires that came included on your RC, but tires are only the beginning in the world of RC hop-ups.

Just like in the full-size one-to-one motorsport world, there are upgrades for just about every part imaginable. Upgrades typically follow under three categories. There are upgrades for performance, durability, and upgrades to enhance the looks or styling.

Performance Upgrades

Performance RC upgrades are parts that help you go faster, corner better, be more stable, perhaps jump better, or maybe even land from jumps better. In addition, performance upgrades could reduce weight, which will boost the efficiency of the power system and the drivetrain.

What are the best radio control performance upgrades.

Durability Upgrades

Durability RC upgrades are pretty self-explanatory. They’re parts that are designed to break less frequently than the factory part. Perhaps the upgraded part has been made bigger or beefier, is made out of more robust material, or the new upgraded part has a better design than the stock part.

What are the best radio control druability upgrades.

Style Upgrades

Lastly, style RC upgrades are parts that enhance the looks or styling of the R/C and don’t necessarily enhance performance or durability. Alternatively, they’re just meant to give your radio-controlled vehicle a more custom look suited to your personal style. An example of a style upgrade is an RPM intake and blower set. It looks great mounted on the hood of an R/C car, but you wouldn’t think it will make your car faster—it’s just for looks.

What are the best radio control style upgrades.


How To Make A Radio Control Car Faster

Speed is frequently the number one thing people want to improve on their RC. For this upgrade purchasing a LiPo battery is one of the easiest ways to get more acceleration and run-time. Most RTR’s these days are compatible with LiPo batteries but either come with a NIMH battery or don’t include one at all. Because the LiPo battery performance gains are so drastic over a NIMH battery, we recommend making a LiPo battery your first upgrade. There are tons of LiPo’s available in multiple sizes and power specs, with different connectors, so you should be able to find a battery to suit your application without any problem. Before buying an upgraded LiPo battery, make sure your model is compatible with one.

Upgrade Your Radio Control Battery to a LiPo

When selecting a LiPo, the mAh rating is the capacity or the run-time. A higher mAh rating equals a longer run-time overall. The C rating on the battery is going to be that punch of power. The higher the rating, the more punch that battery will deliver.

Radio Control LiPo Batteries

If you’re a Traxxas owner, you need to stick with Traxxas batteries because of their proprietary ID connector. Of course, you can change that connector if you’re comfortable soldering a new one to your Traxxas model, but keep in mind that changing that ID connector is not recommended and voids your Traxxas warranty.

Traxxas ID Batteries

Note: LiPo batteries require a LiPo specific battery charger, often referred to as a LiPo Balance Charger. You cannot use the NiMh charger included with your model to charge a LiPo battery.

Another effective way to boost the speed of your model is to buy an upgraded brushless motor and ESC system. If your model has brushed electronics, a brushless system will dramatically improve performance. If your model already has a brushless system, upgrading to a different one probably won’t provide much to enhance speed. Upgrading to a brushless ESC and motor system is generally a little bit more expensive, so that’s another good reason to upgrade to a LiPo battery first.

Brushless Motor and ESC Systems

Improving the Handling of Your Radio Control Car or Truck

The next area of improvement is handling performance, and that means tires. Tires are hands-down one of the best ways to improve the performance of your RC. The right tires can maximize the traction for your surface and enhance the overall experience with your model. Your goal should be to match the tires to the type of surface terrain that you’re driving on.

On-Road Low-Profile Radio Control Slick Tires

If you’re driving on-road, you will probably want to get yourself some slick on-road tires with a low-profile tread pattern.

Off-road radio control knobby tires

If you’re driving off-road, you probably want some tires that have little knobbies on them to dig into the dirt.

Sand and Snow Paddle Tires

If you’re in sand or snow, you’ll probably want some tires with paddle tires that can scoop through the terrain.

Only you know best what type of terrain you’ll be driving, and so it’s up to you to pick the correct type of tread pattern to match your surface. However, if your goal is to achieve a particular look, maybe then tire performance isn’t so important.

When choosing tires, you may have the option of different rubber compounds. The compound type nomenclature may change depending on the brand, but the bottom line is they all function differently, so be sure to check the tire chart of the brand you select to find out what those compounds mean. Softer rubber compounds can gain more traction and are ideal in cold weather temperatures.

RC Soft Rubber Compound Radio Control Tires

RC Hard Rubber Compound Radio Control Tires

Hard rubber compounds tend to last longer, don’t wear out as fast, and are better suited for hot weather conditions. Unfortunately, hard rubber compound tires do not work well in cold weather conditions. So when upgrading your tires, you not only want to find the correct tread pattern for your particular surface, but you want to ensure that you’re picking a compound that’s ideal for your climate.


What Upgrades Are Best For Durability

The most common area to add durability to your R/C is the front suspension because most crashes are front-end impacts.

RPM is a popular supplier of durability upgrades because of the material they use. Their nylon parts work well at absorbing the impact energy when you crash, plus they’ve got a little bit of flex to them. These RPM parts are sought after for good reason; they’re just tough to break, and they offer one of the best warranties in the industry. In addition, RPM manufactures more than suspension parts, and most come in several different colors allowing you to enhance the looks of your RC while adding durability.

RPM Front A-Arms (Black) (Rustler, Stampede & Slash) (2) RPM80242

Another great item to improve durability is upgrading the rear driveshafts, or if you have a 4WD model, it’s the front and rear driveshafts. Over the course of normal use, wear and tear on the driveshafts tend to break them down, especially if you have a fast power system in your car. A good remedy to get away from those stock driveshafts are MIP steel driveshafts. These driveshafts are available for most of the popular kits. MIP shafts are heavy-duty and rebuildable, so when a particular area of the driveshaft starts to wear out, you can buy just that part and reassemble them.

MIP Traxxas X-Duty Rear CVD Drive Kit (Slash, Stampede, Rustler, Rally) MIP18140

One area for improvement that is often overlooked is the steering servo which is just a small electrical device that steers your front tires. All RTR’s include a servo of some type, but they tend to be starting servos. There are several high-speed and powerful servo options out there, and the faster, more powerful they get, the more expensive they become. You can shop around, but we recommend just swapping in an EcoPower WP120T servo. It’s fast, it’s powerful, it’s waterproof, and it just gets the job done. This upgrade is generally more important for off-road cars that use bigger tires as that weight tends to slow down the servo. But for on-road cars, an upgraded servo can also be beneficial as it’ll provide more speed to the front tires. We generally wait for our RTR servo to burn out, and then we’ll put in an upgraded WPT120T. However, you can be proactive and do it before it fails.

EcoPower WP120T Coreless Waterproof High Torque Metal Gear Digital Servo (High Voltage) ECP-120T


When To Add R/C Style Accessories

This would usually be the order that we recommend upgrades, but it really comes down to your particular needs. Like what car do you have, in what ways does it need to improve, and how are you using the vehicle. For example, the first upgrade to our drift car was adding carpet-specific drift tires because that’s the surface on the inside track at Amain. The next thing we did was add balancing weights to alter the weight bias of the chassis, and it dramatically changed the car’s performance. Finally, we added a WP120T servo when the stock servo failed. Beyond that, the car was perfect for our needs in terms of durability and performance.

Styling your ride is fun but it should be the final RC Upgrade

Something as simple as adding LEDs on your R/C body can really make it pop. There are thousands of scale accessories to customize your rig. However, we recommend that you get the parts to cover your performance and durability needs first before moving on to the looks because you can’t drive a broken car.