How Do RC Cars Work?

How Do RC Cars Work

Collecting RC cars is an extremely interesting hobby. Surely all of us have been fascinated with remote control cars since childhood.

RC cars have become very popular, and you’ve probably played them hundreds of times, but have you ever wondered: “how do RC cars work?”

Knowing how something works is always interesting, especially something familiar to us. So if you are interested in this topic, let us enlighten you!

How Do RC Cars Work?

An RC consists of many complex components for efficient operation. The following are the primary and typical parts of an RC.


The transmitter is a remote that you use to drive your RC car. It is pretty similar to the remote control you use for TV. Depending on the button you press, the transmitter will send a signal to let your RC car know what you want.

Like a TV remote, the transmitter must be powered, usually from a double-A battery or a 9-volt battery.


It is the part that will receive the signal from your transmitter after you do any operation. It then converts this signal into mechanical action, making your CR  car run as you want. In most cases, it is an antenna on the back of the RC car.

Engines Or Motor

Even if the receiver (or antenna) receives the signal, it cannot make your RC run without the motor or engine. This part is responsible for making your vehicle run, accelerate, decelerate, or reverse.

An RC car can come with an engine or more. For models with more than one engine, one is responsible for turning the front wheel to the right or left, while the other powers the rear wheel to help your RC car go forward or backward.

There are models with four engines, and each one powers one wheel.

Power Source

Just like your real car needs gas to operate, your RC car must be powered to run.

In most cases, RC cars run on batteries. The batteries provide the necessary power to the engine, which converts that energy into movement and makes the RC car run. In addition, your receiver also needs to be powered by batteries.

However, some RC models feature nitro and petrol engines powered by fuel rather than batteries.

Circuit Board

It is also one of the critical parts of making RC cars work correctly.

Simply put, circuit boards are logical systems that can translate the different signals and electrical charges between the many components of your RC car.


This part is a reliable way to make RC cars move in any desired direction.

As a vital component of RC vehicles, the servo will convert the electrical signal from your transmitter into a movement. It is usually used to operate the RC car’s steering system.

Speed Controller

Speed controllers are responsible for regulating RC vehicles’ speed and RPM.

Battery-powered RCs come with an ESC (electric speed controller), while the fuel-powered RC models typically feature a throttle servo.

How Does an RC Car’s Radio System Work?

The radio system of RC cars

Regarding RC cars, the radio system includes the receiver and the transmitter.

Anytime you push or pull the throttle trigger, turn the wheel or do any operation on your transmitter, it will generate and send a unique signal to the receiver.

When the receiver (usually the antenna) receives the signal, it “notifies” the other parts of the RC car to tell them what to do, such as turning left and right or accelerating and decelerating.

How Do the Receiver And Transmitter Communicate?

Signals of cheaper RC models range from 27 Mhz to 49 Mhz of frequency range.  As a result, having two 27 MHz cars close together will cause some interference.

You can control the two cars simultaneously this way. You must ensure your two cars are working on different frequencies to reach this purpose.

Some models are also labeled that tell they can be operated simultaneously as multiple other RC vehicles.

In addition, they typically feature a channel switch, which allows you to change the frequency slightly but stay in the same range.

For example, it is possible to use one car at 27.145 MHz (Yellow) and the other at 27.095 MHz (Orange). Here are some other frequently used channels:

  • Blue: 27.255.
  • Green: 27.195.
  • Red: 27.045.
  • Brown: 26.995

Some higher-quality and newer RC cars operate in the 2.4 GHz frequency range, allowing a controller to listen and connect only to these RC vehicles. As each controller comes with its own unique signature, interference cannot occur.

Also, the higher frequency lets RC cars run at a longer distance (between 30 and 80 meters).

How Are the Receiver and the Transmitter Connected?

The standard receivers and transmitters (from 27 to 49 MHz) use special plug-in crystals to work and communicate at the same frequency.

But if there is another RC vehicle nearby (which also operates in the 2.4 GHz range), how does your car’s receiver know which signal is yours?

The answer is that the transmitter and the receiver have to be bound for your RC car to operate correctly, which is quite similar to the case of remote control garage doors. Some RC models already have bound, meaning you don’t have to do this with every RC vehicle.

How Can Radio Signal  Be Translated Into a Mechanical Action?

Anytime you push a trigger, switch, or button, the transmitter will generate an electrical signal and send it to your RC vehicle.

Pressing a specific button will cause a specific circuit on the circuit board to be completed. It is quite like how your home’s electrical circuits work.

When a specific circuit is completed, it will send electrical pulses. Those electrical pulses include synchronization pulses and are followed by something called “the actual pulse sequence.”

Synchronization pulses will notify the receiver there is incoming information.

Then, the actual pulse sequence tells the vehicle’s receiver what this information is. The number of pulses should involve different actions, for example:

  • Go backward while turning left: 52
  • Go backward while turning right: 46
  • Go backward: 40
  • Go forward while turning right: 34
  • Go forward while turning left: 28
  • Go forward: 16

All of those pulses should operate in the same particular MHz range. So any other signal with a different MHz will be filtered out.


What Are RC Cars?

RC cars

RC cars refer to miniature model vehicles, including cars, buses, trucks, buggies, and vans that we can control from distances using a specialized remote or transmitter.

The term “RC” means both “radio controlled” and “remote controlled.”

“Remote controlled” cars are controlled using a physical wire connection, infrared waves, or radio waves. However, it is now obsolete.

Nowadays, RC vehicles typically involve “Radio Controlled” cars controlled by radio, which this article covers.

What Are the Different Types of RC Cars?

RC cars usually come in three types: RC monster trucks, RC trucks, and RC cars.

RC Monster Trucks

They are brawn but no hustle. These monsters will not be able to win any races if you do not modify them. However, they are the true kings when it comes to climbing and jumping all kinds of obstacles.

RC Trucks

This type is perfect for any off-road condition but not ideal for pavement. RC trucks will work best for people who know they’ll spend a lot of time off the beaten path.

RC Cars

They are the standard, average cars which are ideal for beginners to the hobby or fans of classic styles.

They can navigate pavement or even relatively smooth dirt roads well. Also, customization options enable you to make your vehicle better suited for either.

How Do Nitro RC Cars Work?

A nitro RC car has an engine that operates with fuel, which is typically methanol-based mixed with nitromethane and oil.

That’s why it’s named “Nitro cars.” The percentages of nitromethane might range from 0% to 60%, while the oil is between 8% up and 25%.

How Many Types of RC Vehicles?

When it comes to “vehicles,” it really goes beyond the RC car world. Specifically, the RC vehicle comes in many types, such as:

  • Cars.
  • Robots.
  • Animals.
  • Trucks.
  • Blimps.
  • Sailboats.
  • Airplanes.
  • Helicopters.
  • Motorboats.
  • Submarines.
  • Fantasy vehicles.

Overall, RC Vehicle can simulate any true vehicle.

How Fast Can RC Cars Go?

The speed of an RC car will typically be somewhere between 25 and 70 mph, depending on if it is designed for racing.

RC toys for children will go significantly slower than that. On the other hand, drag or modified RCs can reach top speeds of up to 100 mph.

Nitro (Nitromethane) boosted cars were once considered the king of speed in the RC world. However, electric RCs have taken their throne with the advancement of technology.

What Is the Range? How Far Can They Go?

An RC car can go several miles away from you, but you have to be careful because you can lose control of it by not being able to see. The lower-end to mid-tier models can quickly achieve a range of about 50 meters.

Structures and buildings can also affect the control of your RC car as they will block your signal.

How Can I Stop a Remote Control Interference?

When two vehicles share the same frequency, they will most likely experience interference or crosstalk. If you have a device with an option to switch frequencies, it will do the trick.

Long-range RC vehicles operate on 27 MHz or 49 MHz in most cases. So you should read your owner’s manual to know the frequency of the device.

Then, you can adjust the frequency level until the interference has been gone.

Can A Transmitter Work With Any Receiver?

You can use a transmitter to pair with any kind of receiver. But the mismatched transmitter power and frequencies can damage the receiver permanently.

So ensure your receiver and transmitter both work on the same frequencies.

The Bottom Line

By the end of this article, we have helped you clear up, “How do RC cars work?”

In general, when you use your transmitter, it generates and sends a special signal to the receiver (usually the antenna) on your RC car.

The receiver will receive that signal and notify other components, including the engines, power source, circuit board, and more, so they know what to do so that your car runs as you want.

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