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Race Prep 101 For Your RC Truck

To an RC racer, there may be nothing worse than going to the “big race”–whether it be a local trophy race or a national championship–and having your truck not perform. Or, worse yet, you quickly break because you did not spend a little time on the bench at home. Well, here is the scoop on to make sure you don’t get beat before you ever get to the track.

The best way to find problems is by actually inspecting the whole truck from top to bottom … and there isn’t a better way than cleaning it from top to bottom! Not only do clean trucks work better (smooth working suspension and steering and cool running electronics), but you’ll be amazed how well a good cleaning reveals problems you would never notice otherwise. To get the job done you are going to need some simple supplies:

  • Cleaner (Simple Green or RC-specific cleaner like TrakPower Speed Wash)
  • Small brushes (toothbrush and paintbrush)
  • Light oil and or Teflon-based spray
  • Air compressor with a small air nozzle

Step 1
Using an air compressor (yours or one at the track), completely blow off your truck. Remove as much dirt as possible as it will make life much easier when you start tearing things down at the bench. You you’re running electric, remove the battery, so that you can get the batter box clean.

Step 2
Remove the tires, body, electronics and your power plant. With these items put aside, wash off your chassis with your cleaner and water using the soft brush to get off all the heavy grime. As you wash the chassis, look for loose screws, cracks or worn or missing parts taking note of anything that’s not right. This is the first step at making that ride reliable. CowRC has a motor cleaner, MOO-tor Cleaner and Degreaser, that can be used as a general cleaner. This product can be a time saver as it won’t require you to remove your electronics.

Step 3
When the chassis is clean, make sure that all the moving parts are free from water and cleaner. I think we all know bearings don’t like water! Take your air compressor and dry the chassis and all the pivot points.

Step 4
Remove the bearings in your hubs and lubricate and protect them with a wipe down of Teflon. Look at all the bearings. Spin each one and if they’re visibly worn or noticeably gritty replace them.


Step 5
A little trick I do is to put some WD-40 on a toothbrush and go over all the plastic parts it makes them look new and easier to clean later as dirt will be less likely to stick. CowRC’s MOO-Slick is a silicone spray that great for coating metal and plastic parts. Another option–and there are others–is TrakPower’s Speed Prep.

Now that everything is clean, it’s time to start getting into the fun part that makes that truck fast and handle!

Take off your shocks. I like to keep the shocks in the same locations on the truck, so I lay out a towel and keep the shocks and their parts neat, organized and separate.

Disassemble your shocks, looking over the parts for damage or excessive wear. I clean the shocks with a motor spray, but it’s important to note that too much motor spray can dry out or damage some shock seals causing them to swell and stick or break down and fail!

To recondition and lubricate seals (the O-rings) use a generous amount of Team Associated Green Slime. The absolute best practice is to use a shock rebuild kit with new O-rings. Even with new seals, use Green Slime. When your shocks are clean, start to reassemble your shocks. This is a good time to look at your setup and pick a good shock fluid for the track you’re going to be running on also take note of the weather when making your selection. Fill your shocks and carefully bleed them. Make sure there is no trapped air or binds and that they are smooth throughout the entire stroke of the shock. This will help the truck’s handling remain consistent lap after lap.


The differentials are all too often over looked, but diffs can greatly impact how a truck handles! There are two basic types of diffs–ball and gear. A ball diff, as the name implies, has balls in the center of the diff gear that allow for the axles to spin at different speeds. Ball diffs offer fine adjustment, but require frequent maintenance. A gear diff has bevel gears much like a full-size truck’s rear end. These are controlled or adjusted by grease or diff fluid. Diff fluid is much like shock fluid, but is significantly thicker. A gear diff can handle more power, but cannot be adjusted as easily or finely tuned as a ball diff.

The fast guys start each race with a “fresh” diff(s). You at least want to rebuild them for big races. Open up your diffs and then take them apart–placing the pieces on a clean paper towel. Clean and inspect them for signs of wear or damage. If you are running a gear diff you will want to look at the setup you are going to run and select the proper diff fluid for that track. Another important thing is ring gear or diff gear lube, make sure you use a good gear grease this will keep things running smooth and trouble free. TrakPower makes a grease specifically for RC gears.

Now that the dirty stuff is done, it’s time to reassemble your truck taking time to double and triple check everything. Make sure the driveshafts are perfectly straight. If the suspension arms aren’t falling under their own weight (shocks still removed), remove the hinge pins and clean out the pin holes with a pipe cleaner and compressed air. Wipe down the hinge pins with WD-40 or a silicone lubricant. What may seem like a small bind in a hinge pin will worsen during a race from dust and dirt, so take your time making sure everything is just right.

Now that your truck is completely put back together it’s like to fine tune the set up. You don’t have to have these tools but they will make set up much easier! You’re going to need some simple tool to make this easier.

  • Camber gauge
  • Ride height gauge
  • Steel ruler

With your truck on a flat table and with all running gear installed, set the truck’s ride height first. Next, adjust your front toe. Too much toe can make a big difference in the handling. Toe in will make the vehicle track straight at speed, but too much will rob speed. Toe out will make the car dive into turns, but too much will rob speed and make handling at speed unpredictable. Next, set camber. Take your time and get it right, so that the tires can do their job making your job easier!


  • Buy new wheel nuts (we see the runaway wheel far too much)
  • Put brand new batteries in your radio
  • Check all the function of all electronics before leaving for the track
  • Call the hobby shop to make sure they stock parts for your truck
  • Make a check list (i.e. charger, batteries, radio, chair, extension cord, etc) 

All that’s left now is to make sure your electronics are properly set and that your power plant is ready. By spending some time at the workbench at home this will ensure that you spend less time wrenching at the track and more time racing for the win!

Team Associated


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