RC Essential Items


Warn, the full-size winch company, says “Go Prepared.” The Boy Scouts say “Be Prepared.” Ben Franklin said “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” See where I am going with this? Whether you race, crawl or bash, you should be prepared. Now, you could bring a complete set of tools and two of everything for spare parts. If you did that you’d be really prepared, but you’d probably not be venturing too far. There’s something to be said for packing light. This is not your complete check list for race day, but rather the essential items that are very important (hence, essential), yet often overlooked.

There are two types of racers—those you pack everything and those who pack light. The only help for the pack everything types is to make racing a team effort. There are certain tools you can’t share at the track because they are constantly being used, but if you pit with the same three guys every race day, do each of you really need to bring an air compressor? Same thing goes for a pop-up canopy. But, it’s not just the big stuff. It’s unlikely you’ll each need things like a soldering iron, body scissors or reamer at the same time. While everyone should have their own set hex drivers and nut drivers and a pair of needle nose pliers, you’d be amazed home much each member of the team can reduce what they bring to the track by sharing some of the infrequently used items. No what item is extremely useful while racing but rarely on hand? Paper towels. You can buy the fancy shop towels. Those are nice, but I leave those at home and bring the cheapest ones I can find to the track.

cable ties

Cable ties (often called zip ties or sometimes Ty-Rap) are the duct tape of the RC world. Resourceful RCers can fix just about anything with a few cable ties. The small 3” and 4” sizes are the most useful, but also grab a few of the bigger stouter cable ties.

body scissors

While you’re unlikely to have to completely trim a new body at the track (though I’ve done it) or while out crawling, body scissors will obviously be extremely handy to have when you realize your tires rub at the track or out on the rocks even though they didn’t rub at home. Body scissors make quick work of the above mentioned cable ties and because the blades and stout, they can chomp through some serious material when needed.


If your RC car uses a plastic spur gear, carry a spare. That was easy. If you have a metal spur gear, you probably don’t need to carry a spare, but watch the teeth for wear. When the tips start looking like sharp points, replace the gear.

sensor wire

Go figure, the RC industry actually agrees on an industry standard plug for something and it really isn’t all that great. Sensored brushless systems all have one weak link—the sensor wire loom. These wires, specifically the plug, will eventually fail. Don’t count on the hobby shop having a spare, carry one yourself. When your brushless system suddenly goes from working flawlessly to acting possessed—presuming your battery isn’t dead—the first thing to check is the sensor wire loom.

body clips

You don’t really need me to explain this, do you? Body clips pop off on their own and they tend to wander off when left in the pits.

wheels nuts

Most people don’t realize this, but nylon insert lock nuts are a wear item. This means they have a lifespan and must be replaced as part of normal maintenance. They don’t go bad sitting on the shelf, but they do get closer to not working any longer every time you thread them on and off. If they aren’t replaced, you could lose one while running, and like body clips, they have a way of easily getting lost in the pits.


Servos take a lot of abuse. Whether you race, bash or crawl, the servo is one of the most likely items to eventually break. Think about how many impacts the front tires are subjected to. All of those hard hits are transferred directly to the servo. Some setups use a servo saver, but most racers lock their servo savers down (sometimes even gluing them) and rock crawlers don’t have them. You can pick up a spare servo that’s high torque and metal gear for less than $20. I carry a spare servo with servo horn already installed to ease on the setup.

set screws

Odds are your vehicle doesn’t have too many setscrews (sometimes called grub screws), but just about every RC vehicle does have them and they are small and easy to lose. Set screws are commonly used on pinion gears (probably number one use) and drive shafts. Carry a few spares and hope you never have to use them. You’ll be glad you have some spares when you drop one on the ground.

hex pins

I use silicone glue when installing hex pins on drive axles, but many people don’t. Those that don’t are the guys you see on their hands and knees at the track looking for the hex pin that slid out. Throw two spare hex pins in your RC survival kit—one for you and one for the guy on the floor.


Most of forget to check our transmitter’s voltage levels. Keep a set of unused AA batteries on hand for when the alarm on your transmitter starts beeping—usually while you’re on the drivers’ stand waiting for a race to start. If you run a rechargeable pack, keep a spare tray with new batteries.

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