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Does WD-40 Soften RC Tires?

If you want to know if WD-40 can soften your tires keep reading. Also, learn some proven ways to do this and other techniques to make your tires sticky.

Does WD-40 Soften RC (Radio Controlled) Tires?

Yes, but there are pros and cons. For example, as a negative, this effect is temporary. After a while, the WD-40 can dry out the rubber, potentially making it more brittle and less elastic.

As a positive, If you need softer tires for a particular race or event and don’t want the effect to last too long, WD-40 might be a good fit.

Historical Context

WD-40 was initially developed as a rust-preventative solvent and degreaser for the aerospace industry. Its formula is a closely guarded secret, but it’s primarily composed of various hydrocarbons.

Over time, people discovered that this miracle spray had numerous uses, including cleaning, lubrication, moisture displacement, and even as a potential aid in softening rubber.

Softening RC Tires: The Science

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RC cars, especially those used for racing, benefit from softer tires as they can increase grip on certain terrains. The hydrocarbons in WD-40 can penetrate and swell rubber.

When WD-40 is applied to an RC tire, the solvent components of the spray can cause the polymer chains in the rubber to expand, making it softer.

However, it’s essential to note that this effect is temporary. After a while, the WD-40 can dry out the rubber, potentially making it more brittle and less elastic.

Pros of Using WD-40

  • Immediate Results: One of the primary advantages of using WD-40 is the immediate softening effect on the tires, which can be useful for a quick solution.
  • Ease of Application: It’s readily available and easy to apply, making it a popular choice among hobbyists.
  • Temporary Solution: If you need softer tires for a particular race or event and don’t want the effect to last too long, WD-40 might be a good fit.

Cons of Using WD-40

  • Short-Term Effect: The softening effect doesn’t last too long. After the solvent evaporates, the tires might return to their initial hardness or even become harder.
  • Potential Damage: Prolonged and frequent use can damage the tire’s structure, leading to cracks or increased wear.
  • Inconsistency: It’s hard to control the amount of softening, leading to inconsistency in tire performance.

Alternatives to WD-40

For those looking for a more permanent solution or a product specifically designed for this purpose, there are specialized tire softening agents available in the market.

These products are often used in actual car racing and can be adapted for RC cars. They tend to have a more predictable and long-lasting effect compared to WD-40.

How can I make my RC tires softer?

Methods to Soften RC Tires:

  • Tire Softeners or Traction Compounds: These are commercially available products designed to increase the softness of RC tires. Simply apply a generous amount of the softener on the tire surface and let it sit. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions, and use these in a well-ventilated area.
  • Simple Green or WD-40: Some hobbyists use Simple Green Cleaner or WD-40 as makeshift tire softeners. Spray or apply the product onto the tires and let them soak for a few hours. Clean them off before running your RC car. However, ensure you’re aware that using these products might degrade the rubber if used extensively.
  • Acetone Bath: This method is a bit extreme and can damage tires if not done correctly. Submerge the tires in acetone for a short period, then remove them and let them dry. The acetone breaks down the rubber compounds slightly, making them softer. However, this is a risky method and can lead to over-softening and degradation if not careful.
  • Heat: Using a hairdryer or heat gun, you can gently heat the tire surface. This will temporarily soften the rubber, but it’s a short-term solution. Ensure you don’t overheat, as it can damage the tires.
  • Massage: Physically massaging the tires for a few minutes can help in breaking down the rubber compounds a bit, making them softer. This method, though labor-intensive, is chemical-free and reduces the risk of tire damage.

Why Soften RC Tires?

Before diving into the methods, it’s essential to understand why one might want to soften RC tires. Softer tires can:

  • Enhance Traction: Especially on slick or low-grip surfaces.
  • Improve Handling: It can result in smoother cornering and better responsiveness.
  • Increase Lifespan: Reducing brittleness can reduce the chances of wear and tear.


  • Durability: Softening tires can sometimes decrease their lifespan. It’s a trade-off between performance and durability.
  • Type of Rubber: Not all RC tires are made from the same rubber compounds. What works for one might not work for another.
  • Frequency: Avoid frequently softening the tires, as it can lead to premature wear and tear.
  • Cleaning: Always ensure your tires are clean before any application. Dirt or debris can cause uneven softening.

How to Make RC Tires Sticky

Here are some common methods:

1. Clean Your Tires

Before any treatment, it’s essential to ensure your tires are clean:

  • Remove any dirt or debris from the tires using a soft brush.
  • Wipe down the tires with a cloth soaked in isopropyl alcohol or a specialized RC tire cleaner to remove any oily residue or dirt.

2. Tire Softeners

Commercial tire softeners are popular in the RC racing community. These products are designed to soften the rubber compound, making the tires grippier.


  • Apply the softener to a cloth or directly onto the tire.
  • Rub the product into the tire using a circular motion.
  • Let it dry for the recommended time (usually a few hours to overnight).
  • Note: Always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and never overapply, as this can degrade the tire.

3. Simple Green

Simple Green, a popular household cleaner, can also be used as a tire treatment for RC cars.


  • Mix a 50/50 solution of Simple Green and water in a spray bottle.
  • Spray the solution onto the tires and rub it in with a cloth.
  • Allow the tires to air dry.

4. WD-40

While it might sound unconventional, WD-40 can make RC tires grippier, especially on off-road tracks.


  • Spray a small amount of WD-40 onto a cloth.
  • Wipe the tires with the cloth, ensuring even application.
  • Let the tires sit for a while to absorb the WD-40.

5. Sugar Water

Sugar water, when dried, leaves a sticky residue, which can enhance the tire’s grip, especially on concrete or tarmac surfaces.


  • Mix a solution of two parts water to one part sugar.
  • Apply this mixture to the tires using a brush or spray bottle.
  • Allow the tires to air dry.

6. Heat

Applying heat can temporarily soften the rubber, increasing its grip. This method is particularly useful right before a race.


  • Use a heat gun or hair dryer on a low setting and carefully warm the tires for a few minutes.
  • Avoid overheating, as this can damage the tires.


Before using any of the above methods, especially during competitive races, always check the regulations and rules of the event. Some racing leagues or events might have restrictions on tire treatments or additives.