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Electric RC Car Keeps Cutting Out (Now What?)

If you are an RC car fan, and you have an issue with your car cutting out it can be frustrating, but what do you do next? Well, let me give you some simple troubleshooting methods you can use to get around the problem.

What can you do if your electric RC car keeps cutting out? Check the motor, ESC, servo or radio system. It is easier to replace these, one by one to understand exactly what is causing the issue using the power of elimination.

In reality, there could be numerous reasons why this happens. However, in this article, I’m going to give you some troubleshooting tips, based on 3 common problems that have caused RC car drivers known issues. Keep reading to learn more.

01. ESC cutting out While Pushing Full Throttle

People have mentioned similar issues using the Tamiya sand viper RC Car (Click here for reviews on Amazon) vehicle, however, this could be applicable to your vehicle as well.


The symptoms for this problem is as you push on the throttle there appears to be some hesitation before the real power kicks in. Then once the battery kicks in, as you start to take power from it, it completely cuts out.

People have reported when it gets in this state the only way to get it to move is the gradually push the power into the vehicle, rather than flooring it. But it’s really unusable in the state.

In this situation, it’s usually an issue with either:

  • The motor
  • or the ESC

You need to do some troubleshooting around these areas to see where the problem may be.

Checking the switch on the ESC

The first thing that you can do is check the switch on the ESC (If it has one). The on-off switch sometimes has a loose connection. This could be causing this problem.

If this is the case, you can easily get around this problem by replacing the ESC (click to learn what an ESC is), job done.

Checking the Motor

If that is not the problem then you will need to look at the motor. The simplest way to troubleshoot this is to replace the motor and see if this deals with the problem.

Another thing that you can do is to check the connections. In particular the battery connections. Sometimes there are some loose wiring or soldering which could be causing this problem.

electric rc car keeps cutting out
electric rc car keeps cutting out

02. Driving along and all of a sudden your vehicle just stops – what do you do?

The best way to deal with this issue is to take some time and use a simple process of elimination. Make life easy and take a look at the most common areas that are known to go wrong first, let me explain.

Check the servo

In this situation, it could be a simple case that the servo (click to learn the difference between analog and digital servos) is damaged.  You can easily test this by switching the servo and testing its performance.

This could happen because of a gear related problem or the servo motor is damaged. Easier to replace it and see how it responds than spending time trying to find out or guessing exactly what happened to it.

In some cases, especially with high-powered servos, they can overload the BEC, which can cause some of these problems. The problem with this is, you can switch the servo and still find that the problem isn’t eradicated.

So you need to do a little bit of troubleshooting around this area to find out exactly where the problem is. It has been known that the problem could be linked to the voltage level passed to the ESC, from the BEC, not being enough.

Checking the Motor & ESC

Sometimes it is difficult to see if the problem is to do with the actual motor itself or the ESC. The only real way to know is to test this.

The first thing you need to do is switch the ESC and run some benchmark tests to see how it performs. Ideally, you want to do similar tests with the motor switched as well just to test to see where the problem lies.

The good thing is you can find these spare parts such as Motors, ESCs, Servos, etc in your local Hobby Shop. Failing that you can have a look online. But you can usually find them quite easily in your local Hobby Shop.

03. Radio system appears not to be working what do you do?

If you are getting no response from the vehicle at all, and everything appears not to be working, it’s a good idea to look at the radio system.

The first thing that I want to draw to your attention is the wiring within the radio system. Make sure that is set up correctly.

In particular, you need to check the wiring between the ESC and the RX (receiver) battery also the wiring into the RX itself.

If you have a loose connection in these areas then everything can stop causing big confusion, so this is a good place to start

Checking the receiver

The next thing to check is the receiver itself the problem with the receiver all it takes is one channel to be out and you can find that you’re getting no response at all.

The simplest way to troubleshoot this issue is to test with a second receiver or even better another radio system.

Investigating the on-off switch

Following on from what we discussed earlier about on-off switches they are quite deceiving because from the outside you really can’t see any problems but internally it could be a simple thing causing the on-off switch not to work.

The best way to troubleshoot this issue is to bypass the on-off switch to see if the vehicle will still work.

The way that you do this is by pinching the two wires together that usually are connected via the on-off switch. This will bypass the switch itself causing an always-on connection. Obviously, this is more of a troubleshooting measure rather than a long term solution.

To do this you simply remove the cover from the switch and make a direct connection between the two terminals.

However, as discussed earlier this is not a long-term solution. The on-off switch is an important part of the RC vehicles function. And shouldn’t be left running all the time.

A side note, whenever you are not using the vehicle you should always keep it unplugged. You should never consider transporting your RC vehicle or storing it long term while it is plugged.

Related questions:

Q: Are electric RC vehicles easier to maintain than nitro cars?

Generally speaking, yes. Electric vehicles are a lot easier (click for a full article on this). And a better option for a beginner. Reason being, the set-up is a lot more straightforward. With a nitro vehicle, you need a level of skill to be able to start the vehicle and understand how to maintain it.

Q: Do electric cars usually have longer run time The nitro vehicles?

Yes, in general, electric RC cars have better runtime than nitro vehicles (click for a full article on this). Nitro cars have a limited amount of fuel that they can carry on board at any one time. You will find the full charge of an electrical battery will usually last longer than the full tank of a nitro vehicle.

However, once the vehicle runs out of battery power you have to go through a long recharge period (unless you have a pre-charged spare) with electrical vehicles. As opposed to just refueling with a nitro. But, if we are strictly talking about the original power source, without re-charge or refuel, then yes they definitely are longer run time.