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How Do You Prime a Nitro RC Car?

If you want to know how to prime your nitro RC car keep reading. Also, learn why your car may not start sometimes and ways to successfully break it in.

How Do You Prime a Nitro RC Car?

Priming ensures that fuel reaches the carburetor from the fuel tank, which aids in starting the engine. An engine without fuel won’t start, and continuously trying to start an engine without fuel can damage it.

Here are the steps:

1. Ensure Safety First

Always remember safety:

  • Work in a well-ventilated area to avoid the buildup of fumes.
  • Ensure the car is on a stable surface and the wheels are off the ground (a car stand can be handy).
  • Keep flammable objects away from the workspace.

2. Check Your Fuel

Inspect your nitro fuel to ensure it’s not contaminated. Old or contaminated fuel can cause starting issues. Use a fresh batch if in doubt.

3. Fuel the Tank

Fill up your nitro RC car’s fuel tank using a fuel bottle. Ensure you don’t overfill.

4. Block the Exhaust

Place your finger over the exhaust outlet. This will create back pressure, pushing the fuel toward the carburetor.

5. Pull the Starter Cord

While keeping the exhaust outlet covered, pull the starter cord several times until you see fuel enter the carburetor or tubing. Once you see fuel approaching or entering the carburetor, stop pulling the cord. The idea is to get fuel into the carburetor, but not flood it.

6. Adjust the Carburetor (If Needed)

Most nitro RC cars come with a factory setting that’s ideal for starting. If you’ve adjusted the carburetor settings or the car has been run-in, ensure the settings are appropriate for a cold start. Refer to your car’s manual for specifics.

7. Start the Engine

With the engine primed, attempt to start your nitro RC car. It might take a few pulls for the engine to come alive. If the engine doesn’t start after several attempts, ensure the glow plug is working and the carburetor settings are correct.

8. Monitor the Car

Once the engine starts, keep an eye on the smoke from the exhaust. Blue or white smoke indicates the engine is getting the right amount of fuel. If it’s too thick or black, your engine might be running too rich. Adjust as necessary.

9. Allow the Engine to Warm Up

Before driving, let the engine warm up for a few minutes. This ensures optimum performance and longevity of the engine.

How Do You Break in a Nitro RC Car?

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Here are the steps:

1. Setup & Safety

Before starting:

  • Ensure you’re in a well-ventilated area.
  • Have the recommended nitro fuel for your engine.
  • Double-check all vehicle components, including the throttle, brakes, and electronics.
  • Start with a new or freshly cleaned air filter.

2. The First Start

  • Fill the fuel tank with the recommended nitro fuel.
  • Start the engine using a starter box or pull start, depending on your RC model.
  • Set the car on a stable platform so the wheels are off the ground.
  • Allow the engine to idle through its first full tank of fuel. The idea is to let the engine run at a low temperature and not strain it.

3. Heat is Your Friend (in moderation)

Warm engines break in faster than cold ones. However, you don’t want it too hot. Invest in a temperature gun to monitor the engine’s temperature. Ideally, during break-in, you want to keep it below 200°F (93°C).

4. Tank 2-4: Increasing Throttle

For the subsequent tanks:

  • Continue to run the car in a stationary position.
  • Gradually increase the throttle, but never go beyond half throttle.
  • Always monitor the engine temperature.

5. Tank 5-7: Driving Time

Now it’s time to put the car on the ground:

  • Start by driving slowly, at about a quarter throttle.
  • Use smooth and gradual inputs. Avoid sudden accelerations or stops.
  • With each tank, you can increase the throttle input slightly, but avoid full throttle.

6. Tank 8-10: Push a Little Harder

At this point:

  • Increase your throttle inputs to about three-quarters.
  • Start practicing some gentle turns and slightly quicker accelerations.
  • Always monitor the engine temperature and ensure it remains stable.

8. Post Break-in

Once you’ve completed the recommended number of tanks for breaking in:

  • Fine-tune your carburetor settings for optimal performance.
  • You can now safely run the car at full throttle.
  • Always monitor the engine’s temperature during runs.

9. Maintenance is Key

Even after the break-in process:

  • Regularly clean and oil your air filter.
  • Check the glow plug and replace it if it’s worn out.
  • Empty the fuel tank after each session and store the vehicle in a cool, dry place.

Why is my Nitro RC Not Starting?

Here are the most common reasons:

1. Fuel Issues

Old or Contaminated Fuel: Nitro fuel has a shelf life. If you’re using old fuel or fuel that’s been contaminated with moisture or debris, it may cause starting issues. Always store nitro fuel in a cool, dark place and ensure the cap is securely fastened.

Empty Fuel Tank: It may seem obvious, but always check to ensure there’s enough fuel in the tank. Additionally, ensure the fuel is reaching the engine by checking the fuel lines for blockages.

2. Glow Plug Problems

  • Worn-out Glow Plug: Glow plugs have a limited lifespan. If your nitro engine is not starting, the glow plug may be worn out. Remove the glow plug and inspect it. If the coil inside looks broken or distorted, it’s time for a replacement.
  • Poor Connection: Ensure the glow plug igniter is fully charged and making a good connection. A weak or dead igniter won’t heat the glow plug sufficiently.

3. Carburetor Troubles

Incorrect Settings: If the carburetor settings are too rich or too lean, it can prevent the engine from starting. Refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines to reset the carburetor to its default settings and make fine adjustments from there.

Blockages: Dust, dirt, or other debris can block the carburetor, preventing fuel from reaching the engine. Cleaning the carburetor can often solve this problem.

4. Air and Compression Issues

  • Damaged Piston or Sleeve: These are vital components for creating compression in the engine. Wear and tear or damage can lead to insufficient compression, making it hard for the engine to start. In such cases, you might need to replace these parts.
  • Air Leaks: Air leaks in the engine can affect its tuning and ability to start. Check for any leaks in the gaskets, carburetor, or fuel lines.

5. Starting Mechanism

  • Pull Starter Issues: If you’re using a pull starter, ensure it’s functioning correctly. The cord should retract smoothly, and you should feel resistance when pulling, indicating good engine compression.
  • Rotostart or Electric Starter Problems: If you’re using an electric starting method, ensure the battery is charged and the motor is functioning.

6. Environmental Factors

Cold weather can make nitro fuels more viscous, and the engine harder to start. If you’re trying to run your RC in colder conditions, consider pre-warming the engine with a hairdryer or using a colder glow plug.