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Why Does My RC Nitro Car Start Then Cut Out?

If you want to know why your car is cutting out keep reading. Also. learn what you can do about it, prevention techniques, if petrol (gasoline) can be used as a substitute fuel source and much more.

Why Does My RC Nitro Car Start Then Cut Out?

Here are the potential reasons behind this:

Improper Fuel Mixture

  • Cause: The nitro engine depends on a specific fuel-to-air ratio. If this ratio is off, it can lead to engine stalling.
  • Solution: Adjust the high-speed and low-speed needles on the carburetor. Follow the user manual for specific tuning recommendations for your model.

Clogged Air Filter

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  • Cause: The air filter keeps out dust, debris, and particulates. Over time, these can accumulate and obstruct airflow.
  • Solution: Regularly clean the air filter with nitro cleaner or warm soapy water. Replace it if it’s damaged or overly clogged.

Over-priming the Engine

  • Cause: Priming the engine prepares it for ignition. However, too much fuel in the combustion chamber can flood the engine.
  • Solution: Turn the car upside down to allow excess fuel to drain. Pull the starter cord a few times with the glow plug removed to clear out the chamber.

Faulty Glow Plug

  • Cause: The glow plug ignites the fuel-air mixture. A faulty or worn-out glow plug can fail to maintain the ignition.
  • Solution: Check the glow plug regularly for wear or carbon deposits. Replace it if it doesn’t glow brightly or appears damaged.

Insufficient Fuel Flow

  • Cause: Blockages in the fuel line or an air leak can reduce or halt fuel delivery.
  • Solution: Inspect the fuel lines for blockages, kinks, or signs of wear. Ensure all connections are secure, and replace damaged components.

Incorrect Idle Setting

  • Cause: If the idle screw is set too low, the engine might not get enough fuel to keep running.
  • Solution: Adjust the idle screw as per your user manual’s instructions to ensure the car idles at the right RPM.

Temperature and Atmospheric Changes

  • Cause: Nitro engines are sensitive to temperature and pressure changes. A setting that works on a hot day might not be optimal for a cooler one.
  • Solution: Learn to tune your engine for different weather conditions. You might need to adjust the fuel mixture and idle settings based on the day’s conditions.

Old or Contaminated Fuel

  • Cause: Nitro fuel can degrade over time or become contaminated, leading to poor combustion.
  • Solution: Always store nitro fuel in a cool, dark place and ensure the container is sealed. Replace old fuel and ensure your fuel bottle is clean.

Engine Wear

  • Cause: Over time, the engine’s internal components can wear out, leading to reduced performance and stalling.
  • Solution: Perform regular maintenance. Depending on the extent of the wear, you might need to rebuild or replace parts of the engine.

What Does Nitro Mean in RC Cars?

“Nitro” in RC cars refers to the type of fuel used to power the engine, which is nitromethane-based. Nitro RC cars are also known as gas-powered RC cars or simply “nitro cars”. Unlike electric RC cars that run on batteries, nitro cars use a mixture of nitromethane, methanol, and oil to operate.

The Nitro Engine

The heart of any nitro RC car is its engine. This is a glow engine, and its name comes from the glow plug used to ignite the fuel-air mixture inside. The engine operates similarly to the internal combustion engines found in real cars but on a much smaller scale.

There are different sizes or “scales” of nitro engines, commonly ranging from 0.12 to 0.21 for on-road cars and up to 0.28 and beyond for off-road trucks. The engine size often corresponds with the vehicle’s intended use – with larger engines typically offering more power.

Why Choose Nitro?

There are several reasons why hobbyists might opt for nitro RC cars:

  • Realism: The roar of the engine, the smoke, and even the need for regular maintenance bring a level of realism that electric cars can’t match.
  • Extended Run Times: While battery-powered cars require a wait time for recharging, nitro cars can be refueled and returned to action almost immediately.
  • Tuning Potential: For those who love to tinker, nitro engines provide ample opportunity for tuning and optimization, allowing hobbyists to achieve peak performance.
  • Thermal Efficiency: Nitro engines can sometimes be more thermally efficient than their electric counterparts, especially during longer runs.

The Challenges of Nitro

However, nitro cars aren’t for everyone. They come with their own set of challenges:

  • Maintenance: Nitro engines require regular cleaning and maintenance to operate effectively and extend their lifespan.
  • Noise: The sound can be a draw for some, but it can also be a downside if you live in a noise-sensitive area or want a quiet hobby experience.
  • Fuel Costs: Over time, purchasing nitromethane fuel can become an additional expense when compared to the one-time purchase of rechargeable batteries for electric cars.
  • Learning Curve: Tuning and operating a nitro engine might be more complex, especially for beginners.

Can Nitro RC Cars Run on Petrol?

No, nitro RC cars cannot and should not run on regular petrol or gasoline. Here are some reasons why:

  • Different Combustion Properties: Petrol and nitro fuel have distinct combustion characteristics. Nitro fuel, with its nitromethane content, burns at a different rate and temperature compared to petrol. Using petrol could lead to erratic engine behavior or even damage.
  • Lack of Lubrication: Petrol does not contain the oil blend found in nitro fuel. Running an RC engine on petrol could lead to excessive wear and tear due to a lack of internal lubrication.
  • Engine Tuning Issues: Nitro engines are tuned specifically for nitro fuel’s combustion characteristics. Introducing petrol would disrupt this balance and could cause issues like stalling, overheating, or even internal engine damage.
  • Carburetor and Fuel System Concerns: The carburetors in nitro engines are designed for the viscosity and flow rates of nitro fuel. Using petrol could clog or damage these components.

The Confusion with Gas-Powered RC Cars

It’s worth noting that there are indeed RC cars designed to run on gasoline. These are typically larger-scale models known as “gas-powered RC cars” or “petrol RC cars.”

These are different from nitro cars. The engines in gas-powered RC vehicles are more similar to those in regular automobiles, albeit on a smaller scale, and are designed to run on a gasoline/oil mixture.