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How to Upgrade Brushed to Brushless (RC Car Motor)

If you have a brushed motor and thinking of upgrading to a brushless motor you are in the right place. I had the same thoughts about this recently and decided to research the benefits of doing this as well as the exact procedure to do this yourself, Let me explain.

Why should you upgrade to a brushless motor? Overall it is a more efficient motor. You can expect it to last longer during race time because its lighter with lower electric noise. It is expected to deliver more power and higher torque for not much more power input.

Now you know the benefits of upgrading to a brushless motor. Let me give you some more benefits, as well as explain, step-by-step how to upgrade a brushed motor to brushless and more.

upgrade brushed to brushless
upgrade brushed to brushless

What other benefits does the Brushless motor have?

On average you can expect a brushless Motors to last a lot longer. This is because there is no brushes inside the motor. This reduces wear and tear. It is typically less maintenance, causes fewer problems and is all-around better off.

You may need to maintain the bearings but this is more of a periodic check and inspection so it’s not a big hardship.

Lighter Weight

Another good factor is the weight it is smaller and lighter. This puts less of a burden on your vehicle. Meaning that you can get better efficiency out of it.

More power & better run-time

You can also expect it to provide more power and longer run times than the brushed vehicle. This is mainly because it doesn’t have a brushed based motor.  You will also notice the brushless motors have higher torque with lower electric noise.  The heat loss in the engine is also reduced and typically you can get more out of the vehicle

What tools will you need to do this?

The following Tool will be required:

  • Screwdriver
  • Soldering Gun or Pencil
  • The New Brushless Motor
  • The New ESC
  • A Wrench

When using a soldering gun or pencil it is a good idea to use rosin-core solder. This is so that you can eliminate the need for the conventional flux that is usually used. The rosin-core will make the job a lot tidier, without the big miss that the flux usually causes.

What skills are required for this?

This is definitely not a job for beginners. You need to be at advanced or at least an experienced intermediate to even think about doing this.

Not only do you need experience with RC cars, but you also need to have good soldering skills. This because there are some intricate circuitry elements inside these cars, you need to feel confident while doing this.

One word of warning, when you are using a soldering iron (or pencil) be very careful. It is a very dangerous job because the soldering iron can get up to 370 degrees Fahrenheit. Let me put this into perspective. It only takes 140 degrees Fahrenheit to cause third-degree burns, so you have to be careful when using these tools.

How to upgrade the Brushless motor

Let me know explain, step-by-step how you upgrade to the brushless motor.

First step – removing the old motor

The first thing that you need to do is remove the body shell off of the RC car vehicle. You then also needed to remove the drive Gear cover. Next step is to remove the wiring away from the existing ESC speed controller (Click here, if you Hobbywing ESC is cutting out).

Remove the screws from the motor mounting unit. Place these safely inside a container or ideally, you should have a little parts tray nearby.

You should then notice some gears. The smaller of the two gears is a pinion gear. You will need to remove that one.

Look at the motor leads that connect the motor to the ESC. Inspect it to find out if they are connected using simple plug-in connections or if they are actually soldered to each other.

If they are plug-in it collections it will be easy to remove these. However, if they are soldered, you will need to remove the solder before you can proceed.

Installing the new ESC to the motor

When connecting the new motor to the ESC there should be five individual wires:

  • Three of them should be connected to the ESC
  • Other two are battery connectors

The first three should be labeled with “A, B & C”. You should expect the other two labels to have a “plus and a minus” for the battery connection. In addition to this, you should notice that the wires are all color-coded as well to make life easier.

Be Careful while installing

While you are in the process of installing the new motor and ESC, be careful. While you are routing the wires do not make any contact with other parts of the vehicle while you’re doing this.

This is important because any contact could cause a breakdown, short circuit or malfunction of the equipment when you try and run it.

Soldering Will be required – regardless of your existing setup

When you are installing the new motor and ESC, even if the old motor had plug-in connections, you will still need to use a soldering iron or pencil to connect it. This is because all brushless ESC Motors require soldered connections.

However, before you start soldering and committing these connections it is important to inspect the connectors. Make sure that they haven’t got any dirt, grime or oil on them. This could cause a malfunction or your vehicle not to run properly.

A great way to clean up dirty connections

A good way to get rid of any oily residue or any dirt is to use a really fine piece of sandpaper or even an emery cloth. Another thing that you can consider using is some rubbing alcohol. This is quite effective.

After you have inspected this and made sure that everything is ok, you will then need to make sure that the wires are connected with solder. Inspect the wires to make sure everything’s seems it is in place.

After you install the motor, replace back the pinion gear and then put back on the drive gear cover and you are almost there!

Step 3 – Removing and replacing the ESC

First thing you need to do is to locate the old ESC in your vehicle. Remove it from the battery connectors and then just check to see how it’s attached. The ESC may be fitted in a couple of ways:

  • Double-sided foam tape
  • Screwed in place

Whatever it is, remove the ESC gently and carefully. Once you have done this you then need to install the new ESC. You may notice that you have to put it in a slightly different position than where the old one was, but that’s fine.

Make a decision if you want to fasten it to the vehicle using mounting screws, if this is a possibility, or if you would prefer to secure it in place with double-sided foam tape.

Once you have attached it to the vehicle, take the two battery connectors and plug them into a fully charged power pack in the vehicle. You then need to take the third lead and connect this to the receiver.

Once you are happy that it is secure and connected you will then need to Bench teste it, to make sure that it is functioning correctly.

Step 4 – Testing and Verification

Once everything is connected, the cover is back on and everything is up and running. You will need to verify it is running ok.

Turn on the vehicle and the transmitter. Try to operate it in the normal way. If it is working absolutely fine then well done you’ve done the job perfectly.

However, if it doesn’t seem to be driving correctly, not working at all or seems to be moving erratically, then you need to troubleshoot what the problem could be.

The most common Problem

Nine times out of ten it is likely to be a loose connection that you have missed in the vehicle. Or, something has not been put back correctly. If this happens, just double check all the wiring and make sure everything is secure. Then test again until it’s working correctly.

One last tip. Always make sure that the transmitter batteries are fully charged. This may sound simple, but you may think that something is wrong with the car and it could literally just be the batteries need more power.

Related questions:

Do I actually need a new ESC for a brushless motor? Yes, you do need a brushless ESC for the brushless motor. You actually need to make sure that you have the right amp level for the type of ESC that you have for your vehicle.

For example, if you have a 14 amp rated vehicle, it will be a good idea to have at least a 15 amp ESC, so that it can deal with the “pull” that the vehicle has. This is so that it doesn’t cause any malfunction.

What is a brushed ESC? An ESC (Click for the full article on this) in general, is an electronic speed controller and its job is to control the speed and direction of an electric motor, regardless if it is a brushed or brushless motor.

What does BEC mean on an ESC? BEC stands for “Battery Eliminator Circuit”. Its job is to reduce the need to have multiple batteries. It effectively delivers electronic power to circuitry rather than having the need to have multiple batteries.

So in an RC car, this allows the vehicle to have one battery to control the motive power without the need to have two batteries, one controlling the motive power and the second for the radio controlled movement.