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Why Won’t My Traxxas XL5 Calibrate?

If your Traxxas XL5 won’t calibrate keep reading to learn why and what you can do about it. Also, learn if it can handle a 3S or run a brushless motor.

Why Won’t My Traxxas XL5 Calibrate?

The Traxxas xl5 might not calibrate due to a variety of reasons. Here are a few common causes:

  • Firmware Issue: Your ESC may be running on outdated firmware, which can lead to calibration problems.
  • Radio Transmitter Discrepancies: Issues with your radio transmitter can prevent proper calibration. For example, if the transmitter’s throttle range is not set correctly, the ESC may not recognize the signals for neutral, full throttle, or reverse.
  • Battery Problems: A low battery or a battery that is not adequately charged could hinder the ESC’s performance, including its ability to calibrate.
  • Electrical Issues: Wiring issues, such as loose or frayed connections, can disrupt the calibration process.

Understanding Calibration

Before diving into the solutions, it’s essential to understand what calibration means in the context of an RC car. Calibration is the process of configuring the ESC to recognize the minimum (neutral), maximum (full throttle), and reverse inputs from the radio transmitter.

A correctly calibrated Traxxas xl5 would respond accurately and promptly to the commands from your transmitter.


Let’s now discuss some potential solutions for these issues:

  • Update the Firmware: Regularly updating your ESC’s firmware can help resolve a multitude of technical problems, including calibration issues. Refer to your user manual or the Traxxas website for detailed instructions on how to do this.
  • Reset the Radio Transmitter: Adjust the transmitter settings or perform a factory reset. Make sure the throttle range is set properly to allow the ESC to recognize the neutral, full throttle, and reverse positions. Consult your transmitter’s user manual for detailed instructions.
  • Check the Battery: Ensure your battery is fully charged and in good working condition. If you’re experiencing persistent calibration issues, try using a different battery to rule out the possibility of a faulty battery.
  • Inspect the Wiring: Look for loose or frayed connections that may be causing problems. If necessary, replace damaged wires or connectors.
  • Factory Reset the ESC: As a last resort, you can try performing a factory reset on your ESC. This process will return your ESC to its original factory settings and could resolve your calibration issues. Keep in mind, you will need to reconfigure your settings after the reset.

Can a Traxxas XL5 Handle 3S?

Officially, Traxxas states that the XL5 ESC is compatible with up to a 2S LiPo battery, which delivers a voltage of 7.4V. This is due to the ESC’s voltage and heat management system designed around these parameters.

As such, attempting to run an XL5 ESC with a 3S LiPo battery (11.1V) may over-voltage the ESC, leading to overheating and potentially permanent damage. Therefore it is not advisable.

Unofficially, some RC enthusiasts have reported running a 3S LiPo on the XL5 without immediate issues. However, it’s essential to note that even if the ESC does not fail immediately, the excessive voltage can significantly shorten its lifespan.

Also, since this usage is beyond the manufacturer’s specified limits, it voids any warranty that comes with the ESC. So, it is not advisable to do this.

Understanding 3S LiPo Batteries

In the context of RC batteries, “3S” refers to a 3-cell Lithium Polymer (LiPo) battery. This indicates that there are three cells in series within the battery, each typically providing around 3.7V, summing up to an overall voltage of 11.1V.

LiPo batteries are favored by RC hobbyists due to their high energy densities, lightweight, and capability to deliver large amounts of current, which can significantly enhance the performance of RC vehicles.

In conclusion, it’s generally recommended to adhere to the manufacturer’s guidelines for the optimal performance and longevity of your RC components. Even though the Traxxas XL5 may operate with a 3S LiPo in the short term, the potential risks to the ESC and the user’s safety do not warrant this practice.

Alternatives and Recommendations

Traxxas VXL-3S Brushless ESC - Waterproof

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If you’re looking for the power and speed boost that comes with a 3S LiPo battery, consider upgrading your ESC to a model designed to handle higher voltages. Traxxas offers the VXL-3s (Click here for the price on Amazon, #Ad), an ESC explicitly built to handle the power of a 3S LiPo battery.

This model provides more robust heat management and higher overall performance, ensuring that your RC vehicle can safely and effectively utilize the increased voltage.

While the temptation may be there to try and maximize performance using a 3S LiPo battery with a Traxxas XL5 ESC, the potential damage and voided warranty make it a risky proposition.

Instead, adhere to the manufacturer’s guidelines and consider investing in equipment that’s rated for higher voltage and power output if that’s what you’re aiming for. After all, the durability and longevity of your RC components are equally crucial as their performance.

Can the XL-5 Run a Brushless Motor?

No. The Traxxas XL-5 is an Electronic Speed Control (ESC) designed specifically for brushed motors, and it does not have the necessary components or programming to support brushless motor operation.

Brushed and brushless motors operate based on different principles. Brushed motors work through physical contact via brushes and a commutator, while brushless motors rely on electronic commutation.

The XL-5 ESC, designed for brushed motors, cannot provide the necessary alternating current (AC) to a brushless motor as it only outputs direct current (DC).

When it comes to ESCs, compatibility is paramount. Running a brushless motor on an ESC designed for brushed motors can damage both the ESC and the motor itself. This misalignment can lead to performance issues, overheating, and, in severe cases, a complete failure of the ESC or motor.

Alternatives to XL-5 for Brushless Motors

If you’re keen on running a brushless motor, it’s best to consider an ESC that’s explicitly designed to manage brushless motors, such as the Traxxas VXL-3s. The VXL-3s can handle the demands of a brushless motor and provide the right power type and levels for optimal performance.

It’s worth mentioning that while brushless motors and their dedicated ESCs are typically more expensive than their brushed counterparts, they tend to offer longer lifespans, better efficiency, and higher speeds, which might justify the added cost for some enthusiasts.

A Look at the Future

As technology progresses, it is plausible to anticipate the development of more versatile ESCs that can handle both brushed and brushless motors, but as of the time of this article, those are rare and not commonly used in high-performance applications.

As such, understanding your motor type and matching it with the correct ESC remains a crucial part of ensuring the longevity and performance of your RC vehicle.