Gas Powered RC Cars vs Electric RC Cars

Since gas powered and electric RC cars were introduced to the market, both been adopted by everyone.

Depending on the level of dedication and experience, one may be preferred over the other. Before you choose which type of RC car to purchase, check out the pros and cons below.

For the most part, gas powered RC cars and electric RC cars can be compared using the following aspects:

Complexity of Design

Gas RC Cars Pros:

When it comes down to it, nitro RC cars are more complex in design than their electric counterparts.

Although, with complexity comes personalization and tuning – so nitro RC cars take the cake here.

With a variety of performance and tuning parts available, you can make your RC car sound, perform, and look just how you want it to.

Gas RC Cars Cons:

Not as user friendly and can be overwhelming for an amateur; remember, this is a small engine similar to the type a lawn mower uses.

Knowledge of tuning, maintenance, and repair is a must for a nitro RC car.

Electric RC Cars Pros:

Often a simpler design and a much easier operation – you just turn on and go.

While you cannot tune electric cars as easily as a nitro car, there are plenty of “plug and play” options to upgrade and tune your electric car.

Electric RC Cars Cons:

The biggest con would be needing to recharging the batteries. You can keep the fun going by buying multiple batteries for your vehicle, but that can come with a hefty price tag.

If you are a gearhead like I am, you don’t get to have the sound of an engine running while playing.

Noise

Gas RC Cars Pros:

You can purchase different mufflers to muffle or extenuate the sound of your nitro car.

Gas RC Cars Cons:

Nitro cars are often very loud and can be considered “annoying” to people who are not participating.

Electric RC Cars Pros:

Depending on what electric motors you have installed, electric cars will not make much noise at all.

Electric RC Cars Cons:

Performance is impacted by batteries and the type of engine installed – some engines emit a loud whine but still much more quiet than a nitro RC car.

Traxxis Brushed Rustler

Cost of Purchase

Gas RC Cars Pros:

Nitro RC cars generally cost more than an electric RC car. If you are a hobbyist, this generally means the quality and personalization is there for you.

Gas RC Cars Cons:

Nitro RC cars cost more and their fuel can be quite expensive.

Electric RC Cars Pros:

Electric RC cars generally are cheaper than their nitro counter parts and seem to require less “start up money.” This means you buy a RTR (ready to run) vehicle, charge the batteries and you are good to go.

Electric RC Cars Cons:

While an electric car is cheaper, it sometimes also means there are less personalization and performance upgrades for it.

Fixing and Repair

Gas RC Cars Pros:

Nitro cars are much easier to diagnose and fix – there are only so many things that can go wrong with the engine.

Gas RC Cars Cons:

Depending on what is broken, a new engine or engine parts may be more expensive than their electric counterpart.

Electric RC Cars Pros:

Electric car parts are relatively easy to replace.

The design is less complex so diagnosis is generally easier.

Electric RC Cars Cons:

Can get expensive replacing full units such as motors or other circuit boards.

Maintenance

Gas RC Cars Pros:

There are a lot of things to maintain which means the more care you give your RC car, the better and longer it will run.

Gas RC Cars Cons:

With all of the different maintenance procedures you need to do, there’s a time and money commitment that needs to be done.

From cleaning the air and fuel filters, to engine maintenance, there’s a lot of work that needs to be done.

Electric RC Cars Pros:

There aren’t as many pieces you need to maintain for after-runs.

Electric RC Cars Cons:

Since there isn’t as many opportunities to maintain and upkeep your equipment, there can be a higher rate of failure.

Note: Both nitro and electric cars need to have everything from suspension to servos checked over after you run them. Keeping up on tire wear and the structure of your vehicle will help extend the life of your RC car regardless of type.

Electric RC Car Detail

Performance and Speed

Gas RC Cars Pros:

You can customize your setup to sound and perform how you would like.

These puppies can go pretty fast – 40-60mph+.

Gas RC Cars Cons:

If your tuning is off, you will not be able to run optimally.

Electric RC Cars Pros:

You can make electric cars full of performance and speed.

Electric RC Cars Cons:

Without purchasing some higher-dollar pieces, electric cars generally go 20-30mph+.

Note: With enough money, you can make either version better performing.

Run Time

Gas RC Cars Pros:

Depending on your tuning and how much fuel you have, you generally can get 30 minutes of use.

Gas RC Cars Cons:

If your car doesn’t run right or you have issues, you’ll spend more time trying to get the car to run than actually driving.

Fuel costs a bit.

Electric RC Cars Pros:

Runs on batteries and as long as you don’t drive them so much that they overheat, you can play as long as you have batteries.

Electric RC Cars Cons:

Batteries cost a lot and can take a while to charge if you only have one battery.

Generally a normal battery charge is good for 10 minutes of play.

Durability

Gas RC Cars Pros:

If you play an electric vs gas powered RC car the same way and maintain your vehicle – they both are about the same durability.

Gas RC Cars Cons:

It takes much more maintenance and upkeep for a nitro car. If you don’t maintain your vehicle, the durability goes down fast.

Electric RC Cars Pros:

If you play an electric vs gas powered RC car the same way and maintain your vehicle – they both are about the same durability.

Electric RC Cars Cons:

If something electronically breaks, it can be expensive to repair.

Note: Both types have similar chassis and suspension parts – you can upgrade and strengthen both types.

Level of Cleanliness

Gas RC Cars Pros:

Performance to cleanliness ratio is decent.

Gas RC Cars Cons:

Since you are working with fuel and exhaust, they will get dirtier and can only be used in well-ventilated areas or outdoors.

Electric RC Cars Pros:

Electric runs cleaner.

Electric RC Cars Cons:

Other than making sure your charging station is properly cleaned up, there’s really no downside to electric RC cars.

Fuel vs Batteries

Gas RC Cars Pros:

Runs on fuel.

Much faster to refill the fuel tank than to charge a battery.

Gas RC Cars Cons:

You have to refill a fuel tank and deal with the heat produced from the engine and exhaust.

Electric RC Cars Pros:

Runs on batteries and you can hot swap them to another to run longer.

Electric RC Cars Cons:

Batteries take a while to recharge and they are expensive to have multiple batteries.

Diagnosing Problems in an RC Car

Gas RC Cars Pros:

Generally speaking if the car isn’t running there’s an issue with the motor. If the car doesn’t steer it’s an issue with the servos.

While nitro RC cars are complex, diagnosing problems is easier and you do not need special tools.

Gas RC Cars Cons:

If an engine blows or you have some sort of engine failure, it can be expensive to fix.

Electric RC Cars Pros:

Same with nitro cars, it’s not too hard to diagnose where the issue is coming from.

Electric RC Cars Cons:

If you just replace parts then repairing electric RC cars are easy.

If you are wanting to diagnose what exactly went wrong, you’re going to need special tools such as multi-meters and other testers.

Conclusive Summary

Nitro/Gas powered RC cars definitely seem a lot cooler than their electric counterparts because of the sound of the engine, they are funner to drive, and a bit easier to fix. The gas is expensive and for amateurs new to the sport, they will be a bit overwhelming.

Electric RC cars are simple to use and control, easy to upgrade, and for the most part are cheaper RTR than a nitro car. The batteries can be expensive and need recharged frequently – which is a downside for most people.

Note: If you are looking for fun out of the box and something that you can enjoy every once in a while, I would recommend buying a quality electric RC car (two of my favorite electric vehicles are below).

Redcat Racing Electric Volcano EPX Truck

The Redcat Racing Electric Volcano EPX Truck is a 1/10th scale truck that runs on 2.4GHz radio, battery and charger included. Click here or on the picture for more information!Redcat Racing Brushless Electric Tornado EPX PRO Buggy

The Redcat Racing Brushless Electric Tornado EPX PRO buddy is a 1/10th scale that runs on 2.4GHz radio, vehicle battery, and a charger included. Click here or on the picture for more information!

Similarly, if you are looking into getting into the hobby and want to go straight into the “hobbyist” quality vehicles, I recommend a nitro RC car.

Of course, all of this is preference between the two and honestly the pros and cons even out. The main point in this article is to make you aware of some of the pros and cons of each so that you can make a better decision.

 

What is your favorite RC car? Leave a comment below letting us know about your ride!

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