Mastering How to Build a Gas Powered RC Car from Scratch

how to build a gas powered rc car from scratch

If you’re an avid hobbyist who loves tinkering with gadgets and gizmos, building your own gas powered RC car from scratch is an exciting challenge. It may seem like a daunting task, but with the right tools, materials, and guidance, you can create a custom vehicle that suits your preferences and driving style perfectly.

In this comprehensive guide, I will take you through the step-by-step process of building a gas powered RC car from scratch. From the planning stage to the final assembly and detailing, I’ll share my knowledge and tips to help you avoid common pitfalls and create a high-performing remote-controlled car that you can be proud of.

Key Takeaways:

  • Building a gas powered RC car from scratch is a challenging but rewarding hobby.
  • With the right tools and materials, anyone can learn how to build a gas powered RC car from scratch.
  • This guide will provide a detailed step-by-step approach to building a custom gas powered RC car.

Getting Started: Tools and Materials

Before diving into building a gas powered RC car, it’s essential to gather all the necessary tools and materials for the job. Here are the supplies you’ll need:

Tools Materials
Screwdrivers (Phillips and flathead) Gas engine and exhaust system
Wrenches Fuel tank and fuel lines
Needle nose pliers RC car chassis and wheels
Wire cutters/strippers Radio controller and receiver
Soldering iron and solder Battery pack and charger
Hex drivers Body shell and paint

These are the basic tools and materials needed for building a gas powered RC car. Depending on your design and customization preferences, you may require additional supplies. Ensure to purchase high-quality materials for optimal performance and longevity of your RC car.

Planning Your Build: Design and Components

Now that I have gathered all of the necessary tools and materials, it’s time to start planning my gas powered RC car build. One of the most important elements of building a custom gas powered RC car is selecting the right components and designing a frame that can house those components. Here are some gas powered RC car construction tips that I have found to be helpful:

Research and Choose Your Components

The first step in planning your gas powered RC car build is to research and choose the components that will power your car. In order to create a custom build, you will need to select a gas engine, a transmission, and a fuel system, as well as other necessary components such as the wheels and suspension. Make sure to choose components that are compatible with each other and that fit within your budget. Consider searching for parts online or visiting your local hobby shop to find the best options for your build.

Design Your Frame

Once you have selected your components, it’s time to design the frame that will house them. You can either purchase a pre-made kit or design your own frame. If you choose to design your own frame, consider using computer-aided design (CAD) software to create a 3D model. Make sure to factor in the weight and size of your components, as well as the type of terrain you will be driving on, when designing your frame.

Test and Refine Your Design

Before starting the assembly process, it’s a good idea to test your design and make any necessary adjustments. You can do this by building a mock-up of your frame using foam or cardboard. This will allow you to see how the components fit within the frame and identify any potential issues. Once you have refined your design, you can move on to the assembly process.

By following these gas powered RC car construction tips and designing a custom frame that is tailored to your specific components and terrain, you can build a high-performance gas powered RC car that is sure to impress.

Step-by-Step Assembly Guide

Now that you have gathered all the necessary tools and materials, it’s time to start building your gas-powered RC car. Not sure where to begin? Follow these steps to ensure a smooth and successful build.

  1. Prepare the chassis: Start by laying out the chassis components and securing them together using screws.
  2. Attach the engine: Bolt the engine onto the chassis using the mounting brackets.
  3. Install the fuel tank: Mount the fuel tank onto the chassis and connect the fuel lines from the tank to the engine.
  4. Attach the servos: Install the servos onto the chassis and connect them to the engine via the control rods.
  5. Install the receiver: Mount the receiver onto the chassis and connect it to the servos and the battery.
  6. Wire the electronics: Connect the various electronic components, such as the engine, receiver, and battery, using the provided wires and connectors.
  7. Install the wheels and body: Attach the wheels onto the chassis and mount the body onto the chassis.
  8. Test and adjust: Test the RC car to ensure everything is working properly. Make any necessary adjustments to the steering or throttle.

Remember, building a gas-powered RC car can take time and patience. Take breaks as needed and don’t rush the process. Follow these step-by-step instructions for a successful build.

Wiring and Electronics Installation

Now that the mechanical components are assembled, it’s time to focus on the wiring and electronics installation. This step is crucial since the performance of your gas powered RC car greatly depends on how well you install these components.

Preparing the Electronics

Before starting the wiring process, it’s essential to prepare the electronics by checking each part’s compatibility and functionality. Make sure the receiver, servos, ESC, and battery are compatible with each other and the gas engine. Test each part and ensure they are in good working condition.

Wiring the RC Car

Wiring the gas powered RC car can be a bit complicated, so make sure to follow the instructions carefully. Before connecting any wires, make sure to turn off the radio and the receiver to avoid short circuits.

Start by connecting the battery to the ESC using the provided connectors. Then, connect the ESC to the receiver and the servo. Make sure the wires are properly routed to avoid interference with moving parts such as the drive shafts and suspension components.

Once the wiring is complete, it’s time to program the ESC. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to set up the ESC’s throttle, braking, and reverse functions. This step is essential to ensure the gas RC car runs smoothly and safely.

Remote Control and Trim Adjustment

After wiring and programming the car, it’s time to set up the remote control. Make sure the radio transmitter and receiver are properly paired. Test the different functions such as steering, throttle, and brakes to ensure they are working correctly. Adjust the trim settings if necessary to fine-tune the car’s performance.

Finally, it’s time to power up the gas powered RC car and test it out. Be sure to start with short, controlled runs to check the car’s performance and make any necessary adjustments. With a bit of patience and attention to detail, you’ll have a custom gas powered RC car that you can be proud to show off!

Tuning and Calibration

Now that the build is complete, it’s time to fine-tune your gas powered RC car and make sure everything is running smoothly. Tuning your car’s engine and suspension is an important step in maximizing its performance on the track or off-road terrain. Here are some gas powered RC car construction tips to help you with tuning and calibration:

Engine Tuning

The first step in tuning your engine is to adjust the carburetor. To do this, you’ll need to run your car at full throttle and adjust the high-speed needle until it reaches maximum RPM. Then, adjust the low-speed needle until the engine idles smoothly. Repeat this process until the engine is running at peak performance.

You can also adjust the air/fuel mixture by turning the idle adjustment screw. Be sure to check the owner’s manual for your specific car as different models may have different tuning processes.

Suspension Calibration

Calibrating your suspension is crucial to achieving a smooth ride and maximum handling on the track. Start by adjusting the ride height of your car using spacers or adjusting screw collars on the shocks. This will affect the weight distribution of the car and improve its cornering ability.

You can also adjust the stiffness of your suspension by changing the oil viscosity in your shocks or swapping out the springs for stiffer or softer ones. Experiment with different setups to find the best combination for your driving style and the terrain you’ll be racing on.

Final Checks

Before hitting the track, make sure to check the overall balance of your car, the tightness of all screws and bolts, and ensure that all electronic components are functioning properly. This includes the throttle and steering servos, receiver, and battery pack.

Remember to regularly maintain and service your gas powered RC car to keep it running at its best. Clean and oil your air filter, check and replace worn parts, and store your car in a dry, cool place to prevent corrosion and damage.

With these gas powered RC car construction tips, you’re now ready to take on the track and show off your custom-built machine!

Painting and Detailing

Now that the body of your gas-powered RC car is assembled and the electronics are installed, it’s time to give it some personality with painting and detailing. Painting and detailing can make your car stand out and add a personal touch to your build. Here are some gas-powered RC car construction tips for painting and detailing:

Choose the Right Paint

Before you start painting, make sure to choose the right type of paint for your RC car body. RC car bodies are typically made of polycarbonate, which requires special paint that is designed to bond with the material. Look for paint that is specifically designed for polycarbonate bodies. You can find this type of paint at most hobby stores or online.

Prepare the Body

Before you paint, make sure to clean and prepare the body. Use soap and water to clean the body and remove any dirt or debris. Then use a degreaser to remove any oil or grease from the body. Once the body is clean, use sandpaper to lightly scuff the surface. This will help the paint adhere better.

Mask Off Areas

If you want to create a design or add multiple colors to your RC car body, use tape to mask off areas you don’t want to paint. This will help you create clean lines and prevent overspray.

Start Painting

Now it’s time to start painting! Follow the instructions on your paint can and apply thin, even coats of paint to the body. Allow each coat to dry before applying the next one. It’s better to apply multiple thin coats than one thick coat. Once you have achieved your desired color, let the body dry completely before removing any masking tape.

Add Details

After the paint has dried, it’s time to add some details to your RC car body. Use decals, stickers, or a paintbrush to add designs, logos, or other details to your car. You can also use a clear coat to protect the paint and create a glossy finish. Remember to be patient and take your time when adding details. The end result will be worth the effort!

By following these gas-powered RC car construction tips for painting and detailing, you can create a custom look for your RC car that is sure to turn heads at the track. Happy building!

Troubleshooting and Maintenance

Even the most well-built gas powered RC car can experience issues from time to time, but with a little troubleshooting and maintenance, you can keep your car running smoothly for years to come.


If you’re experiencing problems with your gas powered RC car, the first step is to identify the issue. Is the car not starting? Is it running sluggishly? Are the steering and throttle not responding as they should? Once you’ve identified the problem, you can start to take steps to fix it.

One common issue with gas powered RC cars is an engine that won’t start. If this is the case, make sure that the fuel tank is full, the spark plug is clean and properly gapped, and that the engine’s air intake is clear of debris. If the engine is flooding, you may need to adjust the carburetor or replace the glow plug.

If your car is experiencing sluggishness or poor performance, it may be time to clean or replace the air filter. You can also check the fuel lines and make sure that they’re not clogged or obstructed in any way.


Regular maintenance is key to keeping your gas powered RC car running smoothly. This includes cleaning the car after each use, checking and tightening all screws and bolts, and inspecting the tires and suspension for wear and tear.

You should also regularly clean and oil the air filter, change the spark plug, and check the fuel line for any signs of cracking or damage. It’s a good idea to keep spare parts on hand, such as spare glow plugs, air filters, and fuel lines, in case you need to replace them.

By following these tips for troubleshooting and maintenance, you can keep your gas powered RC car in top condition and ensure that you get the most enjoyment out of your DIY build.


Building a gas powered RC car from scratch may seem like a daunting task, but with the right tools, materials, and guidance, it can be a fun and rewarding project for beginners. In this DIY gas powered RC car tutorial, I hope I have provided you with a comprehensive beginner’s guide to building a gas RC car that will help you get started and successfully complete your project.

Remember, planning and patience are key to success when building a custom gas powered RC car. Make sure to carefully consider your design and component choices, follow the step-by-step assembly guide, and pay close attention to the wiring and electronics installation. Tuning and calibration will ensure that your car performs properly, and painting and detailing will give it the finishing touches it deserves.

Should you encounter any issues along the way, troubleshooting and maintenance are important steps in keeping your car running smoothly. Regular maintenance will extend the life of your gas powered RC car and ensure it remains in good working condition for years to come.

So, get started today and discover the joy and satisfaction of building your own gas powered RC car from scratch. With a little time and effort, you will have a one-of-a-kind masterpiece that you can be proud of.

What Materials and Techniques Should I Use to Build an RC Car Body from Scratch?

When making an RC car body from scratch, several materials and techniques can be employed. Fiberglass, polycarbonate, or carbon fiber can be used for the body construction, while foam or wooden molds can help shape it. Techniques like vacuum forming, thermoforming, or hand sculpting can ensure precise detailing. The choice ultimately depends on the desired durability, weight, and aesthetic appeal of the make rc car body from scratch.

Is Cleaning a Nitro RC Car Similar to Cleaning a Gas Powered RC Car?

Cleaning a nitro rc car requires specific attention and precautions, just like cleaning a gas-powered RC car. Both types of vehicles have similar cleaning processes to remove dirt and debris. However, when cleaning a nitro RC car, it is crucial to avoid getting any cleaning agents on the engine or electrical components to prevent damage.

What Was the First Traxxas RC Car to be Built from Scratch?

The first traxxas rc car to be built from scratch was the Traxxas Sledgehammer. Introduced in 1986, it featured cutting-edge technology and quickly became a favorite among RC enthusiasts. Its impressive speed and durability set the stage for future Traxxas models, cementing its legacy as the pioneering first Traxxas RC car.


Q: What tools do I need to build a gas powered RC car from scratch?

A: To build a gas powered RC car from scratch, you will need a set of basic tools such as screwdrivers, pliers, wrenches, and a soldering iron. Additionally, you will need specialized tools like a nitro engine tuning screwdriver and a glow plug igniter.

Q: How do I plan the design and choose the components for my gas powered RC car?

A: Planning the design of your gas powered RC car involves deciding on the type of chassis, body style, and color scheme you want. When choosing components, consider factors like the engine size, suspension system, and tires that suit your intended use of the car.

Q: Can you provide a step-by-step assembly guide for building a gas powered RC car?

A: Yes, we have a detailed step-by-step assembly guide that will walk you through the entire process of building a gas powered RC car from scratch. It covers everything from assembling the chassis to installing the engine and electronics.

Q: How do I install the wiring and electronics in my gas powered RC car?

A: Wiring and electronics installation in a gas powered RC car involves connecting the various components such as the receiver, servos, and battery pack. Our guide provides detailed instructions and diagrams to help you with this process.

Q: What are some tuning and calibration tips for my gas powered RC car?

A: Tuning and calibration are crucial steps in optimizing the performance of your gas powered RC car. Some tips include adjusting the carburetor settings, fine-tuning the suspension, and ensuring proper gear meshing.

Q: How can I paint and detail my gas powered RC car?

A: Painting and detailing your gas powered RC car allows you to customize its appearance. You can use spray paint or specialized RC car paint, and add decals or other decorations to make it unique. Just make sure to properly prepare the body surface before painting.

Q: What should I do if I encounter any issues with my gas powered RC car?

A: If you encounter any issues with your gas powered RC car, our troubleshooting guide provides solutions to common problems such as engine starting issues, poor performance, and radio interference. Regular maintenance practices like cleaning and lubricating your car will also help prevent problems.