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Guide to starting your RC car

Starting Your Nitro Engined Model RC Car, Buggy or Truck!

The team at decided to put together a quick guide to help you with the very basic but essential task of starting your Nitro engined RC model. This apparently simple task can sometimes be less than straightforward! We have split our guide into two sections: the ‘Standard Starting Procedure’ and ‘What To Do If My Nitro Engine Won’t Start’. 

Standard Starting Procedure
The first step is to put a set of good quality batteries in the transmitter and car. Check steering is correct and when you throttle up the carburettor opens / and when you apply the brakes the carburettor closes leaving about a 1mm gap even when the brakes are applied.

Place car on a block of wood or foam so the wheels are free.

Put fuel in tank, and make sure the fuel tank lid closes properly.

Remove the glow plug and place 2 or 3 drops of fuel into the plug hole, then turn the engine over a few times, it may be tight!

Now turn the engine over with a finger covering the exhaust outlet - you should see fuel go down the fuel pipe to the carburettor.

Replace the glow plug, connect glow supply to plug and a few short pulls (for a pull start car) or 5 sec bursts on the electric (e.g. rota) starter and your RC Car, Buggy or Truck should fire up!

What If My Nitro Engine Won’t Start?

1) Remove glow plug & check filament (it should be bright)

2) Check plug on glow supply (it should glow brightly)

3) Is the engine flooded? With the glow plug removed, turn the engine over with pull start or electric starter [trying to start a flooded engine will probably break the pull start or damage the starting system]. DO NOT look down the plug hole as if you do this, you could get a face full of fuel!

4) If the engine is not flooded, is fuel reaching the carburettor? If not, then remove the pressure pipe from the exhaust and blow down it (not too hard). You should see the fuel reach the carburettor. If there is no movement, check the settings. All manufactures will have specific settings but if you haven’t any try 3 turns from closed on main jet & a 1mm gap when looking down carburettor throat. If there is a 3rd screw try that flush. Also make sure the carburettor is not being held too far open by the servo.

5) If still nothing is happening, remove glow plug & allow a FEW drops of fuel down the hole, then turn engine over a few times before replacing the plug, A new engine should be tight, so don’t get carried away tugging the pull start until it breaks or keeping your finger on the electric starter button until something burns out.

6) If the engine locks at top dead centre, you will have to force the engine past centre using a screwdriver onto the flywheel through the hole in the chassis. All engines run anti-clockwise, so with glow plug out turn over making sure there is fuel getting through. Persevere and eventually it will loosen enough to start.

7) If fuel is not getting to the engine, try a few drops of fuel directly into the carburettor. If the engine starts but stops when those drops are used, check main jet & fuel lines for blockages. Also check tank lid is sealing properly and there are no holes in the pressure pipe.