Are RC Car Remotes Interchangeable?

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If you have lost the remote control of your RC car or if it has gotten damaged, you might be wondering if these remotes are interchangeable and if you can use a different one for your RC from a different model or brand. 

RC remotes seem to be pretty similar but are they entirely interchangeable? 

RC remote controls are interchangeable and can be used for other makes and models however you will need one that has the same frequency as your original controller and that has similar controls. You would not be able to use a remote from an RC plane to control an RC boat for example. 

You can also mod a different RC controller to get it to work with your RC car as well. 

If you’re looking to use a different remote control for your RC car, you might want to visit your local hobby shop to get good advice and guidance from a local on how exactly to set it up. If the frequency of your car and the replacement remote are not the same then you can change the frequency on your car. 

To see the most popular RC cars and accessories currently on the market just click here.

To learn how to do this check out the video below. 

 Now, let’s learn all about remote controls for RC cars.

Remote Controls for RC Cars 

Remote Controlled cars are also known as Radio-controlled cars. Even though remote-controlled cars typically refer to cars that are controlled from a remote location and radio-controlled cars refer to cars that are remotely controlled by the use of radio waves, these two terms mean pretty much the same thing in today’s world and are often used interchangeably for the same vehicles. 

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So, essentially, remote-controlled vehicles are pretty much the same as radio-controlled vehicles.

A radio system is necessary to operate any remote-controlled vehicle. Remote controls can be used to send radio signals to a matching receiver through a hand-held transmitter, placed on the remote control car. The receiver, therefore, translates the signals into commands for action with these commands passed to the hardwired components where orders are executed through electronic or mechanical processes.

Components of the Radio System 

Here are the components of an RC car’s radio system:


The function of the transmitter is to take the different positions of the channels or control inputs and to encode them in different formats. The encoded inputs will then encode together into frames or packets to be broadcasted or transmitted through radio frequencies. To create output channels, transmitters could carry out processing on the controller. In some cases, the output channels are synthesized by combined inputs.

The transmitter processes the messages or signals received into a form that is suitable for broadcasting them over the various communication channels.


The duty of the receiver is to process the signals received in order to recover the proper message signals. The receiver also functions in listening to the transmissions on a specific channel. As soon as it gets a transmission, it decodes the frame as well as decodes every single one of the frequencies.

In addition, receivers carry out processing to the channels. Where there is a lack of signals, or where invalid signals have been received from the transmitter, the receiver can carry out special processing.


Servos are actuators that serve the purpose of creating the position of channels from electronic outputs with receivers providing support to them. As a matter of fact, any device that has the right format actually has the capacity to control the servos too.

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A number of servos could also perform processing on the positioning signals in order to adapt it to any specific situation.

Types of RC Radios

There are a few different types of radios that you could expect to see in an RC vehicle. No, none of them will play your music! 

Electronic Speed Control (ESC)

The Electronic Speed Control (ESC) is a component of the RC vehicle that inputs servo signals as well as creates physical output. When this is the case, it works in the output voltage to control the electric motors in electric power RC vehicles.

Pulse Position Modulation (PPM)

Pulse Position Modulation refers to the long-term encoding of the RC radio. Every one of the controls comes with a pulse width that is in correspondence to the position. All the channels also come with pulses that are linked together in a very organized manner with a standard width of 0 pulses between them. 

PPM, either directly or indirectly, shows up in servo control signals directly. Of all the many data encoding and decoding systems available on the market, PPM is the oldest. The system comes with a data frame that has a synchronizing pulse in it with the synchronizing pulse followed by some other shorter pulses equal to the number of channels.

Pulse Code Modulation (PCM)

The Pulse Code Modulation radios make use of a similar frequency spectrum as those of the PPM. The values of individual controls are a little digitized to bit resolutions of about 10 bits. Then, all of them get concatenated together, and then a checksum and sync header are added. After the receiver has gotten the frame, it decodes, and then the content is sent to the checksum to be verified.

Digital Spread Spectrum Modulation

Digital spread spectrum modulation radios are in the 2.4 GHz frequency range, and it shares frequencies that are used by cordless phones, Wi-Fi, and other things like it. Digital Spread Modulation is actually a new addition to the radio control system. 

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Instead of a fixed frequency, the receivers and the transmitter are joined to each other while keeping each one’s address in mind. The transmitter is tuned in order to find channels, and the receiver is turned on for the transmitters. Therefore, in this case, you do not have to worry about any confusion of channels.


Servos are end units of the radio-controlled chains. The servos pick up the signals that the receivers bring, and they turn those signals into physical positions. The essence of this position is to move and drive something on the model that may be a power control, a control surface, or some other accessory. But, servos are important for all types of RC vehicles.

Servos are normally and majorly made up of the gearbox, the motor, the feedback potentiometer, and the electronic board, which is kept inside a plastic-cased box. The servo cable and the servo arm that come with plugs are also stored outside.


Radio-control cars come in different types on the RC market, and if your remote is damaged or no longer available, picking another option is possible. Your local hobby shop is in the best position to give you good advice about which one will work best for you or to help you find a replacement controller. 

If you already have a controller that the RC car died for then you can likely use that same controller to control a different vehicle. You will probably have to change the frequency or the channels but that is normally pretty easy and there are tons of videos on Youtube that will help you do that. 

Matt Robbs

I love to spend time with my wife and 3 kids. There is no better way to get them off the couch and outside than for us to grab the RC cars or boat and enjoy the sunshine!

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