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RC vehicles— otherwise known as remote control vehicles— can be a fun present for kids and a lasting hobby for adults, but what happens when these vehicles come into contact with water? While one small encounter with a small puddle may be inconsequential in the life span of the vehicle, leaving one in an overnight thunderstorm would most likely result in a malfunctioning or dead car.
So, are RC vehicles waterproof? The majority of RC vehicles have some level of water resistance; however, even if the vehicle has the specific feature of “waterproof” upon purchase, this does not guarantee safety from the elements. Most of the vehicles do still have some level of resistance since the internal structure of the vehicle, the electronic portion, is not fully exposed.
The car’s plastic and/or metal exterior should provide some level of protection for the inner workings of the vehicle, but RC vehicles, even RC boats, are not designed for full or long term submersion in water.
In this article, you will learn what factors play into the water tolerance and water intolerance on these vehicles, and the steps you can take to prevent water from permanently damaging your vehicle. The effects of water on these vehicles will also be discussed as well as the best ways to keep water out of your vehicle.
How Water Exposure Can Impact The Vehicle
Water can affect your RC vehicle in a variety of ways, ranging from short circuiting to a complete shutdown. These are a few of the specific ways that water can negatively impact your vehicle:
- Radio system: Water can damage the radio system installed on the vehicle. The radios mainly used on RC vehicles are easily compromised by water and can mess with the frequency or render the radio inoperable.
- Tires: RC vehicle tires are normally filled with foam rather than air. When water comes into contact with the foam the foam can “disintegrate” which will compromise the tires’ stability. The foam in RC vehicles’ tires can be replaced, but it is often in the best interest of the owner to find replacement tires, which are often cheaper. You can also personally refill the tire with foam inserts if you want to save a little money.
- Batteries: Batteries and water, in general, do not mix well. Continuous exposure to water can cause a battery to corrode and rust as well as leak harmful chemicals inside your vehicle. If your batteries corrode the entire vehicle itself will not function until the batteries are replaced.
Other factors that water could negatively impact include the actual exterior of the vehicle and the electrical mechanisms on the inside. The plastic and metal exterior can easily corrode over time, exposing the interior and creating a rough overall appearance. When water hits any of the electrical components of an RC vehicle, oftentimes it will immediately stop working.
What Waterproof Vehicles Have to Offer
While the title of “waterproof” may be a bit misleading on these types of RC vehicles, they do have a greater amount of protection against water and its effects than the average RC vehicle. This is most likely due to the fact that these particular vehicles are made intentionally for contact with water, and the manufacturers understand that the vehicle may be put into a very shallow body of water. The difference between waterproof and normal RC vehicles lies in both the interior and exterior structures.
Different materials and more water tolerable materials are often used, such as rubber. The knobs and bolts are often tightened tighter to prevent debris and water from getting into the interior of the vehicle as well.
Brushed motors are motors that are well known in the RC community since they are completely submersible, and it is these motors that are put into waterproof vehicles. The only issue with these motors is the fact that they are ONLY made for water, if mud or any other type of debris comes into contact with the motor or enters it, water can infiltrate the inner workings of the mechanism will not allow it to conduct electricity correctly.
Brushed motors work by using water to conduct a small amount of electricity (since water is a poor conductor of electricity, it is safe to use) in order to provide energy to power the vehicle.
However, when other factors such as mud (which is filled with all sorts of different minerals and metals) come into play, the amount of electricity generated increases greatly because of the added conductivity of the materials, and the end result will often be an overheated or fried motor.
While your first thought may be to take a waterproof RC vehicle straight into the water, It is far better to just use it as you would a normal RC car. Don’t intentionally get it incredibly wet but feel free to use it in some muddy or wet terrains where you wouldn’t take a normal RC vehicle.
3 Ways to Improve Water-Resistance on an RC Vehicle
There are ways to waterproof a regular RC vehicle, and these methods are also the maintenance steps used on waterproof RC vehicles.
- Plasti Dip: This is a popular method of waterproofing in the RC vehicle community. Plasti dip can come in the form of a spray and can last from anywhere between a few months to three years, depending on the care of the vehicle before the next touch up.
You must take some precautions when applying the spray to an RC vehicle. Be sure and remove the exposed electrical mechanics of the vehicle before applying the spray. This precaution is important because most plasti dips are not electronic friendly and will damage any electrical apparatuses that the spray comes into contact with.
- Corrosion remover/stopper sprays: Corrosion sprays can either do one of two things: remove damage already made to the vehicle or prevent damage from happening. These sprays are simply applied to the affected or possibly affected areas to help protect the internal structure by maintaining the exterior structure. The spray is ideal for small fixes, typically to remove any corrosion around circuits that have shorted.
*When using any of these sprays, it is important to keep a healthy distance from the spray to ensure that it is not inhaled or accidentally sprayed into the eyes.
- Splash Guard: A splash guard is probably the simplest form of protection to use for your RC vehicle. The goal is to cover the more vulnerable spots of the vehicle with a flap or box, whether it is plastic or metal. With a splash guard you must be sure and allow for airflow as there needs to be an escape for any hot air that is generated by the vehicle. You also want to make sure that the vehicle gets the air that is required to help keep the systems at the proper temps. The guard will work to keep out debris, water, and mud which will help prevent vehicle complications from happening as quickly.
What To Do If An RC vehicle Comes Into Contact With Water
If the vehicle in question does come into contact with a larger amount of water there are a few ways to help prevent any terminal damage from occurring.
- Take out the electrical components: the battery, wiring, the motor, etc. and separate it from the body of the vehicle.
- Allow both parts to air dry, whether that is outdoors in the sun or indoors away from any possible moisture.
- Clean out any debris that could pose a potential risk for future complications (rocks, mud, dirt, etc.) and carefully wipe down the vehicle inside and out.
*As previously stated before though, a little bit of water on a couple of occasions should not be a huge deal. The more water the vehicle is exposed to, the more serious the problem could become.
Tips for Avoiding Water
The best case scenario for a regular RC vehicle is for it to never touch water. In order to ensure the least amount of contact between the vehicle and water is to:
- Always have the car within sight: It is always a good idea to always keep the car in plain sight to make sure you know where the car is at all times and what it is driving into or around. When you can’t see the vehicle it is a lot easier to drive it into a newly formed puddle that wasn’t there before.
- Know the terrain: If you are driving the vehicle in a new place that you’ve never been, It’s always a good idea to survey the land before driving to see just what the vehicle will be driving across. The last thing you want to do is drive your vehicle into a small lake or settling pond because you couldn’t take a few minutes to walk the area.
- Don’t drive on a rainy day or right after it rains: Puddles and potholes can look similar and all it takes is driving your vehicle into a deeper puddle to damage it or require hours of work to dry it out. Even if it’s just sprinkling, with rain normally comes wind, which can possibly blow the water into the electronic parts of your vehicle.
*Remember regular RC vehicles are designed to be used in dry areas. Tall grassy areas and muddy areas alike can cause your normal RC vehicle to get water inside of its components so be sure and avoid those areas unless your RC vehicle is waterproof.
How To Waterproof Your RC Vehicle
Want to learn how to waterproof your RC vehicle so it can go in water? Check out these videos below that give specific instructions on how to do it properly.
Prevention is always worth its weight in gold so avoiding situations where your vehicle gets wet is much better than having to fix your vehicle after you damage it in the water.
Even if you waterproof your vehicle (as in the video above) it is probably not a good idea to intentionally drive it into the lake.