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Can Nitro RC Cars Run In Cold Weather?

A nitro RC car is a great way to have some fun no matter how old you are. Regular RC cars are tons of fun but nitro models look, sound, and feel like the real thing so they are much more enjoyable for many people. 

If you are brand new to nitro RCs you might be wondering if you can use them in the wintertime or once the weather turns cold. That is what this article will try and answer for you. 

Nitro RC cars can run in cold weather but they can be difficult to start up when the engine is cold. If you plan on using your nitro RC car in the winter it is a good idea to warm up the car before you try and use it to make starting and running it easier. 

Just because it is wintertime doesn’t mean that you have to stop having fun with your RC car. Using your RC when there is a chill in the air can actually be more fun since you can drive it on the ice, snow, etc. 

Even in extreme cold, or with tons of snow or ice, there are a lot of great things that you can do with your car to have some extra fun. Although racing in snow or icy conditions might not leave you setting speed records showing off your driving skills can be a great way to boost your ego and a fun way to spend an afternoon. 

Unfortunately not every RC car is designed to be used in severe weather conditions such as ice, snow or a mixture of both. You need to make sure that your RC car’s electronics are waterproof or the entire vehicle is before you take it out in the snow or ice. 

In this article, you will learn how to use your nitro RC car in cold weather and also how to avoid the pitfalls of winter with some helpful tips to guide you through taking your RC car out in the cold. 

It will take some preparation and maintenance to keep your car in the best condition possible so be sure and read on for more information about wintertime racing. 

Winter Usage

Living in an area where there is a winter comes with several difficulties such as the cold and wet weather conditions that make doing anything outside difficult. Now I know that you are thinking that every place has winter and that is partially true however there are many places in the USA and even around the world that don’t experience freezing temps or ice/snow. I would know, I live in Phoenix, Arizona where the coldest weather that we get is lows in the 30s and highs in the upper 40s or low 50s (it’s a rough life but someone has to do it).  

Winter in most of the rest of the United States isn’t as nice and so spending any time outside might not be enjoyable. However, after being inside all winter come January or February those 30-40 degree days start to look really nice and taking your RC car out is a great way to enjoy the “warmer” weather. 

Colder temperatures will affect your nitro RC car in the same way it affects actual vehicles. The effects include draining your batteries, brittle plastics and rubber parts, difficulty starting your car, getting your car dirty in the snow and ice, and more. 

These hindrances among others, will work together to often stop many people from using their RC car over the wintertime but you don’t HAVE to stop! Your car can be raced and used in the winter as long as you are willing to take some precautions against the issues that the colder weather normally brings. 

The first main difficulty for RC cars in the winter season is the damp, actively wet conditions. These conditions promote rusting and may cause severe damage to your RC sensitive electronic parts if they are not waterproof. Some cars will already have electronics waterproofed but if not waterproofing is needed to protect the electric components from mud, snow and ice. 

If you don’t have your RC car waterproofed and run it through snow and ice all day you will likely damage the electronics of the car. 

You can protect your car using a moisture-inhibiting spray or even go so far as to entirely waterproof your car (see the video below) If you car is waterproof it will not only give you peace of mind but it will also allow you to take more risks when driving through the snow and slush. 

You will also need rust-prevention for your RC car especially if your vehicle is being returned to a mildly damp garage when you are done with it. 

Preparation and Precautions

Running your RC car in water does require some preparation and precautions. One of them is avoiding driving in very extreme cold as the temperature can be very hard on many different parts of your vehicle.

RC car plastic parts will become more brittle in the cold which makes them much more likely to crack or break if you hit something or if you land a jump wrong. Extreme cold also makes the car’s oil and grease become thicker and your nitro fuel can thicken up as well. The cold can cause shocks and other lubricants to become compressed, which could cause a total breakdown.

The engine becomes cold; batteries become weaker, ruining any chances of racing. The frozen ground doesn’t have any give either which makes it harder to drive over bumps where your nitro RC car might break down depending on how well it’s maintained and how it can maneuver over bumps like rocks.

Quite simply, the colder temps make your RC car much more likely to break or get damaged when you are using it. 

Protect brittle things

Your RC car comes with reinforced plastic that becomes brittle in the cold. The effect comes to play in some vehicles more than others, depending on how cold it is as well as the exact contents of the plastic. 

You can overcome the issue associated with plastic parts by using alloy parts during the cold months. These too can cause other problems as they tend to bend in the cold instead of breaking but they won’t be brittle like plastic will be. 

Another issue to contend with during cold RC racing is oils and greases start to thicken. Despite most manufacturers saying that their product is “cold-proof”, this might not be the case as silicon based oils and standard grease tend to thicken up in lower temperatures. The issue can be solved by using technology in the regular automotive industry, but that’s not the case with cheaper RC cars. 

Keep your Nitro RC warm

Starting a nitro engine in cold weather can be quite a task. If you’ve ever tried to start a snow blower or other similar motor in the wintertime you know that it can be quite difficult to get them going when they are cold. 

It is a good idea to store your RC car in a warm area until you need it for racing and then fire the engine up right away once you get to the racing spot. The warmth should keep the engine components at a good temperature and allow you to start your RC’s engine without too much difficulty. 

If your car is already cold, you can heat the engine’s crankcase and heat sink up to make starting it easier. A pre-warmed engine will fire up quickly compared to a cold one.

A good course of action is just bring your car inside the night before you plan on using it so that way you won’t have issues with it starting. 

Water and RC cars

Water is the main problem with driving in icy and snowy conditions. Melted snow tends to find its way into the RC car’s parts the same way rain does during summer months; therefore, protection is needed to keep your car functioning properly all year long. You can invest in individual waterproof receivers, servos, and speed controls or you can waterproof your entire vehicle as in the video earlier. 

Even if your electronics are waterproofed the moisture from the snow and ice can still cause your car to corrode. When you are done using your car in the wintertime you will want to make sure to take the time to properly clean it so as all of the moisture and other gunk is off of it. 

Just like salt will eat away at your normal car so will it eat away at your RC car if you don’t clean it off after every use. 

Weak batteries

Cold temperatures always cause weak batteries in nitro RC cars as the cold has  a similar effect on them that it does on the battery of a normal car. The receiver batteries in RC cars are also affected.

If you store your RC car in a cold place normally then taking the batteries out and keeping them in your warm house is the best way to ensure that they don’t lose their charge. It is also a good idea to remember that batteries won’t last as long in the cold so expect your car’s run time to be affected. 


Nitro RC cars can certainly be used in the wintertime but you have to take the proper preparation and precautions to make sure that your car works fine and stays in the best condition possible. 

Running your RC car in the snow and ice can be a lot of fun but just make sure that everything is waterproof that needs it and make sure to give your car a proper cleaning after you use it each time. 

If you are unsure how to properly clean your car you can check out the video below for some helpful tips.