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Do Electric RC Cars Have Brakes?

The engineering behind an RC car can be rather fascinating, whether you are interested in the specifics or are simply enjoying your new toy. Either way, one thing that comes to mind of any RC car owner is whether or not RC cars actually have brakes. After all, there is a button specifically designed for ‘braking,’ but what’s the deal behind this mechanism?

Do electric RC cars have brakes? Electric RC cars use what is known as ‘regenerative braking.’ The motor in the RC car acts like a generator, and when the button is pushed, the RC car’s kinetic energy is converted and lost while accelerating. This causes the RC car to slow down and eventually come to a halt. There is also the option of installing mechanical brakes on your RC car or simply taking your finger off the gas pedal.

As you can see, there is actually a lot that goes into the actual braking behind an electric RC car. We are going to discuss how exactly an RC car is able to stop using the ‘brakes,’ why you might consider installing mechanical brakes, and what drag braking is.

Electric RC Cars Brake with Regenerative Braking

When using your electric RC car, one button that will be pushed when you need to bring your toy to a halt is the ‘brake’ button. And while you might think that the RC car is using brake pads against the wheels to slow the car down, it’s all done through the kinetic energy found in the motor of the RC car.

RC cars use a form of braking, known as regenerative braking. When your electronic toy is moving forward, it is using energy to propel itself continuously. However, once you press the ‘brake’ button, then the motor mimics a generator and will reverse the energy. This energy is converted back into the motor, which causes deceleration.

Some electric RC cars are designed to lock the motor when the brake button is pushed. However, more often than not, the braking system will lock the engine for a split second to ‘stop’ the car before ultimately kicking the RC car into reverse. That’s why it’s important not to hold down the brake button unless you’re trying to move the car in reverse.

Keep in mind that when you are dealing with an electric car using regenerative braking, how hard the brake button is pushed, and what settings you have the motor at will determine how quickly the RC car comes to a halt. That being said, someone who is operating their RC car should take great care not to push the brake button too quickly or their car may fly forward or spin out altogether.

Note: One major benefit of having regenerative brakes in your RC car is that they prolong the charge of the RC car’s battery. This is because once the energy is halted by pressing on the brakes, the battery can capture the leftover energy that is no longer being used and store it for longer battery life.

What About ESC?

One thing you might find on your RC car is ESC, which stands for electronic speed controller. The ESC of an RC car acts the same as those found in actual electronic automobiles. It has everything to do with control and braking, using the electrical braking system to perform.

The goal behind ESC is to help the RC car stay on track, even though it may have lost traction. The ESC will automatically begin to brake, even if the button is not pushed by the controller. This will help to prevent the RC car from spinning out or plowing out, which is a major benefit to having an electric braking system in your toy car.

While this is something beneficial to have in your RC car, some may find that it gets in the way of more fun and exciting adventures they may try to have with their RC car. In most cases, ESC can be turned off. It is not recommended, but it is possible, just like adding mechanical brakes to your toy.

You can learn more about ESC and your RC car in the video below.

What About Mechanical Brakes?

Regenerative braking isn’t the only option when it comes to RC cars. In fact, for the tech-savvy individual who likes to enhance his gadgets and tune them the way he desires, there is also the option of installing mechanical brakes on your RC car.

Mechanical brakes on an RC car are essentially the same thing as normal brakes you would find on a non-electric automobile. They utilize several different pieces of equipment in order to stop the RC car, including brake pads, calipers, and brake discs.

Installing mechanical brakes in your RC car has its own set of benefits. Being able to adjust and customize mechanical brakes gives the user better overall control of their car. This is especially true when they are using their RC car in tougher terrain that may require more strength and abilities than a usual electric brake system.

RC car enthusiasts who have installed mechanical brakes on their electronic toys have found that the RC car remains cooler throughout the journey, as an electrical system can sometimes overheat the motor after extensive use. Mechanical brakes also have a better overall handle as you no longer have to worry about spinouts from excessive kinetic energy conversion.

If you are curious about how to set up a mechanical brake system on your RC car, you can watch a great video below. Keep in mind that mechanical braking systems will need to be purchased separately. They are not included in any original RC car purchases.

What is a Drag Brake on RC Car?

A term that might get thrown around in the RC world is ‘drag brake.’ You might also see it listed as one of the features of your electric RC car. To someone new to the world of RC cars, this might sound like an outlandish term. So, let’s break it down:

What is a drag brake on an RC car? It’s simple to define: a drag brake on an RC car will act like a brushed motor. That being said, it essentially slows down the RC car immediately after you left off the gas.

Does that mean that an electrical or mechanical braking system is no longer needed in this type of RC car? Not necessarily. While the drag brake will work to slow down your RC car, there will likely still be an electrical braking system that can be used in drastic times.

For instance, if your car needs to come to a sudden halt, it might not have enough power using just the drag brake to stop before it’s too late. At this point, you would need to engage the brake button to stop the RC car without relying on the drag brake. 

Curious about how to install and operate a drag brake on your RC car? Here is an excellent video explaining how to install and program your drag brake to get the best use.


When it comes to an electric RC car, the braking is performed by using a mechanism known as regenerative braking. This essentially converts the energy to switch from propelling forward to reversing, ultimately bringing the RC car to a halt. However, you can also utilize the drag brake feature or install mechanical brakes to have better overall control and customization of your toy car.