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Do RC Cars Have Clutches?

What’s better than speeding through the neighborhood with your RC car? Nothing! Am I right? The truth is that the remote-control car industry has us by the accelerator. We are hooked on the feeling of freedom and thrill it brings our lives. Most enthusiasts are thoroughly involved in the building and mechanics of their car, while others just like to push the buttons. Wondering if you have a clutch under the hood? Let’s find out!

Do RC cars have clutches? As RC cars do not typically have more than one gear, a traditional clutch is not necessary. However, a “slipper” clutch is usually a common part of RC cars to keep the wheels from spinning and the gears from grinding. Minor adjustments may be necessary to keep it working properly.

Cruise around with confidence, in this article you will learn all about your RC car clutch, and how to adjust it!

What Kind of Clutch Does an RC Car Have?

When it comes to remote control cars, there are a few different levels of quality and sophistication. If you buy the basic model of car, you will obviously not be getting all of the “bells and whistles” that a top-of-the-line deluxe model will deliver. You get what you pay for.

For instance, some RC cars on the market have a slipper clutch, also known as a back-torque limiter, which helps reduce the spinning of your rear wheels. But not all RC cars have these. Most RC cars cannot shift gears, so when you wonder if your remote-control car has a clutch the answer is no, and yes.

Does the Slipper Clutch on an RC Car Need Adjustment?

Yes. Should your slipper clutch need adjustment, it is important to give it exactly what it requires. Ignoring the issue could damage the gears inside of your transmission. So, how do you know when the slipper clutch is failing?

  • A whirring sound will be your first clue that the slipper clutch is beginning to malfunction. The sound it makes may be so gentle that you don’t even notice it.
  • As the problem gets worse, the sound will become louder and louder. If you hear a loud, harsh screeching or howling noise, it may be time to dismantle your RC car and prepare for a bit of a tune-up.

How To Adjust A Slipper Clutch

Most miniature car mechanics require specific tools for the job. Do you have the necessary tools to adjust your slipper clutch? 

  1. Gather your tools. Before you sit down at the workbench in your shop, make sure you have everything you need. Depending on your clutch, you’ll need one or more of these:
    • Nut driver
    • T-wrench
    • Open-ended wrench
  1. Grab your owner’s manual or download the PDF online. If you have the owner/operator’s manual, that is often the best place to start looking for the specifics suggested on clutch adjustments. Don’t have the manual? Most companies offer online diagrams and manuals for downloading or ordering a replacement manual.

How Much to Tighten the Slipper Clutch

A general rule of thumb is to tighten the slipper clutch back to its original factory settings. If you are not sure what the original factory setting is, try tightening it all the way, then backing it off just under a quarter of a turn. Righty-tighty, lefty loosey.

Did Tightening the Slipper Clutch Work?

Once you have made your adjustments, it is time to test out your work. Before you put all the pieces back together, run a quick test on it to see if you have made the proper adjustments or if it needs a bit more tweaking.

  • Turn transmitter on
  • Turn vehicle on
  • Secure vehicle to a flat surface
  • Press throttle in short bursts
  • Vehicle’s front tires should raise up 3-5.”

How was that? Did your front wheels rear up?

If your wheels didn’t reach at least 3”, your slipper clutch is possibly too loose. Give it a quarter of a turn to the right.

But, if your wheels came up higher than 5”, your slipper clutch is showing signs of being tightened too much. Adjust it by turning the nuts a quarter of a turn towards the left.

Test and adjust until you are 100% confident that you have it right, and then take the time to properly reassemble and get back to driving!

How Do Electric- and Gas-Powered RC Cars Differ?

It comes down to speed, weight and price. And, very likely, driver preference.


Half the fun of RC cars is the speed. Hot nasty speed. How fast does your RC car go? Many enthusiasts prefer gas or nitro powered RC cars for high-speed fun. It can be argued that fuel-powered RC cars are much faster but less environmentally friendly than electric ones.


Another large difference between fuel & electric driven RC cars is the weight. Typically, an electric (battery) driven vehicle is heavier due to the weight of batteries. But, the battery-powered vehicle will often run longer than a fuel-powered one.


One more way that RC cars are often compared is by cost. On average, an electric or battery-powered RC car is more affordable. Not only is the initial purchase price considerably lower than a fuel-powered RC car, but it is also cheaper to run because you don’t have to pay to refuel it.

Does a Clutch Help With Off-Roading?

Where is your favorite place to run your remote-control car? Through the woods, or around a local pit can be an adrenaline rush. When you play off-road, the ride is often unpredictable, giving the handler a more exciting adventure than if you were to ride around town via the paved sidewalks.

Some racers enjoy staying close to the yellow brick road, and others can’t stand being in the concrete jungle. They crave dirt, rocks, mud, and hills over flat land.

If off-road racing is your idea of fun, then you probably already know that having your slipper clutch in tune is absolutely necessary for keeping your car in the race. Stay in tune with your car to always be one step ahead of any mechanical issues. Where your vehicle goes, your tool bag should also go!

If you’re ready to get your tires (and boots) dirty, what kind of RC car do you prefer for outback driving? Here are some of the most popular off-road vehicles:

  • Rock crawlers
  • Buggies
  • Desert racer
  • Monster trucks

How a Slipper Clutch Helps When Racing

Not limiting yourself to the blocks that surround your home, you may let your RC car take you wherever your imagination goes. Wonder what it would feel like to race your car up and down that huge blacktop ramp in the parking lot?

Or wouldn’t it be cool to take it to the local skate park to run it up the half-pipe? If you’re up for a race, join an RC car group and ask them to meet you at the park for added fun in the sun!

How will a slipper clutch help you while racing through the streets and parks? It helps reduce the spinning of your wheels, and deterioration of your transmission’s gears. Keep it tuned up for optimal performance.

Checking and adjusting the slipper clutch is an important part of your RC car’s maintenance. Check out this video below to learn how to do that.

Can a Clutch Help You on Wet Pavement?

Picture this; you are whipping through the woods at top speed. And, the next thing you know, your remote-control car runs right into a puddle the size of a small pond. What now? Will the clutch help you gain traction?

While a slipper clutch can be used to improve traction and reduce wheel spin on slippery surfaces, you’re still not going to want to go through standing water for extended periods of time. You risk damaging sensitive components on your RC car including all of the many electronics that are on board. 

If you have the water-resistant kit on it, you probably have less to worry about. But, if you do not have the protection plan, you could be looking at a very expensive repair bill.

Attempting to take an RC car that is not made for water through a wet area could result in damaging your car, perhaps beyond repair. When a waterproof RC car comes into contact with water, there are seals and other things preventing the water from getting up into the sensitive mechanics of the car.

Save yourself the headache of replacing your new toy and take our advice. Only introduce your RC car to the water, if it is built to sustain getting wet.


So now you know more about clutches in RC cars, how to adjust them, and even if your car has one. With the RC hobby there are always new things to learn so it is important to keep learning at every step along your journey.

If you are interested in learning more about RC cars you can find an article that I wrote about how to pick the best RC car by clicking here.