How Much Weight Can An RC Car Pull?


How Much Weight Can An RC Car Pull?

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One of the things that most RC enthusiasts find themselves interested in fairly quickly is pulling of some kind. RCs can be outfitted with hitches and trailers or sleds and be used to pull all types of things. But before you hitch something to your RC car, you’ll want to know how to do it without damaging your vehicle.

How much can an RC car pull? Pulling with an RC car requires determining the mass of the car and doing a bit of math. You will find that even in the best circumstances the maximum amount of weight any RC can pull is about 6 times its weight. That means that a 10-pound car would max out at being able to pull 60 pounds. However, to do so usually requires some upgrades to the motor. Additionally, the amount a car can pull is going to vary depending on the amount of traction it can achieve.

The amount that your RC can pull is going to depend on several things, including whether you use a trailer or sled, the power capacity of your RC and any upgrades you have made to your RC. Ready to learn a bit more? In this article, we will get into the details to help you determine how much weight your RC car can pull.

Can an RC Car Pull Weight?

Before we can discuss how much an RC car can pull, you may wonder if your RC car can even pull weight. The short answer is that all RC cars can pull some amount of weight. Even a very small, starter RC can pull some weight, though many may not consider that really pulling anything.

Basic RC cars are mostly designed to run on semi-flat terrain and at a lower speed. These RCs usually have very basic motors that are not designed to pull very much more than the weight of the RC itself. However, one way even a basic RC can pull is by utilizing a trailer with proper balance and avoiding inclines.

If you’ve set your sights on more than that, have no fear! With a few custom motor upgrades, your RC can be pulling in no time.

Determining the Pull Capacity of an RC

We wish there was an easy answer that could give you a specific weight, unfortunately, the weight pulling capacity of any RC can vary depending on several factors. The amount of weight is affected by:

  • The terrain
  • Any upgrades you may have made
  • The power of your RC

While you could do the complicated physics calculations, most people are not willing or able to do so. To start, we recommend beginning with the recommended weight that is provided by the manufacturer of your RC. This applies to RCs that have not had any additional upgrades, all of which could improve or even decrease the pulling capacity.

One way that you can determine how much weight your RC can pull is by trial and error. Once your RC has been outfitted for pulling, by sled or trailer you can begin testing by pulling standard weights and determining how the weight affects the drag on the motor. Keeping in mind the terrain and slope, you can at least determine the amount of weight that you can pull before causing your RC to overheat or lose power.

A pulling sled is another way that can be used to determine the amount of weight your RC can pull. A sled works by slowing increasing the amount of resistance weight as it is pulled across a set distance. As the weight increases your RC will begin to show signs of resistance, motor slowing, bucking, and even the front wheels leaving the ground.

We recommend that if you choose to use an RC pulling sled, you do so with the assistance of an experienced RC puller. That way you can make sure that you determine your pull capacity under the most controlled circumstances and hopefully avoid causing any damage to your RC.

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Upgrading Your RC Car for Pulling

Pulling weight with an RC usually means that you will want to do some basic upgrades. Here are a few inexpensive upgrades that can increase the pulling capacity of your RC.

Wheels and Tires

The quickest and most inexpensive way to improve the performance and handling of your RC is to upgrade your wheels and tires. Go for wheels with a wide base that are built for traction and endurance. Choose tires with a deep tread to help improve the grip of your RC car. 

Upgraded Mounts

If you are putting your RC through some tough runs, then you will quickly learn that there are several parts on an RC that are not built for longevity. One of those parts is the motor mounts. As you run your RC, especially if you run nitro, it will generate a ton of heat. Upgrading to aluminum heads will not only help pull heat away from the engine but as a bonus they will also weigh significantly less.

Motor Heat Sink

Another way to pull excess heat away from the engine is to install a motor heat sink. Whenever you can drop the engine temperature, you are more likely to get a jump in velocity and also the run time of the motor. Additionally, keeping your engine temperature under control will also help to avoid damaging your engine, thus decreasing the cost of your RC repairs.

Install an Auxiliary Fan

Installing a directly wired auxiliary fan can give you the option of adding an extra boost of cool air to your engine when you need it. If you choose to start pulling on a regular basis, an auxiliary fan is a great way to keep your engine running stronger, longer.

Tips for Pulling Weight with Your RC Car

So, you have decided to give pulling a go, what do you need to know? Well, we have you covered. No matter whether you are planning on building a custom car to enter a pulling competition or just want to pull a trailer around the yard with another RC on it, these tips will help you to get pulling sooner and keep your RC from any damage.

Hitch It Up

The first thing you need in order to pull anything is a good quality hitch. You can likely find a hitch at your local hobby shop. If you have a few tools you can also fabricate your own. Another option is to get connected to your local RC groups. Most groups will have at least one member that usually fabricates custom accessories, including hitches.

Trailer or Sled

Next you will need to consider just how you plan to pull with your RC. You can choose to use a trailer or opt for a sled. A trailer will allow you to pull more weight than a sled because of the decrease in friction and counterweight supported by the trailer’s tires. However, if you are planning on working up to entering a pulling competition, you may want to sled pull to prepare.

Low and Slow

The center of gravity must be kept in mind when pulling weight. The distribution of whatever you are pulling needs to be at or below the axle level of your RC. By keeping the weight low, you will increase the traction potential of your wheels. Traction is what you will need to avoid spinout and slippage.

Tires = Traction

Consider upgrading your tires to mud tires. Most basic RCs come with fairly standard tires that have only a small amount of traction potential. When you upgrade your tires, your tread will be deeper, allowing more grip during use. This will increase your traction potential; which is directly impacted by the terrain you are going to be running over.

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Avoid Grass or Wet Surfaces

We have all been in that situation where you hit the gas on your RC and the wheels start to spin. Sure there are times when a good spinout is fantastic, however, if you are looking to pull, the last thing you want is to dig your RCs wheels into a pit. Avoiding grass and wet surfaces will decrease the chance of slipping and spinout.

Pulling is the New RC Pastime

Take a quick look around the RC community and you may find that there is a growing number of RC enthusiasts that are using RCs to pull. There are even a variety of RC pulling competitions that have popped up. Similar to a full-size truck and tractor pulls, RC pulls involve souped-up RCs pulling weighted sleds. These competitions can bring custom builders from all over the world together to try and beat the best of the best. 

While RC pulling has been around offline for a long time, the internet has brought this passion to the masses in ways never seen before. Today, you can find RC pulls in most regions across the United States and many other countries. Just reach out on social media and you will quickly see that there are RC enthusiasts from all over and from all walks of life.

The National RC Truck Pulling Association (NR/CTPA)

The NR/CTPA was started in the 1980s in Pennsylvania. When a group of RC enthusiasts that also had a passion for full-size truck and tractor pulls started chatting after a local pull they started to wonder if their pint-size vehicles could pull.

Before long the group had built a sled and a new direction in RCs was born. The local group started taking their RCs on the road to different expos. They started running into other RC runners that had tried pulling as well. What set this group apart was their dedication to the organization.

In 1988, the clubs’ first Winter Super Pull was held just north of Pittsburg. The following year they sponsored the first World Championships in Champaign Illinois. Every year after, the association continued to grow. That combined with their yearly competitions caused the quality of the competitions to continue to grow as well. 

During the 90s, additional events started. The Spring Nationals remains one of the group’s biggest events next to the World Championships. The 20th Annual World Championships were held in 2008 and featured over 400 entries. Winners received prizes donated by several sponsors. Additional prizes were given to attendees, including 7 complete truck kits.

The World Championships have included a large number of categories over the years. Here’s a sampling of what kind of classes RC pullers can enter into:

2 Wheel Drive4 Wheel DriveMisc. Categories
TruckBox StockBar Tire Sportsman
Box StockDieselBig Rig
ModifiedDriveshaftBruiser
Open ClassesModifiedCombined Scratch & Shaft 4WD Pro Modified
Stock Modified Bruiser Crawler
Super Sport Open Classes Digger
Super Stock Pro Modified Duel Motor Box Stock
Tough Truck Replica Duel Motor Stock
Scratch Built Garden Tractor
Stock Heavy Super Stock
Super Stock Monster Truck Light Super Stock
12# Modified

With the growth of the online communities dedicated to RC pulling, the association has seen exponential growth both Nationally and Internationally. The 2019 World Championships took place in October and had attendees from their newest chapter from Basque Country in Spain. For a look at the NR/CTPA’s Rulebook, check it out HERE.

To Pull or Not to Pull

You may be wondering whether or not jumping into pulling is a good idea for you and your RC. We figured we would provide you will a few more points to consider helping you decide if pulling is right for you.

Cost

Whether you are interested in pulling for competition or just pulling for fun, there are some innate costs that are going to come up over time. In addition to the upgrades that you will need to do to your RC, there are ongoing costs that will be required.

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The most frequent costs are going to be tires and suspension. These are especially going to require regular replacement and repair if you choose to both compete or if you just pull regularly for fun. The pulling of weight will considerably shorten the lifespan of tires, suspension and even your motor if you aren’t careful enough. 

Rules and Guidelines

RC pulling competitions all have their own rules and guidelines that determine the build of an RC that can be entered. This means that for most pulls, you will not have complete flexibility to build your RC as you wish. Some RC enthusiasts choose to avoid competitions since they would rather have complete creative control of their RC build. 

The most common guidelines help to determine the overall weight and torque capacity of each RC entered in the class. This keeps the competition from being overrun by individuals that have unlimited options for upgrades. Additionally, most competitions also have open classes that allow individuals to compete no matter what upgrades they have.

Always be sure to check with your local group or club that is running the competition to make sure that your RC meets their rules and guidelines for entries. You want to avoid anything that would result in your RC being disqualified for breaching a rule that you were not aware of prior to the time of the race. 

Clubs and Groups

Almost every region has some type of group or club that allows RC enthusiasts to get together and run, race, or even pull. These groups are a great resource for insider information from parts and supplies to the most up to date insider tricks for increasing performance. You can search for a group in your area on almost all social media sites, or check-in with one of the many forum groups online.

If all else fails, you may decide to start your own group. Reach out to your local hobby shops or other stores where you purchase your RC parts and accessories for tips and tricks on finding other individuals that may be itching for ways to get together with like-minded individuals.

When it comes to online groups, there are several out there. One of the most popular online forums can be found at RCCrawler. This website offers RC enthusiasts of all walks of life a place to socialize, share tips and tricks and find out all of the latest information from the biggest names in RCs. You can also find threads dedicated to your local region, state, and in some cases even country.

Another popular forum can be found at RCUniverse. The website offers users many of the same options as RCCrawler, including a lively community. RCUniverse also features an up to date calendar of events, quick access to the latest posts and a quick search that lets you find posts by specific subject or topic. This site also allows users to offer Buy and Sell posts, a great way to get a great RC from individuals that know how to build a great puller.

Please remember internet safe buying guidelines if you choose to buy or sell online. These include always meeting in a public place, fully test out your RC before money changes hands, and finally, do not be afraid to offer a more reasonable price than the asking cost of an RC or part. In most cases, when someone is motivated to sell, they will accept the most reasonable offers.

If you just want to pull for fun then the bigger your RC car the more it can pull. Check out the video below of someone trying to use their RC car to pull themselves on a skateboard!

Final Thoughts

When it comes to pulling RCs there are nearly endless options for customization and competition if that is what you are after. We hope you have found this article of some help in deciding whether or not you can pull with your RC and how to determine how much weight you can safely pull. As always, we wish you the very best in your RC adventures and look forward to providing you will tons of the most up to date information again, very soon.

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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