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How To Tell If An RC Motor Is Brushless

RC cars and trucks and planes are definitely all the rage these days. There are hundreds of sites and communities dedicated to these vehicles and their racing, upkeep, building, and collecting. There might be people out there who are new owners of an RC vehicle and want to know what to do about certain aspects of the vehicles as well as learn more about the different types of parts and motors. People entering the RC world will love it but will also likely have a lot of questions as they begin learning about this new hobby. 

One of the most important aspects about an RC car or truck or plane is the motor used in these RC vehicles. The main strength of any RC model has to be its RC brushless motors that are used. The technology of these types of motors is super awesome and pretty amazing. Brushless RC motors have grown in popularity and use and they are now very much in demand.

If you are buying a used RC vehicle or you are just curious how to tell whether a motor is brushed or brushless then this article is for you. 

Whether you have a brushed or brushless motor can normally be determined by looking at the wires as brushless motors have three wires while brushed motors will normally only have two. You can also tell by looking at the motor itself as a brushless motor won’t have any brushes in it and a brushed motor will. 

To learn more about these different types of RC motors you will want to keep watching. You can also check out the video below for more information about brushed and brushless motors and the differences between the two. 

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What are RC brushless motors?

What are brushless motors, you might wonder. What does this term even mean or signify in the RC world? Well, in the RC world, brushless or brushed are terms used to talk about or describe the design or the model of the motor used in the vehicle such as RC cars, RC trucks etc.

If a design or model of the motor is not specifically called brushless, then it is usually a normal, ordinary brushed motor.

What is the difference between RC brushless and brushed motors?

Be it a brushless RC motor or a basic brushed one, the way they both work is pretty much the same. Their functions are actually very much similar to one another. They both work using coil windings that are charged. These charged coils then attract and repel the permanent magnets. The process of attracting and repelling permanent magnets that have a fixed polarization results in the creation of a rotating force. This is how both types of brushless and brushed motors work.

But sometimes it can be difficult to tell apart  a brushless RC motor from a brushed motor. You might need to know this information in many situations. For example, while you are about to waterproof your motor, you definitely need to know whether it is brushed or brushless. So how do you tell the difference? 

Let us find out!

There are some easy differences that you can look at to help differentiate between the 2 types of motors. Let us see what some of the differences are in the 2 motors that will help you identify an RC brushless motor when you see one.

  • Brushless motors usually have 3 wires while brushed motors will traditionally only have 2. These wires, running from the ESC to the motor are the most obvious signs of a brushless motor and are probably the easiest way to tell apart the 2 types of motors from one another. If you are in a store and going through the many motors available, after the description given on the product, this 3 wires are the next thing that will prove to you that the motor you are viewing is a brushless one.
  • Another major difference is that brushless motors contain permanent magnets. These magnets are found on the motor shaft. The brushed motors also have magnets but they are usually found on the outside.
  • Another obvious difference between a brushed motor and a brushless one is that brushless ones do not have brushes, just as the name suggests (genius huh?). On the other hand, brushed motors do have brushes and these require constant care and attention. This is why brushless motors are preferred so much these days.

What are the technical differences between the two motors?

  • Try measuring the resistance of the motor. Make sure you use low voltage and not a high one, say a 100mV. Now, if you see that the resistance is pretty high, say more than a few kilo ohms, then you can be sure it is a brushless one. But if the resistance measured turns out to be lower than, say, 100 ohms, then the motor you have is probably a brushed one.
  • Here is another way to figure out whether the given motor is brushless or brushed. Connect the motor you have to a source of power. Decrease the voltage (input voltage) till the motor stops turning or running. Now reduce it a bit more. Measure the current now. As you keep reducing the voltage little by little, keep measuring the current too. Now plot a graph of voltage vs current. If the plot you get is a linear one, your motor is a brushed motor. Otherwise, it is brushless.

Advantages of brushless motors

Brushless motors have many advantages as to why one should buy a brushless RC motor. One, these brushless motors are extremely efficient. They will work perfectly fine for a long time and have a longer lifespan which will save you money in the long run. Also, brushless motors do not produce as much heat which is probably one of the reasons why they last longer.

As there is less friction within a brushless RC motor, it produces a higher speed range. This will allow your RC car to go faster and have better acceleration with a brushless motor than it would with a brushed one.  

One of the best things about a brushless motor is that there are no brushes. As there is a lack of brushes, you don’t need to worry about two things. One, the maintenance of those brushes, as a brushed motor requires more maintenance, and two, there are no brushes that will get damaged and require replacements. 


So there you go, now you know how you easily tell the difference between a brushless RC motor and a brushed motor so that way if you are buying an RC car you can easily check which type of motor it has.  So the next time you go out to buy one, you can choose a brushless RC motor without just taking the seller’s word for it and hoping that they are correct. 

Also, if you have a motor at home and do not know whether it is brushed or brushless, you now know how you can find out. The next time you need to waterproof your motor and someone asks you whether it is brushless or brushed; you can now give them an  answer confidently as well.