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This is Why Your RC Car is Faster In Reverse

So, your RC car is moving like a turtle when it’s moving forward, but has no problem moving full speed when it is in reverse? What’s up with that? If you haven’t taken apart your car and controller, perhaps now is the time to tap into your inner mechanic. Get out your toolbox and take a deep breath to calm yourself. You will be back on the road soon!

Should your car go faster in reverse than it does in forward motion, there is often a one-step adjustment that shouldn’t take long to repair this issue, such as adjusting the timing or reversing wires. In the worst case scenario, you may need to replace the motor of the RC car. 

Remote Control (RC) cars are a popular hobby, but to some, they are more than that. When the car malfunctions, it becomes quite a job to find out why and we will always fear the worst case. Don’t worry; there are several simple solutions to this problem!

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Power Issues that May Make an RC Car Faster in Reverse

We are going to begin with both the easiest and the most difficult sources of your challenge: power issues. The power for your RC car comes from where? That’s right, the batteries and motor. And the brain of the operation is your transmitter, which we will cover later on. 

Check your battery’s charge. 

Charging your battery can seem like a silly solution, but it is a valid one that we may not think of because it is particularly obvious. And it’s just a good thing to knock off the list. Pull out the charger and get the batteries hooked up and leave them long enough to fully charge. 

Once enough time has passed, test the batteries to make sure they are in tip-top shape. Replacement of the batteries is the next step in this simple process. Use a voltmeter to test the batteries at full throttle to see what their output reading is. Batteries all good to go? Let’s move on.

Now, the Motor

If your batteries have scored highly on the voltmeter test, the signs are pointing to your motor being the issue. When a motor starts to go bad, you may experience symptoms that point in the direction of a motor failure. Hopefully, you aren’t facing a total replacement DIY project. So, let’s rule that out now.

  • To test your motor, you will need a servo tester or a multi servo tester and a battery pack. 
  • Hook your motor and the battery pack to the servo tester’s wires/connectors provided.
  • Following the instructions in the package just to be safe, turn on the tester:
    • If your motor spins, then you can have a big old sigh of relief!
    • If it doesn’t spin, then it may be time for a replacement. 

The silver lining here is you may have a warranty that covers the motor for replacement. No warranty? Ask about trade-in value, as it may reduce the cost with a bit of a discount before you pay out the full price for a new motor.

Are Your RC Car’s Wires Crossed?

Your RC car is doing doughnuts in reverse like it has lost its mind, or like it may have some wires crossed. And, maybe it does. Pop the hood, let’s check it out!

Reversing the motor wires and reverse the throttle channel on the transmitter and ESC will swap the commands that it is receiving and send your RC car full speed ahead, while giving it the command to go slower in reverse, therefore solving your problem with a simple wire swap.

For brushless, this process will be slightly different. You will need to reverse the center and outer lead wires in the motor.

If you have recently replaced your RC car’s transmitter, or honestly any other parts, you may need to perform some minor same-day surgery like swapping a few wires. It should be a simple process.

If you are not feeling confident about doing this, refer to your car’s manual for model-specific instructions. This information is general, and while it may work for your model, it may be slightly different for other models. 

Adjust Your RC Car’s Timing 

Timing is a very important factor in the RC car handling world. One hair off of the mark, and you could experience aggravating difficulties like your car refusing to go top speeds when you’re driving forward, but whips around like crazy while in reverse.

Run this easy test before you attempt any adjustments, as it may rule out the need for going any further. 

  • You can rule out timing issues by breaking out your handy temp gun and getting a reading that is hopefully under 180 degrees (F). 
  • This test should be run immediately following a full run. 
  • You need to fully warm up and drive the car before holding a temp gun to it, or you won’t get an accurate idea of the temperature and if the timing needs to be adjusted or not. 

Since RC cars are not all the same, you should refer to your owner’s manual for specific details during any of these maintenance suggestions. Adjusting timing may be done through the car’s software, which is typically user-friendly.

Do You Need to Recalibrate Your RC Car?

Recalibrating your electronic speed controller (ESC) can be a miracle worker when it comes to getting your wheels spinning in the right direction (and fast!) Your RC car’s ESC system is the brain that spins your car’s wheels however quickly you tell it to. If the ESC is not programmed properly, it will not deliver full speed in drive.

You can be the most skilled driver around and still fall victim to this common issue. When you recalibrate the system, you are resetting the point that is neutral. When this point is reset, your RC car should begin to peel wheels in the right direction.

Recalibrating Your ESC

  • First, of course, turn the controller on. 
  • Then hold down the button, which is next to the power switch (the set button.) 
  • When you hear the controller start beeping, let go of the button because that is the signal that the programming mode has activated.

Before we go to the next step, it is very important to take the time to make sure your controller is in neutral. 

  • Press that same button once again. Press it, do not press and hold. 
  • You will then hear a beep confirming that you have just programmed the neutral position with the ESC.

Reprogramming Which Way is Forward

Now, to reprogram which way is forward. 

  • Pull your shifter (trigger) back towards yourself, all the way. 
  • Hit the set button again. Two beeps will sound off. 
    • Two consecutive beeps mean that the ESC recognizes that you have just reset the throttle ( and hopefully will work 100%.)
  • Almost done! Push the throttle forward in the reverse position, and, you guessed it, hit the set button. 
    • Three beeps will let you know that your request has been heard, and reverse is now recalibrated. 
  • Last step! We are going to listen for one long beep sound this time. Letting go of the throttle will finalize this process, and you should be ready to rock and roll!

That wasn’t as scary as it originally sounded, was it? Assuming your recalibration solved the problem, go out and enjoy a nice long ride around the neighborhood. A fast one!