If you have a Traxxas RC car or are looking to get one it can be quite helpful to know what material the RC body is made of. This is especially important if you are planning on painting or cutting the body so you can make sure to do it properly.
Traxxas RC car’s bodies are made of polycarbonate plastic also commonly called Lexan. This material is designed to withstand the harsh conditions that these RC cars are put in without breaking.
The Traxxas bodies are formed by vac-forming a sheet of clear Lexan over a mold. Then the body is painted on the inside surface, which effectively gives the plastic a thick, shiny clear coat. If you wash the body correctly, it can last and look amazing for quite some time but as with all RC cars, over time the paint and shine will begin to wear off and a new paint job will be needed.
To see the different types of RC bodies that are currently on the market just click here.
What paint to use on an RC car body?
If you want to know what material an RC body is made up of there are really only two reasons why you would want to know that. Either you are simply curious or you are planning on painting your RC car and you are trying to figure out what kind of paint to use on your RC car.
Assuming that you are planning on painting your RC car and aren’t simply curious I wanted to cover a few common questions I hear about painting an RC car body and specifically painting a Lexan body.
For Lexan (polycarbonate) RC bodies you will want to use an enamel or acrylic paint to allow it to stick properly. You can use other types of paints but they will quickly come off of a polycarbonate body.
Now that you know to only look at the enamel or acrylic paint categories that still likely leaves many questions as there are all sorts of different ways to apply this paint such as through the use of spray cans, brushes, airbrushing, and more. However, as long as you are using the right paint there really isn’t a right and wrong way to apply it.
Some people prefer to only brush the paint onto their RC car body to get as even of a coat as possible. Other people prefer to use a spray can or airbrush and do many thinner coats to try to blend it. Ultimately how you choose to put the paint on will likely turn out amazing as long as you use the right kind of paint that will actually stick to the body properly.
Can you paint the outside of an RC body?
What many people don’t realize who are new to the RC hobby is that with many RC bodies you will paint the inside of the body rather than the outside. This is because it helps protect the paint job when you brush up against trees or other debris and the shiny outside body makes the paint job look even better.
But what if the exterior of your RC car body is all scratched up? Can you paint the outside too?
You absolutely can paint the outside of an RC car body but it requires some additional preparation. You will have to carefully clean and then scuff the exterior of your body to help the paint stick to it properly.
It’s also important to know that once your scuff and paint the outside of your RC car body it will be unlikely that you will ever be able to go back to just painting the inside again as the scuffs will show in the Lexan finish even if you remove the paint. It’s important to know this before you make a final decision on whether this is the route you want to go.
Afterall, just because you CAN paint the outside of the body doesn’t mean that you should!
Lexan paint alternatives
People who love to change the color and style of their RC car regularly will quickly figure out that it can get expensive using the good paint that is specifically designed for Lexan bodies.
So assuming that you can’t afford (or don’t want to spend) that much money for paint what alternatives are there?
You can actually use virtually any spray paint or automotive paint to paint your Lexan RC body. Most people who use the cheaper paints will go with the spray paint option to make it easier to put in in thin layers.
When you aren’t using a paint that is specifically designed to be used on polycarbonate (Lexan) preparing the RC body properly first is an absolute must. When using paints specifically designed for Lexan all you really need to do is clean the body and you are ready to paint. With these other cheaper paints you will need to clean it, then sand it, then clean again.
When sanding the body you will want to use very fine sandpaper (1,000 grit or more) to ensure you don’t take too much off the body. Some people have even reported using Brillo pads instead of sandpaper and it worked fine.
If you painted your Lexan body and the paint either didn’t stay on when you ran it or it started falling off when you simply bent the body then you know you didn’t prep it properly.
The paints that aren’t designed to stick to Lexan need something to adhere to and scuffing up the surface allows it to stay on the body. If you didn’t sand it enough then strip the paint, sand it again, and then repaint.
How thick is an RC car body?
If you are looking for a more durable RC car body then you will likely be looking for a thicker body to help with that. The issue that many people have is that they don’t know the standard thickness of most RC bodies to know if what they are getting is thick enough or not.
The thickness of an RC car’s body is typically somewhere between .030” to .060” thick (the smaller the number the thinner the material). In metric an RC body that is .8mm to 1.6mm thick.
Sometimes on forums and other websites online you will see thickness talked about and they will leave off the first zero just for ease of typing so if you find someone mentioning the thickness of .30 they likely actually mean .030” and not that their body is 10X thicker than a traditional RC car body is!
Although many people think the thicker the RC body is the better it is that isn’t always true. In many cases if you get the body too thick then it will crack with impacts rather than bending and being fine.
If you are having issues with your RC body constantly cracking or breaking the best course of action is to reinforce the body rather than trying to get a thicker or better body.
You can learn how to repair or reinforce an RC body in the video below.
I hope this article has been helpful in answering your questions about RC car bodies, what they are made of, how thick they are, and what is important to know when painting one.
Painting your RC car body or even creating your own custom body can be amazing as the customizations that you can do to the RC body is a good portion of the fun of the RC hobby.