If you are new to the RC racing world, you might have heard some discussion about punching holes in your tires. Check out any RC message board, and you are sure to find a spirited argument about whether you should or shouldn’t punch holes, how many holes you should use, what size holes, what is the proper tool to use. But why do we punch holes in RC tires in the first place?
Why do we punch holes in RC tires? Putting holes in the tires or wheels of your RC is called venting. The short answer is that venting allows air to flow both in and out of the tire. There are various reasons you would want to vent, most having to do with making your car drive smoother and faster.
Holes in the wheel allow the tire to breathe, preventing bouncing. Holes in the tires allow for dirt and water that gets into the tire to be expelled as well.
The need to put holes in your RC tires depends on your reasons for racing and how involved you are in car building. The more you tinker with your car to get the best performance out of it, the more likely it is you’ll put holes in the tires.
To completely understand the purpose of venting, it is important to know a thing or two about RC tires. Once you fully understand the tire, you can start looking into ways to vent the specific tires you have on your RC.
To see some of the best selling RC tires currently available click here.
What Makes RC Tires Different?
Unlike the tires on your car, RC tires are not filled with air to keep their form. Instead, RC tires have foam inserts that give the tire both shape and flexibility. The foam is rigid enough to give the tire shape but soft enough to let the tire bend when needed.
The give is important because it allows the tire to conform to the surface you are racing on. When the tire bends or conforms to the surface, you will get better traction.
The Type of Foam Used
There are two major types of foam.
- Open-celled: When this foam is made, the foam cells are left open. This causes the foam to be softer and springier. Open-celled foam breathes easier because the material is porous. This allows the tire to expand and contract as the tire runs on a surface. But this also means they absorb other elements, like water, and break down easier
- Closed-celled: When this foam is made, the foam cells are closed. This causes the foam to have a more rigid shape. They have less give than open-celled, but they are made in molds that help form unique shapes to give the tire special handling features. Closed celled foam does not absorb water.
Tires are glued to rims
Another difference is that RC tires are usually glued to their rims. If you do not glue the tire to the rim, there is a good chance that the tire will fly off the rim at high speeds. At the very least, the tire will spin on the rim, causing you to lose speed.
Gluing your Rc car’s tires is relatively easy and there are many specialty glues that you can use for the job that will make it even easier.
One last difference between tires on your car and RC tires is the venting. The tires in your car have to be sealed to keep the compressed air inside but sealing an RC tire completely will cause certain tire characteristics that you may not want.
- Rigidity: Sealing your RC tire could cause the tire to stay rigid, which means it would not be able to conform to the surface as much as you might want, and you would lose traction.
- Bounce: At high speeds, a sealed tire will act like a pogo stick. There will be no give in the tire, so it tends to bounce when coming off jumps.
- Ripped Tire: There is a good chance that the rigidity and bounce of a tire that is not vented will cause the tire to rip or come apart from the rim where it has been glued.
Types of Venting
There are two places where you can vent a wheel. Some racers will only use one type. Others believe it is important to use both. It all depends on the surface you will be racing on and the outcomes you are looking for.
Venting On The Wheel
Most wheels will come already vented. Because of the reasons already listed, most racers want venting in place, so manufacturers design the wheels with a hole or two already in the rim.
This allows for air to flow in and out of the tire. If your rim does not have venting holes, the best method is to drill a ⅛” in the rim. It is best to use a drill press to ensure you get a straight hole. Some racers want two venting holes in each rim. If you put two holes, try to make them 180 degrees apart.
One major problem with venting holes on the rim is that they tend to let in water and dirt, but don’t allow them to leave. This can cause the wheels to get heavy and become unbalanced, which will lose you speed and affect the car’s handling. Because of this, many racers will cover the pre-holed rim and use another method of venting.
Venting On The Tire
If you are looking to keep water and dirt out of your tires, the best method is to put small holes in your tires. While water and dirt get in through venting holes in the rim, it is actually forced out of holes in the tire. Centrifugal force will fling the water and dirt out of the tire when you get it up to speed. To vent your tires:
- Get a small leather punch. You should be able to find a cheap one at any craft store or a local hardware store.
- With the tire on the rim, punch two to three holes equal distance apart in the middle of the tread. The holes should be about ⅛”.
- Put the tires on your car and enjoy
Check out the video below for a nice simple how to on venting your tires.
What Do You Use Your RC Car For?
There are many ways to enjoy an RC car. How you use your car can determine if and how you vent your tires. Before you mess with your tires, try to figure out what you want to do with your car.
- Bashing: Bashing is running your car without any rules or regulations. It is basically testing the limits of your car in the most enjoyable way possible. As the name suggests, wrecking the car goes along with the territory. Some bashers don’t believe it is necessary to vent because it does not matter if their car bounces or not. If you are going to be bashing in dirt and water, though, it may be a good idea to vent your tires. The tires will last longer by not allowing dirt and water to build up in the tire.
- On-road Racing: This is racing your car on a track that is paved like a road. There is very little need to vent either the wheel or tire when on-road racing. They don’t have to worry about bounce, and there is no dirt and water that will build up.
- Off-Track Racing: This is racing your car in all kinds of terrain. You are going to want to do some type of venting if you race off-road. If you mainly race on dry terrain, the wheel venting should be enough. If you are racing through wet terrain, you are going to want to vent the tires so the water can be expelled from the tire.
- Crawling: Crawling is running your RC car over rocky terrain. Crawling, as the name suggests, tends to be slower moving than most RC racing. Traditionally, crawlers do not vent their tires. But, for many of the reasons already mentioned, it is starting to become more common.
Venting your RC tires is controversial and will probably stay that way for some time to come. Most of the controversy comes because of the different ways that people use their RC cars.
If you always run your car on a track or paved surface then you might swear that you never need to vent your tires and that might be true… for you. However, if someone constantly drives their car through wet or muddy conditions then they will adamantly argue for venting the tires.
How you use your car really determines which side of the argument you come down on.
As cheap as RC car tires are, why not buy a couple of different sets and vent one and not the other? Then you can see what works best for your car and the ways you use it.