- Car Maintenance -
BY MICHAEL WORTEL PHOTOS JOEL NAVARRO
Maintaining your RC vehicle is easy and doesnít take very long, especially if you stay on top of things after every run. In order to prevent small issues from developing into larger problems, inspecting your vehicle frequently is a great preventive measure. Some hobbyists and racers will suggest a grueling post-run routine, but that isnít necessary. Simply checking in on a few items after every run is a great way to stay in the clear and keep your car performing its best.
1. TURN-OFF THE VEHICLE
The first thing to do after every run is simple but important: turn off the vehicle. Just make sure to turn off the vehicleís power first; then turn off the transmitter. Powering down the transmitter before the vehicle can create a hazardous runaway, as the receiver is susceptible to outside signals when the transmitter is off.
2. UNPLUG THE BATTERY
Even with the power turned off, some speed controls will still drain the battery as long as it is plugged in, so you should always unplug the battery after use. Over-draining a LiPo pack can significantly reduce its performance and even damage it beyond repair. Unplugging the battery also eliminates the possibility of accidentally turning on the vehicle while itís in storage.
3. REMOVE THE BODY
With the power safely off, unclip the body and remove it. Using a paint brush or rag, wipe the inside and outside surfaces clean. Next, inspect the body posts or small cracks or wear. If there is any damage, it is easy and inexpensive to replace body posts.
4. DUST OFF THE CHASSIS AND ELECTRONICS
Use a brush or air compressor to dust off the electronics. Dust entering the electronics cases can cause the units to malfunction, so sweeping off surface debris will prevent future damage. If your vehicle or electronics include them, using rubber caps to seal-off unused receiver ports is an easy way to keep things clean.
5. CHECK THE WHEELS/TIRES
Using the 4-way wrench that came with your vehicle, unscrew the wheel nuts and remove the wheels. Remove any debris that has accumulated around the drive axle end, and make sure the tires are completely glued to the wheels. If the tires start coming unglued, simply use a dab of thin CA to reattach the section.
6. SPIN THE DRIVETRAIN
Throughout the course of a run, small debris like rocks and sticks (or in this case, an entire tree) can lodge themselves in the drive axles and suspension components. After every run, pick up the vehicle and spin the drivetrain. It should roll smoothly without binding. If you see anything caught in the moving parts, remove it before it works its way deeper into the drivetrain or chassis.
7. INSPECT THE SHOCKS
Inspect the shocks after every run. Make sure oil isnít leaking onto the boot and that none of the preload spacers are missing. Actuate the suspension by hand and feel for binding. If any parts are missing, replace them. If a shock is leaking, donít panic; they probably just need a simple rebuild and O-ring change.
8. CHECK FOR LOOSE SCREWS
The vibrations of a moving vehicle can cause screws to work themselves loose, especially where metal-to-metal contact occurs. Use the correct size drivers to ensure that all of the fasteners are tight, preventing anything from coming completely loose during your next run. If you find a missing screw or nut, replace it before hitting the dirt again.
Thereís a reason ďan ounce of prevention versus a pound of cureĒ is an old saying: because itís true! And it definitely applies to RC. Doing simple, brief vehicle inspections are a great way to prevent problems and stay on top of basic maintenance. If you do encounter a problem, fixing it early, before it compounds or gets out of control, will save your time and money. And best yet, inspecting your vehicle is easy, free, and helps you to understand your vehicleís mechanics.
UNPLUG THE RECEIVER PACK
Much like the power pack on an electric vehicle depletes when plugged-in with the power off, so does the receiver pack used to power your electronics. Make sure to unplug the receiver pack after every run to help save its charge.
CHECK THE AIR/FUEL LINES FOR CRACKS
Spotting damage on the air/fuel lines is easy and prevents potential tuning problems. After every run, inspect the lines for cracks and tears. If you find any damage, simply cut an identical length of new silicone line and replace it.
EMPTY RESIDUAL FUEL
If you werenít able to run your fuel tank dry, be sure to empty out any remaining fuel. If you donít, the methanol and nitromethane will evaporate, leaving oily residue that can gum up the fuel system.