How to tune your RC nitro engine like a pro

Tuning tips for RC cars are always welcome, especially if they come from people who really know what they’re doing.

In this article, we’ll walk you through all the steps you need to take in order to tune your nitro RC car like the pros do. When breaking in a new engine, take into account the fact that each motor has its own particularities.

This means you’ll have to follow the instructions written in the engine manufacturer’s manual. These may be specific to your type of motor and that’s why you have to read them carefully.

Tuning HPI RC engines

  1. With HPI, the first step is to tune your GRP engine.
  2. Next, break in your new RC car, with the engine installed in it.
  3. Using a heat gun, heat the engine to a temperature of 160 to 180 degrees, before breaking it in.
  4. With the glow plug starter connected, you can start the engine, in a rich condition. Let the wheels turn off the ground freely, for a couple of minutes.
  5. Then, idle the engine for about four or five tanks of fuel.
  6. From time to time, you may turn the model on its side. This way, you will drain the excess residue that’s left in the pipe.
  7. At this point, you may take your RC car out on the track or on the street. Fill your tanks with very rich fuel three consecutive times.
  8. At a third of each run, close the high-speed needle and then run your RC car for two more tanks.
  9. Make sure you empty at least six tanks of fuel.
  10. To properly break in the engine, it’s recommended that you use Nitrotane 20% or 30% race fuel. Either way, you should use the same brand and the same nitro content, both during break in and when racing.
  11. The right temperature range for GRP engines is between 170 and 200 degrees F.
  12. When running your RC car, have the air filter oiled all the time. Change it when needed.

Tuning OFNA RC engines

  1. First, get a temperature probe. It’s recommended that you get one that you can mount on the chassis of the car. These are connected to the head of the nitro engine and are capable of monitoring the temperature.
  2. If the engine is too rich, you’ll notice that the temperature is colder than the recommended operating range. On the other hand, if it’s too lean, the temperature will be higher.
  3. Run your RC nitro car with the top end rich. A lot of heavy smoke should come out.
  4. Before starting to tune your RC nitro engine, run for a few laps, until it reaches the proper temperature.
  5. If the temperature is too cold, meaning the engine is too rich, you can lean it out by turning the top end screw clockwise.
  6. If it’s lean and the temperature is high, you have to richen it. You can do this by turning the same screw the opposite way: counterclockwise.
  7. Never tune an engine if it’s too cold and adjust the top end first.
  8. When tuning your engine, always go from rich to lean.


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