RC Engine Won’t Start: Nitro Engine Start Troubleshooting

Avid RC car enthusiasts will tell you that the maintenance of a nitro engine is extremely important in order to prolong your engine’s life. Any trouble with your engine should be taken care of promptly so you can enjoy smooth rides with your RC car around the block or on the race track.

Sooner or later, your engine won’t want to start running or it won’t stay running long enough. Troubles with starting aren’t hard to fix, so you should just pay attention to some key components of the engine to see which is faulty. Thus, you will quickly know what to do in case your engine takes some time to start running.

Before you start troubleshooting, it’s recommended that you check out if the piston or the sleeves aren’t faulty. In order to do that, you should remove the engine’s glow plug and rotate the flywheel with your finger. The piston will reach the top dead center and you will feel the least resistance as it is pinched by the sleeve. This tight fit is critical to engine performance and if you don’t feel it, you should consider replacing your piston and sleeve.

Next, you should check out the glow system, mainly the glow starter. Check and see if it has a fresh battery or if it is fully charged and whether its contacts are clean. Check out the coil when you press the glow plug into the starter. If your plug works well, you should see at this time that the engine coil glows with a bright orange light. If the coil glows red or if it doesn’t glow at all, you should consider buying a new plug.

This testing procedure is basically the same if you have an electric starting system, but remember to touch the glow plug to the heat-sink head when you crank the engine because otherwise, the glow plug won’t light as the circuit will be incomplete.

Next, you should make sure that the engine’s heat-sink head and backplate screws are tightened. Don’t tighten them too much or torque the screws completely down one at a time, because you’ll risk warping the parts and preventing them from sealing properly against the engine. Also, you should check if the gaskets or the O-rings which seal the carburetor base and backplate. Replace them if they are damaged. Use some sealant to make sure you won’t get any air leaks.

If your engine starts easily but shuts down as soon as you let go of the gas, you should check the idle limit screw, which is situated in front of the carburetor opening. Turn the screw a bit so that the carburetor has a bit of opening when the full brake is applied. If the screw is loose or it turns easily, you should put some thread lock on it.

Another cause of engine trouble can be due to the changes in the carburetor’s needle settings. Try resetting them to factory settings. If you can’t remember them, try setting the low-end needle so that its screw head is level with the opening in the body the screw head it sits in. The high-end needle should be turned two turns out; the needle should be turned clockwise until it bottoms out and then turned two full counterclockwise rotations.

Even fuel tubing can be one of the causes of engine starting problems. Tiny leaks in your RC car’s fuel and pressure line can cause serious problems in the engine functioning. If you’re in doubt about them, you should change them, because they are not expensive. Speaking of the fuel compartment, you should check also if the fuel tank is not clogged with debris, which prevents the fuel flow from circulating properly.

Remember to buy some new fuel if you’ve had some in storage for a while and you’re still using it. Fresh fuel can give a fresh start to your engine!

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