What Are Gas RC trucks and How Do They Work?

What Are Gas RC trucks and How Do They Work?

Remote control vehicles are fun, and you don’t care who knows it. You have played with RC cars before, and you want to move on to the next level. Or you are a total beginner, but you have always loved trucks and would want an RC version to play with.

So we are going to break down the basics of gas-powered RC trucks and give you a sort of introduction to what they are and how they work.

What are Gas RC trucks?

Gas RC trucks are gas-powered model trucks you can control from a distance with a specialized transmitter or remote.

The vehicles are controlled by a radio-frequency link. Most RC vehicles are electric models – that is battery-powered. The alternative sources of power are gas and nitro.

Watch the following video to get more idea about gas rc trucks:

What are the essential parts of a Gas RC truck?

The transmitter

This is what you hold in your hand. Or rather, you hold a control box with the transmitter installed within it.

Using radio frequencies, it relays your steering and control commands to the receiver. In other words, it’s where the magic begins.

The receiver

The receiver is installed in the RC vehicle. It converts the signals relayed by the transmitter into control signals which it sends to the various parts of the vehicle.

The fuel pump

RC gas engines come with built-in fuel pumps. That’s one advantage your gas-powered RC truck has over the nitro-powered truck.

You see, with nitro engines, you need to hook a vent line to the exhaust. But the gas engine gives you the freedom to move the fuel tank anywhere you want within the fuselage.

Motor and engine

The motor is the heart of an RC vehicle, which is why you should prioritize engine maintenance and protection. These engines run on a mix of oil and gasoline.

They are bigger than nitro engines, and as such need more space to run. Gasoline engines are a type of internal-combustion engine which produce power by burning a volatile liquid fuel (gasoline) with electric spark-initiated ignition.

Gas-powered vs Nitro-powered trucks

Gas-powered trucks don’t typically have as high speeds as nitro-powered trucks, but they are powerful and do not require a lot of fuel to run.

In fact, they are more cost-effective than nitro vehicles because buying nitro fuel and new nitro engines to replace old ones racks up a pretty penny. Plus gas-powered motors rarely require tuning and are long-lasting.

As mentioned earlier, gas engines are typically bigger and heavier than nitro engines. This is because the methanol/air mixture of nitro engines produces more energy during combustion than the gasoline/air mixture of gas engines – in other words, gas engines are heavier and bigger while producing the same power as the smaller and lighter nitro engines.

Nitro trucks have the advantage of having methane to use as a coolant when the engine heats up. That’s because only a tremendous amount of energy can vaporize methanol. In contrast, gas engines do not have methane, so they need to have more air across the cooling fins than nitro engines do. You might have to add some holes in the cowling to ensure more effective cooling of the engine.

Another difference between gas and nitro engines is that gas engines use glow plugs to ignite the fuel/air mixture. Nitro engines, on the other hand, use glow plugs.

Let’s take a closer look at gas-powered engines and how they work:

First, let us examine the ignition systems used with gas engines. There are two: magnetos and electronic ignition.


Magnets are attached to the engine, and as it rotates, it generates electrical pulses for the sparks plug at the exact right time. This means you don’t need to have an onboard battery.

Though reliable, magnetos make the engine heavier. Note: magnetos don’t produce electricity for the sparks plug except when the engine is rotating, which means you will need an electric starter to start any engine which uses magneto ignition (this is also true of nitro engines).

Electronic ignition

Electronic ignition is the standard with gas engines today. The system comes with a separate battery which generates the electricity required by the spark plug.

That means you can hand-start it. Remember that the spark’s timing is important for maximizing the power generated. Electronic ignition systems also adjust to the timing changes which occur as the speed of the engine changes.

Comparison of magneto and electronic ignition system:

Magneto engines give optimal performance at top speeds only, but electronic ignition engines can adjust to ensure they give optimal performance at all speeds. Engines that use electronic ignition also idle better and start easier than those that use the magneto ignition system.

How the gas engine may cause some radio interference for your RC truck

RC vehicle enthusiasts have expressed concern about the tendency of gas engine ignition systems to sometimes cause radio interference. Best practice dictates that the ignition system should be 12 inches away from the receiver. Also, metal pushrods should not be used for the throttle.

The main cause of this interference is that gas engines use a non-resistor type spark plug. When the electricity arcs across the spark plug’s gap, it causes an electromagnetic field which may interfere with radio signals.

To reduce this interference, consider buying a resistor type plug at a local auto parts store. Also, having a spread spectrum radio system will go a long way in ensuring such radio resistance is a thing of the past.

Pro tip: RC gas engines cause radio interference mostly with 72MHz radio systems.

The advantages of gasoline engines:

  • They are easier to tune than nitro engines
  • They have built in fuel-pumps
  • They are more cost-effective than nitro engines
  • They are more reliable than nitro engines

The disadvantages of gasoline engines:

  • They may cause some radio interference
  • They have a lower power/weight ratio than nitro engines
  • They require more cooling than nitro engines.

Examples of Gas RC trucks:

Monster trucks

They have been severally christened the “undisputed kings of RC vehicles”. They are designed for torque, not speed, and can climb hills and descend slopes with great power.

Stadium trucks

These RC trucks are suitable for playing with in your backyard, and are great fun with their tendency to “bump and jump”. They come with heavy-duty suspensions, oversized shocks, and large tires – they are built to take punishment and to survive jumps and touchdowns that would damage other RC vehicles.

Wrap Up

There is no doubt that RC trucks are great fun. And with their cost effectiveness and other advantages like easy tuning and built-in fuel pumps, gas-powered RC trucks are the way to go.

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