Odds are no matter how much experience you have, you–yes, you–are making most, if not all, of these mistakes. Take a look and see how good you really are. Even if you are blowing it on all five mistakes, at least now you know. Change your ways and your equipment will work better, last longer and you’ll be faster.
1. Bad Idle Setting
Tuning high- and low-speed needles may be defined, depending how good you are, as an art, trial and error, a skill gained only from experience or maybe even black magic, but in contrast, setting idle is extremely straight forward. Yet, amazingly many people get this simple adjustment wrong. To properly adjust idle, remove the air filter. Look down the carb’s opening and adjust the idle so that the gap is 1 to 2mm. Next, turn on your radio system and apply full brake. Make sure the gap doesn’t close. If it does, your throttle/brake linkage needs to be adjusted.
2. Not Setting End Points
Servos are not smart and they can’t think for themselves. They will turn and keep trying to turn as far as the radio is telling them. So, if the radio is telling them to turn full right 60 degrees, but the steering on your car only has 50 degrees steering throw in each direction, the servo will strain as it keeps trying push to go to full lock. This strain heats up the servo’s motor and the servo will eventually fail. That is why end point adjustments come. The easiest way to adjust end points is with your ear. Turn full lock and dial back the steering throw until the servo is silent at full lock. Double check your work and do both sides.
3. Charging At More Than 1C
This one is a little controversial, and we even disagree here at RC Car Action on this one. The bottom line is that if you want to get a long life out of your LiPo packs and want to charge them without risk, charge them at 1C. Charging at a higher rate will, of course, speed up the charging time. LiPos have come down in price and most racers can afford to bring a few packs to the track with them, so charging quickly shouldn’t be a necessity. If you have a 5000mAh LiPo, charge at 1C or 5 amps. A 3200mAh pack should be charged at no more than 3.2 amps. Unlike NiMH, charging at a higher rate will not increase performance.
4. Driving Too Deep Into Corners
Once you progress past hitting the pipes constantly and crashing every lap, the #1 difference between the fast guys and the also-rans is how they drive into corners. 95% of drivers turn when they get to a corner. 5% of drivers don’t drive too deep into corners and carry more speed through the corners and increase their lead with each lap. Learn to slow down before a corner and you’ll go faster. Go slow to go fast. It’s not how fast your vehicle is going at the end of the straight that matters, it’s your average speed and lap times that matter.
5. Messing With Setup
Most club racers do two things when it comes to setup that they never should: they experiment with every adjustment on their vehicle (often making multiple changes at once) and they change their setup to match a pro driver’s setup that they found online. The best advice we can give is to use the stock setup. The truth is that most of us will notice changes outside of tires and springs. If you are going to see how a change impacts your lap times, you must make only one change at a time. Second piece of best advice is to leave the pro setups to the pros. What works for one driver often won’t work for another and what works for a pro driver is almost never going to work for a sportsman driver who has a totally different level of experience and skill. Often what happens when a sportsman-level driver follows a pro’s setup, they end up with a vehicle that is too hard to drive and they go slower, not faster.