GREAT EIGHT – 8 Essential Tools Every RC Enthusiast Should Have in Their Toolkit

GREAT EIGHT – 8 Essential Tools Every RC Enthusiast Should Have in Their Toolkit

Whether you’re a seasoned RC hobbyist or just starting out, having the right tools can make a world of difference in your RC maintenance and customization endeavors. While some RC kits may come with basic tools, the real pleasure of working on your RC vehicle comes with a dedicated set of quality tools.

Quality is the key word here, as we fully subscribe to the “buy once, cry once” theory. The featured tools may not be the cheapest out there, but we feel that they are well worth the price. Here’s a guide to the eight essential tools—and a couple of bonus items—that should find a permanent place in your RC toolkit. With these essential tools you’ll find that working on your RC car becomes not just a task, but a satisfying and enjoyable experience.

Investing in a quality set of hex drivers is paramount for any RC enthusiast. MIP stands out as the gold standard, offering a hassle-free experience for repairing and maintaining your RC car with hex hardware. The convenience of hex drivers over the traditional “L” wrenches is immeasurable. We believe that MIP makes the best hex drivers in the market and that’s what we prefer to use. The tolerances are so tight that they make stripping hex heads near impossible to do. These drivers have even been known to pull out screws that are beginning to get stripped.


Having a pair of quality Phillips screwdrivers is crucial. Even if your RC car is covered with hex screws, there’s a good chance that you’ll still run into the need for a Phillips head screwdriver. Phillips No. 1 and 2 are the most common sizes used in RC. If you work on any Japanese kits like we do, such as ones by Tamiya, it’s a good idea to get drivers that are designed for JIS (Japanese Industry Standard) so you don’t strip any screws. We use Tamiya’s Screwdriver Pro in M and L sizes, which are roughly equivalent to Phillips No. 1 and 2. These screwdrivers have been great on both the SAE and JIS screws that we’ve encountered.


Flush cutters, are indispensable. They cut plastic easily and cleanly, which is what you want when building your RC vehicle. Tamiya’s Modeler’s Side Cutter α (Alpha) is highly recommended. They aren’t very expensive and won’t leave a rough plastic nub behind. They cut cleanly and greatly reduce the need for sanding the plastic to achieve a smooth finish.


A reliable hobby knife, often generically referred to as an “X-Acto” knife, is a versatile tool for trimming decals, scoring bodies and various other slicing tasks. One of our favorites is the Traxxas Precision Hobby Knife. The aluminum-bodied knife is easy to control and it comes with a pack of five extra cutting blades. For best results, don’t be stingy when it comes to blade replacement. Regularly replacing the blade will ensure the cleanest cuts. Be careful—this tool can be dangerous, so be cautious when using it.


For assembling shocks, specialized shock pliers are a game-changer. There are many great shock pliers on the market but we are partial to Tamiya’s TRF Damper Pliers. These aluminum pliers have smooth jaws that help prevent scratches on shock shafts and are useful in facilitating various shock-related tasks.


Sick of jagged cuts when trimming your RC body? The problem is probably the scissors you’re using. Trimming a polycarbonate body requires precision, and specialized body scissors with curved blades are essential for cutting round corners and wheel openings. Multiple brands offer quality body scissors to ensure a clean and professional finish. The pair we rely on the most are Tamiya’s Curved Scissors. The curved blades enable easy access to body curves, and they are made of high-quality stainless steel for durability and long life.


After trimming your RC body, a body reamer is the perfect tool for making post holes. Again, there are many to choose from. We have the Tamiya TRF version in our kit. It is marked with hole diameters and is ultra-sharp, allowing for a smooth-edged hole with minimal effort. Be careful—this tool can be dangerous, so be cautious when using it.


Upgrade from the basic turnbuckle wrench that likely came with your car to a quality tool like MIP’s turnbuckle wrench. It provides a better fit, doesn’t slip off, and offers a more comfortable grip for efficient suspension tuning. Depending on the kit you’re working on, you may want to use an upgraded wrench that matches the make of your vehicle for the best fit. MIP makes ones that fit various kits. OEM brands such as Traxxas, TLR, Team Associated and Tamiya offer them for their own kits as well.



Non-Scratch Long Nose Pliers
We adore these long nose pliers from Tamiya. They feature plastic grips placed over the top of the serrated teeth to protect objects from scratches while maintaining a firm grip. They are spring-loaded and have a two-step adjustment jaw. We have found them to be indispensable for tasks such as inserting parts in tight spaces, holding wires for soldering, and for handling e-clips, all while not scratching any parts.

Non-Scratch Long Nose Pliers

Cordless Driver
Consider adding a power driver to your toolkit for quicker tasks. Look for models with a clutch to prevent stripping screws, then use a hand-driver for the final tightening. Brands like Milwaukee, Makita and DeWalt offer premium options, but affordable 4-volt models are readily available. Our favorite setup is this unit from Dremel combined with MIP’s Speed Tips.

Cordless Driver

Text and Images by Jerry Tsai

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Updated: May 16, 2024 — 5:14 PM
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