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RC Car setup tips and FAQ

First off, all cars are different. These are some basic rules that all cars need, but as far as the actual setup goes, different cars react differently to the same adjustments. Also, all tracks are different, Conditions are different, and driving styles are different.

Basics (1)


One thing to do that all pro racers do today is not only build the car, but take time with it. We make sure that everything is moving freely. For example, pop off the shock and make sure that all of the suspension arms are moving freely. Also, take off the steering linkage and make sure the steering is free. Another good thing to do especially on Yokomo, is make sure that your drive train is free. If not, it is fairly easy to clean it out. A) You could have dirt in the pulleys. B.) The belt could be too tight. C.) The bearings could be gritty and cause lots of friction, the list goes on! Also, another important thing is to make sure that neither belt is coming in contact with your electronics or any wires. This can save you money and frustration.


Preparing (2)


Preparing for race day is a very important thing. If you are like me, you don't want to be setting tweak at the track. OK OK, I'm a little lazy but what can I say! Back to the preparation. The first thing I do is pull out a new or slightly used set of tires that I KNOW is going to be straight. Slap them on the car and find a VERY flat surface. To properly set up your car I would recommend:

  • Camber gauge
  • Ride height gauge
  • X-Acto
  • Spring spacers
  • All of the tools to lengthen/shorten your shocks
OK, now that you have found a flat surface set the car down as you would on the track less the body, (weighted). Next, set your ride height, you do this by adding spring spacers to your shocks. If you are running a Yokomo, run your ride height anywhere from 4 to 6mm. Keep in mind that different cars may require a different ride height to work properly. Also, it's usually best on the Yokomo to set the ride height and the same level front and rear! These days on the USA version of Yokomo's, the basic shock length is about 71mm in the front, and 69mm in the rear. I bring this up because when you settle the cars suspension on the flat surface, you should be able to lift up on the front of the car and there should be some down travel. Same thing with the rear. If you don't have down travel then re check the length of your shocks and ride height and try again. Also, if you don't have any down travel, setting the car's tweak (which will be discussed later) will require a different method.


Adjusting your camber. This should be fairly self-explanatory. Basically, don't run positive camber ever, and only run up to 3 degrees negative camber. On the Yokomo, it is always safe to run around 1 degree.


Set the car down on the table and settle the suspension. Do this by tapping on the front of the car a few times and do the same to the rear. Next, get down so the car's chassis is at eye level. Say that you are going to be looking at the back of the car. Place the x-acto in the center of the chassis and lift up. What happens? Does one wheel leave the ground before the other? Are they the same? Well, if they are the same go to the front of the car and do the same thing. If not , which wheel lifts first, right or left? Say the right wheel lifts first, you can do 2 things: lengthen the right shock, or shorten the left shock. Get the idea? Do this until both wheels leave the ground at the same time. Then check the front if you haven't already done so. Do the same thing to the front now. Then check the rear again to make sure that any of your adjustments from the front didn't effect the rear. This can kind of be a see-saw for a while but it is usually very easy on the Yokomo. Ok, now that the tweak is set, along with the camber and ride height you are pretty much done. You might want to run and get the body and make sure that it doesn't drag on the ground but otherwise you are done!


At the track (3)


Personally I have never been to a race where there are NO racers that are willing to share information. So ask your buddies or someone who is pitted near you what the tire is for the day. Go ahead and try it, do you like it? No? Yes? Has an awkward feel? I have learned that tires are probably the most important thing at a race. If you don't have the tire that everyone seems to like lately, don't expect your car to be off the hook! Another thing that only does good is PRACTICE! I can't say this enough. Track time is another thing probably more valuable then anything! Now that I have that straight, how does the car work? What setup works? Also, try all of the tires you have if you have the time. Ok, I know I said earlier that I don't like doing work at the track but if your car needs it (which it might) you are going to have to break down and spend a little time. If the car is tweaked, re set the tweak, if the tires suck, try other tires, get the idea? Now, as far as the car steering is concerned, this is a whole other matter. First off, Dual Rate is probably the one thing that I use most on my radio. If the car has too much steering, all you have to do is turn down the dual rate! If the car doesn't have enough steering, turn up the DR.


Ideally, you want to find the right balance. This means that the car steers into the turn just as you want it too, and comes out of the turn just as you want it to. Say the car has a push going into the turn, and has kind of an over-steer coming out of the turn. In this situation, put one of your smallest shock shims in both of the rear shocks. This will raise the rear ride height and give you more bite in the rear coming out of the turn, and more bite in the front going into the turn. If the car does the opposite (over-steers going into the turn and under-steers coming out), then put 2 of your smallest shims in both of the front shocks. Do this until you find the right balance.


Hopefully this helps and if you have any questions / comments feel free to mail me. Also, keep an eye out for updates on this page as well as others on RCRacing.com


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