Can I Use the Same Gas in My RC Car as I Use in My Regular Car?

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Question: Can I Use the Same Gas in My RC Car as I Use in My Regular Car?

There are two basic types of non-electric RC vehicles. The most common non-electric radio controlled vehicles have glow engines. There are also some RCs that use gas-powered engines with a spark plug that operate much like regular gas-powered automobiles. But these two non-electric RCs do not use the same kind of fuel.

Answer: A gas RC may use gasoline or it might use nitro fuel.

You need to know what kind of engine is in the RC vehicle to know what kind of fuel to use. The non-electric RCs sold in hobby shops are usually nitro RCs that use nitro fuel, not gasoline.

Does it Glow? Use Nitro

RCs with glow engines and a glow plug are commonly known as nitro RCs. Nitro fuel is made of methanol, nitromethane, and oil and sold by the can or bottle in hobby shops.

Most nitro cars are 1:8, 1:10, 1:12, and 1:18 scale models. Nitro RCs are also often referred to as gas RCs but if it has a glow engine, don't use gasoline. If in doubt, refer to the manufacturer's instructions or talk to your local hobby shop personnel or local RC club members.

No Glow? Use Gas

True gas-powered RCs are usually 1:5 scale or larger, have spark plugs instead of glow plugs and run on gasoline mixed with motor oil. There are also diesel-powered RC engines as well high-end jet-turbine engines. These are specialty radio controlled models, often built from scratch, and not the kind most often sold in hobby shops.
If you have a true gas-powered RC you probably have been in the RC hobby for a while and know what kind of fuel to use.

Not All Nitro Fuel is the Same

RC glow engines use nitro fuel, a methanol-based fuel with nitromethane and oil added. The amount of nitromethane in the fuel is typically about 20% but could be anywhere in the 10% to 40% range or higher.
Castor oil or synthetic oil is added to the fuel to provide lubrication and cooling. The type and amount of oil in the nitro fuel is what determines whether it is better suited to RC cars and trucks or RC aircraft.