New Bright Radio Controlled Jeep Teardown

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See What's Inside a Typical Radio Controlled Toy Truck

Radio Controlled Toy New Bright Jeep
Radio Controlled Toy New Bright Jeep. © J. James

Want to see what's inside a toy RC? Follow along as I do a teardown of a New Bright Radio Controlled Jeep. Learn where to look if you want do repairs to an RC toy or find out what you can salvage from an old RC. These steps look at the parts of the vehicle, including the electronics inside. While there will be differences from other RC toys, most of the parts found in this jeep can be found in one form or another in most other RC cars and trucks. Things may look a little different or connect in different ways, but there are similarities.

Although toy-grade RCs have simplified electronics and less durable parts as compared to hobby-grade RCs, there are similarities with them as well. I'll point out some of the differences and similarities along the way.

The RC toy in this teardown is a few years old. Outgrown by one of my seventeen year old daughters, it's been gathering dust in storage for awhile now. But it's going to see new life now as I recycle many of its parts into new little projects. Here's a look at a newer New Bright Jeep, still in the box. The outside may have changed, but the inside is still quite similar.

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Underneath the RC

Bottom of New Bright Jeep.
Bottom of New Bright Jeep. © J. James

One part I found missing from almost all of the RC toys I tore down this week was the battery cover. On some smaller RCs, some electrical tape or duct tape helped cover the battery compartment. On this RC with its heavy battery pack on the bottom, a missing cover was more of a problem. Tape stretches, comes loose, and leaves a really sticky mess. That may have been one reason this RC kept getting pushed to the back of the closet. Treat your battery covers with care.

When taking apart a toy RC, you may start on the bottom or the top -- wherever the screws are. Be diligent about finding all the screw holes. The manufacturers usually don't intend for the consumer to be digging inside so there are often lots of screws.

It's not always necessary, but sometimes you'll have to remove decorative pieces that are attached to the body, such as bumpers, steps, or chrome trim because some of the screws for removing the body could be hidden behind those pieces. On another toy I disassembled, some of the screws were hidden underneath decals.

You'll need to have an assortment of screwdrivers to take things apart. For this particular RC toy I used a couple of precision screwdrivers and one medium size one -- all Philips-head. Occasionally you might find you need other tools such as needlenose pliers, but screwdrivers are generally sufficient.

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Remove the Body

Taking the body off.
Taking the body off. © J. James

Unlike most hobby-grade RCs where you remove the body and have ready access to most of the electronics, toy-grade RCs are usually more covered up. After removing the body you're probably left with a fully enclosed chassis.

Teardown Tip: I wasn't intending to reassemble this RC but if you're just opening one up to do some repairs then you'll want to be diligent about keeping track of your screws. I would recommend taking all the screws you removed in order to get the body off and putting them in a labeled plastic bag and taping that bag to the underside of the body. Do the same thing with the next stage as well.

Take care not to damage your antenna wire as you're pulling the body off the chassis.

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Detaching the Front Shocks

Detaching the front shocks.
Detaching the front shocks. © J. James

The shocks on most RC toys are really just pieces of plastic with a spring on them. Some are somewhat functional while others may be just for looks. You'll usually find them attached to the two pieces of the chassis. They might be screwed on. With this particular RC the ends of the shocks clip onto pieces of plastic on the chassis. In order to open up the RC they have to be removed. Be careful if your RC has this kind of clipped on shocks because it's a tight fit and you could damage the plastic easily (I did).

Detaching the shocks was one of the most difficult parts of tearing down this RC because I had to push down on the spring while trying to pull the plastic shock out of its clip. This was one time when the needlenose pliers came in handy to help pry them off.

Watch out for those springs. On some vehicles they could go flying across the room.

While trucks and various off-road vehicles usually have shocks or springs of some kind, on-road toy RC cars may not have any so you can go straight to unscrewing the cover on the chassis.

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Detaching the Rear Shocks

Detaching the rear shocks.
Detaching the rear shocks. © J. James

On some RC toys with shocks, the front and back are almost identical. On this RC they look the same but attach to the frame in slightly different ways.

As with the front shocks, it was necessary to detach them from the chassis cover in order to get inside the RC.

Learn more about toy-grade and hobby-grade RC suspensions including the shocks.

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Opening Up the Chassis

Chassis cover removed to expose electronics.
Chassis cover removed to expose electronics. © J. James

With most hobby-grade RC trucks, once you remove the body you can start checking out the insides. RC toy manufacturers don't make it so easy with their vehicles. Because they are subject to the rough and tumble ways of little kids, everything is closed up to protect the electronics and delicate wires and to keep dirt out.

But once you have the chassis opened up what you'll find inside will look something like what you see in this RC: the front steering, the circuit board with all its little wires, the motor, and the gears. However, the motor and gears are most likely not fully exposed. They'll usually be inside a gear box to further protect those parts -- and add another layer of plastic and screws to get through.

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Start Troubleshooting Opened Up RC

Body, Chassis cover, Chassis disassembled.
Body, Chassis cover, Chassis disassembled. © J. James

Although some RC problems can be diagnosed and fixed without ever taking things apart, if the problem is in the electronics or the drivetrain, you'll probably need to go at least this far into the vehicle to find and fix the problem.

Teardown Tip: If you do find that you are doing an RC toy teardown for the purpose of fixing a non-functioning RC, I'd recommend that you take pictures along the way. It can help you when it comes time to put everything back together.

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Circuit Board and Wires

Circuit board.
Top: Circuit board in place. Bottom Left: Component side of board. Bottom Right: Showing cables from board to battery. © J. James

The electronics inside a


Inside a toy RC you'll find a motor, a battery, and probably a steering servo of some kind. But instead of a receiver and speed controller there's a circuit board. This circuit board has wires running to the servo, to the motor, and to the battery. The antenna is also attached to the circuit board. There may also be wires that go to other features such as lights or sound.

Teardown Tip: It may not be necessary to remove the board but if you do, be very careful. The are usually held in with some kind of clips or possibly a screw. Don't try to force the board out or you risk damaging it irreparably.

There may be additional smaller circuit boards in addition to the main one, connected to each other by some wires. These may just be jumping off points for additional wires to power lights, sound, or other features.

If you're troubleshooting an RC that doesn't run, look at all the wires. Are any broken or detached -- from the board or from the other components? If so, you may need to brush up on your soldering skills. Reattaching the wires may be all you need to do to get the RC up and running again.

If your RC doesn't run at all, check to see that both wires are secured to the board and the motor. If you know your battery is good but the RC won't run, make sure the battery wires are all still connected to the board and to the contacts in the battery compartment. Instead of wires, some boards may have little metal contacts from the battery compartment that clip on and are soldered directly to the board. Also look for and check wires to the on/off switch if it's not attached directly to the board.

If the RC won't turn left or right, check the wires from the board to the steering servo.

If it runs but has poor range or behaves erratically, make sure one end of the antenna wire is secured to the board. Some antennas may be soldered to the board while others may be attached with a screw. Or they could be in two parts with a wire soldered to the board that runs to another part of the chassis where it attaches with a screw to a stiffer wire antenna that normally extends outside the vehicle.

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Removing Shocks to Get at Drivetrain

Removing the rear shocks.
Removing the rear shocks. © J.James

Although not necessary with all toy RCs with or without shocks, with some you may need to completely remove the rear shocks to open up the gearbox. That was the case with this New Bright Jeep. These somewhat flexible plastic shocks hooked into another bit of hard plastic covering the rear axle. A tight fit.

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Opening Up the Drivetrain

Motor, gears, and rear end exposed.
Motor, gears, and rear end exposed. © J. James

The gears (spur gears, pinion gear) and often the motor are completely encased in plastic in most toy RCs. It's usually not intended that the consumer open up this part of the RC. But if you suspect a dead motor or stripped gears, it may be necessary.

If the motor doesn't run at all and you've checked all the wiring, you may have a bad motor. If you can get at the contacts at the back of the motor without opening up the gearbox, you can take a couple of leads and a battery and apply power to the motor that way to see if it runs. If not, you may have to open things up to remove and replace the motor.

If the motor runs but the rear tires won't turn or it sounds like gears are slipping, you may need to replace the pinion gear (that little gear on the end of the motor) or other gears inside the RC. It's possible that a lot of rough play and hard hits could have knocked the gears out of whack. Lining everything back up the way it's supposed to go might fix your problem.

Teardown Tip: Even though it's sealed, some dust and debris might still find it's way inside the gear box. While you have it open, clean things up a bit. You might want to add some more grease to the gears as well.

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Rear End Disassembled

Drivetrain disassembled.
Drivetrain disassembled. © J. James

In some RCs the rear axle or drive shaft is one long piece. In this one, it's two parts that fit into the gear on the drive shaft from either side.

With some toy RCs the tires can be popped off or they might be screwed on. On others, you may not be able to easily remove the rear tires at all.

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Servo and steering rod.
Servo and steering rod. © J.James

Separated from the rest of the truck, the image shows the how the servo sits in a slot in the plastic steering rod on the front of the RC. You'll find different arrangements in various RC toys but basically what you'll find is a steering servo (or perhaps a small motor and some gears) and some kind of moving piece on the face of the servo that fits into, against, or is attached to a piece of plastic or a metal rod -- the steering rod. Some vehicles might have a two piece steering rod, left and right. Each end of the steering rod is usually attached to some pivoting part near or inside the front tires. When the piece on the servo moves it causes the steering rod to move and thus turn the tires to the left or the right.

If the steering rod is broken or has become detached from the servo, you may be able to see and fix that without completely opening up the RC. It just depends on how it's put together and how much access you have without taking things apart. You may be able to fix a broken steering rod with glue, wire, or another piece of plastic.

If the part of the servo that fits with the steering rod has become separated, you may be able to snap things back in place. A piece of tape may be enough to hold the servo in position.

If the steering mechanisms all seem OK but the vehicle still won't turn, check to be sure power is going to the servo. Check the wires at the circuit board and at the back of the servo. You may need to replace the servo. If so, you may need to detach the moving pieces on the front of the dead servo (usually just screwed on) and but them on the new one because they may be special parts that fit just so with your steering rod of that vehicle. Cut the wires on the old one and attach the wires from the board to the wires on the new servo (that way you don't have to do any soldering).

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Salvaging Parts

Some of the parts salvaged from an RC toy.
Some of the parts salvaged from an RC toy. © J. James

Not all RC toys are fixable or even worth trying to repair. But you can still get good use from them. Tear 'em down and save the parts. Some of the parts you might want to salvage:

  • Body - It may take some modifying to attach it to a different RC but if the body is still good (or you like the style and it just needs paint) keep it.
  • Tires - Again, you might have to do some modifying to attach them to a different vehicle.
  • Electronics - If they still work, some of the most useful salvage parts are motors and servos. You may also make use of circuit boards. If you pair up a circuit board from the vehicle with the corresponding transmitter or its circuit board you could use them in your own little RC toy building projects. If nothing else, they could be used to practice soldering. You can also pull out little LED lights and snip all the wires to reuse for practice soldering or when you just need some tiny bit of wire for something. You might even consider removing the contacts from the battery compartment. They could be used to build your own little battery holders.
  • Gears - Hang on to those gears in case you strip the gears out of another toy. You may be able to match up a good set.
  • Springs - Whether or not you keep the cheap plastic shocks, keep the springs. Use them for other projects, for crafts.
  • Axle - If your RC has a nice solid metal axle, it could come in handy in other projects.
  • Screws - One little RC toy will yield dozens of little screws. Always handy to have around for other projects and repairs.

I hope you've enjoyed this peek under the hood of a typical radio controlled toy truck. You may also want to take a look inside a typical RC toy transmitter.