Choosing RC Tires for Cars and Trucks

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RC car and truck tires come in all shapes, sizes, and costs. Most of them look fantastic on the sales pages, but they’re not all equal, not even close. This guide is about choosing the right RC car tires for your model. It’s not a simple case of the most expensive being the best options. There’s more to consider than price as the page reveals. It’s a no-nonsense guide that’s easy to read yet informative.

People wear shoes and vehicles wear tires. It’s a similar concept as shoes and tires both go between the wearer and the ground. We choose footwear based on factors like type, usage, and style. It’s the same with tires and motors. The ones you choose affect the way the model performs. That’s it.

Making Sense of RC Truck & RC Car Tires

This section breaks down the types of electric RC surface vehicles and their appropriate tires. RC models belong to different groups, some of which cross over. RC’ers use their cars and trucks to RACE, BASH, or CRAWL. Torque and the ability to ride across multiple terrains is more crucial than speed is with most off-road adventures. Rock crawling is a prime example.

The table below shows which types of electric RC cars and trucks drive well on what surfaces:

PAVEMENTGRASS TRACKSSAND DUNESDIRT/GRAVEL
Buggy
Civilian car
Drift car
Monster Truck
Rock Crawler
Short Course Truck
Stadium Truck
Monster Truck
Rock Crawler
Short Course Truck
Stadium Truck
(marginal)
Buggy
Monster Truck
Rock Crawler
Short Course Truck
Stadium Truck
Buggy
Monster Truck
Rock Crawler
Short Course Truck
Stadium Truck

RC Tire Brands

There are many brands of RC tires available but don’t let the names confuse you. Newbies only need to see what the user reviews say to know if a brand or tire is worthy of their model. Below are some of the most reputable RC tire brands in alphabetical order for easy reference.

AKA Racing
Arrma
Associated
Axial
Carisma
CEN Racing
Cross RC
DE Racing
DHK Hobby
DuraTrax
Dynamite
ECX
Gmade
HB Racing
HoBao
Hostile Racing
Hot Racing
HPI Racing
IMEX
Integy
Jaco Tire
JConcepts
Johns BSR Racing
Junfac
Kraken
Kyosho
Losi
Maximizer
MIP
Mugen
Pit Bull Tires
Pro-Line
Racers Edge
Rage RC
RB Products
RC4WD
Redcat Racing
RJ Speed
RPM
ST Racing
SXT Traction C…
Tamiya
Team Losi Racing
Tekno RC
THS Racing
Thunder Tiger
Traxxas
Trinity
Vanquish
Vaterra

Know Your RC Tire Sizes

The scale of your vehicle typically dictates the size of the tires. Always refer to the model specs if you have them or contact the seller if you’re unsure. I’ll use 1:10 and 1:8 scales to illustrate.

1/10 RC Buggy: The wheels of most RC buggies are 2.2 inches. That means the tires must fit 2.2” rims. Note that the rear wheels of an RC buggy have different widths to the front.

1/10 RC Truck: The wheels of an RC truck are the same size front and rear. They typically share the same 2.2” size as buggies (see previous).

1/10 RC Short Course: These cars have unique wheels. Short Course tires can only fit onto short course rims which have different diameters — for example, tire hole size: 2.2” (front), 3.0” (rear).

1/8 RC Buggy: These wheels tend to be uniform. That makes choosing tires easy as it’s possible to mix, match, and swap brands. 1:8 scale buggies share the same wheels at the front and rear.

1:8 RC Truggy: 1:8 scale truggies share the same wheels and tire sizes all around. The outer diameter of truggy wheels and rims vary. Check your stock tire specs before you buy new ones.

Types, and Surfaces

The wheels and tires of an RC car or truck take a beating whatever their use. All RC models come equipped with pre-installed tires, but that doesn’t mean they’re the best choice for the model. The aftermarket industry exists to sell upgraded parts and accessories, including tires.

The tires of your RC car or truck are responsible for grip and can also affect speed. Some tires are smooth, others are knobby (also nubby) to the extreme, and there are those between the two. The surface tread of your RC tires depends on the ground the vehicle drives over. Smooth tires are best suited to flat surfaces whereas knobby tires are your off-road savior

Here’s a simplistic breakdown of tire types and suitable surfaces:

Tire TypeSuitable Surfaces
SlicksTarmac and pavements
Full spikesMud and wet grass
Mini pinsCarpets, especially deeper pile
Mini spikesAll-around decent grip

Try to avoid dirt-cheap RC tires as they’re a false economy. Most of the costlier products perform better and last longer, so it’s a no-brainer. Also, it’s not always possible to change only the tires. You may come across some that are pre-mounted onto wheels and sold as units.

RC Tire Inserts

Most RC tires have foam inserts which are the RC world’s substitute for air. Never overlook the importance of these inserts as they play a crucial role in how the tires perform. There are typically three types of foam used inside the tire of an RC car or truck. They are regular, molded (most expensive), and dual staged foam. Each type has its unique properties.

Novice RC’ers don’t need to think about the foam inserts. That’s because most new tires include them with the product. This is something that becomes more critical as you get skilled at tweaking your models. For example, you may love the tires but prefer to add your own custom inserts based on what you’ve learned. Therefore, it pays to get familiar with the various foam inserts too.

Use the RC Community

Experienced RC’ers get to win races and off-road competitions because they’ve been around a while. They have learned what tires work best for their vehicles and those to avoid. Unfortunately, buying new tires is not always a simple case of choosing a reputable brand. Some people modify their RC cars and trucks or create unique courses to compete on. That’s why there’s some trial and error needed.

Don’t be afraid to ask for tips and advice from the RC community if you’re in any doubt. There are sure to be folks who can guide newbies on stock models or make suggestions for modified vehicles.

Examples of RC Car & Truck Tires

The rest of this guide highlights a few RC truck and car tires for popular models. These are just a few of the many options out there. You can read full descriptions and product specs on the sale pages.

Axial AX12022 R35 Directional Tread Pattern Maxxis Trepador Tires 4.7/5.0

Type: Off-road Scale: 1:10 Diameter: 140mm Width: 52mm Color: Black

G-Made 70001 Bighorn Aggressive Design Rock Crawling Tires | 4.3/5.0

Type: Off-road Scale: 1:10 Diameter: 56mm Width: 59mm Color: Black

DuraTrax DTXC4042 RC Rock Crawler Tires W/ High Traction Wheels | 4.5/5.0

Type: Off-road Scale: 1:10 Diameter: 140mm Width: 51mm Color: Black

RC4WD Interco Super Swamper Soft/Sticky TSL/Bogger Tire | 4.4/5.0

Type: Off-road Scale: 1:9 Diameter: 120mm Width: 40mm Color: Black

LAFEINA Rubber RC Tire for Traxxas HSP Tamiya HPI Kyosho RC | 4.7/5.0

Type: On-road Scale: 1:10 Diameter: 65mm Width: 26mm Color: Black

BQLZR OD Arrows Pattern Rubber Tires for RC Racing Car | 4.5/5.0

Type: On-road Scale: 1:10 Diameter: 65mm Width: 26mm Color: Black

Fish Pattern Rubber Tires W/ Aluminum Alloy 7-Spokes Wheel Rims | 4.4/5.0

Type: On-Road Scale: 1:10 Diameter: 63mm Width: 26mm Color: Black

Yiguo RC Baja Buggy Tires W/ Wheels Rims for Redcat/Traxxas | 4.6/5.0

Type: Off-road Scale: 1:8 Diameter: 100mm Width: 41mm Color: Black

Lockup MT 2.8 RC Monster Truck Tires W/ 6-Spoke Wheels | 4.3/5.0

Type: Off-road Scale: 1:10 Diameter: 120mm Width: 66mm Color: Black

Goolsky AUSTAR Rock Crawler Tires for RC D90 SCX10 AXAIL RC4WD TF2 | 4.9/5.0

Type: Off-road Scale: 1:10 Diameter: 110mm Width: 42mm Color: Black

Summing Up

RC tires are more important than first meets the eye. Forums often have entire threads solely to discuss tire types, performance, and model compatibility. Tweaking and fine-tuning radio-controlled models is half the fun. The material that surrounds the wheels plays a big part in that. Spend some time getting to know tires, rims, wheels, sizes, and how it all affects your RC car or truck.

Learn how the small details can make significant differences. Knowing how to prepare and mount RC car tires onto wheels can also improve performance. Get familiar with the parts and tools of the trade. They include things like materials, inserts, the right glue, rubbing alcohol, and fine grit sandpaper.