Common R/C Car Steering Problems and How to Fix Them
When you first got started, you used to be so excited to spend time with your Traxxas hobby car and raced around for hours. The jumps, the turns, the spins, or just driving around in circles. It didn't matter, as long as your car did whatever you told it to do.
But now something's off, and you don't know how to fix it. UGH! What a tease!
Faulty RC car steering can ruin your entire hobby experience. Honestly, what's the point of a remote control car that won't respond to your remote properly?
Don't worry, we got you. We've compiled a list of the most common RC car steering problems and how to fix them.
But first, a little background on how your steering really works (aka, a lesson on RC cars for beginners)...
All Roads Lead to The Servo
99% of the time, your car is only as good as its relationship with the servo-- short for servomechanism.
Every RC device needs a servo to convert radio signals into movement. Every helicopter, boat, train, off-road jeep or slick pavement car has a servo somewhere in the body. For RC car kits specifically, your servo dictates how fast your car can go and dictates almost everything about the steering quality.
Before you do anything else, check the following in your Traxxas race car:
1) You Have the Right Servo and Servo Horn
Whether you constructed your car yourself from a kit or bought it ready to run, you need to make sure the servo horn is set on the chassis properly. This horn is the main arm of your servo, or the conductor's wand if you will.
Double and triple the instruction manual. Some models need the servo horn to be off-kilter on the chassis, or at a slight angle. The car won't function properly if the servo horn is installed perpendicularly. On the other hand, other models need the servo horn to be at a perfect 90-degree angle on the chassis.
You might also be using the wrong size and strength servo for the way you're using your car. If you think you may need to replace your servo, finding replacement carts by model and installing them yourself is pretty simple.
2) All Your Links are the Right Length
There are sets of links in every car kit that connect the servo to the steering rack and the steering rack to the wheels. Even if your radio and servo are communicating properly, your car won't get anywhere if the links are the wrong length or installed poorly.
Once you've made sure your servo and servo horn are functioning, check your links. Make sure nothing's obstructing motion from the servo to the steering rack to the tires. They should all respond smoothly and instantly.
3) Your End Point Adjustment is Set Correctly
Setting your radio's end point adjustment (EPA) helps your servo and steering rack understand the finer motions of your steering.
Before setting the EPA, your car needs to be on the ground at drive height. Make sure the wheels fully lock to the left and the right when setting endpoints. You may need to press your car into its shock mounts a few times to be sure it's at true driving height.
4) Your Radio and Servo Have a Good Connection
It's pretty obvious when your radio won't turn on. Sometimes your servo's transmitter will stop receiving anything from the radio even if the radio and rest of the servo are functioning.
An easy way to make sure the servo transmitter is working is to switch the servo and throttle connectors. If the controls on your radio then become switched, you know everything's working correctly.
Got all that?
Most steering problems will lead back to one or more aspects of this basic set up.
Now, let's break down and troubleshoot the most common RC steering problems we see talked about in hobby forums:
Throttle Works, But No Steering
Your car turns on and lights up appropriately, but the steering doesn't work at all.
Check to see if the...
- servo gears are stripped
- servo wires are frayed
- servo connector is loose
- the links are connected properly and responding to the servo
Steering Sticks Left or Right
Your car can turn both left and right but tends to lean one direction much more than the other. Or, it has no problem turning but struggles to stay straight or keep centered.
This is most likely a problem with the servo horn or where the servo trim is centered. Check your servo horn and all links.
Tires Automatically Turn Hard Left/Right
Your car's tires immediately turn hard to the left or right as soon as you turn the car on, or after using it for a few minutes.
Again, check the servo horn and where the servo trim is set. Make sure the EPA is reset properly. If all that doesn't work, there's a chance some of the gears of your servo are stripped, or the links on one side of the car are loose.
More About RC Car Steering
See? There's hope for you and your dysfunctional car! All is not lost.
To recap, RC car steering problems can almost always be solved by troubleshooting these things first...
The servo itself - Make sure you have the right size servo and that it's installed properly. Make sure the gears and wires are in good condition and respond well to your radio.
The servo horn and links - Make sure the servo horn is set on the chassis at the correct angle for your car make and model. Make sure all links are the right size and respond smoothly to directions from the servo.
The EPA - You may need to reset your End Point Adjustment a few times and make sure the radio and servo are communicating well.