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How Fast is a 1/16 Scale RC Car

If you’re thinking of getting your very first RC car, you might be wondering just how fast it can go. RC cars make be small but their size can be deceptive. Though RC cars come in many different shapes and sizes, they tend to fall within the same range of max speeds and accelerating capabilities.

So in this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about the speed of a 1/16 RC car.

How Large is a 1/16 Scale RC Car?

Because 1/16 scale refers to the original size of the vehicle that an RC car is based off, it can be hard to say how big an RC car is without knowing what its original reference point is.

This is all made more complicated by the fact that RC cars exist in different forms. Some are based off monster trucks, others off formula race cars, and some are based off dune buggies.

You can generally expect most RC cars to be 10 to 15 inches in length if they are 1/16 to scale, but this is still just a rule of thumb.

Many 1/16 scale formula RC cars will be about 10 inches long, seven inches wide and 4 inches tall.

1/16 scale RC trucks will have the same height and width but tend to be about 14 inches long instead.

RC monster trucks that are 1/16 scale will be around 14 or 15 inches long, 5 to 7 inches tall due to the larger wheels and 8 or 9 inches wide.

And as you might expect, the size of an RC car does have an impact on how fast it can ultimately go.

How Fast Does a 1/16 Scale RC Car Go?

While many factors determine the final top speed, you can expect most 1/16 scale RC cars to go at least 30 mph.

Having said that, many RC cars are actually capable of going faster depending on the build of the body and chassis, as well as the quality of their other components.

If you wanted to buy or personally customize an RC car so it could go as fast as possible, you could get one that attains max speeds of 50 mph.

fast rc car

What Determines the Speed of an RC Car?

Here are five main attributes that affect the final top speed of a 1/16 RC car: size, tires, gearbox, battery, and motor. If you choose better accessories, the rc car will go faster!
In theory, the bigger the car, the heavier it is. That might rob it of its speed and acceleration, but that's a bit of a half-truth, since bigger cars can also have bigger, more powerful batteries and motors.

With that in mind, there’s a reason why the fastest RC cars tend to be modeled after formula or race cars, not monster trucks.

The tires are very important for affecting speed based off what terrain they’re being used on. Smooth, slicker tires are better suited for flat pavement. On the other hand, you will want larger tires with spikes and grooves if you plan to race on uneven ground that has mud, debris and other natural obstacles.

As for the gearing, an upgraded spur gear and pinion is one of the most reliable ways to increase the speed of any RC car. These modifications can easily add 5 to 10 miles to the top speed.

Different gearing can also emphasize a better acceleration over a better top speed, which is part of why gearing and customization in general is so important when modding an RC car. Keep this in mind when selecting what pinions and gears you want for your RC car.

When it comes to the battery, you should always choose LiPo over NiMH. They’re longer lasting, contain higher energy densities and have higher voltages which means higher speeds.

Just keep in mind that LiPo batteries aren’t cheap. If you purchased a budget-friendly or beginner-friendly RC car, odds are it came with an NiMH battery. The upgrade to a LiPo battery will probably not be cheap.

Also make sure that your RC car’s max voltage is compatible with the higher voltage of LiPo batteries. A mismatch could result in permanent damage to your RC car.

Finally, we come to the RC car motor. A brushless motor is much better than a brushed one for higher speeds. They may be more expensive, but they produce less friction, which means less resistance and more speed.

What is the Fastest Possible Speed an RC Car can Go?

While you can only expect an 1/16 RC car to go around 50 to 60 mph, there are faster RC cars out there. The problem is they aren’t 1/16 scale – in fact, they tend to be considerably larger.

The fastest known RC car on the planet is the Traxxas XO-1. It can reach a whopping 100 mph max speed, which completely blows any other RC car out of the water.

The problem is that this isn’t a 1/16 scale RC car, it’s actually a 1/7 scale RC car. Because it’s considerably larger than your standard RC car, it can house more powerful gears, batteries and motors.

Getting a 1/16 scale RC car to go anywhere remotely near 100mph is simply impossible because the components necessary to hit these speeds are either too big or too heavy to fit.

Odds are the 1/16 scale RC car you own goes up to 25mph out of the box. It is possible to get that speed up to 40 or even 50mph, but it’s going to take some extra cash and it’s definitely going to take some more work and customization on your end as well.


Keep in mind that since 1/16 RC cars are that much smaller than a real car, they’re very much limited by their size and weight in terms of what their top speed can be. The average 1/16 RC car goes around 25mph but can be modded to reach higher top speeds.

Previous article How To Build Your Own Personalized RC Vehicle: The Ultimate Guide

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