How Expensive Can Remote-Controlled Cars Become As A Hobby?

Radio-controlled (RC) car collecting is a popular hobby for many people. Children and adults spend more time buying and racing RC cars. They’ve turned it into a hobby, and they enjoy it.

The cars are powered by various sources and constantly evolving in response to newer technology. Toy-grade models are less costly and are likely to be familiar to most people—except collectors who are familiar with hobby models and can afford to invest in these higher-end, expensive models. There are toy-grade and hobby-grade models available; each has advantages and disadvantages, just as fuel-powered and electric-powered models have advantages and disadvantages.

Many race their RC cars in competitions for prizes or at the very least bragging rights, rather than just for fun.

But, as many new or aspiring hobbyists wonder, how expensive can the RC car hobby become? Is it as simple as purchasing an RC car and calling it a day, or are there additional costs associated with owning an RC car and turning it into a hobby?

With so many various models of RC cars on the market, all of which are competing to provide the best quality, determining if this hobby is expensive or not will be a real challenge.

How Much Does a Decent RC Car Cost?

An RC car isn’t going to be cheap for a hobbyist. The cost of an RC car can span from $100 to over $1000. You can purchase a toy car for less than $50, but this is not an option for hobbyists. People want high-quality automobiles, not cheap toys for children.

Most hobbyists wish to upgrade their car occasionally—you can drive an RC car for a few hundred dollars, but driving and modding are not the same. The ability to modify an RC car is what distinguishes it. You don’t buy an RC car solely for driving, do you?

Hobbies are costly. If you want a great RC car, you should be prepared to spend some money on it.

a close up shot of an RC car on the sand

In the end, however, it is up to the user and the car they desire. Some models are less expensive than others and aren’t all that bad. As a result, before purchasing an RC car, you should explore the various types available.

Why Remote-controlled Cars Is an Expensive Hobby

The Cost Factor

Toy RC vehicles are inexpensive, but hobby-grade cars can be costly to purchase and maintain because they’re more complicated and have more parts that may need to be replaced. The majority of hobby car enthusiasts enjoy modifying their vehicles with parts like motors, tires, body kits, rims, and so on.

The cost of these components can quickly add up. You may be satisfied with an RC car that runs quickly and handles well, but you will still have to pay for the hobby-grade RC vehicle.

Repair and Maintenance

You will need basic repairs and routine maintenance on your RC car to keep it in top condition. This includes tuning the engine, oiling the gears, adjusting the suspension, aligning the chassis, repairing any cracks or dents, and touching up the paint. The number of parts involved is similar to caring for a real car.

Type of Vehicle

You must determine whether to purchase or construct your RC car.

The best way to begin quickly is to purchase an RTR or ready-to-run model. You don’t need to fret about assembling an RTR. Unassembled kits, on the other hand, are ideal if you enjoy fiddling with models and putting them together.

Gas-powered RC cars appeal to beginners, but electric models might be a good first choice because they are inexpensive, quiet, and don’t require many accessories. You only have to turn them on, and you can use them indoors. These are fueled by rechargeable batteries that allow your vehicle to travel at a speed of 20-30 miles per hour for up to ten minutes, depending on your motor and speed.

Nitro cars use real fuel and have small engines similar to lawn mowers and other small engine-powered equipment. Your nitro truck will be as simple to assemble and maintain as an electric vehicle. The nitro engine appears more exciting because it emits real sound, smoke, and smells from the exhaust.

a close up of an RC car for racing

If you want to run an electric kit for half an hour to an hour, you’ll need a lot of battery packs. The owner of a nitro kit car must ensure that their receiver and transmitter batteries are fully charged and that the car is refueled every five or ten minutes.

You can choose between an electric and a nitro-powered RC car. You can only race nitro cars outside. Toy cars are slower and less powerful than hobby-grade RC cars. Even though some electric cars perform better, serious hobbyists prefer nitro-powered RC vehicles.

Internal combustion engines drive gas cars at speeds ranging from 35 to 45 miles per hour. Serious RC car hobbyists prefer gas engines due to their complexity and intricacy.

Petrol-powered kits such as the 5T truck and Baja 5B buggy are available. These use petrol blended with 2-cycle engine oil, just like a real car. These kits are quite large, measuring nearly a meter in length.

Both kits are expensive, but the lower fuel cost offsets this compared to nitro fuel. You only pay a few pennies per hour of driving with a petrol kit. Engine maintenance is also less expensive and time-consuming.


You might eventually want to compete in professional RC hobby tournaments. This is not like a friendly race in the backyard with friends. When you compete, you will be looking for the chance to win trophies, prizes, and so on, which means you will be a member of a serious sport with rules and entry fees.

Some people have only a few RC hobby cars they upgrade, modify, or tweak. Some people prefer to focus on specific types of RC, like micro models, large-scale models, boats, vintage cars, etc. Some people prefer ready-to-run vehicles, while others enjoy building their own from the ground up.

an RC car racing on sandy ground

The approach you take is determined by the amount of money, time, and interest you have. The point is to have fun, and there is no proper or incorrect way to enjoy this hobby.