Slide Into Success With An Rc Drift Car

Ever see a car chase where one car slides sideways while taking a high-speed turn? Or, have you ever driven on a slick road and panicked when your wheels lost traction and your vehicle started sliding sideways? In today’s RC world, the above scenarios describe drifting, which is the art of making your entire car go sideways without losing control. This new, challenging driving skill has made the RC drift car one of the most popular cars in the RC world.

You can buy RC cars already set up for drifting, such as the Sprint 2 Drift car from HPI, or you can customize any 4 wheel drive (4WD) on-road, touring type car. Below are the basic RC drift car set-ups, plus some additional options you can try.

The Car

A 4WD RC car is a necessity in order to get the front and rear ends to drift (go sideways), and to prevent looping (360 degree turn), Electric RC cars are preferable because of their lighter weight and motor durability whereas Nitro RC cars are more likely to suffer damage due to over-revving the motor when the wheels start spinning.


RC drift cars sold today use special hard-rubber tires that lose traction easier than normal tires. However, because these tires are a bit expensive, many have looked to a popular and cheaper alternative to tires by using 2 PVC pipe around the wheels to achieve drifting. To do this, cut 4 pieces of pipe of to the width of the wheels. Using a vise around two boards, press the pipe onto the outside of the wheel. In addition to less cost, PVC also outlasts the hard drift-car tires. Note: whether you choose to purchase hard tires or use customized PVC tires, you must alter all 4 wheels in order to achieve drifting. .

Suspension (optional for most cars)

Most RC cars come out of the box with adequate suspension characteristics to make the car drift. However, a car will lose traction easier with a stiffer suspension. So, if you want to experiment with obtaining a firmer suspension, you can purchase stiffer springs and/or replace the oil in the shock absorbers with a “heavier” grade oil.


Some RC cars come with an inadequate motor for drifting. If this is the case, you’ll need to upgrade the engine – looking for a balance between speed and torque (acceleration power). When choosing what to buy, remember the lower the number of engine turns, the higher the rate of speed. For example, a modified, high-performance 17-turn motor will deliver the right amount of speed and torque to get those tires spinnin’ and keep ’em spinnin’!. At about $ 40, it’s a good, cheap upgrade to make your regular car into a drift car. Note: make sure your electronic speed control (esc)is rated equal to or lower than the number of turns of the motor. Lower turn motors draw more current.

Drive Train (optional)

Because the limited-slip action on cars attempts to cancel one of the tires from spinning, another option to achieve drifting is to lock up the front and rear differential. To keep the gears from slipping (all 4 wheels spinning), take a small piece of paper towel, wad it up and stuff it in the front and rear differentials. This little trick has the effect of making a 4WD into an AWD (all wheel drive), which gives longer lasting drift performance.

How to Drift

Now that you have either bought an RC drift car, or modified an existing 4WD, you’re ready to roll! Test your drifting skills by taking a turn at high speed. As the rear tires lose traction, steer the car into the skid and the front tires will pull the front end in the same direction. Again, the object is to keep from looping the car. When you master the technique, the next challenge is to keep the car in a drift for as many feet as possible. Some of the best drivers have recorded a 30 foot drift! Now it’s your turn.

Greg Root owns and maintains . A website that provides basic tips on how to buy, build and race electric and nitro RC cars .