Ask DH – Nitro or Gas?


Sometimes there are questions you have about RC you’ve always wondered, but for one reason or another, never asked.  Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or brand new, we’re going to bring you up to speed. Have a question you’ve been wanting to ask? Let us know in the comments!

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In recent years, brands like HPI and Losi have pushed even more into 1/5 (or larger) gas powered RC cars. Rather than just being stuck between nitro and electric, gas is a viable third option. We’ve already given the run down of electric motors and advantages of brushless power, but for many people the lines between nitro and gas become a bit more blurred.

Wait, aren’t they the same? Nope. Few key differences:



Nitro engines run a mixture of nitromethane, oil and methanol that you can purchase from a hobby shop for $25+ a gallon or try and mix yourself. Ignition happens due to compression and a glow plug (think diesel engine).

For their size/displacement, nitro engines provide quite a bit of power, but must be frequently tuned and are easily affected by temperature and humidity. They can also more easily reach a higher top speed than their gas counterpart.

The advantage of a nitro-run truck is that they come in all shapes and sizes. Because nitro engines can be small while still producing enough power, a 1/10 scale nitro truck is widely available and doesn’t take up much space.



Gas engines run on a mixture of pump-gas and oil. Essentially you are placing a weed wacker engine in an RC. Ignition happens due to a spark plug similar to your car. Being able to go down to your local gas station and fill up for a tenth of the price of nitro is a huge advantage.

Though a gas engine might have 10x the displacement of a nitro engine, power could be very similar. What gasoline brings to the table is low end torque that can get a 21-pound 1/5 Baja 5B SS moving, though ultimately at a lower top speed limited by weight and drag.

More Info

Want a run down of pros and cons? Check it out here.

Want a full manual on nitro engine maintenance. This one has got you covered.