How to Choose the Right RC Car Tires for Any Surface

One of the most important parts of any racing vehicle, including the RC racing vehicles, is the tires. This implies that choosing the proper RC car tires is a quite important job. After all, these things are something that goes between us and the ground, same as shoes or mattresses.

If you watch any racing event you will notice that the tires are vital for optimal performance. Slick tires, for example, can provide the ultimate traction and the maximum speed for Formula 1 or NASCAR racing cars, and if you observe the off-road races you can see how they use rugged tires in order to conquer rough terrains.

Speaking of RC cars, the difference between first and the last place can be in proper tire choice, but before you make a choice, there are some things to consider.

Surface of the tire

rc car tires photo

Photo by Elsie esq.

There are many different patterns on the tire’s surface that can be useful for wet tracks or clawing up gravel. All of these patterns can be broken down into two basic groups. You either have smooth tires that have a relatively flat outer surface that has a lot of contact surface or so-called “nubby” tires that have a lot of protrusion points that will dig into the ground.

Generally, smoother tires provide you with a better contact with the track thus giving you better control as the result of greater traction, especially on the smooth track surface.

When it comes to “nubby” tires, they give you better control on gravel or dirt. These are not recommended to use on smooth surfaces.

The each of these two types has dozens of different variations. For example, some of the smooth tires will look quite similar to your car tires with all the patterns, and these give you a great moisture control and are excellent for wet smooth surfaces.

The “nubby” tires can also vary when it comes to the size of the nubs. Some have minimal nubs which are great for speed, while others come with thicker ones that dig into the ground better.

All this being said, there is no “wrong” or “right” when it comes to the surface of the tires. It all depends on the surface and the environment you will be racing in.

Inserts and wheels

Inserts and wheels are quite important when it comes to the performance of your RC racing car.

The wheel – it comes usually made of plastic or plastic-based compounds and it’s made according to the dimensions of your RC racing car or truck. It is recommendable that you stick with the wheels that are made for your RC car in order to stay in the legal racing specified size and width.

Inserts are made of foam and are placed between your tire and your wheel. If the foam is stiffer, the ride will be firmer, and if you use softer foam, your ride will be much more flexible.

This is very similar to putting the air in your car tires. The racing teams always aim to put just right pressure in the tires for optimal performance.

Generally, if you will be racing on the smooth hard surface, you will want to use firmer inserts. On rougher terrains, you’ll need softer inserts.

So once again, it depends on the terrain. But no matter which inserts you choose, make sure that you choose the right size for your vehicle and select the matching wheels and tires.


The compounds are as crucial as the tread design when it comes to the selection of the proper tire. The compound can be super soft or super hard and everything that comes in between.

Most of the tire manufacturers specify the firmness of the compound by name or color or both. For example, JConcept’s gold compound is made for indoor clay tracks or Proline Racing m3 compound has a green dot which means it’s soft and recommended for outdoor tracks at 70-90 degrees.

Bottom line; check the description of the compound before choosing the tires.

Ask around

Choosing the proper tires for you remote control car is really a lot of trials and errors. With so many options it is not easy to just pick the right ones.

It is never a bad idea to ask around. If you see someone using the same car as you use and winning the races, don’t be afraid to ask him about the tires he uses. This is a good place to start.

Maybe you can buy the same rc car tires and then experiment a bit with some different but similar ones to see if you can improve the performance. It only takes a few races for you to have enough feedback that will help you decide which tires are perfect for your RC racing car.