various construction tools

Starting an RC Car Collection: Essential Tools a Hobbyist Must Have

If you’re looking to become a radio-controlled (RC) car hobbyist, you’re going to need the help of several tools. Even if you’re buying pre-built models, there will come a time where you’ll have to perform maintenance, make repairs and add hop-ups by yourself.

Although a range of specialized tools for several RC-related jobs is available om the market, sometimes, a modest selection of tools is enough for the job, especially for beginners like you.

Here are several tools that should be worth investing money in:

Phillips screwdrivers

Most RC cars use Phillips head screws, so you’ll want a set of Phillips screwdrivers that includes the #0, #1 and #2 types. These drivers are intentionally designed to cam out (i.e. slip out of the head when its torque limit is reached). Remember that a crosshead screwdriver is useless on a screw head with a single slot. Rather, Phillips screws are used to drive and remove screws that match its design.

You might ask: What’s the difference between the three types? Just like screws, Phillips screwdrivers come in sizes indicated by numbers, not by measurements. The #0 Phillips screwdriver fits screw numbers 0 and 1, while the #1 Phillips fits screw numbers 2, 3 and 4, and the #2 Phillips fits screw numbers 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9. Use this guide to help you differentiate the common screw types used in RC cars.

Hobby knives

A hobby knife will come in handy for things like cutting stickers or taking off a wire’s insulated cover. Blades are easily replaceable and are also affordable. Note that it’s important to invest in a hobby knife with a sharp blade. As long as the handle firmly holds the knife, you should be okay. Dull blades tend to cause jagged cuts. X-ACTO and Excel are two well-known brands that offer quality hobby knives.

Hex wrenches

Hex wrenches are used to drive bolts and screws that have a hexagonal socket.

Many hobbyists prefer hex wrenches that have an L-shaped shaft. To use the L-shaped hex wrench, you hold and twist it by its long-arm, creating a large torque at the tip of the short arm. This makes driving screws easier. The L-shape also offers a versatile reach into tight spots while providing leverage when needed.

Different kinds of shears

While regular scissors work well for most cutting jobs, you would need heavy-duty shears to cut thick wires and hard car parts. When cutting adhesive tapes, the sticky adhesive causes the blades stick. You can wipe the blade with a rag dipped in alcohol.

Meanwhile, it’s also good to invest in a pair of sharp wire cutters. Cheap wire cutters can leave behind a few strands of wire.

Lastly, invest also in a pair of side cutters. The special design of side cutters makes them perfect for removing plastic packaging off of RC parts.

Needle-nose pliers


Pliers are used in inserting parts in tight spaces, holding wires for soldering and squeezing e-clips into place. With a reliable set of pliers, you can put together spur and pinion gears more accurately.

The tools in this guide should provide a solid foundation for your budding RC hobby. Feel free to add more tools once your collection of RC cars starts growing.

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