There are some common terms that apply to all remote control cars. Take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with them and you can avoid making some wrong decisions when it comes time to buy.
Scale refers to the relationship between the size of remote control cars to an actual automobile. Scale dimensions are represented like this: 1/10th, or 1/8th. This means that the rc car is 1/10th, or 1.8th the size of a real car.
The most common sizes are: 1/24, 1/18, 1/12, 1/10, 1/8 and 1/5. The 1/24th scale being the smallest, and the 1/5th scale the largest.
Ready to Run
If you want to go from out-of-the-box to on-the-road in less than an hour, then the Ready To Run (RTR) remote control cars are the way to go. These cars come fully assembled including radio transmitter, batteries, and charger (for the electric models).
If you have time on your hands, and enjoy building models, then building remote control cars from a kit can be both fun and rewarding.
As an added bonus, you'll save money because kits are cheaper than similar pre-assembled. Also, there is no better way to know your car inside and out then having put it together yourself. Another great benefit is that you can add "hop ups", or customization kits, and mae the car uniquely yours.
Remote control cars use gears to transfer energy from the engine or motor to the wheels. A gear ratio is the numerical ratio of a series of gears in relation to each other, based on the number of turns of the input shaft, compared to turns of the output shaft.
Gear ratios are determined by the number of teeth on each gear (and therefore the size of each gear). For instance, a gear with 36 teeth meshed with a gear with 12 teeth gives a 36/12 or 3/1 ratio. This is usually expressed as 3.00:1. Changing the gear ratio of your car affects its speed and handling.
When you hear the term "gas engine" the "gas" is really Nitrous oxide, a compound composed of 2 parts nitrogen and one part oxygen (36% oxygen by weight). When nitrous oxide is heated it breaks down and releases extra oxygen which increases the ability of the engine to burn fuel. Because of this increased ability, higher cylinder pressures are created, which increases the speed and thrust of remote control cars.
The refers to the frequencies that are used by the Transmitters and Receivers that are a part of all remote control cars. If you are operating your car near others, then everyone must be on a different frequency in order to avoid interference and accidentally operating one and another's cars.
Digital Proportional Acceleration (DPA)
Small circuit boards are used to precisely measure out acceleration signals that enable remote control cars to speed up and down smoothly, like real cars, rather than in akward jumps that look fake. When you pull the trigger slowly, the car moves slowly. Pull it a bit faster and the car goes faster.
Digital Proportional Steering (DPS)
Like DPA, DPS uses circuit boards to emulate the handling and cornering of a real car. Turn slightly to the right or left, and the car steers right or left. Turn harder and the card swings wider.
While there are many more terms that you will encounter as you get deeper into your new hobby, these starter terms should get you through the process of reading the specs and helping you to pick your first car.
Michael Holland is the creator of http://www.rc-car-fun.com. His site offers lots of free tips for buying, building, and racing rc cars and trucks.