Are Used RC Cars for Sale Really Bargains?


How to Find the Real Bargains in Used RC Cars for Sale


It’s not unusual to see a spike in the number of used RC cars for sale during the winter and early spring months. Bashers and racers who received new remote control cars for Christmas seize the opportunity to sell their old models and boost their hobby budgets for the summer. The off season also gives all RC car enthusiasts a chance to examine their equipment and turn what they no longer use into cash.

Some of the used RC cars for sale are good deals, especially for anyone who can’t afford to buy a comparable model brand new. If you’re lucky, you can upgrade to a higher quality radio control vehicle without breaking the bank. If you’re not careful, however, buying one of the less well-maintained used RC cars for sale is one of the worst investments you can make.

Remember that old phrase, “Buyer beware.” Before handing your hard-earned money over to a stranger for used RC hobby equipment, make sure you’re getting a real bargain by following the advice below.

Research used RC cars for sale before buying.

One of the first pieces of advice when considering used RC cars for sale is to shop locally if at all possible. If your nearby hobby shop doesn’t sell used vehicles, see if they have a message board where customers advertise used equipment. On eBay or similar online sites, look for sellers who live close enough that you can check out their used RC car in person before you buy. And if that’s impossible, only do online business with highly rated, trustworthy sellers. A deal that looks too good to be true probably is.

It’s best practice to look into parts availability before purchasing a used radio controlled model. If a vehicle is discontinued it can make sourcing parts difficult in the event of parts breaking in a crash or via normal wear and tear. The easiest way to check a vehicle's production status is to look at the manufacturer's website. Another way is to look up the manual and check availability of the listed replacement parts. If original parts are not available though the manufacturer, oftentimes they can be sourced on secondary retailers like eBay.

Do your homework. Make sure you know what those RC cars for sale cost their owners when new. The “pre-owned” price should be reduced to reflect its used condition.

Also learn what equipment originally was included with the RC car or truck when the owner bought it. Was it supposed to come with a brushless power system? Then confirm that’s what it has now. Any components that aren’t of equal or better quality than what the manufacturer had included should raise a red flag. Don’t pay anything close to the original price for a vehicle that’s been downgraded.

Carefully inspect used RC cars for sale.

Just like you do when buying a used full-size car, closely inspect the parts of used RC cars for sale that you know are most prone to wear and damage. Unless you intend to rebuild, you want to be sure the used vehicle can still perform to your satisfaction. Some nicks and scrapes are to be expected. On the other hand, if the chassis is cracked, the diff is leaking fluid, or there are missing pieces, proceed with caution. Don’t easily dismiss excessive dirt buildup, either. That may indicate the RC car has been poorly maintained.

The chassis wear on used RC cars for sale provides a good indication of how many miles are on the vehicle. Look at the bottom. Do any areas appear seriously ground down? If so, the chassis might need to be replaced soon, at an additional cost of up to fifty or sixty dollars.

Check for rust. This is a sign of water damage that could mean the RC car or truck’s bearings are shot. With the car powered off, push it forward and backward. Does it move as it should? Does it make any funny noises, like grinding, scraping, or dragging sounds? Damaged bearings can create excess slop and lead to even further damage. While they’re not super expensive to replace, it will still cost you time and more money to fix.

Test the suspension of used RC cars for sale by pushing down on the chassis. It should spring back. If it doesn’t, inspect the shocks. They should be replaced if you spot scratches or nicks on the shafts. Individual shock parts like the shafts and O-rings aren’t hugely expensive, but you may want to put on whole new shocks to have a fresh, smoothly operating vehicle. And consider replacing the A-arms while you’re at it. Even if they don’t look cracked or broken, there could be wear at the hinge pins that will negatively affect cornering.

Other parts worth giving some scrutiny on used RC cars for sale include the drive shafts and dog bones, which are easily bent in a hard crash. Give the wheels a spin. They should rotate straight, not wobble around. Then take a look at the diffs. Unfortunately, some used RC car sellers will claim they’ve rebuilt the diffs when they actually have not. If you see signs of wear or fluid loss, the gear system may bind and the vehicle will handle poorly. A diff rebuild kit is going to cost you at least another twenty dollars.

While evaluating used RC cars for sale, you’re also likely to find screws that have been stripped or maybe don’t match. So, expect to add some new screws to your shopping list so you can be confident the vehicle is put together correctly.

At any point in the transaction, remember that you can always walk away from the sale. Or if you notice a problem that isn’t necessarily a deal breaker — there’s some rust, you know the car’s been run through water, but the seller is still asking a pretty high price — you can make your own, more reasonable offer. Tell the seller what you think the used RC car is worth, keeping in mind how much more you’ll be spending to make repairs.

Take used RC cars for sale on a test run.

It’s probably wise to take used RC cars for sale on a test drive only after you’ve given them a good inspection inside and out. Most hobbyists get so caught up in the fun of driving an RC car that they’ll dismiss any serious issues it might have. When you do give it that test run, focus on performing reliable checks of basic functions. Don’t just grab the controller and bash.

For example, make sure that the included radio equipment gives you a good amount of range without glitching or control loss. Get a feel for how well the transmission works in forward and reverse. Check out the responsiveness of the steering in left and right turns. Assess how well the RC car accelerates and slows. If the RC car comes with any accessories, such as lights, make sure that they all work like they’re supposed to.

Just like the visual inspection, a careful test run of used RC cars for sale can tell you volumes about how well the previous owners took care of their vehicles. The whole point of buying used is to make less money go farther. You don’t want to be stuck making a lot of expensive repairs right off the bat.

Are used RC cars for sale worth the money saved?

Let’s say you saved about a hundred dollars on the RC car of your dreams by buying it used. That’s an awesome deal if it runs as expected and you can put any additional money into upgrade parts for enhanced performance.

Used RC cars for sale can also easily cost you a considerable amount of time and money on repairs if you’re not careful. Spending ten or twenty dollars here and there on small fixes will add up quickly. Before you know it, that hundred dollars saved has been spent just getting the vehicle back into good working condition.

Buying used can still be a good option. If you want a “beater” RC car to bash hard, a used vehicle may be just the ticket. If your aspirations involve racing, opting for a used, high-end machine makes sense as long as any serious issues you find in your inspection help you negotiate a lower price. If the seller won’t budge, then it might be best just to save until you can buy yourself a brand new model.

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