Break-in procedure of an RC Nitro engine

So you’ve just bought your new nitro RC car and can’t wait to try it out. But wait! Before you use it for the first time, it will need to be broken in (or otherwise commonly known as run-in).

Why does a radio control nitro engine need to be broken in?

Breaking in a nitro glow engine, or any other type of engine, seats the new pistons, rings and seals, and ensures smooth operation of all the new mechanical parts. If you don’t break the engine in you risk causing damage or premature engine wear, as well as reduced performance.

How do you break in a nitro engine?

Instructions on how to run your nitro engine in are usually supplied with your model car or with the rc nitro engine if you bought it separately, and if you have these instructions I would advise you to follow them. If you don’t have this information, the following points should be good as a guide.

The Break in Procedure

You will need to run about 3-4 tanks of fuel through your nitro engine on idle to half throttle. The carburettor will need to be set quite rich during this time (plenty of smoke out of the exhaust). Running the engine on the rich side means you may go through a new glow plug quite quickly so make sure you have a few spares incase you need them.

  1. The first two tanks should be run through the engine at idle or low throttle. The car should be secured on a stand or some bricks/wood to allow the wheels to spin freely, and keep the load off the engine at this early, delicate stage.
  2. By the third tank it should be okay to increase the throttle some more, maybe about one third open.
  3. By the fourth tank you should be fine driving the car around in figures of eight slowly, not exceeding half throttle. Don’t drive off road yet, keep the car on a smooth surface.
  4. Once these steps are complete, you should be fine to run the car as normal on the next tank, but it might pay to take it easy for another tank.
  5. Don’t forget to lean out the mixture a little as it was set to rich for the running in procedure.

Remember that this is a generic guide, and it is better to use the instructions provided with your model when new, as manufacturers advice does vary.