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Understanding Nitro Fuel

Get This Wrong & Its Like Filling Your Unleaded Family Car With Diesel..


First up, you must be aware that Nitro fuel is toxic and flammable. Wear gloves to avoid skin exposure and safety goggles to stop it going in your eyes, especially when taking glow plugs out of engines.

Nitro fuel is not petrol or diesel. It is most like pre-mixed 2 stroke motorbike fuel, in that it is a mix of fuel and lubricant, but there is no substitute. You must not use petrol!!!

Nitro fuel comes in different grades, from 10 upwards. The number refers to the percentage of fuel to lubricant, so a 15 Nitro Fuel will have less fuel than a 25, but more lubrication. So a 25 will have more power and speed than a 16, at the expense of lubricant protection.

So which should you use? Your Radio Control cars instructions will tell you what to use, normally 16 for smaller engines and 25 for larger ones. To use a more powerful fuel than is recommended will make your car faster at the expense of engine life and reliability. Is it worth it? Depends how much cash you've got for spare engines. Also, if you start using a different fuel, its normally recommended that you stick with that mix.

Remember that the most important performance / power / speed difference you'll make to the engine off your car or truck is how the engine itself is run-in, tuned and maintained. A well tuned car running 16 fuel will outperform a poorly tuned one running 25, so follow the running in instructions for your RC car carefully, and maintain it like it deserves.

Nitro Fuel will "go off" after it is opened - water contamination is the most common cause, so use a metal container, keep the lid on, and don't put fuel back in after its been in your filler bottle, use it for another run!

Since Nitro fuel is a mix of fuel and lubricant, how rich or lean you run your engine will effect its performance. After the running in period, where you will be running very rich (which means lots of fuel. less air) you tune the carburettor, increasing the amount of air in the fuel-air mix, increasing power. As the power increases the engine runs faster and hotter, so we must be careful that we don't run too lean, because there won't be enough lubricant to oil and cool the engine, which will lead to over-heating, increased wear and reduced engine life. Performance will also drop off as the fuel mix becomes too lean.

The lesson here is be careful with Nitro Fuel, use protective gloves & glasses, use the recommended grade for you Radio Control Car, run it in properly, and don't run it too lean.

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