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Home RC Car Suspension Tuning Guide

RC Car Suspension Tuning Guide

If you’ve just picked up your first RC car and are wondering how to set it up, here is a pretty comprehensive list of different adjustments you can do your car’s suspension with explanations of what each one does. It looks overwhelming but just do one adjustment at a time and note how it makes your car react. As time goes on you’ll be a pro!

Stiffer Springs

  • Stiffer springs make the car feel more responsive, more direct
  • They also help the car jump a little better and higher
  • Stiff springs are suited for high-traction tracks which aren’t too bumpy

Softer Springs

  • Softer springs are better for (mildly) bumpy tracks
  • They can also make the car feel as if it has a little more traction in low-grip conditions

Stiffer Front Springs

  • The car has less front traction, and less steering. It’s harder to get the car to turn, the turn radius is bigger and the car has a lot less steering exiting corners
  • The car will jump better, and maybe a little further
  • On very high-grip tracks, it’s usually beneficial to stiffen the front, even more than the rear. It just makes the car easier to drive, and faster

Softer Front Springs

  • The car has more steering, especially in the middle part and the exit of the corner
  • Front springs that are too soft can make the car hook and spin, and they can also make it react sluggishly

Stiffer Rear Springs

  • The car has more steering, in the middle and exit of the turn. This is especially apparent in long, high-speed corners
  • But rear traction is reduced

Softer Rear Springs

  • The car has generally more rear traction, in turns as well as through bumps and while accelerating

Heavier Shock Oil

  • Thicker oil (heavier damping) makes the car more stable, and makes it handle more smoothly
  • It also makes the car jump and land better
  • If damping is too heavy, traction could be lost in bumpy sections

Thinner Shock Oil

  • Soft damping (and springing) is better for shallow, ripply bumps
  • It also makes the car react quicker

Heavier Front Shock Oil

  • The turn radius is wider, but smoother. The car doesn’t ‘hook’ suddenly
  • The car is easier to drive, and high-speed steering feels very nice

Softer Front Shock Oil

  • The steering reacts quicker
  • More and better low-speed steering

Heavier Rear Shock Oil

  • Steering feels quick and responsive, while the rear stays relatively stable

Softer Rear Shock Oil

  • Feels very easy to drive, the car can be ‘thrown’ into turns
  • More rear traction while accelerating

Smaller Shock Piston Holes

  • Smaller holes mean more ‘pack’. Pack means the damping gets very stiff, or almost locks up, over sharp bumps, ruts, or landing off jumps
  • Small holes are good for smooth tracks, with big jumps or crummy jumps with harsh landings

Bigger Shock Piston Holes

  • Bigger holes mean less pack. The point at which the damping gets stiff (where the shock ‘packs up’) occurs a lot later, at higher shock shaft speeds
  • Big holes are very good for bumpy tracks. The car is more stable and has more traction in the bumpy sections. It won’t be thrown up over sharp bumps, the suspension will soak them up a lot better

More Caster

  • Aids stability and handling in bumpy sections

Less Caster

  • Increases steering drastically
  • Steering feels much more direct
  • Car turns tighter and faster

Higher Ride Height

  • The car feels better in bumps, and jumps better
  • It can feel tippy or even flip over in high-grip conditions

Lower Ride Height

  • The car feels more direct, and it can potentially corner a bit faster
  • It’s also harder to flip the car over

Shorter Wheelbase

  • A short wheelbase makes the car feel very nimble, and good in tight turns
  • This is a good idea for very small and tight tracks, without big jumps or bumps

Longer Wheelbase

  • The car becomes a lot more stable and better in wide, high-speed turns
  • This is good on wide-open tracks

Anti-Squat

  • This refers to the angle of caster on the rear wheels. Raising the front of the hinge pins of the rear arms gives a caster (anti-squat) angle and helps to transfer the power more evenly, keeping the front of the vehicle from lifting under heavy acceleration

More Anti Squat

  • More anti-squat generally makes the rear of the car more sensitive to throttle input
    The car has more steering while braking, and also a little more powering out of corners
  • On high-traction tracks, it may feel as if the car momentarily has more rear traction accelerating out of corners
  • A car with more anti-squat can also jump a little higher and further, and it will soak up bumps a little better, off-power
  • A lot of anti-squat (4° or more) can make the car spin out in turns, and make the rear end break loose when accelerating

Less Anti Squat

  • Less anti-squat gives more rear traction while accelerating on a slippery or dusty track
  • It also gives more side-bite
  • Less anti-squat will make the car accelerate better and faster through bumpy sections
  • Very little anti-squat (0° or 1°) makes the rear end feel very stable. It also makes power sliding a lot easier

Lower Shock Mounting Location

  • Bear in mind that changing the lower shock mounting location changes the lever arm of the shocks on the wheels
  • So mounting the shocks more inward makes the suspension softer at the wheel, and mounting the shocks more towards the outside makes the suspension stiffer

Front More Inward Lower Shock Mounting Location

  • More low-speed steering
  • Usually makes the car very hard to drive

Front More Outward Lower Shock Mounting Location

  • Makes the car very stable, but it has a lot less low-speed steering

Rear More Inward Lower Shock Mounting Location

  • Makes the car soak up bumps a little better, and can make the car corner a bit faster
  • Can be good for bumpy, low-grip tracks, but general stability is greatly reduced

Rear More Outward Lower Shock Mounting Location

  • Feels very stable.
  • The way to go for high-grip tracks

More Inclined Upper Shock Mounting Location

  • Has a more progressive, smoother feel
  • More lateral grip

Less Inclined Upper Shock Mounting Location

  • More direct feel
  • Less lateral grip or side bite
  • Generally a bit better for jumps and harsh landings

Front Shocks More Inclined Than Rear

  • Steering feels very smooth
  • A little more mid-corner steering
  • Mounting the rear shocks very upright can result in the rear end sliding in the middle of the turn, especially in high-speed turns

Rear Shocks More Inclined Than Front

  • Feels aggressive turning in
  • The car has a lot of side traction in the rear, and the turn radius isn’t very tight

Longer Camber Link

  • A long link gives a lot of body roll in turns
  • It feels as is the body is willing to keep on rolling, until in the end, the springs prevent it from rolling any further
  • The car has more grip in corners, especially the middle part

Shorter Camber Link

  • A short link makes that the body doesn’t roll as far, its tendency to roll drops off as it rolls
  • This can stabilize a car in bumps and curved sections
  • It feels as is the car generates a little less grip

Parallel Camber Link (Parallel to lower arm)

  • A parallel link gives a little more roll than an angled one
  • It feels very smooth, and consistent as the body rolls in turns

Angled Camber Link (Distance between arm and link is smaller on the inside)

  • An angled link makes it feel as if the car has a tendency to center itself (level, no roll), other than through the springs or anti-roll bar
  • It gives a little more initial grip, steering into corners. It makes it very easy to ‘throw’ the car.
  • The body rolls a little less than with parallel links
  • On bumpy tracks, it could be possible to use softer settings for damping and spring rate than with parallel links, without destabilizing the car

Longer Front Camber Link

  • The front rolls and dives more in turns
  • Lots of steering in mid-corner
  • Could make the car hook

Shorter Front Camber Link

  • The front feels very stable
  • A little more turn-in, but less steering in mid-corner

Longer Rear Camber Link

  • More rear traction in turns, and coming out of them
  • Rear end slide is very progressive, not unpredictable at all
  • Make sure that there’s enough rear camber though, or you could lose rear traction in turns

Shorter Rear Camber Link

  • The rear feels very stable. It breaks out later and more suddenly, but if it does, the slide is more controllable
  • It makes the front dive a little more, which results in more steering, especially when braking

More Angled Front Camber Link

  • Turn-in is very aggressive
  • The front feels as if it wants to roll less than the rear

More Angled Rear Camber Link

  • The rear end is rock-solid while turning in. It feels very confident

Camber

  • Camber is best set so the tires’ contact patch is as big as possible at all times. So with a stiff suspension you’ll need less camber than with a soft one
  • If the tires wear evenly across their contact patches, camber is about right
  • On really bumpy tracks, adding a little more negative camber (2 to 3 degrees) can help traction and reduce the chances of catching a rut and flipping over

Front Toe-in

  • Stabilizes the car in the straights and coming out of turns
  • It smooths out the steering response making the car very easy to drive

Front Toe-out

  • Increases turn-in steering a lot
  • But can make the car wandery on the straights
  • Never use more than 2 degrees of front toe-out

Rear Toe-in

  • Stabilizes the car greatly. It makes the rear end ‘stick’, but more toe-in makes the difference between sticking and breaking loose bigger

Rear Toe-out

  • Rear toe-out is never used. It makes the rear of the car very, very unstable

Anti Roll Bar

  • Anti-roll bars are best used on smooth, and high-traction tracks only
  • If you must use one on a bumpy track, try to use a very thin one
  • Adding an anti-roll bar, or stiffening it, reduces traction at that end of the car. So it feels like the opposite end has more grip
  • If the track is smooth enough, it also makes the grip level feel more consistent
  • Anti-roll bars reduce body roll in turns, so they make the car feel more direct and make it change direction quicker

Stiffer Front Roll Bar

  • An anti-roll bar at the front of the car reduces low-speed steering. The turning radius will be larger, but very consistent
  • It reduces ‘hooking’ by preventing front end roll
  • The car will have more rear traction in turns

Stiffer Rear Roll Bar

  • Adding an anti-roll bar to the rear of the car gives more steering. the car steers tighter, also at low speeds
  • On a very smooth track, it can make power sliding easier. It can also make powering out of turns and lining up for jumps a little easier

More Steering Ackerman

  • More Ackermann makes the steering more consistent, and smoother
  • It just feels right, also at low speeds and in tight turns

Less Steering Ackerman

  • Less Ackermann makes the steering more aggressive at high speeds
  • The car turns in more aggressively
  • It doesn’t work well when either traction or cornering speeds are low

Less Droop

  • The car changes direction faster, and corners flatter. It feels generally more responsive
  • Adding a lot of travel limiters is only advisable on smooth tracks

More Droop

  • Less internal shock spacers give better handling on bumpy tracks, and more and more consistent traction on difficult tracks
  • The car also land better after jumps
  • The end with the least down travel will feel the most stable, and the most direct. But try to keep a balance (front and rear end droop about the same), especially on low-grip tracks
  • Adding more internal travel limiters is a very effective way of reducing traction rolls, if not the most effective way

Source: Unknown via TheToyz forum

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