How to Convert Your RC Car Into Drift Spec

Lyle Ellerbee

Remote Control Drifting is taking off in a big way, in this article I show you step by step how to convert that old 1/10 touring car into a drifters dream machine. It’s very simple and generally only takes a couple of hours, using this practical guide I’ll have you sideways before you know it.

What exactly is drifting?

In a nut shell drifting is the art of changing the angle of attack of your car, while still maintaining full control, so in a typical drift driver X approaches the corner and turns in hard too early, this will bring the rear of the car around, Driver X will then turn back into the slide and keep the car going around the corner while maintaining as much angle and speed as possible, then he will over correct and throw the car into another slide right after the first one, with as little straight lining as possible.

Can a RC car Drift?

Yes, if you’ve ever been involved with RC racing, you know the level of setup that even the basic RC Cards come with, and drifting is no exception. While a stock standard RC car can drift out of the box, there are some basic setup and chassis modification that will help you get more angle, speed and chicks.

Where do I start?

The first thing you need is a RC car, I’ll use two examples, both of which I’ve had personal experience with, the Tamiya TT01 and the Tamiya TA05. The first step to drifting is to break that traction, due to the power to weight ratio of RC Cars we need a little help, Drift Tires are all you need to get sideways, but there is a little more you can do if you want to compete. If you can’t find RC Drift tires you can use insulation tape, be sure to wrap it in the same direction that the wheel will be turning, a good trick is to lay it down and roll you RC Car over it, this is the right way, Taped tires tend to work best on surfaces that already have a little to no traction, i.e. an underground parking lot, but they don’t last long. Drift tires all have different tractions, more traction = bigger drifts, but this is useless if you need to compete on a tight track as the amount of torque used to break traction will also generate a lot of speed, in the end it’s down to personal preference.

What next?

Okay so you taped your tires and played around a bit, not we need to get the car to be more predictable, all the standard racing setting apply, shocks, ride height and wheel angles are up to you, but if there is a must have it’s the rear differential, you need to lock it, this is also know as a spool diff, basically it means that both wheels must turn at the same time. The result is a car that will break and regain traction on command, the drifts will also be much easier to control, more throttle = more angle, less throttle = less angle.


The Tamiya TT01 uses a planetary gear setup for the rear diff, which is easy to convert (and convert back should you change your mind later) the two most command ways to lock this diff are 1. Open the Diff and fill it with glue from a glue gun, or 2. Take a small piece of fuel tubing ,cut it open along it’s length, and roll this around one of the planetary gears. Once done close the diff and check if it give the desired result before you put it back. The other option is to buy a hop-up spool diff.


The TA05 uses a ball diff at the back and the front, this is not as easy to modify, but it can be done. The way I modified mine was to use pop rivets. I opened the diff and removed the ball bearings and metal plates that the balls run along. I then drilled three small holes in the side, getting both halves of the diff. I then pop riveted them together and filed down the rivets. This worked, but be careful. 1. It’s not reversible and if you make a mistake the diff will be destroyed. 2. It doesn’t last long, eventually the forces that go through the diff will destroy this because it’s been weakened by holes. A Spool diff is available for the TA05 and this is the preferred options.

What about the front diff?

Now that we have a solid platform we can experiment with slightly different setups to find the one that suites us best, this varies from car to car, but the principle is the same. I personally love using a front one-way diff, or a center one-way diff for more control. The downside is that using brakes at any time is the same as using you e-brake (hand-brake) in a real car, the tail will slide around in a 180, while this can be useful to initiate a drift and transition to a second drift from the first it’s very easy to spin out, so most people prefer not to use the one-ways. Once again this is down to personal preference.

Why drifting is much better than racing.

Well I love both, but from the drifting side it takes a lot more skill and a lot less car, what I mean is that while racing takes skill, you can compensate with an awesome car, there is no way a TT01 will consistently win in a race against a carbon fibre racing machine. But with drifting you can, a TT01 can out perform any car out there, yes it will be difficult, but so much of drifting is down to driver skill that anything can happen. This being the case it’s also possible to get into drifting with very little financial backing (unlike racing)

I hope this article has given you some idea’s about drifting, please feel free to contact me if you have any suggestions or need any advice, advice is always free, like the rest of my site.

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