RC suspension setup guide

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Understanding RC car suspension is extremely important. Never minded how camber, toe or shocks effect your vehicle handling ? Suspension tuning is one of the most important way to decrease your lap time. Maybe you’re fast, but with a good setup, you’ll be faster. Here’s few good tips to set up your vehicle.

Note: Be sure there is no loose or bending in the suspension or in the steering components before attempting to tune your vehicle.

How to adjust front and rear camber

When you look at the front of the rear of your vehicle, camber represents the vertical angle of your tires. If the top of the tires are leaning toward the chassis (like the letter A), this is negative camber. On the opposite, if the top of the tires are leaning away the chassis (like the letter V) , this is positive camber. Camber is used to adjust the contact patch of the tires. Why adjust the camber ?? Simply because when entering a corner, the inner tires are leaning toward the chassis while the external tires are leaning away the chassis. By tweaking the camber, you can adjust your wheels to have more contact on the track surface and then have more traction. More the suspension is stiff, less camber you’ll need.

Typical camber settings:

  • Front: -2 to 0 degrees
  • Rear: -2 to 0 degrees
  • Never use positive camber (0+ degree)

Negative camber

Positive camber

Front:

  • Increases steering

Rear:

  • Increases traction when entering corners
  • Makes the vehicle more forgiving

Front:

  • Decreases steering

Rear:

  • Decreases traction when entering corners

Toe-in / Toe-out

Toe represents the horizontal angle of the tires. If the tires are pointing in, this is toe-in. If the tires are pointing out, this is toe-out.

Typical settings:

  • Front: -1 (toe-in) to 2 (toe-out) degrees
  • Rear: -3 (toe-in) to 0 degrees

Less toe (toe-out)

More toe (toe-in)

Front:

  • Decreases straight line stability
  • Increases cornering when exiting corners

Rear:

  • This is not recommended to use toe-out

 

Front:

  • Increases straight line stability
  • Increases initial cornering

Rear:

  • Increases rear end stability on power
  • Makes the rear end feel more “tight”
  • Increases rear end traction
  • Decreases steering

Caster

Caster is the angle of the king pin or the steering block when viewed from the side of the vehicle. If the top of the king pin or steering block leans toward the rear, this is positive caster. In the opposite, if the king pin or steering block leans forward the vehicle, this is negative caster.

More negative caster

More positive caster

Front:

  • Increases off power steering
  • Decreases on power steering
  • Decreases straight line stability
Front:

  • Increases on power steering
  • Increases straight line stability
  • Decreases off power steering

Shock oil

Shock oil affect damping speed. The thicker the oil is, the slower the shock piston moves inside the shock body. If the shock can’t move fast enough, the tire will loose contact with the ground and by consequence, lose traction. On the opposite, if shock oil is too thin, the shock will not absorb sufficient bumps and can make your vehicle bottom out after landing jumps. Don’t forget that the shock oil also influences the weight transfer when turning, accelerating and braking.Shock oil and shock springs work together, when you drastically change shock oil, don’t forget to replace shock springs according to the oil used. See Shock spring section for more information.

Lighter shock oil

Heavier shock oil

Front:

  • Increases front traction on bumpy surface
  • Increases body roll on high traction surface

Rear:

  • Increases rear traction on bumpy surface
  • Increases body roll on high traction surface
Front:

  • Decreases front traction on bumpy surface
  • Decreases body roll on high traction surface
  • Will make the vehicle less prone to bottoming out
  • Can make the vehicle jumps better and higher

Rear:

  • Decreases rear traction on bumpy surface
  • Decreases body roll on high traction surface
  • Will make vehicle less prone to  bottoming out
  • Decreases the rear end to squat under hard acceleration
  • Can make the vehicle jumps better and higher

Shock spring

Shock springs are paired with shock oil used. If you use thicker oil, you should normally use firmer springs and vice versa. The shock spring should be firm enough to fully extend the shock when fully compressed in a reasonable amount of time. This means that if you use thick oil and the spring is not firmer enough, the spring will have not enough time to fully extend the shock before the next shock compression. On another hand, a shock with thin oil and firm spring will make your vehicle looks like a pogo stick.Shock springs and shock oil work together, this is important to have springs that work with your oil selection. See Shock oil section for more information.

Stiffer shock spring

Softer shock spring

Front:

  • Decreases traction and steering on bumpy surfaces
  • Decreases body roll on high traction surfaces
  • Can make the vehicle jumps better and higher

Rear:

  • Decreases rear traction
  • Decreases rear squat effect
  • Can make the vehicle jumps better and higher
Front:

  • Increases traction and  steering on bumpy surfaces
  • Increases body roll on high traction surfaces

Rear:

  • Increases rear traction
  • Increases rear squat effect

Shock piston

By changing the shock piston you will delay or activate the damping action. This is similar to use thicker or thinner shock oil. Basically, the smaller the piston’s holes are, the slower the damping will be because less oil will pass thru the piston.This option is used when you can’t find the right oil density. Ex,: When 40wt oil is too thin and 45wt oil is to thick. The solution is to use 40wt with smaller piston holes or 45wt with larger piston holes.

More or bigger holes

Less or smaller holes

Front:

  • Increases front traction on bumpy surface
  • Increases body roll on high traction surface

Rear:

  • Increases rear traction on bumpy surface
  • Increases body roll on high traction surface
Front:

  • Decreases front traction on bumpy surface
  • Decreases body roll on high traction surface
  • Will make the vehicle less prone to bottoming out
  • Can make the vehicle jumps better and higher

Rear:

  • Decreases rear traction on bumpy surface
  • Decreases body roll on high traction surface
  • Will make vehicle less prone to  bottoming out
  • Decreases the rear end to squat under hard acceleration
  • Can make the vehicle jumps better and higher

Shock position

Shock position is the angle of the shock. You can adjust the shock position by changing the shock location on the shock tower and/or the a-arm.Changing the shock position can be helpful when you can’t find the correct shock spring/oil combo.

Don’t forget, by changing shock position, you’ll alter the suspension damping and maybe you’ll have to fine tune shock spring/oil according to your new shock position. Ride height is also affected by the shock position.

Less inclined shock position

More inclined shock position

Front or rear:

  • Makes the initial shock damping stiffer
  • Decreases lateral traction
  • Makes the vehicle more responsive
  • Makes the vehicle less forgiving and less stable
Front or rear:

  • Softens initial shock damping
  • Makes shocks more progressive
  • Makes the vehicle more stable
  • Makes the vehicle more forgiving
  • Increases lateral traction

Ride height

The ride height is the distance between the vehicle and the ground. For off-road, a good starting point is the adjust the suspension to “bone level” which means that the a-arm, the CVD and the ground are parallel. Ride height dramatically modifies weight transfer. If you bash, you can set the ride height higher to prevent chassis bottoming. For racing, you better keep things low for better cornering and lower CG.

Higher ride height

Lower ride height

Front:

  • Decreases steering
  • Increases rear traction
  • Increases CG and chassis roll
  • Increases weight transfer

Rear:

  • Decreases rear traction
  • Increases steering
  • Increases CG and chassis roll
  • Increases weight transfer
Front:

  • Increases steering
  • Decreases rear traction
  • Decreases CG and chassis roll
  • Decreases weight transfer

Rear:

  • Increases rear traction
  • Decreases steering
  • Decreases CG and chassis roll
  • Decreases weight transfer

Wheelbase

Wheelbase represents the length between the front axles and the rear axles.

Shorter wheelbase

Longer wheelbase

Shorter wheelbase makes the vehicle good in tight turns but decreases stability on bumpy surfaces. Will also increase weight transfer when accelerating or braking.Longer wheelbase makes the vehicle more stable on bumpy surfaces but will decrease cornering. Will also decrease weight transfer when accelerating or braking.

Anti-squat

Anti-squat is visible when the vehicle accelerates or breaks. When accelerating, all the weight of the vehicle is transferred to the rear end causing the rear to lower. This also transfers traction to the rear tires.

More anti-squat

Less anti-squat

  • Makes the vehicle more sensitive to throttle inputs
  • Increases rear tires traction because more weight is transferred under accelerating
  • Decreases steering under acceleration
  • Increases rear traction while accelerating on loose surface
  • Increases side-bite
  • Makes the vehicle accelerate faster through bumpy surface
RC suspension setup guide Articles   RC suspension setup guide Articles   RC suspension setup guide Articles   RC suspension setup guide Articles   RC suspension setup guide Articles   RC suspension setup guide Articles   RC suspension setup guide Articles   RC suspension setup guide Articles
Hello, my name is Sylvain Lafrance and I am the man behind MyRCBox.com. I have bought my first hobby grade RC in the early 90s. With years, what that started as a simple hobby, quickly became a strong passion. I am so much passionate about R/C that I have created MyRCBox.com in 2006 to share my experiences with R/C products that I use for racing and bashing. Follow me !
Thanks for sharing...RC suspension setup guide Articles   RC suspension setup guide Articles   RC suspension setup guide Articles   RC suspension setup guide Articles   RC suspension setup guide Articles   RC suspension setup guide Articles   RC suspension setup guide Articles   RC suspension setup guide Articles   RC suspension setup guide Articles   RC suspension setup guide Articles   RC suspension setup guide Articles   RC suspension setup guide Articles   RC suspension setup guide Articles   RC suspension setup guide Articles   RC suspension setup guide Articles   RC suspension setup guide Articles   RC suspension setup guide Articles   RC suspension setup guide Articles   RC suspension setup guide Articles   RC suspension setup guide Articles   RC suspension setup guide Articles
Sylvain Lafrance

Sylvain Lafrance

Hello, my name is Sylvain Lafrance and I am the man behind MyRCBox.com. I have bought my first hobby grade RC in the early 90s. With years, what that started as a simple hobby, quickly became a strong passion. I am so much passionate about R/C that I have created MyRCBox.com in 2006 to share my experiences with R/C products that I use for racing and bashing. Follow me !

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11 Responses

  1. Tareq Al Assad says:

    can you please tell us how to adjust sway bar front and rear

  2. John says:

    Hi.. im driving a serpent mm 2wd on a clay kind of track and its outdoor. Traction on the track is a bit loose. Why settings do you recommend e.g. shock oil and other settings should i use.. basically a full setting of gearing other stuffs as well.. thank you.. hope you would reply my question.

  3. Michele says:

    CAn i the your best guide in Italian,please

  4. Raitis says:

    I’m driving 1/10 car and front suspension is shot: even on ground it does not lift the car fully. I’m I looking to replace only springs or shocks as well?
    Where do I start? (Want to use the car for rally type driving, max possible 12mm ground clearance once suspension would be fully expanded)
    Car is discontinued so have to make sure I can match the parts (Hobby Engine r34 model)

  5. Awesome. Thanks for your time and sharing what you have learned, making it easier for newer people to become competitive quicker. This is why I love this hobby. Do you any experience with 1/5 scale? I just got my second one and in the process of building a dirt oval and off-road track combined on a acre of land

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