The tips shared below are generally for racers who have not had a lot of experience with maintenance procedures of scale race cars. You will see below that modern slot cars are very easy to lubricate and tune and that taking just a few moments to oil your scale race car will make it run better, faster, and last a lot longer. We would like to hear from you too if you have something simple to add which isn’t already covered below. For even more tuning tips be sure to go to our high performance modifications page.
If your tip is well thought out, well written, concise, and clear we may use it.
Racing Tip – Handling
If your slot car fishtails and is constantly losing the back end on curves (especially the weaker magnet cars), simply clean the rear tires with a mild solvent or just rub the tires down with some saliva (yes saliva)! The car will immediately show amazing improvements in handling and significantly improve your lap times. (Santosh – South Africa)
Learn how to remove the slot car body for cleaning/maintenance
The bodies of most new slot cars are fastened from the bottom with two to four small Phillips head screws. Removal of these screws allows the body to be lifted off. This should be done periodically for chassis and gear cleaning as well as inspection of all other moving parts, even for checking the freedom of movement of the front guide pin.
This is a good time to do your oil/grease maintenance.
Tips on how to help your body posts last longer – When reinstalling the body screws if the screw seems tight as soon as you begin to tighten it, try turning the screw backwards a little bit and start it in a different position. I often find that the screw threads and body post have been mated to each other. If you start the screw in the right position and can find this same mating the screw will not rip plastic out of the body post when it is reinstalled. Also remember not to over-tighten the body screws. (in fact some slotracing pros say the cars run better if the body screws are left a little loose!) (DT)
Oil Motor and Axles
Oil…….change your oil every 3000 laps and use Mobil-1 synthetic….yeh right. Really though, OIL, used sparingly, is your friend and should be used periodically in several important places on every slot car. Oil makes every moving part work with less friction, less heat, and makes your slot car faster. Need we say more? Use your friend sparingly though because too much oil creates a mess, gathers more dirt, and seeps to places you don’t want it to go.
Using a light oil, such as hobby oil or sewing machine oil and a pinpoint needle oiler, you should periodically oil the electric motor wherever exposed armature shafts protrude, often times this is on both ends of the motor. Oil should also be applied to axles where they go through axle bearings or bushings. Don’t assume that brand new slot cars are adequately oiled. We saved a brand new Fly Viper one night when it slowed down severely and got so hot you could not touch the bottom. We oiled the motor ends, let the car cool, and the car took right off. Do not let oil get on internal parts of the motor though, such as the internal armature and motor brushes. (MLH)
(Sport Craft offers handy oilers with long metal pinpoint applicators; ask for Hob-E-Lube oilers filled with oil, ready to use; or check them out on our slot car parts page)
Grease the Gears
Grease on the gears……Use of a light grease on axle gears does the same thing as oil does to the motor….runs with less friction, and lasts longer before replacement. We use grease instead of oil on the gears because of the extra pressure these parts typically go through. Also grease will stay on the gears better than oil. Periodically clean these gears, removing dirt, carpet fuzz, and whatever else can clog up your gears. (MLH)
Grease the Guide Blade Post
The guide blade post is also a point of friction that could use a little lubrication. A dab of gear grease on this post can help your car navigate those tricky corners a little smoother. Most makes of slot cars feature a “push in” style of guide pin which can be eased out of it’s hole for lubrication. The Fly, Ninco, and some others use wires which are connected to the guide blade. Go slowly and carefully and the blade can be removed from the chassis without disconnecting these wires. Dab a little grease on the post or in the hole with a toothpick and push the blade back into it’s hole. That’s all that’s to it! This lube job will last a long time and will only need to be done a few times in a slot car’s lifetime. (DT)
Truing your tires on the rims
The rubber tires on your new slot car were pushed on the car’s wheels by factory workers who likely had one eye on the clock…..not caring whether the tires are properly and evenly seated on the wheel. You need to determine that the tires are “true”, especially the rear tires where power is applied. Out of “true” tires can cause the car to “hop” or handle poorly. Rubber tires are soft and very flexible so they can bunch up on one side of the wheel and cause this imbalance. Remove the body from the car and, using your thumbs and fingers, roll and push the rubber tire until it feels evenly round. Now, lift the car to eye level at the rear of the car, turn the axle, and watch carefully to see that the rubber tire runs true. When you are satisfied, replace the body and take a couple of slow laps observing the action at the rear of the car. This really can make a big difference.
Mark sure your front wheels roll smoothly while driving
Surprisingly, many new slot cars come with very deep guide pins which drag on the bottom of the slot and cause the front wheels to be elevated with the result that the wheels do not rotate properly. Your objective is to lower the front end so the front wheels properly rotate. Most of the time, you can trim a millimeter or two off the bottom of the guide pin which solves two problems; first, it lowers the front of the car allowing the front wheels to rotate, and second: it prevents the guide from dragging on the bottom of the slot and further slowing the car down. Dragging guide pins can further slow your car because the guide pin may hit one or more of the track joints if they aren’t aligned perfectly.
We realize that some slot car manufacturers design their slot racers to rest on the guide brushes, not necessarily the wheels. Therefore, carefully measure before shaving the guide pin too short. (JTF)