Brushed and brushless motors operate differently in RC cars. Brushed motors use physical carbon brushes to transfer power from the stationary windings to the spinning armature. This creates friction and wear over time. Brushless motors use electronic switching to alternate current in the windings, so there are no brushes.

Upgrading from brushed to brushless offers some key benefits:

  • More power – Brushless motors provide more torque and faster acceleration. The power band is also larger for quick speed bursts.
  • Efficiency – Without physical brush contacts, less energy is lost as heat. Brushless motors convert more electrical energy into mechanical power.
  • Durability – The lack of brushes means brushless motors have fewer parts to wear out. Properly maintained, they can have a much longer lifespan.
  • Speed Control – Brushless ESCs allow for very precise and quick throttle response. This makes brushless cars easier to control at high speeds.
  • Less Maintenance – No brushes to replace means less downtime maintaining the motor. Brushless motors are mostly sealed as well.

Converting a brushed RC car to brushless requires some new parts, but is well worth it. The power and speed gains are immediately obvious. Maintenance is reduced dramatically. With proper gearing, a brushless motor can make a brushed car radically faster. This article will guide you through the full conversion process.

Upgrading Your Brushed RC Car to Brushless Power

Required Tools and Parts

To upgrade your RC car to brushless power, you will need the following components:


  • 3600KV brushless motor (ex. Hobbywing XR10 Justock 3660SD G2)
  • Sensorless operation capable
  • Ideal for 1/10 scale RC cars

Electronic Speed Controllers (ESCs):

  • 120A brushless ESC (ex. Hobbywing QuicRun Crawler Brushless ESC)
  • Must be capable of handling 2-3S LiPo batteries
  • Waterproof design recommended


  • 2S or 3S LiPo with at least 5000mAh capacity
  • 30C constant discharge rating
  • Deans-style connector

Other Parts:

  • Pinion gear – match to motor RPM
  • Motor mount compatible with motor size
  • Optional heatsinks if overheating issues


  • Hex wrenches
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Soldering iron
  • Zip ties
  • Multimeter
  • LiPo battery charger

You will also need basic repair tools like screwdrivers, wrenches, hobby knife, etc. Having a small toolkit ready will ensure you have any item needed during the upgrade process.

Upgrading Your Brushed RC Car to Brushless Power

Removing the Old Motor

Before installing the new brushless motor, you need to safely remove the existing brushed motor first. Follow these steps:

  1. Disconnect the battery. Remove any battery packs to prevent accidental powering on.
  2. Remove the shell. Take off the outer plastic shell or body of the RC car to access the internal parts.
  3. Detach the motor wires. Carefully detach the motor wires from the ESC connections.
  4. Remove motor mount screws. Use a screwdriver to remove any screws fastening the motor and mount to the chassis.
  5. Extract motor. You may need to rock or wiggle the motor loose. Be careful not to damage any gears or parts.
  6. Keep the pinion gear. The existing pinion gear can likely be reused on the new motor.
  7. Keep original gears. Unless excessively worn, the main spur gear and other drivetrain gears can be retained.
  8. Keep wheels, tires and dogbones. The wheel assemblies do not need to change for a brushless upgrade.
  9. Keep shocks and suspension parts. The car’s shock absorbers, arms and suspension can remain unchanged.

Now the car is ready for installation of the new brushless motor. Take care not to lose any small screws or parts when removing the old motor.

Upgrading Your Brushed RC Car to Brushless Power

Installing the New Motor

Once the old brushed motor is removed, you can install the new brushless motor:

  1. Mount the motor. Securely screw the motor into the original motor mount. Shims or spacers may be needed to align.
  2. Attach pinion gear. Press the pinion gear from the original motor onto the new motor’s shaft.
  3. Solder battery connectors. Solder the battery pack connector wires onto the new ESC’s input wires.
  4. Solder motor wires. Solder the new ESC’s output wires to the motor wires, matching colors.
  5. Insulate connections. Cover all solder connections with heat shrink tubing or electrical tape. This prevents shorts.
  6. Route wires neatly. Use zip ties to neatly route the wiring so it does not interfere with moving parts.
  7. Reinstall parts. Reinstall the components removed earlier like gears, dogbones, suspension parts.
  8. Reattach shell. Screw the outer plastic shell back onto the chassis.
  9. Perform tug test. Gently tug on all connectors to ensure nothing will shake loose.
  10. Check wheel spin direction. Verify the motor spins the wheels in the proper forward direction.

Taking the time to carefully install the motor and ESC will result in a reliable, high-performing brushless powered car.

Upgrading Your Brushed RC Car to Brushless Power

Configuring the ESC

Programming the ESC:

  • Enter programming mode – Turn on the ESC while holding the setup button to enter programming mode. The LED will flash a certain number of times to indicate each parameter.
  • Set number of battery cells – The ESC will flash the number of currently set battery cells. Press the setup button the correct number of times to match your battery. For example, press 3 times for a 3S LiPo battery.
  • Set low voltage cutoff – The ESC will flash a number indicating the cutoff voltage. Press the button to increase the voltage cutoff. Start with 3.0V/cell and increase if needed.
  • Set motor timing – The ESC will flash representing motor timing in degrees. Press the button to increase timing up to 30 degrees for most motors. Start low and increase to reduce cogging.
  • Set BEC voltage – The ESC will flash indicating BEC voltage. Press the button to change the voltage supplied to the receiver/servos. 5V is usually OK.
  • Set braking – The ESC will flash indicating braking force percentage. Press the button to adjust the neutral braking strength. Start low if using a high torque motor.
  • Reverse throttle – The ESC will flash once for normal or twice for reverse. Press the button to toggle throttle direction.
  • Calibrate throttle – Move the throttle stick to full brake then full throttle to set the endpoints. The LED will flash when calibration is stored.

Refer to your specific ESC instructions for programming details. Properly tuning the ESC is important for optimizing your brushless system.

Testing and Adjusting

Once the brushless motor is installed and ESC configured, it’s time to test run the car and make any final adjustments:

  • Find a safe location – Test the brushless system in a large open area without obstacles. An empty parking lot or flat track works well.
  • Check radio range – Walk 50+ meters away and check full radio control range before high speed testing.
  • Use proper LiPo handling – Charge the battery to full, and discharge safely after running. Never leave charging unattended.
  • Make small adjustments – Gradually work up to higher speeds. Listen and look for any issues.
  • Check temps – Use an IR thermometer to check motor and ESC temperatures. Keep below 180°F (80°C).
  • Gear appropriately – If top speed is too high, install a smaller pinion gear. If lacking torque, try a larger pinion.
  • Adjust gear mesh – Make sure the motor pinion is not too tight or too loose against the spur gear.
  • Check slipper clutch – The slipper clutch should resist movement but slip under high loads. Tighten or loosen as needed.
  • Change drivetrain oils – Use lower viscosity oils for the differentials and transmissions to reduce friction.
  • Check stability – Ensure the wider tires and higher torque don’t make the car too front or rear biased.

By methodically testing and tuning the brushless powered car, you can achieve great speeds and acceleration without reliability issues.

Final Thoughts

Converting from brushed to brushless power can breathe new life into an RC car. Brushless motors provide far more speed and acceleration than most brushed motors can match. The efficiency gains also allow for longer run times between charges.

While the conversion does require some new parts and changes, the performance payoff is immense. Just be sure to take the proper safety precautions during installation and testing. With moderate mechanical skills, you can upgrade your RC car to brushless power and enjoy the benefits of higher speed and quicker response. Your car will be racing around the track in no time!

Enjoyed this guide of upgrading brushed RC car to brushless power? Then be sure to check out our other guides.