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1:32 Scale Slot Car Tune Up and Maintenance

Modern slot cars are very easy to lubricate and tune.
Taking just a few moments to oil your scale race car will make it run better, faster, and last a lot longer.

Tip: 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 improvements in handling and lap times will improve.

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Removing a Slot Car Body

The bodies of most new 1:24 and 1:32 slot cars are fastened from the bottom with two to four small Phillips head screws. Removal of these screws usually allows the body to be lifted off.

This should be done periodically for chassis and gear cleaning, oil maintenance as well as inspection of all other moving parts including the front guide pin.


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Body Posts

When reinstalling body screws the screw may seem too tight as you begin to tighten it. If this is the case, try backing the screw out a little bit and restarting it in a different position.

Screw threads and body posts have usually mated to each other at the factory when the self tapping screw cut the threads into the post for the first time. 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. Remember not to over-tighten the body screws.

Tip: Most slot racing pros say that cars run better when the body screws are a bit loose, allowing the body to shift slightly in turns.


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Oil Motor and Axles

  • 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.


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Grease 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. You might also consider using 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.


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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.


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Truing your Tires on the Hubs (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.


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Make 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.

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.


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Keep Your Track Clean

This may sound too simple, but a dirty track will definitely affect the performance of every slot car in a negative way. Non magnet cars will tail-slide more easily and strong magnet cars will act more erratic than ever. To ensure fair competition and the best possible performance we suggest a quick vacuum job of the track. In most cases this will remove any room dust and more importantly any metallic braid or tire debris (rubber, silicone, etc.).

Clean track is also critical to the life of slot car racing motors. Dust and metallic particles from pick-up braids can impede the flow of cooling air around the motors and clog up bushings and armatures. These same elements can collect on lubricated parts of the chassis. Gears, bushings, axles, and any lubricated area of your car acts like a dust and debris magnet.

For routine maintenance, consider a dusting brush attachment on your shopvac or home vacuum cleaner. A damp cloth can also be used but we don't recommend it because lint can be more destructive than dust. If a damp cloth is your only option, be careful not to litter the track with lint from your cloth. SCX and Ninco plastic tracks are quite abrasive by design and cloth can leave lint behind very easily.

Many slot car enthusiasts like to improve performance of their cars. Lap times are generally the measuring tool used to check for better performance. We suggest any serious test session must be done on a clean track for reference purposes.


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Magnets

It doesn't take people long to realize that a Fly Slot Car is one of the fastest out-of-the-box cars on the market. But, most people don't realize that the strong Fly magnet is what makes these cars so quick. Fly motors are no faster than any other stock motor. Replacing a car's magnet is the easiest and most effective way to improve lap speeds.

To make your favorite "non Fly" quicker you need to swap to a stronger magnet. We could debate which magnet is best all day long, but it boils down to finding a neodymium magnet that "fits" the underside of the car you are modifying. Ninco makes a very nice round neo magnet but it is rather thick. And, you can buy Fly neo magnets too. Yet, some of our favorite neo magnets are by Slot-It and Professor Motor.

Finding the right "neo" magnet and the right placement under the car takes experimentation and tuning. We can make some general recommendations, but every car's weight and balance is different so we recommend you experiment with double sided tape before you glue a magnet in place. Some people like to place the magnet in the middle of the car (this tends to hold the front end down a bit and helps minimize rollovers). Other people like to hang the magnet out the back so they can still power slide the around curves.

One warning though. Neo magnets are very strong and they do place added strain on the car's motor. Too much magnet can damage your motor.

Optional Magnets for Fly Slot Cars
  • SICN01 neodymium magnet 1/4" × 7/8" rectangular flat bar good replacement for Scalextric's rectangular magnets.
  • SICN02 neodymium magnet 1/4" × 7/8" rectangular flat bar, unique design is thin in the middle (for low drag for straightaways) and thicker on each end (to catch and hold the car on curves).
  • PMTR1063 neodymium magnet - direct replacement for Pro Slot 6001 - 25% stronger.


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Slot Car Motors

Racers always want to go faster. The old saying goes, speed costs money, how fast do you want to go? Slot-It motors are significant improvements over the stock units in most cars. However, a 26,000 RPM motor needs room to rev up. So, if you have only short straights on your circuit, you may not benefit much by these motors. Sure, they will be quicker off the line, but they won't rev to their maximum RPM unless they have a nice long straightaway (10+ feet long should be enough to feel the difference).

The motors are designed to be easily snapped into place and they come with the soft silicone wires. You need to connect the wires to the front guide too (be sure to connect the wires correctly to the guide or the car will go the wrong direction.


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Controllers

Now that you have one or more "HOT" cars, you need to consider if your throttle controller is up to the task of delivering the power this car demands. If you are using stock controllers you probably will not take advantage of the increased power. Controllers differ in their "ohm" resistance and cars vary in their demand for more or less resistance. You don't need to be an electrician, we can guide you with just a couple of tips.

Stock controllers are often 50-60 ohm and were designed to run best with the cars that came with your race set. On the other hand, high performance controllers can range from 20-30 ohm and must be purchased separately. High performance cars require a low ohm controller, but not all companies make a full range of controllers. In an ideal world you would have adjustable range controllers, but they are usually very expensive and are not offered by most of the common companies (with the exception of Ninco which has 16 ohm rating settings to choose from). Because all cars are different, they each have different resistance demands.

Scalextric's Pro-Tec controllers are 30 ohm and work very well with all but the most powerful cars. If you modify your car with stronger magnets or more powerful motors your ohm resistance needs will change. We offer a 20 ohm controller by Parma which can be adapted to your race set. The Parma controller does not come with a plug so you must be handy with a soldering iron to connect it to your track.

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