Screws, Nuts, and E-Clips
Give your vehicle a once-over and look at all the screws, nuts,
and E-clips (if your car uses them) to see if they are loose or
missing. Pay close attention to the areas where screws thread
into metal parts; too little thread-lock (or none!) will almost
always result in a screw that backs out. Sometimes screws
can back out of plastic parts; those can be secured with a small
dab of CA glue. There’s no need to take a driver to them to see
if your screws are loose; if they aren’t backed out or gone, then
chances are good that they are secure. Don’t forget to check
the wheel nuts if your vehicle uses nylon nuts. The nylon insert
will lose its grip over time; if the nuts don’t have resistance as
the axle’s thread passes through, it’s time to replace them.
On track, vehicles take a lot of hits from other vehicles or against the pipes, and that can damage
your suspension. If the suspension is bound up in any way, it will significantly change how your
vehicle performs. Remove the front and rear shocks, and lift each suspension arm and let it fall. If the
arm falls under its own weight, then you’re good to go. But if the arm stays up, then there’s some
binding going on. Take a look at the hingepins and hingepin mounts to see if there’s any damage.
A bent hingepin brace or a severely bent hingepin will be noticeable at a glance, but a slightly bent
hingepin might not be visible. Remove the suspected hingepin from the vehicle and roll it on a
smooth flat surface; a good pin will roll smoothly, while a bent one will wobble.
While you’ve got your shocks out for the
suspension inspection, give them a quick
check as well. Compress the shock and make
sure that there’s no resistance; if there is, you
have a bent shock shaft and it will need to be
replaced. While compressing the shock, feel
for grittiness; any roughness in the action
means the O-ring seals are shot and need to
be replaced. Compressing the shock will also
show you if you have low oil. Most shocks
use a bladder to allow for oil compensation
when the shock shaft is compressed. When
you compress this type of shock, you won’t
hear any noise as the shaft makes its way
into the body. If you hear noise, it means that
air has made its way into the shock and that
you have a leak somewhere; the O-rings may
be bad, or you could have a leak at the shock
Even if your vehicle has a spur-gear cover, dust and small debris
can make its way inside and cause
damage to your spur gear. Spin the
spur gear and check for worn or
broken teeth and for small pebbles
in the gear. These can result in
a gear that fails when you least
expect it. A spur gear is inexpensive,
so go ahead and replace it if you
have any of these issues. Also, take
a moment to check the gear mesh
between the pinion and spur gear.
A motor that isn’t tight enough
can shift while racing and alter the
mesh, which can damage your spur
gear. You want just a slight tick of
play between the two.
Screws can back out when you least expect it and put an
end to your race. A little thread-lock will secure screws
that thread into metal parts, while pesky screws that
back out of plastic parts can be secured with a little bit
of CA glue.
Your suspension arms should lift smoothly
and fall under their own weight. If they
don’t fall or they fall slowly, then you
have some binding going on.
shocks; listen for
air inside and feel
for grittiness, and
rebuild if necessary.
Even with a gear cover in place, dirt can make its way to the spur
gear. Check for debris and worn or broken teeth.