Why Do RC Tires Balloon?

A small amount of ballooning on your RC car tires may be desirable. It becomes problematic when it becomes so severe that it interferes with the car’s performance or brings your run to a quick end!

What causes RC tires to balloon, and what can you do to reduce this phenomenon?

The centrifugal force generated by the sudden rotation of the wheels causes the tires to be drawn away from the wheel rim. The amount of tire ballooning will be dependent on the size of the motor on the RC car and the quality of the tires mounted to the rims.

Ballooning tires on your RC car can cause headaches and frustration for operating and racing your RC car.

Understanding the forces at play on an RC tire will help to develop a strategy to minimize this phenomenon and improve the quality and safety of your RC car run.

Why Do RC Tires Balloon?

While several contributing factors affect how dramatically your RC car tires balloon, there is one main cause for RC car tire ballooning.

Centrifugal force is the culprit causing the ballooning effect on your RC tires. The centrifugal force results from a physics law that cannot be bypassed or eliminated. The only course of action is to understand how the force works so we can minimize its effect on the tires of our RC cars!

You can feel the effects of centrifugal force by holding hands with a partner and spinning rapidly around a central pivot point.

You’ll feel intense pressure pulling you and your partner away from the pivot point. If you spin fast enough, you will struggle to maintain each other’s hands.

This fore you are feeling is the centrifugal force trying to pull you away from the central point.

The same force acts the same way on your RC tires, pulling them away from the center point (your wheel rim).

The strength of the centrifugal force depends on the acceleration and the speed of rotation. Even if you start the acceleration slowly, as the speed is increased, the centrifugal force will increase and pull the tire away from the rim.

Factors Affecting RC Car Tire Ballooning

We can’t change the laws of physics.

Still, other factors in the construction of our RC cars and tires can affect the severity of tire ballooning, the effect on performance, and possible damage to the car.

  • Power of the RC car motor. A powerful motor on an RC car will spin the wheels faster, accentuating the ballooning effect on the tires. A more powerful motor requires careful tire selection to minimize the impact.
  • Tire compound. Softer tires will balloon to a greater extent than tires made from a harder rubber compound. Softer tires are more desirable for their improved grip on the road surface. Still, at some point, tires that are too soft will result in excessive ballooning and will be undesirable.
  • Low-quality tires. Lower quality tires may not have enough structural integrity to sufficiently resist the effects of centrifugal force, particularly when combined with powerful motors. While all RC tires will balloon, cheap tires will generally be affected more and deform to a greater degree when rotated at high speeds.

Why Is Tire Ballooning Bad on RC Car Tires?

Several consequences can result from ballooning tires on your RC car. Ballooning RC tires can damage the tires, your RC car, or potentially hurt bystanders observing the RC race action.

There will be deformation of any RC tire when the wheel gets up to full speed or is subjected to sudden acceleration from a powerful motor. Up to a point, the deformation of the tire can improve the surface area of the tire in contact with the road surface, which can improve traction.

However, once the deformation goes beyond this point, it can detrimentally affect the car’s performance and even cause a crash.

The problems that can result from ballooning tires include the following.

  • Tires coming off the rim. In extreme cases, the tire can shred or come off the rim, even they’re glued on. This can cause damage to the bodywork and mechanics of the RC car, cause a violent crash, or separate from the car and injure a bystander.
  • Loss of control of the RC vehicle. The most common result of ballooning tires is the car going out of control due to uneven ballooning of the tires or loss of traction. This can cause a violent crash in the worst case or deteriorate the car’s performance.
  • Excessive vibrations. RC car tire ballooning results in excessive vibrations in the RC car. This can damage or shorten the lifespan of other components.

What Can You Do To Limit RC Tire Ballooning?

Tire ballooning on RC car tires cannot be eliminated completely. Still, you can take measures to limit its effect on your car and its performance.

Use Belted RC Tires

Belted RC tires have a metal mesh belt built into the RC tire rubber to restrict the deforming of the tire under the effects of centrifugal force.

This feature is similar to the technology used in real-life car tires to prevent blowouts and cause unsafe driving conditions.

The main problem with belted RC tires is the cost. These tires are significantly more expensive than standard tires.

Try Harder Compound RC Tires

Soft compound tires will deform more easily under the stresses of centrifugal force. If you have an RC car with a powerful motor, you may need to consider changing to belted tires or harder compound tires to overcome excessive ballooning.

This is one reason why careful thought needs to go into pairing the right tires with the right power motor in your RC car.

Modify Your RC Tires To Reduce Ballooning

Suppose you are struggling with ballooning tires and don’t want to go to the expense of buying new tires right away. In that case, you can perform some modifications to the tires, which will help limit the ballooning effect.

  • Tape your RC car tires. This process is a form of DIY belting your RC car tires. It involves removing the tires from the rim, removing the inner foam, and gluing strong tape such as Gorilla tape on the inside surface of the tire. Then replace the RC tire foam and fit the tire to the rim. This DIY belting works well to limit the ballooning of the tire.
  • Use fishing line to prevent ballooning. The fishing line method involves tying a 50 lb breaking strain braided fishing line around the tire’s outer circumference. The line must be tied in between the tread on the tires to prevent friction from wearing the line away. Typically three loops of line around the tire are needed. One loop goes through the middle, with another on each of the edges of the tire circumference. This method does not work as well as the taping method.
  • Glue your RC car tires to the rims. You should always glue your RC tires to the rims, irrespective of other measures to limit ballooning. You can buy special RC tire glue made for this purpose or use standard CA-based glue. This simple method will help prevent the RC car tire from separating from the rim.

Using these modifications can reduce the ballooning on your RC tires, improve the performance of your car and reduce the safety risks associated with a tire coming adrift!

Tim Wells

Tim Wells is the creator and driving force behind ClutchRC.com. His passion for RC cars began when he caught a glimpse of a Kyosho Optima while on a family trip to Japan. Although he couldn't afford it then, the seed of his RC car hobby had been planted, and he knew he had to have one. Fast forward a few years, and he could finally dive head-first into the hobby as an adult. He found a ton of websites and YouTubers doing crazy stunts with their expensive RC cars but very few resources for the average person who just wants to go out and have fun. That's when he launched his RC car website: ClutchRC.

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