Ultimate Guide to Breaking in Your New 1/32 Slot Car

One of the most fun hobbies around, slot car racing is the go-to fun activity you can enjoy with friends and family. Race your slot car around the track or make it more competitive by adding chicanes and difficult turns, if you are new to the slot car genre, here are some helpful tips on breaking-in your car to achieve better performance.

Breaking in the Rear Wheels

Slot cars are all rear wheel drive so it is quite essential that the rear wheel does not get stuck. To break-in the new slot car wheels hold the car upside down in one hand and then gently spin the rear wheel using your thumb. If you notice that the wheel does not spin at all, most likely the rear axle assembly or the motor is out of position. Simply check and snap them into place.

Check the Braids are frayed

The copper brushes that touch the metal rails which is also the source of electricity to power the car are called braids. Most of the time, new slot cars run sporadically because they do not come in good contact with the track rails. The braids are often wound very tightly and do not create good electrical conductivity. In order to do a proper breaking-in,  you will need a pocket knife and a straight pin. If you have none of these, you can use your thumb to work the ends of the braids until they separate and become frayed. You then curl them down so they come in contact with the track.


Do not go full-speed with your new Carrera slot car when you take it out of the box. Break it in by running at least twenty laps around the track at half to three quarters the speed. This will ensure you get the most performance from your new slot car.

Don’t Forget to Lubricate

Use white grease to the gears and a little bit of oil on the drive shaft and motor as well as the axle bushings. Do not forget to wipe off any excess lubricant in order to avoid build-up, which can clog or attract dirt and debris.

Getting to Know Your 1/32 Slot Car

Slot cars staged a comeback ever since their heyday back in the 1960s. The introduction of Carrera digital slot car sets totally changed the way slot cars are played as it allowed more cars to run on a single track. If you are new to 1/32 slot car racing here are some tips to guide you.

Issue: Slot car Won’t Start

9 times out of 10 the problem is the motor is not getting enough electricity due to poor conductivity. Sometimes new braids are wound too tightly that they fail to achieve good contact.  To correct the problem, use a brass wire brush on the braids to fray and curl them and also to remove the waxy coating that usually is on the braids themselves. If the slot car still does not run, remove the body carefully and check the wires if the connections are sound. A simple way to test the motor is to lift the rear of the slot car off the track, ensure the guide is in the slot and braids have good solid contact. Apply power and the motor should run, as it should. If the motor is the problem it will not run at all or it will run very briefly only and then stops.

Issue: Slot Car slows down on certain areas of the track

The problem most likely is with the track rather than the slot car itself. Check to see if the track does not have poor connectivity. Usually with movement and frequent set up and take down, the track connections can become loose.  Check the track for any problematic areas. If you see some that are bent or deformed, use a small screwdriver and bend them back into their proper shape and then reconnect the layout. If the damage is really bad, it is possible that you may have to replace the track itself.

Issue: Rough Performance of 1/32 slot car

The most common reason would be the axle not in its correct position. Take the body off and snap the rear axle back into place usually solves the problem. There may be instances that a tire may be rubbing on a fender or chassis. Usually a little trimming with a dremmel tool or an Exacto knife corrects the problem.  There may be some rare instances where the chassis has cracked or there is a defect in the car itself from some manufacturing flaw.  A missing chassis screw may cause some warping and can be corrected by replacing it.

FAQs about 1/32 Slot Cars

Slot car racing is an amazing hobby to have.  The cars are mostly durable and require little maintenance.  However, with repeated use and sometimes abuse they do tend to breakdown as well. If you own one of the most popular variant of slot cars available: 1/32 slot cars, here are some common FAQs to guide you when they do go on the fritz.

Why do I have sporadic performance issues on my 1/32 slot car?

Assuming the most common cause is the reason, your slot car probably has a conductivity issue. This means that the motor is not getting a constant supply of electricity to allow it to run smoothly.  To correct the problem, check the braids (or contact brushes) in order to ensure they are not dirty or worn. If you have one that is directly out of the box, make sure the braids are properly frayed and are curled downward so that the frayed portion touches the track 1st

Why does my 1/32 slot car keep derailing off the track?

This is more of skill rather than a functional issue. The key to avoid derailing is to practice driving your slot car until you get the hang of it. Most folks coming from the HO scale slot cars are often discouraged when they finally encounter a slot car model that requires a bit of skill in order to drive properly.  Assuming that you are already a skilled driver and your slot car still keeps derailing, make sure that you clean the digital slot car tracks of any debris and then replace your current tires with silicone ones in order to achieve better traction especially around corners.

Why does the motor run but the back wheels does not even turn?

First step to rectify the problem is to take the body off in order to determine if the rear axle did not come loose from its holder on the chassis. If it did come loose, simply snap the axle bushings back into place. Another problem may be the motor, which popped out of the holder. Just snap it into place and use some glue to ensure it does not pop out.

After a crash, make sure to inspect your slot car 1st prior to putting them back into the track.  Rough handling, crashes and incorrect shipping or just careless assembly can cause motors and axles to come loose causing issues.

Troubleshooting Carrera Digital 1/32 Slot Cars

Carrera manufactures excellent 1/32 slot cars for competitive and casual racing.  If you noticed that your slot car is not functioning, as it should there are several steps you can perform on your own to try and rectify the problem.


Here are some basic tools that you will use to troubleshoot your Carrera slot car.

  • Small Screwdriver – nothing fancy, the free pocket types being given away as marketing gifts often do the job
  • Magnets – to hold the screws so you wont lose them
  • Magnifying glass
  • A good light sours like an overhead lamp

Chassis Removal

The first step is to remove the body or chassis of your Carrera slot car. Removing it is very straightforward. Locate the 3 screws that hold the body to the chassis they are locate behind each rear wheel and there is one located in the front between the headlights. Other car models may have the screws located elsewhere. Try not to touch the screws located in the middle of the slot car as these are the ones holding the traction magnets and do not completely take the car apart while doing this step.

7 Components

As with all digital slot car sets, there are 7 components that make it work. The power cycle flows like this: from the brushes it will go to the motor and then to the driveshaft, gear and pinion, rear axle and finally the rear wheels.  If your slot car suddenly just won’t run you are looking at one of two possible reasons either a microchip or motor fail.

Check the Connections

All things being equal the simplest explanation tends to be the right one, this scientific precept called Occam’s razor applies to troubleshooting slot cars. Rule out loose connections first before moving forward to much more complicated reasons. Check the red and black wires that come up from the brushes and connect to the microchip. Make sure the soldered connection and the plastic connector does not have contact with dirt or corrosion or anything that can hinder the transmission of electricity. If there is a loose connection chances are the motor and the microchip are fine.

How to Mod the Braid and Tires of your Slot Car to Attain Better Overall Performance

If there is a hobby out there that is worthy of time and effort it would be slot car racing. There is nothing like the thrill of winning a race that is hard-fought. Use your skills against other players or simply have fun with friends and family at home.  For better performance, practice some of these slot car tuning tips.


Before you begin modding your Carrera slot cars it is best that you have an idea of how to take the parts apart without damaging it. Consult your owner’s manual or look for some helpful guides online.  Once you are ready begin by taking the slot car apart by starting with the guide. Check the braid to ensure they are flat and smooth. It is important that it is important that the braid comes in good contact with the track.  Fray them and curl them down properly so that the frayed portion makes good contact with the rails.


Inspect the tires for smoothness. It is important that there be no flashing or rough areas that would cause the tire to be out of shape. If you notice some rough spots, simply sand down the rim by placing them on an axle and using a dremmel at low speed.  Use flat sandpaper for best results.

The front tires play a very important role in terms of car handling. Install the front tires and rims ad check to see if there is up and down movement. If there is then you will need to adjust them.  Drill 3/32 holes using styrene in order to act as bushings and then put the axle through the styrene and then install the rims and tires on the axle.

You then install the front axle assembly on the chassis. Using a test block set the chassis with the guide and the braid. Push the wheels down so they are touching the test block. Use glue to bond the new styrene bushings. Check and see if the front tires are touching the block and the chassis looks level.  Make sure to oil the axle and spin the tires to ensure the axle was not glued to the rim. The front tires need to be clearly on the track with no space between the tire and the block.

Collecting Model Train Guide

When it comes to model trains, there are some brands that are geared towards kids and are sold, as toy sets then there are also others that are designed for collectors. With toy trains and collectibles almost looking alike sometimes, it can get pretty confusing which one to start your collection with.  If you are looking to score the latest LGB starter sets out in the market today, read on below on some pointers to help guide you in the buying process.


If you are thinking of getting into model railroading big time do not immediately jump in the bandwagon what you are getting yourself into.  Model train collecting is a vastly satisfying hobby and getting into it with the right information and tools at your disposal will help you avoid some of the common pitfalls that beginners often commit when they start out.

Do your research. Read books and magazines and attend model train shows in order to get a grasp on what type of model trains you prefer the most and how you want to invest time and money in.  Do you prefer an indoor railroad set or sets for garden trains? In short you need to get a feel of the hobby and a vision on how to go about it before you begin the process of purchasing your 1st collectible locomotive.

Condition Counts

Condition is mandatory when it comes to model train collecting. Model trains are not merely models stuck in a box and displayed to friends from time to time.  These things were built to run and they should otherwise it is a waste of time and effort. If you have your eye on a particular expensive set but don’t have the experience to operate and maintain it, it is always wise to begin with a starter set that is similar in gauge and scale so you can get your feet wet on how to handle it properly.

Starter Kits

As mentioned above, purchasing a starter kit is an excellent way of getting into the model train experience without costing an arm and a leg.  The great thing is that starter kits are available for all the major brands such as Bachmann, Tyco and Lionel to name a few. Select a starter kit according to the locomotive, which is almost always the most essential piece anyway in a train set.  Choose a separate unit for the power supply as the stock that comes with the starter normally does not last that long.

Maintenance Tips for N Scale Model Trains

The N scale models of trains sets are popular to hobbyists and beginners alike because these trains are just perfect for people that want to run long trains or keep the focus on the scenery.  For people that have limited space or want miniature details, the N scale is perfect.  Here are some maintenance tips to consider for N scale model trains.

Keep Railroad Tracks and Wheels Clean

Whether you are using G scale sets or N scale sets it is always considered a wise decision to keep your railroad tracks and wheels clean. We all know that dust and soil on the track have a negative effect on performance especially tracks with smaller gauges like the N scale.  For example, a bit of lint or grit may be equal to a tiny pebble to a bigger model.  Moreover, powered tracks can also collect scale from metal oxides when unlike metals of the track begin to meet the rolling stock wheels.

Do not use Excessive Lubricant

Any toy that has moving parts will need lubricants in order to keep the machine going. However too much lubricant especially for smaller models is bad. For example, the tip of a toothpick can hold enough lubricant to keep an N scale model train running smoothly for hundreds of hours.  Over lubrication will allow dust and other grit to collect which results to more frequent cleanings and lesser time enjoying the tracks.

Refer to Manufacturer Recommendations

It is always a good choice to refer to the manufacturer recommendations especially with regard to maintenance of your N scale model train. The instructions contain crucial information on how often the car or engine requires cleaning as well as the amount of lubricant needed to keep it functioning at optimum capacity.

Use Foam Cradle

We all know that the smaller the parts, the more fragile it is. Unless you are cleaning garden railroad streetcars you will need to be more careful when it comes to cleaning and maintaining your N scale trains. Enclosing the car or engine with soft foam will provide protection from damage, prevent paint from scratching and allow you to work much more comfortably and at ease.