by Bob Ward
Your slot cars need lubrication in the right places to run properly. Here are the basic facts you need to know.
Slot cars are like any other mechanical device; they need lubrication to run smoothly and quietly, avoid excessive wear, and delver maximum performance. If you ask ten slot car hobbyists what the best oil for slot cars is you will get at least eleven answers. The truth is, however, that unless you are going to race at the highest levels of competition almost any lightweight plastic-compatible oil will work. So, before you buy the latest hot trick slot car lube (even from us here at VLH) look around the house to see if you already have something that will serve the purpose. Most people do, usually from another hobby like model trains or just for household use. Then, if you still need to buy oil check our selection under the Tools and Supplies category.
The photo above of a typical slot car chassis shows the places where your slot cars need to be oiled. These include the rear axle bushings, the front axle bushings (or, in many cases, just holes in the chassis for the front axle), and the motor shaft bushings. If your car has the motor up front and a drive shaft going back to the rear axle there will be a bushing just forward of the pinion gear that also needs lubrication. The plastic gears that come on most ready-to-run (RTR) slot cars do not really need lube even though some of the manufacturers apply a lightweight grease to them at the factory.
You don’t need more than a tiny drop of oil at any of the lubrication points. Excess oil will just gunk up the inside of the car or drip on the track. Too much oil also causes dirt, fibers, hair, and other tiny environmental debris to stick to moving parts. This is especially important when oiling the motor shaft bushings. If too much oil gets inside the motor it can reduce performance or even cause the motor to stop running. The two key words to remember about oiling your slot cars are sparingly and infrequently. Hobbyists are much more likely to over-oil their cars than to under-oil them.
Over time, some oil and dirt will accumulate inside your cars and it’s a good idea to clean it off regularly. I’ve found that the best tool for doing this is a small natural bristle trim paint brush. You can find them at any home improvement store for less than $1 each. You just brush the inside of the body and chassis and the bristles soak up fluids while sweeping up solids. They get into all the nooks and crannies better than any rag or cotton swab. In a few moments you can have your car’s insides looking as clean as new. When your brush has soaked up too much oil just discard it and use a new one.