The Amazing Traxxas Nitro Rustler

The Traxxas Nitro Rustler is known among Nitro RC aficionados as the first name in the world of Nitro 2WD trucks. It has gained prominence and respect among fans on account of its top speeds of above 50mph, powered by its high performance TRX 2.5 Racing Engine.

The Traxxas Nitro Rustler is known among Nitro RC aficionados as the first name in the world of Nitro 2WD trucks. It has gained prominence and respect among fans on account of its top speeds of above 50mph, powered by its high performance TRX 2.5 Racing Engine.  The TRX 2.5 engine is also responsible for the mad acceleration and exhilarating wheel stands that this little monster is capable of pulling off. Its smooth body and low profile enables it to steal against the wind with minimal turbulence. The designers gave it a catchy ProGraphix® paint job, guaranteeing that you will be able to spot your machine from miles away during races. You can race this beauty on- and off- road because it was built to triumph against the elements, with its robust design and suspension geometry built specifically for racing. The Rustler has been around for a long time and has managed to get better with each update released, which is why old time Nitro fans still love this car. Racers who run their machines on the track will tell you the importance of being able to turn the car’s direction at the split of a second. The Rustler will do that for you on asphalt, loose dirt, even ice and snow. The Traxxas Stability Management TSM® enables the car to maintain speed, power and acceleration while showing off all those cool manoeuvres.

The Unboxing

The Traxxas Nitro Rustler comes in a relatively large box containing a standard TQi 2.4GHz Radio System. It comes Ready-to-Race, meaning that it’s already factory-assembled. This is good news for fans who are not very handy with putting things together manually and prefer to just get on with it. Most people who buy this model love the sturdy rims it comes with. Inside the box, you will find;

  • The Owner’s Manual and Service Support details,
  • 500cc fuel bottle,
  • Assembled Nitro Rustler with TRX-2.5 racing engine and glow plug and TSM®
  • Alias 2.8″ tires with foam inserts pre-glued on mirror-chrome Twin-Spoke wheels
  • Red or blue painted body with rear wing,
  • AV starter, 7.2V 800mAh nickel battery,
  • 2-amp 12V DC Peak Detecting Fast Charger,
  • EZ-Start electric starter
  • Advanced TQi 2.4GHz transmitter and receiver with model memory
  • Red air filter oil, spare glow plug, zip ties, body clips,
  • A precision metric specialty tool set for easy servicing
  • Pack of eight AA batteries (four go in the receiver, four go in the transmitter)*

The important component that is missing is the fuel needed to run your machine. You will have to buy this separately and have it delivered to your doorstep. You might even find that the AA batteries are not included in your pack, so you may have to buy them separately.

The first thing you do after unboxing your to test whether the wheels and engine parts are moving as needed. You do this by pressing the EZ-Start push-button, which is only available in the TRX 2.5 engine. Once you’ve confirmed they are in working order, you want to begin tuning it so that it works to your preference.

TRX 2.5 Engine Mechanics

The TRX 2.5 engine is a high power horse, touted by its manufacturer as the most powerful engine in its class. With a two-needle composite slide carburettor, trick porting and a free-flowing rear exhaust, it’s no wonder that the engine can provide enough throttle to push past 50mph! Also, the TRX 2.5 engine comes with a filter housing and neck designed to eliminate turbulent air flow from going into the engine, thereby ensuring smooth movement. A well tuned exhaust system ensures that the engine runs cooler and utilises fuel efficiently. This in turn increases the engine’s output, achieving top speeds and highest torque.


Alias 2.8″ Pre-Glued Tires with Foam Inserts – step-pin tyres in the rear and ribbed tyres at the front – are made of superior rubber compound that guarantee good grip on a wide range of surfaces. A light-weight horizontal bead holds the tyres to the rim, enduring even extreme rpm. The springs are white powder coated, enhancing their appearance. With the bell-crank steering system, there is reduced bump steer, therefore increasing stability when manoeuvring sharp corners.

Gears and Clutches

The fully adjustable slipper clutch ensures increased traction control by controlling the power output in the rear wheels. The Nitro Magnum 281™ single speed transmission comes with 32 pitch gears, fully rubber sealed precision ball bearings that will last a lifetime, and metal top gear, built to perfection for performance driving.


The Nitro Rustler also comes with advanced oil-filled Ultra Shocks, which offer a perfect seal for smooth performance. These shocks use X-ring technology, are perfectly tunable, and feature pressure bladders that separate air/oil. You can change the ride height spring pre-load using spring clips. Use Traxxas shock rebuild kits to renew the shocks. For maximum strength during off-road racing, the planetary gear differential features hardened steel gears, which require practically no maintenance.


Traxxas Stability Management TSM® makes it much easier to control your Rustler on slippery surfaces, including ice and snow. It makes steering corrections upon sensing the car’s direction, and provides straight-ahead, full throttle acceleration without losing control. It also works well when taking sharp corners , making corrections to maintain your line, while allowing you to pump your throttle earlier rather than later, and increase your exit speed. TSM will also enable you to brake in a straight line until you stop.


Finally, the fully trimmed and painted body comes in either red or blue. You can also add decals and identifiers for your races and to add oomph to the body. The upper chassis deck is made of fibre-reinforced composite, and is handy in stabilising the fuel tank. It also ties in with the 6061-T6 lower aluminium chassis, which draw away heat from the engine and prevent drag which slow down the car. It also features a dual-plane design which allows the suspension to go over bumps smoothly.

How to maintain your Traxxas Nitro Rustler in tip-top shape

Proper maintenance of the Nitro Rustler, and indeed any Nitro RC, begins with a proper break-in using the recommended Traxxas method. Most other break-in methods will overheat your engine and cause permanent damage to your machine before you’ve even had a chance to enjoy it. Thankfully, this information is included in the user manual.

Nitro engine can make you pull your hair out if you do not take the time to understand how they work. They are very different from electric RCs, so an open mind, a keen ear and a love for mechanics will serve you well.

Our verdict

The best thing about the Traxxas Nitro Rustler is that it is backed by the Traxxas Power Up Plan, which enables you to upgrade to a new engine later. It is important to have a company that backs you up, for total performance and satisfaction.

However, according to reviews by other users, you will have to get RPM replacement parts just to be safe.  Parts that are known to wear out or break first include front a-frames, shock towers and body mounts.