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Project Zomboid – How to Hotwire Cars

Project Zomboid - How to Hotwire Cars

Having a car in Project Zomboid is extremely helpful for getting around and transporting heavy amounts of items. However, this can be difficult if you find a car in good condition but don’t have the keys to start it. Fortunately, learning how to hotwire cars will help you when this happens.

Before you bother trying to hotwire your new car, it’s worth checking the glove box for a key. Even if there isn’t one inside the car, you may find other useful items instead. I often get stuck with basic items like lipstick and paper clips. But, every now and then I’ll find something worthwhile.

How to Hotwire Cars in Project Zomboid

Getting Inside the Car

Project Zomboid - Smash a Car Window

Figuring out how you’re going to get inside is the first step.

The first thing you’ll need to do is find a way to get inside the car you’re trying to hotwire. Until you do, you’ll only be able to either check the quality of your car or open up the trunk. Assuming the trunk isn’t locked. With that said, it’s often worth raising the hood from the front to check the car’s quality with E by default.

This is so you can get a good idea of whether a car is worth your time or not. Especially if it doesn’t even have what you need to get it started. Such as a functioning battery, engine, and gas in the tank. Because if you don’t at least have those working, you’re not moving anywhere.

Project Zomboid - Checking Car Battery

Once you have the right tools and skills you can dive deep into vehicle repair.

Regardless, if you’re lucky, the doors will be unlocked and you can simply hop in from the side. Otherwise, you have two options for trying to get inside a car in Project Zomboid. The most common way to deal with a locked door is to smash the window. But, that means you’re now missing a window which might not be ideal.

Unlike smashing a building’s window in Project Zomboid, you won’t need to remove the glass before entering. At this point, you can simply hop into the car and get to work. However, there is one other option if you don’t want to break the glass.

Project Zomboid - Uninstall Car Window

You can remove the window and plenty of other car parts on this screen.

You can instead remove the window altogether but there are a few requirements before you can do this. Depending on the type of car, you’ll need to read a relevant Laines Auto Manual. For example, the Performance Models manual if you’re working on sports cars. 

Also, you’ll need a screwdriver which surprisingly enough, isn’t required when hotwiring a car. It’s worth mentioning that your chance of success in uninstalling a window is based on your Mechanics skill. Otherwise, you may damage the window’s condition upon failing.

Now That You’re Inside the Car

Project Zomboid - How to Get Car Key

Looks like this glove box doesn’t have the key we need. We’ll need to be clever with our Project Zomboid skills.

Once you’ve made your way inside, the process starts to get simple. Although, you will need to raise your Electrical skill to at least level 1 and your Mechanics to level 2. Otherwise, you won’t be able to hotwire a car at all. The only case where you can still do it is if you have the Burglar starting occupation.

Regardless, while inside your car you can interact with several buttons near the bottom of the screen. Such as the engine symbol, door lock, headlights, etc. But, for this situation, you’ll need to press V by default to reveal a neat radial menu.

Project Zomboid - Vehicle Radial Menu Button

It’s time to put those skills to work and get this engine started.

This has several actions you can perform that you normally wouldn’t know about. Especially if you’re looking to sleep in your car when you’re far from home. With that said, the main button we’re looking for is the key with a green checkmark next to it. If the checkmark is a red X instead, your skill isn’t high enough.

Once you press the key button on the radial menu, your character will try to hotwire the car. You should start to hear some zapping electrical sounds as they attempt to. Upon failing, you’ll hear a loud zap sound and have to try again.

Project Zomboid - Driving a Hotwired Car

If you have your neighborhood blocked off like me, you may want to build a double-door gate.

Unfortunately, it’s a game of luck so you may need to try several times before successfully hotwiring the car. This is why I recommend clearing the nearby area of zombies. So they don’t sneak up on you while you’re busy working on the car. Unless you like to live dangerously.

Once you successfully hotwire the car, you’ll never need to do it for that car again. You should now see a yellow and red wire hanging out of the ignition. For those of you that haven’t started a car before, you can click the engine symbol to start it. Or simply move forward while inside.

Project Zomboid - Hotwired Car

Start exploring farther with your new car and bringing back loot to your base in Project Zomboid.

As long as the car is in decent enough condition as previously mentioned, it should start up. However, if it’s in decent condition and doesn’t turn over, you can try a couple more times. If it doesn’t start at all, you should check the hood again to make sure.

That’s all there is to this in-depth guide on how to hotwire cars in Project Zomboid. While there is a lot of information in this guide, I wanted to make sure players have all the info they need to know. If you’re struggling to find the right Laines Auto Manual, make sure to check book stores and auto shops.