Project Zomboid – Car Basics

The basics on how cars and their controls work.


The in-game tutorial doesn’t cover car controls, so I will. If the car doesn’t work properly make sure you have everything in check.

Click the keyhole to put the key in without turning the car on. Do this in the menu at the bottom to see the gas level. Always take it out to save the battery and turn the car off.

In order to start the car you just press W. The car will hum to life and the engine symbol turns yellow. If the car stalls, keep trying. if it won’t work check gas, battery and engine condition.

The other symbols beside battery and engine are quick controls. Hover over them for more info.

The most important control: the vehicle radial menu. In order to access this press V.

This gives you tons of options that aren’t readily apparent: opening windows to shoot out of them, sleeping in the car, hotwiring, switching seats, etc. Familiarize yourself with this menu. There is a second menu accessed with Z that you can use to switch seats fast without going through the radial menu. Note that the radial menu can be used outside the car aswell.

Towing Cars and Hotwiring

Quickly about towing cars and hotwiring.

In order to tow cars make sure you have a car behind the towing car. The car can be facing away or towards the towing car, but you can only attach other cars and trailers to the back of a car.

Note: Towing cars is usually very slow, especially if you’re a sunday driver and/or the car you’re towing has no wheels.

In order to hotwire cars you need mechanics 2 and electrical 1 or the burglar trait. Open the radial menu inside the car and press the key with the check. If it worked the keyhole will have wires coming out of it, and the doors can be opened without keys. I’m not sure, but I think failing this decreases engine condition.

Basic Maintenance and Driving

In order to do car maintenance use the radial menu (again, V) or hold E on the front of the car to access the menu. The text on the right is a more detailed menu and the illustration on the left is a quick access menu you can right click.

Note that there are different types of cars that use different wheels, batteries, doors etc. and the engine cannot be uninstalled, only scrapped for parts.

Fun fact: all car radios come preinstalled with a battery when uninstalled. Another radio tip: install a premium radio to use CDs.

Lastly, some notes on gas and battery. In build 42 you have to use hoses to siphon gas (also for future people remember not to use watered down gas), you can fill up bottles and other water containers but gas cans are always best for their capacity. Later in the apocalypse you have to use car battery chargers to get cars going once the juice runs out.

Hope this helps. I tried to keep it short but kinda failed. Bye!

Helena Stamatina
About Helena Stamatina 2706 Articles
My first game was Naughty Dog’s Crash Bandicoot (PlayStation) back in 1996. And since then gaming has been my main hobby. I turned my passion for gaming into a job by starting my first geek blog in 2009. When I’m not working on the site, I play mostly on my PlayStation. But I also love outdoor activities and especially skiing.

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