Project Zomboid - how to hotwire a car

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how to hotwire a car - picture of a group of characters beating up zombies
Credit: Project Zomboid

Do you want to know how to hotwire a car in Project Zomboid? We understand you because Project Zomboid’s world is unforgiving for players who don’t have vehicles. Hotwiring cars is a marginally useful skill in Project Zomboid, but it can leave you vulnerable unlike in State of Decay 3 where getting a car is easy.

In Project Zomboid, travelling on foot is very risky because your character won’t be able to see zombies within their vision. As a player, you don’t have an omniscient view of the playing field, so expect for sudden jump-scares. Thankfully, you don’t need to worry about dead spiders turning into zombies at all.

Of course we don’t recommend you do any of this in real life, but read further if you want to know how to hotwire a car in Project Zomboid. We’ve gathered the necessary information to help you hotwire cars in the game.

How to hotwire a car in Project Zomboid

To hotwire a car in Project Zomboid, your character must have 2 Mechanical and 1 Electrical skill points. Alternately, you can just start with a Burglar character to hotwire cars easily.

Follow these steps to hotwire a vehicle:

  • Find a car in your immediate location.
  • Approach the car and enter it, or just break the window.
  • Open the radial menu by pressing V.
  • Select ‘hotwire car’ to start the process.
  • Press W to start the engine.

You might fail a few times in the hotwiring process, so you must be patient. More importantly, you must be wary of your surroundings. Zombies and other players are probably located a few yards away from you.

What do you need to do before hotwiring a car?

Once you’re inside a car, you must observe the dashboard right away. The dashboard contains useful visual information regarding the car’s status.


If a key is visible in the dashboard, you don’t need to hotwire the car at all. But before firing the ignition, check if the engine icon is in red. A red icon simply means that the engine is broken, and you need to get out of the car immediately. If the icon is not red, the engine is fine and you can fire the ignition. Drive away as fast as you can before you become a sitting duck.

That’s it for our Project Zomboid guide. Keep in mind that Project Zomboid is CPU-taxing even though it’s a pixel game. Just pick any of our chosen budget gaming PCs to start your smooth Project Zomboid adventure. Also, check out our guide on preparing your new Zomboid-ready PC build.

For more articles like this, take a look at our Guides and Gaming page.