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Project Zomboid cars: how to hotwire a car in Project Zomboid

Learn how to hotwire a car in Project Zomboid

Want to know how to hotwire a car in Project Zomboid? Cars litter the streets in Project Zomboid, but that doesn't mean you can just hop inside a vehicle and start driving. You can drive any car that's in good condition, but you'll need to find some way to start the engine before going for a drive. Fortunately, that doesn't mean you'll need to waste time looking for a key.

Below, we'll cover everything you need to know to hotwire a car in Project Zomboid, so that you can use any car that you find without hunting for a key.

How to hotwire a car in Project Zomboid

There are two ways you can hotwire a car in Project Zomboid:

  • Choose Burglar as your occupation
  • Level up your skills to reach Level 1 Electrical and Level 2 Mechanics

If you want to use the Burglar occupation, check out our Project Zomboid character builds to find a strong thief build that uses this occupation to make looting and fighting much easier. If you’ve already got a character, or have a different build in mind, then you'll need to go down the skills route.

After meeting either of these requirements, you can hotwire a vehicle by climbing inside. Some vehicles are already open, allowing you to get inside without a struggle. These are the best cars to hotwire, as you can do it relatively quietly without attracting zombies.

However, if you find a locked car, you’ll need to either find a key or smash the window. Keys usually spawn on nearby zombies or in the nearest house. Of course, if you do find a key, you won’t need to hotwire the car. Instead, look on the dashboard menu at the bottom of the screen and press on the ignition to insert the key and start the car.

If you fail to find a key and the car is locked, we recommend finding another vehicle, as smashing the window will alert any zombies that are nearby. This will place you in immediate danger and make it much harder to survive. If you smash the window, there's a chance it might also give you a cut which could lead to an infection, so make sure you have bandages around if you go that route.

Once you’ve managed to get inside a car, you need to open the vehicle interaction menu. This menu is set to the V key by default. You can then select the hotwire option and attempt to hotwire the car. This won’t always work on the first try, but you can keep trying until you’re successful.

After hotwiring the car, you should be able to drive off and start your road trip. However, there are other barriers that you might face, such as broken parts or an empty gas tank. Make sure to check out our guides on how to repair a vehicle and how to find gas in Project Zomboid if you want to keep the car running.


That’s everything you need to know to hotwire a vehicle in Project Zomboid. If you want to learn more about surviving in the apocalypse, check out our Project Zomboid beginners tips and tricks. If you’re ready to settle down, take a look at our Project Zomboid base-building guide to discover how to barricade windows and build your own base.

About the Author

Hayden Hefford avatar

Hayden Hefford

Guides Writer

Zombies. Walkers. Shamblers. Whatever you call them, Hayden is definitely a fan. He can usually be found in front of a screen, playing the latest survival games and trying to hide from the real world. His eyes haven't turned square yet, but the possibility is certainly scary.

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