The Impound Garage (also known as the Vehicle Impound or the Impound Lot) is an underground parking garage near police stations in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and Grand Theft Auto V that stash cars that have been towed.
In GTA San Andreas, entering the impound without a law enforcement vehicle will result in police officers pointing pistols at the player and if the player doesn't kill him, he always calls for backup and they will get a three-star wanted level, no matter whether the player leaves the area or not.
Impound Garages returned in GTA V, functioning similarly to those in GTA San Andreas. Players can now recover their vehicles if they have left them abandoned somewhere in the state. The garage has room for two vehicles. If the player leaves a third vehicle anywhere in the state, it automatically replaces the oldest vehicle in the garage.
GTA San Andreas
In GTA San Andreas, the Impound Garage lets the player get back his vehicle if he lost it during a cutscene before a mission. Impound Garages are underground parking garages located at the bottom floors of police stations. The first few floors of the garages have Police cars that spawn in the parking spaces; The very bottom floor or the very back of the Impound Garage stashes cars that have been lost by the player. The impound garage is like a save garage. However, the mechanics behind the Impound Garage are rather random, and usually aren't very predictable.
Some missions have "Clear Area" commands, which remove any parked vehicle within a certain radius from the mission's marker. These vehicles are then placed inside an impound garage, and the player can then enter one of these garages and recover his lost vehicle.
However, random vehicles that the player never drove or even abandoned may still spawn in the garage. Also, due to a glitch, vehicles may sometimes spawn stuck inside of each other, or they may spawn stuck halfway inside the ground. Also, strange occurrences may happen in impound garages if the player is playing certain side missions like Vigilante or Export missions; Vehicles will spawn stacked on top of each other or laying on their sides. Aircraft, like Dodos or even Hydras may spawn unlocked. Impound Garages exhibit strange behaviors like these very commonly. These glitches hint that the Impound Garage was simply a game mechanic that was never perfected or implemented correctly in the game.
Since the Impound Garage is never mentioned in any instructional guides for the game (not even in the booklet that comes with the game), it can be assumed that this game feature could have been a work in progress during development, but was never finished. Most players are unaware of its existence and it's not even mentioned in official game guides.
Grand Theft Auto V
In GTA V, Impound Garages return. If the player loses a vehicle that they have modified at a Los Santos Customs garage or ordered online, they will be able to retrieve the modified vehicle for a fee (or steal with force in GTA Online, with the consequence of gaining a wanted level) from the Impound Lot, so long as the vehicle is not destroyed. Reasons for losing a vehicle might include triggering a mission that requires the use of another vehicle, the vehicle being commandeered by police (which can happen if it's parked outside a police station), wandering too far away causing the vehicle to unspawn, or loading an autosave that places the character back at a safehouse instead of in the vehicle.
Parking a vehicle in a marked no-parking zone or in a location such as the middle of an intersection, might also result in an impound occurring. However this appears to not be consistently applied, as parking the player's default vehicle in other locations does not always result in an impound (the vehicle simply respawns at the safehouse).
As with the GTA:SA version of the impound lot, the ability to recover lost vehicles is not widely known (the game will only notify players if their default vehicle is impounded), technically making this feature an easter egg.
GTA San Andreas
- Commerce, Los Santos - Just north of Pershing Square and west the Los Santos Police Headquarters.
- Downtown, San Fierro - At the back of the San Fierro Police Headquarters.
- Roca Escalante, Las Venturas - Around back of the Las Venturas Police Headquarters.
- The front gate and garage door of the impound garage will open up for the player if he is in a police vehicle, and the player may enter the garage this way without having any police point their pistols at him. However, the police will start shooting at CJ if he exits the police vehicle, or if at least 5 minutes have passed.
- In the beta version of Grand Theft Auto San Andreas, there was a mission which was supposed to introduce impound garages to the player, however, it was cut, suggesting that Rockstar just left the impound garage feature for the player to find.
- In GTA SA, in the Impound Lot of the Los Santos Police Station, there appears to be a pedestrian getting physically attacked by a police officer. A second police officer can be seen nearby holding a pistol. This may be an easter egg, left in the game by Rockstar to reference the large amounts of police brutality and corruption in 1992.
- A bug can occur on GTA V with low cars where if you drove up the ramp by the impound garage you could receive scratches on the lower front of your car after driving up the ramp.