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Vehicle Features

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Vehicle Features are specific attributes or functional details that can be found on vehicles, in order to realistically enhance the gameplay. They are added as the Grand Theft Auto series goes by to make the games more realistic; these features range from subtle chimes when doors are open to daytime running lights when a car is running. Due to its enhanced graphical capabilities, the HD Universe allows for more prominent vehicle features.


Engines are prominent mechanical machines used to power vehicles using multiple forms of energy and energy transformation. Many engines and engine features appear in the Grand Theft Auto series.


Drivetrains are the system of connecting the transmission to the wheels on a land-vehicle, defined as a group of components that deliver power to the driving wheels. 3D Universe vehicles have a very simplistic drivetrain types, which are Front Wheel Drive, Rear Wheel Drive and All Wheel Drive. For the HD Universe vehicles, however, the concept of the drivetrain has been expanded, especially in Grand Theft Auto V, where said concept is revamped.

Vehicle License Plates

Vehicle license plates are introduced in Grand Theft Auto III with the player's ability to explore in a three-dimensional environment making plates viewable. The feature has very little use aside for cosmetic purposes.

Early 3D-Universe games

License plates in GTA III and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City are static textures, with all plates in GTA III reading LC R29 (the LC could stand for Liberty City). In GTA Vice City, some vehicles retain the LC R29 plates; others have blurred and illegible versions of the Florida state plate.

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

License plates are dynamic in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, generating random 7 character license numbers that consist of both letters and numbers. The pattern is: two letters and two numbers, then a space, then a number and two letters (e.g. AA00 0AA). Each of the three major cities in San Andreas have their own plates and some vehicles have their own custom license numbers. Note, however, that during a session of play, all cars of the same model will have the same number plate (for example, all Landstalkers will have the same plates). These will change if a new session of play is started, even if stored in a garage.

Vehicle license plate (GTASA) (Los Santos)

A Los Santos plate in GTA San Andreas.

For Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories, license plates in both games feature an "LC" (Liberty City) and "VC" (Vice City) prefix, respectively, followed by a four-digit number. While still more varied than in GTA III and GTA Vice City, the games only offer a limited number of license numbers, with each of them specific to certain vehicles' models.

Grand Theft Auto IV

In Grand Theft Auto IV, license plates do not have an actual letter-number combination; instead, all license plates simply say "LIBERTY CITY" in large blue capital letters. The design of the plates is a nearly exact copy of the current New York license plates (as seen here), except that they say "Liberty City State" at the bottom. Also, despite Alderney being based on New Jersey, a separate state from Liberty City, all license plates in Alderney are Liberty City plates. In the beta license plates were originally intended to have a letter-number combination, much like the vehicles in GTA San Andreas, but this feature was dropped during the game's development, possibly due to complications or difficulties arising from programming this feature, and trailers show this. In GTA IV, the license plate from the beta version of the game can be found on the back of fuel trailers (which can be seen in the gallery below).


A San Andreas plate from a Grand Theft Auto V pre-release screenshot.

Grand Theft Auto V

In Grand Theft Auto V, the license plates resemble the current California plates, but have "San Andreas" written on top instead. There are 8 random characters on each plate; the pattern is two numbers, followed by three letters and three numbers (00AAA000). Also, there are multiple types of plates including modern white plates with red cursive state name resembling modern California plates, red embossed state name on white resembling the 1982-1987 California plate, gold embossed state name and serial number on black resembling the 1963-1969 California plates, and gold embossed state name and serial number on blue resembling the 1970's California plates. A fifth license plate design reads "SA EXEMPT" at the top instead of the state name, which states that the vehicle has been issued by a government agency. For this reason, GTA V contains the most realistic plate combinations in the series.

There's a special variation of license plates only seen in North Yankton, which features the same elements, except "Yankton" in a red stripe, unseen in SA plates. This plate variant only appears on snow vehicles, as North Yankton is a snowy place. These are based on 2001-2006 South Dakota license plates. Unlike in Los Santos, North Yankton Police vehicles share the same plate as their civilian counterparts.

Similarly, an Epsilon Program license plate is seen in the Tractor in Unknowing the Truth. It features an "Epsilon" text, in a baby blue stripe, its signature color.

Custom plates

Custom plates are typically vanity plates featured on special vehicles, such as vehicles belonging to certain individuals or custom vehicles. Such plates has been seen in use in both GTA Vice City and GTA San Andreas. In GTA San Andreas they cannot be saved in garages, if they are they simply revert to a usual seven digit plate.



Horns are features present in most Grand Theft Auto games. They are activated by a specific button on the controller or keyboard. Pressing the horn button on a emergency vehicle will activate the lights and sirens. Sirens have an effect: vehicles will weave in and out of traffic to give way to the emergency vehicle. In Grand Theft Auto V, players can customize the horns their vehicle has. 

Horns do have a effect in the 3D Universe: when held, pedestrians will run or dive out of the way to avoid being run over. In GTA V and Grand Theft Auto Online, if the player is using the horn on an NPC, they will react negatively, but if it is used several times, the NPC will accelerate and starts to drive recklessly (not always, but they start to drive faster than normal). 

Musical horns are also added in GTA V and GTA Online, as well as in several updates and DLCs. Most of them has a limited time to play, except one that plays indefinitely. This kind of horn can be found with the I'm Not a Hipster Update DLC.


Daytime Running Lights

Daytime Running Lights, also referred to as DRLs, are small light strips or bulbs that cannot be controlled by the player. These lights turn on whenever the car's engine is on, and they remain on until the player turns the car off.

Auxiliary lamps

Auxiliary lamps are lights that differs from the conventional lighting system. These usually provides either more illumination to the front of the car or where the car itself cannot provide from the sides or rear. It can include fog lamps, spotlights, searchlights, etc.

Warning Lights

Warning lights are lamps indicating warnings, such as police lights or flashing beacons. They typically flash repetitively.

Taxi lights

Taxi lights are, as the name suggests, lights fitted on taxis indicating their status on call outs.

LED Displays

LED Displays are displays for information, found on buses and service vehicles.

Door Ajar Chime

Door Ajar Chimes are chimes that sound in order to alert the vehicle's occupants when a door is open. Only a select few vehicles have it in GTA IV (and the volume usually needs to be high for it to be heard) but it is more prominent in GTA V, and most vehicles have it.

Vehicles with Door Ajar Chime

Car alarms

Car alarms first appeared in Grand Theft Auto III and have appeared in every subsequent game since then. In the 3D Universe most parked cars were either locked or with alarms; in the HD Universe, some cars still feature alarms which will sound if the player breaks the windows of the car or rams them. In all of its appearances, car alarms give the player a Wanted Level if the police spots the player driving it.

In the HD Universe, car alarms can be triggered by tremors as well, such as nearby explosions or crashes, another realistic feature.

Back-up beeper

The Back-up beeper, also known as the vehicle motion alarm, is a device originally intended to warn passers-by of a vehicle moving in reverse.

This feature was introduced prominently on large vehicles since Grand Theft Auto 1 and it remained the same through the series. In the HD Universe, some additions were made:


An Anti-lock braking system (often shortened to ABS) is an automobile safety system that allows the wheels on a motor vehicle to maintain tractive contact with the road surface according to driver inputs while braking, preventing the wheels from locking up (ceasing rotation) and avoiding uncontrolled skidding.

Factors to determine ABS in the Grand Theft Auto games are often limited, but on the HD Universe, it is possible to determine it via steering while braking and stopping power. Usually, vehicles that have ABS are more responsive in braking and the driver can easily steer the vehicle in order to avoid any obstacle on the path or to take corners safely. Those vehicles that do not have ABS would take long distances to stop and they have little to no steering while braking, making avoiding obstacles difficult. It is also possible by observing the car's wheels while braking. By having ABS, the wheels would be still able to spin, while by having no ABS, the wheels remains locked.

While GTA does not implement this feature, ABS would cause tyre skids to be dashed rather than one long mark.

Here is an example of how ABS works in the HD Universe:

  • The Bullet GT (The Ballad of Gay Tony) does have ABS, because its wheels spins under full braking pressure and is able to steer upon braking freely.
  • The Stallion (Grand Theft Auto IV) does not have ABS, because its wheels locks under full braking pressure and remains straight on the road, with no ability to steer upon braking.

Fuzzy Dice

Fuzzy Dice is a unique modification available for only three vehicles in the series so far, however, they are only static and decorative, and only act as aesthetic enhancements. Fuzzy Dice are a common decorative matter for gangsters, this is further referenced as two gang cars features a pair of Fuzzy Dice in the mirror.

Cars with Fuzzy Dice


Hydraulics are a feature available in some GTA games, which enable the player to adjust a vehicle's height through electronic manipulation of the suspension with special hydraulic jacks. Hydraulics can be controlled with the right analog stick on console versions, and pressing either the left or right analog stick will make the vehicle's hydraulics either lock in place or hop in the air, respectively. The first car in the series to have hydraulics was a Yardie Lobo, in Grand Theft Auto III. In Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, the Voodoo was the only vehicle to have hydraulics.
Finally in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, the player can customize almost any vehicle to feature hydraulics, but storywise, the first vehicle to feature them is the Savanna. In San Andreas, many lowriders that are found in the streets are by default equipped with hydraulics. As both hydraulics and the game camera are controlled with the right analog stick (on console versions), vehicles with hydraulics disable the camera control. Almost any car can also be equipped with hydraulics at Wheel Arch AngelsTransFender and Loco Low Co.. In GTA V, the player is able to modify 6 vehicles from Benny's Original Motor Works website and app on their cell phone. This feature is on the enhanced version and Online only.

Cars with Hydraulics

GTA Vice City
GTA San Andreas
Most cars can be equipped with Hydraulics at a TransFender
GTA Vice City Stories
GTA Online (XB1/PS4/PC Only)



The Merryweather Mesa, one of the few examples with an incorporated winch.

A Winch is a mechanical device that is used to pull in (wind up) or let out (wind out) or otherwise adjust the "tension" of a rope or wire rope (also called "cable" or "wire cable"). Some land vehicles, particularly off-road vehicles, have this kind of feature that allows them to move easily in case these are stuck on an complicated terrain (although it is impossible to do so in-game). Some transport helicopters have side-mounted winches for rappelling to the ground safely. Tow Trucks also have their own kind of winch, purposed only to their rear hooks.

Depending of the vehicle, some will have a spool with the wire cable on it, others will have a single hook and others will have both.

Vehicles with winch

GTA V/Online

Tire Chains


Tire chains of a Police Roadcruiser.

Snow chains or Tire chains are devices fitted to the tires of vehicles to provide maximum traction when driving through soft terrain, mainly snow and ice.

So far, a few vehicles in Grand Theft Auto V have this kind of feature, mainly those featured in North Yankton. As for the Cunning Stunts update, the Gargoyle is the only vehicle in Grand Theft Auto Online to have this feature. Despite it is claimed to improve a vehicle's traction, it does not seem to increase it, since the handling files does not consider such improvement, unlike Off-road tires available at Los Santos Customs.

Vehicles with tire chains

Hidden headlamps

Hidden headlamps (also known as pop-up headlights) are headlights that are designed to pop open when the driver turns the lights on. When not in use, the headlamps rotate downwards and sit flush with the hood of the car. They are designed to make the car's front end slightly more aerodynamic, by reducing the space needed for headlamps on the front of the car. Only a few vehicles in the entire Grand Theft Auto series feature pop-up headlights.

Vehicles with hidden headlights

  • Dukes (enhanced version of GTA V only)

Vehicles with pop-up headlights

Destination Display


An example of a "Taximeter" inside a Taxi, seen during Taxi Rides.

In Grand Theft Auto IV and Grand Theft Auto V, it is possible to find a unique "Destination Display" screen inside a vehicle. They appear on the middle of the vehicle's interior console and disappears when the player leaves the vehicle. There are two variations:

  • The common one is a taximeter used by taxicabs when selecting a destination. It consists of a small destination display screen with a fare counter below the same. Much like a real Taximeter, they seem to calculate the fare based on a combination of distance travelled and waiting time.
  • The second one is a different destination display seen in Brucie's chopper when Niko uses his friendship ability. It has two screens, where the upper one displays the district and the second one the street name and borough.

Vehicles with a Destination Display screen


Underglow or neon lights are a vehicle modification available in Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars and the enhanced version of Grand Theft Auto V. Neon underglow was only available on the Space Docker in the former version of GTA V, albeit to the sides of the vehicle rather than the underside.

GTA Chinatown Wars and GTA V (original version)

Vehicles with Neon Lights

GTA V (enhanced version)

This article or section refers to content in the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC renditions of Grand Theft Auto V and/or Grand Theft Auto Online, that is not featured on the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 versions.
For a complete list of the features of the "enhanced" version of Grand Theft Auto V, please see here.

The enhanced version of GTA V for PS4, Xbox One and PC adds Neon underglow as a modification option in Los Santos Customs shops in GTA V Story Mode and Online. Neon Kits are found under the lights section. Once fitted, underglow is always on when the vehicle is running. 

Neon Layout

  • Front
  • Back
  • Sides
  • Front and Back
  • Front and Sides
  • Back and Sides
  • Front, Back and Sides

Neon Color

  • White
  • Blue
  • Electric Blue
  • Mint Green
  • Lime Green
  • Yellow
  • Golden Shower
  • Orange
  • Red
  • Pony Pink
  • Hot Pink
  • Purple
  • Blacklight
  • Crew (Online only)



This article or section refers to content in the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC renditions of Grand Theft Auto V and/or Grand Theft Auto Online, that is not featured on the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 versions.
For a complete list of the features of the "enhanced" version of Grand Theft Auto V, please see here.

The enhanced version of GTA V for PS4, Xbox One, and PC adds functional interior dashboards to all controllable vehicles along with the Police Roadcruiser and the Police Rancher seen only in the Prologue. They are most noticeable when using First-Person View while driving.

Many of the interiors are simply copied from GTA IV's exposed interiors, for example, the Tropic and Stallion are the same in both renditions, as well as the Yankee, which is used in most trucks in GTA V.

The PC version of GTA V also included the hood-cam view from Xbox 360 and PS3. This was later introduced into the Xbox One and PS4 versions of the game, after the Ill-Gotten Gains Part 1 Update.

Dashboard Components

The dashboards feature some working gauges and functional indicator lights, including:

Land vehicles

Upon start up, most (if not all) components will light up, due to the engine ECU "checking" everything is working. 

Oil Leakage and Engine Management.

  • Speedometer - includes digital and analogue.
  • Tachometer - includes digital and analogue.
  • Fuel gauge - Decreases as fuel is leaking.
  • Engine temperature gauge - Increases as car idles, decreases as car is moving.
  • Headlight Indicator light - includes full beam and dipped lights, will still function when lights are damaged.
  • Handbrake Indicator light.
  • Low Fuel Warning Light - when fuel tank is damaged, this light will appear when the fuel tank is low (single player only).
  • Engine Management - after a car has run out of fuel, the player will automatically attempt to re-start the car, and this light is briefly seen lighting up (single player only). Also seen when a car cuts out from a lack of oil.
  • Oil gauge - Measures temperature of car-oil. Will increase while the car idles, decreases when the car is moving.

    Other Working Gauges.

  • Low Oil Warning Light - Lights up when a high amount of oil is leaking from the car.
  • Turn signals - upon alarm breaching when stealing an alarmed car.

Air vehicles

  • Altimeter.
  • Air speed indicator.
  • Heading.
  • Attitude Indicator.
  • Vertical speed indicator.
  • Landing Gear Up/Down lights - only appears on aircraft with retractable landing gear.

Rear view mirrors are present on most land and some sea vehicles, and are semi-functional - the reflections are not clear and may not reflect dynamic objects, only terrain.

To simplify gameplay, vehicle functions such as changing gears or operating the radio are not depicted, and the player's hands never leave the steering wheel except to operate the cell phone in Story Mode.

Steering wheels are functional in all land vehicles. However, very few vehicles have visible steering wheel mounted controls, such as for controlling radio volume and engaging cruise control. Some vehicles have the manufacturer logo on the steering wheel, while others do not.

Radio displays are present on some dashboards which will display the current station, song and artist, while others have a static radio. Radios can be generic (factory) models or made by either Wiwang or Meinmacht.

There can be other accessories present in some vehicles, such as coffee or soda cups in the cup holders, air fresheners clipped to the air vents, phone holders, and full ashtrays.


  • In real-life, United States license plates are issued by the state, rather than the city like in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and Grand Theft Auto IV. This is possibly a developer oversight highlighting Rockstar's British origins, as vehicles in the United Kingdom are registered by the city. In Grand Theft Auto V, the license plates read "San Andreas", the name of the state featured in the game.
  • The first plate available in Los Santos Customs to the player is the same one featured in GTA: San Andreas, but always has "San Andreas" printed on it, as opposed to the ones in GTA: San Andreas that have city names printed on them.
  • In the first trailer of Grand Theft Auto V, all the vehicles have the normal license plates, except for one car. When the camera goes to Mirror Park at the house with the number 2405, the player will see a Futo. This car reads the plate: JAX1079W (ABC0000D). But the normal plates are 00ABC000.

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