Car bombs are a long-running facet of Grand Theft Auto, functioning nearly similarly throughout the series. With the exception of Grand Theft Auto IV, installation of car bombs is a matter of driving a road vehicle into a bomb shop (usually fashioned as a drive-in garage) at a cost. The bomb allow any vehicle with the bomb to explode, as any vehicle would if destroyed, at any moment of time. Due to the nature of the act, detonation of a car bomb often imposes a minimum of a one-star wanted level.
GTA 1 — GTA 2
Car bombs in the first Grand Theft Auto, its London expansion packs, and Grand Theft Auto 2 (where it is known as a vehicle bomb) are installed via drive-thru bomb shops and are timed explosives designed to detonate five seconds after they are primed by the player while they are inside the vehicle.
Car bombs in these games are distinctive in which their explosions tend to be more powerful than if a vehicles simply explodes if sufficiently damaged, making them more devastating than later incarnations of the bomb in the series.
GTA III — GTA Vice City Stories
Between Grand Theft Auto III and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories, car bombs are significantly weaker, with explosive damage and damage radius similar to when a vehicle explodes after sufficient damage, but are now available with different flavors of detonators. Car bombs are available through a series of 8-Ball garages (and in GTA San Andreas, Welding & Weddings), with the exception of Grand Theft Auto Advance, where the player needs to place the car bomb in the car himself.
There are three varieties of detonators for car bombs between GTA III and GTA Vice City Stories:
- Engine ignition detonation: Priming the bomb will set the bomb to detonate a second after the car is entered by anyone (This does not apply to the current occupant of the vehicle as the bomb is primed).
- Eight-second time delay detonation: Priming the bomb will trigger the bomb to detonate in eight seconds.
- Remote detonation: The bomb is remotely detonated using a remote detonator provided upon installation of the bomb.
The required act of priming a car bomb is similar to those in earlier games, but remote detonations do not require the player priming the bomb as they simply trigger the bomb using a remote detonator. Due to the nature of remote detonations and the inability to use any other weapon besides submachine guns in cars, however, it is not possible to remotely trigger the bomb while in a car bomb.
Each installation of a car bomb initially costs $5,000 in GTA III, but was reduced to only $500 between GTA Vice City and GTA Vice City Stories.
For Grand Theft Auto IV, car bomb are not available via any bomb shop. Instead, they are only obtainable at the player's leisure via Patrick McReary, a friend available later in the game, once his "like" rating towards the player is sufficiently high. Car bombs in GTA IV are limited to remote-detonated explosives triggered via the player's mobile phone, but are free of cost.
Car bombs are obtainable by requesting Patrick a bomb through the player's mobile phone (by selecting "Packie > Bomb" in the Phonebook submenu); the bomb will then be stashed in a isolated location a short distance from the player to be picked up. Once obtained, the player may plant the bomb underneath the back of a car, bus or light van only, and remotely detonate it by selecting "Packie > Detonate" in the Phonebook submenu.
Although the player only has free access to car bombs after including Patrick as a friend, car bombs in GTA IV are first utilized in the Gerald McReary mission "Actions Speak Louder than Words", where it is used to destroy a fuel depot. Its use is also glimpsed during an introductory scene in "First Date".
GTA Chinatown Wars
Fitting a car bomb in the iPad
rendition of GTA Chinatown Wars.
Not to be confused with Proximity Mines, which also damage vehicles with explosives, car bombs, which are introduced in the mission "Operation Northwood", can be fitted at a "Bomb Garage" in North Holland. Upon entry of the Bomb Garage, however, the player is required to install the bomb themselves by attaching the bomb to the engine, wiring the bomb to both the battery and starter motor, and arming the bomb. A bomb cost $500, as in previous iterations.
Once placed in the car, the detonator icon will appear in the PDA interface. This can be activated at any time, both in-vehicle and out, and will instantly destroy the car and any others or pedestrians surrounding it.