handling.cfg (or handling.dat) is a file used by the 3D Universe game engines for vehicle data. In the HD Universe, the file is known as handling.dat (in GTA IV) and handling.meta (in GTA V and Online) and calculates more factors.
Being relatively simple to edit, many gamers tweak vehicle settings in order to change a vehicle's handling properties, such as acceleration, mass, center of mass, ride height and braking force. The file is often edited when installing vehicle mods.
It is a generally held opinion that vehicles tend to have an unrealistic amount of traction, and hence have an exaggerated capacity to take corners at speed. This also renders sustained drifting almost impossible. In all GTA III era games except San Andreas, the game engine calculates a vehicle's maximum speed based on its 'acceleration' value and its 'mass' value. This led the heavy duty trucks and buses in these games to have higher top speeds than the sports cars. The default brake force values on almost all vehicles are so high that any use of the brakes causes all four wheels to lock up, making it difficult to slow for corners. Those who seek a more realistic driving experience may tweak these settings.
Ironically, GTA IV's vehicle's handling has been argued by some to be too realistic due to heavily decreased traction and more subtle oversteer.
These subpages contain the original handling.cfg files from their respective GTA games:
Errors caused by editing
- Certain speed values in the file can mess up the overall performance when editing various codes.
- Car tires may disappear (especially vans), when editing the body mass, drive type, or engine type.
- Editing the light values of the car can corrupt the screen effects of the game.
- Setting the "float % (percentage)" value to a negative value will make cars appear in blue hell when driven into water.
- In the GTA III era, setting the "nNumberOfGears" value higher than 5 in road vehicles will cause the wheels to be improperly placed, often resulting in them floating above or merged inside a vehicle.
- If the Handling.dat file is changed so that a negative number represents the friction, vehicles will become extremely unstable to the point where touching a vehicle will cause it to be launched at extreme speeds, thus creating the infamous 'Carmageddon' modification. One should note that this does not affect motorcycles.
- Negative values can cause errors, such as extremely unstable physics or random disappearances of vehicles.
- Lowering mass can cause vehicles to roll-over more often, notably when modify police vehicles' handling, and enabling a police chase, which reveals police use to respective handling data, and more commonly roll over their cars.
- Ben 'Cerbera' Millard's in-depth studies of handling.cfg and modifications: http://projectcerbera.com/gta/3-vc/tutorials/faq