Impound Garages (also known as Vehicle Impounds or Impound Lots) are underground parking garages located near police stations in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Grand Theft Auto V, and Grand Theft Auto Online which store vehicles seized by the police.
In GTA San Andreas, there are 3 impound garages, one for each city, located next to or within a police station area. In the impound area, that includes external parking lot and an underground garage, there are police officers with assigned posts (guarding the entrance or garage gate, entering a police car and driving away, repairing a police car, beating up a civilian etc.), who don't carry nightsticks and are not counted as normal police officers for purposes of counting wanted level (the player may only attain/raise wanted level by one star if they shoot one or beat up/stealth kill several of them in a quick succesion). There are also a couple police cars, out of which some are locked, one usually has a raised hood and an officer crawling into the engine. In the very back end of the garage there is a place for impounded vehicles. Each garage has a scenario of police cars placement and the officers' assigned mission, that starts once the player enters the underground garage. However, entering the area may result in the player gaining an instant three-star wanted level (for details see below).
Impound Garages return in GTA V, functioning similarly to those in GTA San Andreas. Players can now recover abandoned vehicles from the garage. The garage has room for two vehicles, and if the player abandons another vehicle, the oldest vehicle in the garage will be replaced by the most recent vehicle the player abandoned. Impounded vehicles with low suspension will automatically receive scratch damage to the bottom upon exiting the garage due to the steep and sharp angled nature of the incline.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
In GTA San Andreas, the Impound Garage allows the player to retrieve a vehicle which was lost during a mission or cutscene. Impound Garages are underground parking garages located at the bottom floors of police stations. The first few floors of the garages contain police cars which spawn in the parking spaces. Vehicles which the player abandoned are stored at the rear of the ground floor of the garage. However, not every abandoned vehicle will be stored here, and on occasion the vehicle which appears will be a random vehicle which the player never drove.
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 to retrieve their vehicle.
Entering an Impound Garage without a law enforcement vehicle will result in officers guarding the area pointing a pistol at the player. After a couple seconds the officer will call for backup and the player will receive a three-star wanted level, regardless of whether the player kills the officer or leaves the garage after the call has started. However, the player can use stealth or drive a law enforcement vehicle to avoid drawing attention of the officers while invading the impound garage.
Due to a glitch, vehicles may sometimes spawn stuck inside 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 (Though aircrafts are barely found in the impound lot in the PC and mobile versions). 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, it is possible that impound garages were going to be fully functional but were not completed during the game's development. Impound garages were supposed to be introduced to the player in a cut mission, but it was dropped during development.
Grand Theft Auto V and Grand Theft Auto Online
Impound Garages return in GTA V and GTA Online. If the player abandons (but doesn't destroy) a vehicle that they have modified at Los Santos Customs or ordered online, they will be able to retrieve the vehicle from the Impound Lot for a fee of $250. 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 from a vehicle and causing it to despawn, 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 may also result in a vehicle being impounded, though this does not always occur. If the player abandons a personal vehicle belonging to a GTA V protagonist, the vehicle will not be impounded and will respawn at the protagonist's house.
As with the GTA San Andreas version, the Impound Garage is not mentioned in the game's instruction manual (though an on-screen message will appear if a player abandons a vehicle).
If the player is killed by the police in GTA Online while close to their personal vehicle, the vehicle will be impounded by the police and stored at the LSPD Auto Impound. The player can retrieve their vehicle for a fee of $250, or steal it by force, though stealing a vehicle will result in the player gaining a two-star wanted level.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
- Commerce, Los Santos - Just north of Pershing Square and west the Los Santos Police Headquarters.
- Downtown, San Fierro - At the rear of the San Fierro Police Headquarters.
- Roca Escalante, Las Venturas - At the rear of the Las Venturas Police Headquarters.
Grand Theft Auto V
- Mission Row, Los Santos - At the Mission Row Police Station, on the corner of Vespucci Boulevard and Sinner Street.
Grand Theft Auto Online
- LSPD Auto Impound - On the corner of Innocence Boulevard and Roy Lowenstein Boulevard, next to the Davis Police Station.
- In the Impound Lot of the Los Santos Police Station in GTA San Andreas, 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 Los Angeles in 1992.
- In GTA Online, if the player gets killed by police while having a TM-02 Khanjali, RCV, Chernobog, or Thruster out, the vehicles will not be impounded or returned. However, the vehicle will be destroyed automatically requiring the player to pay for their vehicle.