Using an explosive to blow up a car next to an enemy is a great way to get some extra damage in. This is especially useful with grenades. Sometimes I can get two enemies in the radius, but the third one is outside it. The car the third one is standing next to, however, is inside the radius. So, if I can reliably get the car to explode before the enemy moves, I can still damage all three with the one action. Or, sometimes, a large enemy will be next to a car. I can blow them up with an explosive, and then get more damage from the car going off.

However, I'm not always able to predict when the car is going to explode before damaging it, meaning that the enemy may move before it blows, meaning I wasted my explosive when I could have just shot them.

Sometimes, it explodes immediately after the explosive hits it, sometimes it blows up at the start of the next turn, and sometimes it takes all the way until the start of the turn after next.

How do I know how quickly the car will explode? Does it depend upon the explosive used, the positioning, or maybe the type of car?

The focus here is on being able to predict when it's going to blow up prior to doing any damage, in order to aid tactical decision making.

  • 4
    I, too, ask myself this regularly -- particularly while I'm driving in one. Feb 11, 2016 at 3:51
  • Related question from previous game: gaming.stackexchange.com/a/89249/108003
    – DCShannon
    Feb 12, 2016 at 1:43
  • 2
    I think it might have to do with an invisible amount of hitpoints, but I am not 100% sure. A car that is on fire will explode during the next full turn. Dealing damage twice seems to make it explode too.
    – Sumurai8
    Feb 12, 2016 at 13:04
  • My guess is that a car has X HPs, but is on fire at 50% or whatever of those HPs. I've seen a sniper rifle one shot a car to explode, so there's definitely a 1-hit activation. It's similar to walls I think.
    – Muz
    Mar 4, 2016 at 17:22

2 Answers 2


I don't think there's a way to consistently cause a car to explode sooner other than by doing more damage. Hitting a car twice with guns seems to work fairly well, or hitting with a powerful explosive, like a plasma grenade. Destructible objects have an invisible HP value and much like when damaging enemies there's a range of damage values it can take.

I believe in the ini files there's values for terrain HP and cover damage HP that you could tweak, or at least peruse to see what the thresholds are. I've seen a shot from a ballistic heavy cannon + ballistic assault rifle blow up a car (in a hilarious gif) so a 2 shot explosion should be at least as likely with mag or plasma weapons.

  • I think this is mostly right, in that the cars appear to require a certain amount of damage to explode. I can't predict the results without knowing how much, though: would two hits with any gun do? Is the minimum damage for this gun enough to guarantee the car's explosion, or will I need to waste another action? Will that particular car explode from a plasma grenade, or do I need more for that one? And so on.
    – DCShannon
    Feb 22, 2016 at 21:25
  • That I'm not sure about, barring modding. If you have a car that's already on fire you could probably consistently detonate it by damaging it again, either through explosives, the grenadier ability Demolition, or taking low aim shots at the alien behind cover. Though in most of those cases simply finding a better position and shooting the alien would probably be a better use of time. You can also sometimes overwatch or suppress the alien, which sometimes causes them to stay put and eat the explosion. Feb 22, 2016 at 21:28

The car will most probably be making a fizzig sound (the smoke coming from engine) and if you see smoke from the car keep shooting it or whatever and finally fire will come out and it will explode a few seconds later. I tend to use grenades if you have any double the impact.

  • Added a note to my question to emphasize that I'm asking about before damaging the car, so I can predict when it will blow up before deciding what to do.
    – DCShannon
    Feb 22, 2016 at 20:23

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