Just as a heads up, I can't think of much that makes me grumpier than having to hide 24 nonsense posts after working without sleep on 0.4.
Lack of sleep I can deal with; people being idiots not so much.
Updated for the latest GTA Online update: Further Adventures in Finance and Felony.
Alright, I've been thinking about doing this since a while. "But, Hystery, why would you bother doing a whole thread about this? Especially since it seems to have taken quite some time to write." you may ask. Well, I could say that it is because I'm a philantropist, but I'm not a good liar. Nah, the main reason is that I find it a bit sad and irritating to see the same topics popping out over and over again in the support section with the same questions and the same fixes that have already been repeated when it comes to installing car mods. So I thought I'd actually give a bit of myself to try and solve the problem. Yes, I'm nice like that. Anyway, now that this introduction is done, let's jump into the fun stuff.
Note: if you see clicky stuff, click it, it'll lead you to a page related to what I'm talking about.
First, you have to make sure you've the tools to mod your game properly for modded cars. Those tools include:
OpenIV (includes the OpenIV.asi and ASI loader that have to be installed with it)
Yes, common sense is a tool, and can come incredibly handy. But gladly for you, thanks to this thread, it will not be mandatory (even though strongly recommended) as I'll address most of the common problems encountered when a car mod is not working as intended. Don't worry, you'll get used to my passive-aggressiveness. It's part of my charm! Jokes aside, let's move on.
/!\ IMPORTANT /!\: USE A MODS FOLDER. IF YOU DON'T AND END UP SCREWING YOUR GAME, IT'S ENTIRELY YOUR FAULT.
Basic information: the whys
Something to understand very well and is important to know before starting to install car mods is how Rockstar organized their files, and what are those files. Let's take a look at the second before talking about the first. Files come in various forms. The ones that will be of interest to us are .rpf archives (Rage Package File). Why? Because they contain all data of the game, and most importantly all the 3D models of the game, from the subway wagons to the trashmaster truck, passing by the different kinds of peds in the game. Though only the ones containing cars will be of use: the vehicles.rpf archives. They contain ALL the vehicles of the game. No exception. So far so good? Alright, let's talk about the file organization.
Over time, Rockstar released different updates for GTA Online. You may have heard of it, that's the updates breaking Ragehook and Scripthook every time they are released. Those DLCs are all located in one single location. The thing is, when Rockstar released new vehicles, they released them in the form of new vehicles.rpf archives. Sometimes it contains just 2 or 3 new cars, sometimes more, and sometimes it contains updated versions of already existing models. This last part is VERY important. The game works in such a way that it will load the cars of the game starting from the most recent released vehicles.rpf, and then will go back in time in the different updates installed. That means that the most recent versions of the cars will be loaded first and will override the previous versions of the said cars as they are judged obsolete. That's why you can find the police3 model in the vehicles.rpf archive in the DLC folder called patchday4ng, but it is also present in an older vehicles.rpf archive in an older DLC folder. The one in the patchday4ng DLC folder was released more recently on the timeline and thus is loaded first in the game, and overrides its previous version. Keep that in mind, it's very important for the next part.
Installing car mods in my game: the hows
To install a police car mod, you need to replace the in-game model with the car you want. It must fill one of the existing slots, that are detailed below.
fbi (unmarked Bravado Buffalo 1st Gen)
fbi2 (unmarked Declasse Granger)
police (LSPD Vapid Stanier 2nd Gen)
police2 (LSPD Bravado Buffalo 1st Gen)
police3 (LSPD Vapid Interceptor)
police4 (unmarked Vapid Stanier 2nd Gen)
policeb (LSPD police bike)
policet (LSPD police transport)
policeold1 (North Yankton Declasse Rancher)
policeold2 (North Yankton Albany Esperanto)
pranger (Park Ranger Declasse Granger)
riot (LSPD/NOoSE Riot)
sheriff (LSSD Vapid Stanier 2nd Gen)
sheriff2 (LSSD Declasse Granger)
Any police car that does not replace one of those slots is considered an add-on and needs specific manipulations that WILL NOT BE EXPLAINED HERE. We're here to talk about original police car slots.
Now. Those cars are actually not located in one single vehicles.rpf archive. They are scattered a bit everywhere. If you wanted to be really cautious and tidy, you would have to replace each model in its actual location. For example, if you wanted to replace the police2 model, you would have to go to the DLC folder called patchday3ng, and replace the model in the vehicles.rpf archive it contains. If you wanted to replace the police3 model, you would have to go to the DLC folder called patchday4ng, and replace the model in the vehicles.rpf archive it contains, and so on with the different models and their actual locations. BUT! Do you remember when I said the game was loading cars starting from the most recent vehicles.rpf archives and then was going back in time? That's where the trick is, we can abuse this system. Basically, if you install ALL your police car mods within the most recent DLC patch, they will be loaded first and override the previous versions of the car slots you placed your cars in. That means that you need only ONE DLC folder with only ONE vehicles.rpf archive to install your police car mods. It makes everything easier. Let's put this in practice.
Installation: At the date of 09/06/2016, the latest DLC patch that has been released by Rockstar is the patch called patchday10ng. This DLC patch is located with all the other DLC patches, at this location: update/x64/dlcpacks. You will find the folder called patchday10ng there. Inside, you'll find a dlc.rpf. You will right click on it and click on "Copy to mods folder". Once done, you'll automatically be in the dlc.rpf archive, so you'll just have to navigate to x64/level/gta5, and you will find the vehicles.rpf archive. Open it, and as you'll find out, there's no police car in it. But we can make the game believe that there are police cars. Click on the Edit mod button and then on the green cross to IMPORT cars. Select the cars you want, don't forget to rename them to the name of the slot you want them to be, and simply import them. DONE! Yes, that's all you need to do. From there, the cars will spawn in your game at the slots you placed them into, because the game will load them and believe they are more recent version of the already existing police cars, and thus will override those. Crazy right?
Now now, let's calm our tatas there. That was only to install the 3D models. Most cars don't need more to work in your game. But some cars require a bit more attention than that, and when those cars need more manipulations, those manipulations are often detailed in readme files or similar provided with the said cars. Please. PLEASE. IF YOU SEE A README FILE, READ IT. It might seem like a silly request, but that's where common sense mentioned earlier comes into play. Many people ask for support when most of the time they simply did not read those installation instructions and slapped the car into their game without doing the manipulations mentioned. But before we get to that, let's talk about technical stuff.
As you may have noticed, the police model has halogen and LED lightbar, the police2 model has only LED lightbar, and the police3 model has rambar LEDs on top of having a LED lightbar. Because of those different setups, the lighting setups are different depending on the car, because the lights have to flash differently depending on what setup is on what car. That's why sometimes you will install a car in the police slot, and find out once in-game that the lights are actually not flashing properly and do weird stuff. That's because the lighting setup needs to be modified for the lights to work properly.
Those light setups are written in files called carvariation.meta. When a car mod works with a different lighting setup than the original model it is supposed to replace, you will find in the installation instructions something called carvariation.meta lines. Those lines of code will have to be installed in a carvariation.meta file that will be specified in the installation instructions. They are absolutely needed for the lights of the car to work properly. At this point, all you have to do is follow the instructions, do as they say and you're good to go. To modify a carvariation.meta file, or any .meta file, you will have to extract it somewhere with OpenIV, open it with a software like notepad, modify what has to be modified and then replace the original .meta file with the one you modified.
That's pretty much it. That doesn't seem that complicated now, does it? Well then, why do people encounter problems? I wonder as well. But let's look at the most common problems encoutered, and how to fix them.
"Help, the car I installed does not appear in game!"
Easy fix for that: install cars as I mentioned above. Most of the time, when the installed car doesn't spawn in game, that means that it has been installed in a specific vehicles.rpf that contains an obsolete version of the police model you wanted to replace. A more recent vehicles.rpf was released with an updated version of that police model, and thus the game loads it first, overriding the car you installed. As said, to fix this, install your car mods in the most recent DLC patch. Alternatively, it might also be caused by the fact you did not install the OpenIV.asi and the ASI loader, which you can do by clicking on the Tools tab in OpenIV and clicking on ASI Manager. You'll just have to click to install those two things.
"Help, the lights of my car are flashing weirdly/seem to be misplaced!"
Once again, easy fix. I see it happen often with cars having to be installed in the police, police3 and sheriff slot, but it can happen in different slots occasionally. When lights are not flashing properly or seem weird, like lights appearing mid-air, floating over the car and so on, that means that you did not modify the carvariation.meta lines I mentioned earlier and that should be included with the car you downloaded. Simply follow the installation instructions provided with the car and you should be good to go. Scroll up if you want to know the reasons behind this.
"Help, my car rolls over when I steer/take a corner!"
This is a specific problem. You see, every car in the game has what is called a handling line. That's what is defining how the car accelerate, brakes, turns, the weight of the car, how the weight is moved with inertia when the car is on movement, and so on. When a car is rolling over in corners and ends on the roof, most of the time it means that the original handling line is incompatible with the installed car. In those cases, most of the time a handling line is provided with the downloaded car to replace the original handling line with the modified one for the car to act normally/with specific perfomance. Those handling lines are in a file called handling.meta which is located in update/update.rpf/common/data. Remember to modify those files only once you copied them in the mods folder. In the rare cases were there are no handling line provided, there are two possible explanation: either you have to change the handling line by yourself, or you made a mistake at some point, and there's no real way we can help you. For the first case, you can modify what handling line the car you replaced uses by modifying the vehicles.meta file which is located in update/update.rpf/common/data/level/gta5. In this file, you'll find all the cars specifications. Simply press ctrl+F to open the search box, type what car you want to find, then once you found the dedicated lines for that model just scroll down to find a line starting with <handling> and finishing by </handling>. Between those two is the name of the handling line, which is often the name of the car it was made for. Just change the name to a car you think it fits better and see if it gives better results.
"Help, the lights of the lightbar are all white!"
Dear, I've seen this question one too many times. Just set your Shaders and PostFX settings to High or above in the graphic options tab of your game. Also, USE THE DAMN SEARCH BAR BEFORE ASKING THAT AGAIN. Dozens of people already created threads about that, you can get your answer from them instead of creating another thread. Matter of politeness for the moderators trying to keep the forums clean.
"Help, how do I install textures on my car!"/"Help, the texture I installed is all distorded/misplaced!"
Unrelated to car installation, but since I'm a nice guy, I'll tell you anyway. For that, you'll have to open the .ytd file(s) of the car model you want to install the texture on in OpenIV. The .ytd are where all the textures of the car are located. Once opened, just scroll down and browse through all the textures to find where the original car texture is and simply click on replace once you selected it, and select what texture you want to replace it with. Alternatively, you can find how this texture is actually called, give the texture you want to apply the same name, click on import and select that texture for it to automatically replace the original one. Now, for the second question. Every car has what we call a template. It's basically a 2D scheme of the car's bodywork. It allows skin modders to make skins properly. Every car has its own template. Sometimes, similar models even have different templates! Yes, I know it's a bit annoying, but you'll have to live with it. Any texture released is made for specific templates/cars, and works only on those models. Don't try to apply a texture made for a 2014 Dodge Charger on a 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe, it won't work.
"Help, I installed many textures on a car but only the first one shows up in game!"
A particular problem that occurs only for a few police slots. You see, there are two categories of police cars in the game. The ones that have a pool of unit numbers so the cars can spawn with random unit numbers when they dispatch, and the cars that don't have that. In the first category, you can find police, police2, police3 for example. In the second category, you can find fbi, fbi2, police4 for example. For that category, we say that the cars are not multi-livery enabled, means they only have one livery and spawn always with the same, on the contrary of the cars in the first category that can spawn with various, different liveries. To solve this, it's very easy. You installed a car and only one livery shows up when there are supposed to be more than that? Find in what slot you installed that car, then go to update/update.rpf/common/data/level/gta. You'll find a file called vehicles.meta. Extract it somewhere. Once done, open it with notepad or a similar software and look for the name of the police slot you installed the car in. Once you find them, scroll down to find a line filled with a bunch of 'FLAG_HAS_STUFF'. Simply add 'FLAG_HAS_LIVERY' at the end of it, and save. Then replace the original vehicles.meta file with the one you modifed, and you're good to go.
"Help, all my windows are tinted pitch black, and my lightbar doesn't light up because of that!
It's a problem that is, to my knowledge, inherent to only the sheriff2 and pranger files. It makes some models having pitch black tinted windows, and since many models have the lightbar glass of the same material as the windows, it tints the lightbar glass as well, preventing the lights from flashing through. There's a very easy fix for that. Search for the vehicles.meta file located in update/update.rpf/common/data/level/gta5, and extract it somewhere. Open the extracted file with notepad or similar software, and press Ctrl+F to open the search bar. Search for the name of the car slot you installed your modded car in and causing this problem. Once you found the car lines, scroll down until you find a line that looks like this:
<diffuseTint value="0xAA0A0A0A" />
And replace it with this:
<diffuseTint value="0x00FFFFFF" />
It'll make the windows transparent and make the lightbar light up.
That's all I can think of on top of my head. Hopefully this will help people. If you see someone creating a support thread about a non-working car mod, feel free to redirect them here. If this helped you in any way, feel free to leave a like. Took me forever to write all that down.