14 Things GTA San Andreas Doesn't Tell You - GTA: San Andreas Guide - IGN (2024)


Luis Joshua Gutierrez,IGN-GameGuides,Aric Pun,+2.9k more


As with all Rockstar games, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas imparts a lot of knowledge during the early hours of CJ's adventure. As you advance through the game's slate of introductory missions, you'll learn how most of the mechanics work and be clued into side content, stats, and other important details.

However, there are several crucial tips Rockstar's tutorials don't teach you that can massively impact your adventure. Here are some of the most important things that the game doesn't tell you. This guide includes an update for the GTA: The Trilogy - Definitive Edition release for Xbox, PC, and PS5.

If you're looking for more general advice on navigating San Andreas, check out IGN's Tips and Tricks Guide.

Looking for something specific? Click on the links below to jump to a particular section...


  • Perks Are Important
  • Dig Into Vehicle Missions
  • Girlfriend Side Activities Offer Useful Perks
  • How to Bump Up Sex Appeal
  • Use Cop Cars to Get Shotguns
  • Use Ambulances to Get Health
  • Food Vans Are an Easy Way to Replenish Health
  • Leave Gang Wars for the End of the Game
  • Gambling is a Good Way to Get Quick Money
  • Max Out Your Weapon Skills to Dual-Wield
  • Use Gyms to Get New Melee Moves
  • Cycle as Much as Possible
  • The Map is Filled with Weapon Spawns
  • Collectables

Perks Are Important

If you straight-shot Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas' main campaign, you'll entirely miss some secret abilities that make your life a whole lot easier. These perks will mostly be acquired through completing side activities, with the offerings ranging from invulnerability to fire to the ability to sprint indefinitely.

Considering some of San Andreas' later missions can be brutally difficult, it's a great idea to invest in these abilities early, especially as they're not too hard to get and will net you a good portion of cash. Some of the best perk-related side activities to invest in are burglar missions and vehicle missions, speaking of which...

Dig Into Vehicle Missions

Another thing the game doesn't spend much time explaining is vehicle missions. These sets of side activities task CJ with completing themed objectives centred around whichever vehicle he's entered, with taxis, cop cars, ambulances, fire engines and even trains offering something to complete.

As mentioned in the previous section, the rewards for completing these missions are well worth the time you invest, with CJ getting significantly upgraded health and body armour meters for completing the ambulance and vigilante missions. Meanwhile, firefighter missions give him invulnerability to fire, taxi missions eventually install nitro in all other taxis, and train missions reduce train fares.

Girlfriend Side Activities Offer Useful Perks

Although Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas has largely aged well, there are still elements that can be frustrating for modern players. Namely, losing all of CJ's weapons and a good portion of money every time he dies or is arrested. What San Andreas doesn't tell you is that both of these consequences can be avoided.


If you want to stop losing all your weapons every time you're killed or nicked, seek out two of the game's girlfriends the moment they're available. After reaching San Fierro, look out for Katie. She can be found just across the street from the Cobra Martial Arts Gym in the Avispa Country Club. She'll require CJ to be muscular before agreeing to go out with him. As soon as CJ is dating her, she'll give him the ability to retain all his weapons and lose less cash when dying.

Meanwhile, after heading to Las Venturas, look for Barbara outside of El Quebrados police station. She'll want CJ to be overweight in order to go out with him. Dating the cop will give CJ the ability to retain all his weapons and lose less money when arrested. For a more detailed breakdown on dating both girlfriends, check out IGN's Romance Guide.

How to Bump Up Sex Appeal

Another stat the game doesn't really harp on about is sex appeal. It doesn't really matter all that much in regular gameplay, although it will help you a lot in the dating world. Having a high sex appeal stat will make most girls overlook their appearance preferences and date CJ in spite of his stats.

To improve it, get new clothes, haircuts, tattoos and cars. All three will impress girls and give you faster access to those all-important perks.

Use Cop Cars to Get Shotguns

During the early hours of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, getting yourself a lineup of good guns can be a nuisance. Although the game never explicitly tells you it, one way to pack more firepower is to rely on cop cars. Every time CJ enters a police vehicle, he'll emerge with a pump-action shotgun. It's a great way to arm yourself quickly when you're tight on cash, even if you don't get much ammunition.

Use Ambulances to Get Health

Similar to cop cars, ambulances are helpful if you're in a jam. Jumping into an ambulance will give CJ a tiny boost of health, which can be all you need when a gang war gets hectic. If you're looking for an ambulance, they usually appear when a civilian gets hurt or can be found at hospitals.


Food Vans Are an Easy Way to Replenish Health

If you're low on health or need to bump up CJ's health, food vans can be a useful lifeline. They'll park on the side of streets or in parking lots and sell CJ food for cheap prices. Simply approach the van and walk through the red marker. You won't even need to interact with the vendor, with CJ automatically grabbing some food and heading back out on his adventure.

Leave Gang Wars for The End of the Game

During the mission Doberman, CJ will unlock the ability to wage war on rival gangs in their territory, with these opportunities expanding the influence of Grove Street. If you enjoy completing gang wars, feel free to take over as many territories as you like. However, it's worth noting that the game will reset your progress, essentially making these battles meaningless.

Refraining from spoilers, the events of the campaign will eventually force CJ to leave Los Santos, with the protagonist setting out on a new adventure through Red County, San Fierro, the Desert and Las Venturas. It's only during the second half of the game's final act that he'll return to Los Santos.

By that point, a lot of time has passed since you left, and all the territory you took over has returned to rival gangs. You'll have to take it all over again before you can complete the final mission, End of the Line, so it's worth focusing on the mechanic then.

Gambling is A Good Way to Get Quick Money

Another thing the game doesn't explicitly tell you is that gambling is a great way to make a lot of cash. There are several ways to do this, although the easiest early in the game is to head to Inside Track under the Mulholland intersection, win the Lowrider challenge, or play pool in the Ten Green Bottles bar up the road from Grove Street.

Once you reach Las Venturas, you'll have more opportunities to gamble, with several casinos opening up with games inside. You'll have to increase your gambling skill by winning bets to play some of the more profitable games, although once you do, you can make a ton of money very quickly.

For those looking for quick, easy money, gambling can be exploited by heading to a save point before playing. The easiest way to do this during the late game is to save outside the Four Dragons Casino. If you win at the casino, save the game. If you lose, reload and try again.


You can also make a lot of money early in the game. Save before heading to the Inside Track under the Mulholland Intersection and bet as much money as possible on a horse. If you win, head back to a save point and log your process. If you fail, reload and try again.

If you want to read more about how to use the exploit to win big early in the game, check out IGN's Horse Betting Guide.

Max Out Your Weapon Skills to Dual-Wield

Although San Andreas does teach you about weapon skills, what it doesn't reveal is what you get for focusing on them. If CJ manages to max out weapon skills on his smaller guns, he'll be able to carry two with him into battle. It means you can deal a lot of damage very quickly, especially if you're carrying two sawn-off shotguns or sub-machine guns.

Not only is carrying two guns a lot of fun, but it's also a good skill to have when fighting through waves of foes. If you want to max any weapon skill fast, there's a quick method to help you bump it up. All you'll need is a car and a safe house with a garage, preferably somewhere where you won't run into too many cops on the road.

Park the car side-on in the garage and pull out the weapon you want to improve your weapon skill with. Make sure you have a lot of ammunition, because this will take a lot of bullets. Now, move close enough to the garage that the door remains open and fire at the car until it catches fire. While it's alight, back up so the garage door closes. As soon as it's closed, get the door open again and the car should be fixed. Repeat this cycle and your desired weapon skill should bump up quickly.

Use Gyms to Get New Melee Moves

Want to add additional melee skills to your arsenal? Head to the gym to learn some new moves. Although the game never officially clues you in on this, the trainer in each gym will give you three different abilities if your Muscle stat is high enough. These are a running attack, a combo and a ground attack.

You can even get different variations of the abilities, whether that's boxing moves or even karate. Once you've packed on the Muscle, you'll have to fight the trainer to unlock the special abilities.


Cycle as Much as Possible

Rockstar never overtly reveals it, but a good strategy for boosting Muscle and Stamina fast is to use bicycles frequently while traversing San Andreas. Although running will add to your Stamina and Muscle, cycling will enhance both stats faster and CJ won't have to stop to rest, making it a great way to up your physical stats on the go.

The Map is Filled With Weapon Spawns

It's never outright revealed to you, but weapons will spawn in several hidden spots throughout Los Santos, San Fierro and Las Venturas. Whether it's standard guns like 9MM pistols, TEC-9's and pump-action shotguns or powerful special weapons such as miniguns, flamethrowers and heat-seeking missile launchers, you can lock down some useful spawns if you explore the map.

Once you've taken the weapon, they'll eventually respawn in that same spot, so you should definitely make a habit of returning to areas with strong weapons when you need something to defend yourself. If you're looking to track down some of these spawns, check out IGN's Weapon Spawn Location Guide. Here's also a list of convenient spawns you can head to if you're looking to grab some firepower ASAP:

  • Los Santos - You'll find a 9mm pistol in Grove Street, just behind the two houses to the left of Sweet's house. Head through the gap between the two buildings to find the gun.
  • Los Santos - You'll find a TEC-9 submachine gun on Sweet's roof in Grove Street. Climb onto the roof of the house to the left of CJ's home and jump across to Sweet's roof to grab it.
  • Los Santos - You'll be able to grab an AK-47 and body armour from the Ocean Docks. Head to the warehouse CJ has to fight his way through during the C.R.A.S.H mission Gray Imports. For those that haven't completed the level or can't remember where it's located, it's the Ocean Docks warehouse closest to the airport. You should find the body armour in an office accessed via a flight of red stairs to the left-hand side of the building. After grabbing it, head through the open doorway into the warehouse and look underneath the stairs leading down. The AK-47 should be there waiting.
  • Los Santos - You'll be able to snag a free sawn-off shotgun in East Los Santos. Head to the Pig Pen strip club and look on its roof. If you're having trouble finding it, keep an eye out for the club's vivid pink colour scheme and a large sign.
  • San Fierro - There's a pump-action shotgun to be grabbed in Doherty. Stand in front of CJ's auto shop. You should be able to see two giant chimneys behind the freeway in the distance. These belong to the nearby Solar Industries plant. Drive around to the plant's entrance and head over to the set of buildings on the left. You should find the shotgun besides two white silos.
  • San Fierro - You can grab a flamethrower in Doherty too, this time behind CJ's auto shop. Head into the construction site behind the garage and towards the ruined building on the left-hand side. Amongst the rubble on the bottom floor, you'll find the flamethrower.
  • San Fierro - You can grab a TEC-9 in the Battery Ports, just next to ji*zzy's Club. Head behind the eccentric pimp's base of operations and walk to the large bridge pillar closest to the building. Behind it will be the TEC-9.
  • San Fierro - Alongside the shotgun and flamethrower, you can snag some body armour in Doherty. From CJ's auto-shop, get in a car and drive straight forwards, moving past the railway station and down the hill behind it. You should see a big building in front of you. Head to the left-hand side of it and the body armour will be there waiting.
  • Las Venturas - You can grab yourself an MP5 behind the Come-A-Lot casino. When in front of the Four Dragons casino, head straight and then behind the giant castle in front of you. There should be a secret passage at the rear that leads to the SMG.
  • Las Venturas - You can net yourself a pump shotgun in Red Sands West. Look for an intersection with a billboard next to it. Beneath the intersection's bridge, you'll find a shotgun.
  • Las Venturas - You can find yourself a combat shotgun In the LVA Freight Depot. Head to the location and look in the centre to find the gun nestled in amongst some trees.
  • Las Venturas - You can grab a sniper rifle on the top of the Four Dragons Casino. If you're heading through Las Venturas in a helicopter, simply land on top of the casino to net yourself the sniper.



Another thing Rockstar won't mention is the various collectables in San Andreas and why you should seek them out. There are five collectable types in Los Santos, San Fierro and Las Venturas, with players able to snag oysters, horseshoes, snapshots, tags and unique jumps. They'll all provide you with a bonus if you can complete the set, whether that's cash, perks or additional stat points.

They're well worth looking for and IGN has you covered if you need any help. Check out the Oysters Guide, Horseshoes Guide, Snapshot Guide, Tag Guide and Unique Jumps Guide for help tracking down every single one.

Need help with San Andreas missions? Check out IGN's Walkthrough for breakdowns of every main mission or head over to the Side Mission Page.

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14 Things GTA San Andreas Doesn't Tell You - GTA: San Andreas Guide - IGN (1)

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

Rockstar North

ESRB: Mature
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