Each race in the Carmageddon games has a time limit. When a race starts, the time is initiated with a set value. Once the countdown finishes, the timer starts to decrease. The player must complete the race (by racing, killing or wasting) within the time limit, or else the race will be lost and a message saying "Out of time!" will appear.
But the time given is often too little to complete any objective. That's why the time can be increased by killing pedestrians, damaging/wasting opponents, or by collecting time bonus powerups. Extra time can also be granted when the player passes under a checkpoint in Carmageddon TDR 2000. The time increases vary from game to game.
When the race is completed, a time race bonus is given, and its value depends on the time left at the end of the race. More time means more credits.
Missions normally work differently: the time starts out with a rather large number, and the player must complete the mission within that time limit. However, the time cannot be increased, but can be frozen with cheats. Although, in Carmageddon II, the missions can be specified to allow time increasing, as can be seen in some of Carmageddon 2 Advanced's missions.
The missions in Carmageddon TDR 2000 can be split into sections (normally separated by a cutscene), and sometimes, the time limit changes for the next section.
The timer can be frozen, and when frozen, the time cannot be increased or decreased. This can be done using cheats. Collecting the timer frozen powerup will do just that: freeze the timer. Collecting it again will return it to normal, except in Carmageddon TDR 2000's case, in which the timer thawed powerup must be collected seperately. If a race ends with the timer frozen, the time bonus will be determined by the time that was displayed before it froze.
When the timer is frozen in Carmageddon TDR 2000, it'll display --:-- as the current time, but the actual time is still there, except not shown. It's frozen to the time it was when the powerup was collected, and it'll be used to judge the time bonus at the end of the race.
Maximum times and quirks
Upper display limit
Carmageddon's timer (also used in the Splat Pack) can't display times over 19 minutes and 59 seconds, even if the actual time remaining is higher. If, for instance, the current time remaining is 23:18, the HUD's timer will still display 19:59. When the time remaining decreases back to 19:59, it'll resume showing time correctly. The correct time can still be seen in the map screen.
This is due to, in most digital clocks, which the timers are based on, the digit '1' only taking up the rightmost lines. '2' on the other hand also needs the horizontal ones, and there isn't enough space for it in Carmageddon's HUD.
Modern CPU timing issue
- Main article: Glitch:Sped up timer
On modern hardware, Carmageddon can reach speeds of over 250 FPS, and the timer runs according to it. That means that the timer runs a bit faster than it should, making some races rather difficult. There are several workarounds, though.
Game Boy time
In the Game Boy Color version, the timer counts in seconds and hundredths of a second. It is limited to displaying these units: Instead of showing '1 minute 43 seconds', it will instead display '103 seconds'. It's also notable that due to bad coding, seconds last longer than they should.