If you keep crashing your Group B car into trees and cliff faces and other cars, I can’t help you much. I can, however, try to help you get your crashtastic game client functioning again so you can again introduce your cars to solid objects at high speeds.

Dirt 3 - Crossing the Line with Style. Sideways and Upsidedown

You could argue that I was asking for this with my first Dirt 3 post. I really did have a near problem-free installation, outside of that Games For Windows Live authentication hiccup. Everything was peachy, but then I left it alone for a while with other games and E3 and the Montreal F1 Grand Prix and and and…

Last night I was all good to start tearing around Finland when, uh, what? What do you mean that this here Dirt 3 Executable Has Stopped Working?? That’s not helpful. Tell me why, give me some random obtuse error code, anything! What’s a geek to do? TO THE INTERNET!!


Simple Troubleshooting Steps

These won’t fix all the issues, but it should take care of the more basic stuff. Read though this whole page first before you go changing things all willy-nilly, eh!

  • Verify the integrity of the game cache in Steam
    If you think there’s something wrong with the download or the patch, run this tool by right-clicking on the game in Steam, click Properties at the bottom, select the Local Files tab, and verify integrity of game cache. It’s not the smallest game, so be patient while it runs.

Right-click on the game > Properties > Local Files > Verify,

  • Uninstall and Re-Download Dirt 3
    Want to be thorough/paranoid about it? Wipe it clean and start again. Just make sure the ~12 gigs won’t push you over stupidly annoying data caps in the process. I had to do this, if I’m honest. Even though I have proof that the game was installed and running on this system *cough*, it had mysteriously disappeared from my Add/Remove Programs list. However, starting from scratch still gave me the same executable error and I had to keep working towards a proper fix.
  • Video Card Drivers
    Obvious, but often overlooked by newer PC gamers. Yes, I know it can be tricky and even more annoying if you are running a custom driver set but, well, if you’re doing that then you probably don’t need this little list to sort out the issue! Godspeed :)
  • DirectX Version Check
    Sometimes the Steam installer says it is installing/has installed DirectX. Sometimes it is just kidding.
  • Games For Windows Live
    Oy. GFWL can be a %^&$*, but you need it. This used to be a problem with Dirt 2, too, and uninstalling the GFWL that Steam added and putting it all back myself cleared that right up. You can grab the client directly and all you have to do is click next a bunch of times (after you remove the checkbox to install the Bing bar, of course). Some people are reporting that starting the client from the Start Menu before booting the game also cleared up their issue. This way the game only worries about starting properly, instead of starting and trying to get GFLW logged in at the same time.
  • Run as Administrator
    I’ve seen fewer confirmations about the success of this last simple step, but I’d be remiss to leave it out since it takes nothing to try. Just run Dirt 3 from the direct executable as Admin. I have a whole drive dedicated to Steam games, so I’d go to K:\Steam\steamapps\common\dirt 3, right click on the exe and select Run as Administrator.

Slightly More Advanced Troubleshooting Steps

If none of these work, contact Codemasters (custservices@codemasters.com or their forums)

  • Force DirectX 9 instead of 11
      • If you look in C:\Users\YOURNAMEHERE\Documents\My Games\DiRT3\hardwaresettings you’ll see a file called


      • . Open that in a text editor (please use something that isn’t Word for this; stick with the something like Notepad!) and look for the following line (Line 10 for those counting):

    <directx forcedx9="false" />
    <resolution width="800" height="600" aspect="auto" fullscreen="false" vsync="0" multisampling="4xmsaa"> <refreshRate rate="60" />
    <gamma level="1.0" />

  • Now you want to change it to something like:

    <directx forcedx9="true" />
    <resolution width="1920" height="1080" aspect="auto" fullscreen="false" vsync="0" multisampling="4xmsaa"> <refreshRate rate="60" />
    <gamma level="1.0" />
    Set the resolution to your particular monitor, too. You might have to make this edit even if you’ve had other games using DX11 without a hitch. Now try launching the game again and this is the one thing that seems to straighten out the majority of the Dirt 3 instant crash issues.
    • If you think you screwed up the edit and want to get it back to normal — and forgot to backup the file before editing, tsk tsk — just delete the entire hardwaresettings folder from the path above. Ya rly. It’ll recreate itself back to factory spec so you can try again. Sometimes deleting it even magically fixes the error, too, even though nothing has changed to the naked eye. I can’t explain it either.
  • Nuke or Fix Rapture3D yourself

      • installs with Dirt3. You can nuke it from Add/Remove Programs, and/or

    update it yourself from Blue Ripple Software

      • .

    I have not tested this one myself!

  • Delete Dirt 3 Program Data
      • Program Data is not the same as Program Files. You’ll have to enable viewing hidden folders to get there. In a Windows Explorer window, (press Alt if you cannot see the menu bar) go to Tools > Folder Options. Under the View tab, you’ll see the circular Show Hidden Files, Folders, and Drives button.

    With that done, you can now head to C:\ProgramData\Codemasters\DiRT3\DataCache. Delete what’s inside and let the game recreate it. I have not done this myself, either!

    Either way, seriously, leave Program Files alone :)

    • That’s all I’ve got for now.


Don’t you hate when people say that?

Phew. Here’s what I had to do to get mine working again:

  1. Trying launching it a dozen times from Steam in case it changed its mood and decided to run
  2. Discover it somehow uninstalled itself
  3. Download. Again
  4. Nope, still crashing
  5. Verify? It’s verified. Still crashes on launch.
  6. Go have a Red Bull since it’ll be a night of much reading and poking around
  7. <much reading and poking>
  8. Run through list of the Simple Fixes above
  9. Force DirectX 9. IT LIVES!!
  10. Make my character, again.
  11. Do a random test time trial*
  12. Download the Free Car Pack from the Live Marketplace
  13. Quit, Reboot, and see if this working was a fluke.
  14. Do happy dance when it all, still, works
  15. Decide I am unhappy about using DirectX 9 for no good reason other than I like the number 11
  16. Hand edit the XML to go back to <directx forcedx9=”false” />
  17. It STILL works! Wait, what? Why?
  18. Decide I don’t care why at the moment, nuke the folder to see if it’s just messing with me
  19. Game remakes folder to factory spec, and it’s totally running perfectly on DX11 now.
  20. Scratch head and mutter mild things about the Codemasters QA team
  21. Forget that for now, TIME TO RACE!!!

*For that test race, I was lazy and decided to just run through with the keyboard. Holy tapdancing Spongebob, how do people race with one of these?!? I had to IM Troy how awkward it was to drive like that for even a few minutes.

Troy: yeah. racing on a keyboard is not recommended. I tried it.
Troy: and it was like bowling with your teeth.

Yes. Yes, it is.

To wrap up this massive post, I hope you’re all back to racing! At the very least, you’ll be prepared if the executable decided to explode/take another vacation at some random inconvenient time in the unspecified future :)

Categories: gaming


Jenn Cutter created OpenAlpha.tv because her friends were, frankly, sick to death of hearing her going on and on about gaming and tech. She wishes she was kidding about that.


GeneralBison · Thursday, June 23, 2011 at 8:46 pm

I’d been having a hell of a lot of issues with Dirt 2 on the PC (Why I bought Dirt 3 on the 360!)
I couldn’t find any fixes for my crashing (although several people attributed it to several different things, so yeah, buggy game), I was crashing to desktop in the middle of the Nvidia video at the beginning of the game, no crash report, really unhelpful error message.

I figured out that it was related to the region I was connecting from of all reasons! I have a UK Live account but am living in Singapore for a year, I had to connect to a UK VPN (which I happened to already be paying for) in order to even start the game, I can only assume that the problem still exists in Dirt 3 given the number of problems people have been having. So take into consideration you physical location when playing the video games you paid good money for.

RDJ134 · Thursday, June 23, 2011 at 8:54 pm

Glad i play it on the Xbox 360, but thats a different experiance. To be honest i didnt play a PC game in years. Seems today its a big hustle like in the dos age again. :(

Comments are closed.