Wireless communication technologies have now greatly impact our daily lives. From indoor wireless LANs to outdoor cellular mobile networks, wireless technologies have benefited billions of users around the globe. The era of vehicular ad hoc networks (VANETs) is now evolving, gaining attention and momentum. Researchers and developers have built VANET simulation software to allow the study and evaluation of various media access, routing, and emergency warning protocols. VANET simulation is fundamentally different from MANETs (mobile ad hoc networks) simulation because in VANETs, vehicular environment imposes new issues and requirements, such as constrained road topology, multi-path fading and roadside obstacles, traffic flow models, trip models, varying vehicular speed and mobility, traffic lights, traffic congestion, drivers' behavior, etc. Currently, there are VANET mobility generators, network simulators, and VANET simulators. This paper presents a comprehensive study and comparisons of the various publicly available VANET simulation software and their components. In particular, we contrast their software characteristics, graphical user interface (GUI), popularity, ease of use, input requirements, output visualization capability, accuracy of simulation, etc. Finally, while each of the studied simulators provides a good simulation environment for VANETs, refinements and further contributions are needed before they can be widely used by the research community. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.