In-form Tevez will head into next week's derby against former club Manchester United having scored seven goals in his last six games. The 29-year-old's hot streak has come in spite of off-field problems after he was charged with driving while disqualified and without insurance last month.
Zabaleta said: "He's back to his best form, and we expect that from Carlos because he has worked really well from pre-season. He is a great player and is having a great season. Obviously when you see a striker scoring goals it is much better for the team."
Tevez was on target in Saturday's 4-0 win over Newcastle in the Premier League while he also scored a hat-trick in the FA Cup quarter-final defeat of Barnsley last month.
The Barnsley performance prompted manager Roberto Mancini to joke that Tevez should get himself stopped by police more often.
When it was pointed out the driving issue does not seem to have adversely affected Tevez, Zabaleta said: "No, it doesn't. Roberto said the last time he hopes the police will stop him again because it looks like for him it is a great motivation."
City's hopes of defending their league title seem over as they trail United at the top of the table by 15 points with just eight games remaining. That may have taken a slight edge off Monday's clash at Old Trafford but Zabaleta does not expect Tevez to lack motivation.
Tevez left United for City in a controversial move in the summer of 2009.
Zabaleta said: "Every time we play against United it is a particularly special game for Carlos. He has always done well against them. He was a United player once and I've seen him play with great passion against United.
"It will be a special day for Carlos and a special day for the team."