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Driving for Uber or Lyft can be a nice side job for someone who wants to make a little extra cash in their spare time especially with Atlantic City and Philadelphia so close by. It can be a good way to get out of the house and get some use out of your car. Making your own hours and working at your own pace has a lot of benefits and it might be worth giving it a try, even if you aren’t sure that it’s for you.
However, the extra wear and tear on your vehicle is something to consider. The frequent stops and short trips that usually come with an Uber or Lyft gig can be tough on your car, and you should always weigh the benefits with the potential costs of extra vehicle maintenance.
In this article, we have laid out some of the considerations you should make when deciding to take on that extra driving side gig. By knowing the potential drawbacks, you can make an informed decision on whether or not driving for one of these services is for you.
One of the things to think about when deciding on the value of driving for Uber or Lyft is the fact that they each have specific vehicle requirements. Not every vehicle will be eligible for use with these services and before you go and quit your day job, you should know whether your vehicle will qualify. If it doesn’t, it may not be worth the trouble and expense of purchasing a new car just to use for this job.
Uber Vehicle Requirements
To drive for Uber, your car must be 15 years old or newer. Older vehicles will not qualify and they are incredibly strict on this rule. If your vehicle is older than 15 years, there is not much you can do to get around it aside from purchasing a newer car.
Your car must also have 4 doors and be in good cosmetic condition. 2 door cars, trucks, and other smaller vehicles will not qualify for use with Uber. The passengers need to be able to get in and out of the vehicle easily and safely, especially in bigger cities where traffic can be a hazard.
To ensure that your car meets all the requirements and is in good working order, it will have to undergo a vehicle inspection. These are done either at one of Uber’s Greenlight Hubs or at a designated inspection center. It should be noted that the contents of the inspection will vary from city to city, so it is difficult to pin down exactly what each one will be checking for. Your car will not only have to undergo this inspection when you sign up but also once every year to remain eligible. This will require regular tune-ups to stay compliant.
Lyft Vehicle Requirements
The requirements for Lyft are fairly similar to the Uber regulations with a few subtle differences. For example, the age requirement for your car will depend on which city you plan to work in. However, for the most part, you should expect that your car must be 15 years old or newer no matter what.
Just like Uber, your car must also have 4 doors. On top of that, it must also have a minimum of 5 seatbelts and a maximum of 8. This number includes yours as the driver as well. This ensures that there are enough seatbelts for everyone to ride safely and comfortably.
Lyft also does not accept certain subcompact cars, even if they have 4 doors. This guarantees that people can ride comfortably. Some of the subcompact cars that Lyft does not accept include:
- Mini Cooper
- Ford Fiesta
- Hyundai Accent
- Kia Rio
- Pontiac G3
One of the unique things that Lyft does is allow you to rent a vehicle through them to use for work. This is called their Express Drive program and it could be a good resource for those who would like to dip their toe in the gig economy world but don’t want to put the mileage and wear on their own vehicle.
Does Uber Pay for Car Maintenance?
In general, Uber does not pay for car maintenance directly. This means that you will be responsible for any repairs or routine maintenance that your vehicle might need over the course of your working relationship with them.
Uber does offer services that can help you find the maintenance and help you need to keep your car in shape for regular driving. However, you should be prepared to take on extra expenses and routine maintenance due to the excessive amount of driving you will be doing.
Should damage occur when you are driving due to a passenger, Uber offers an inconvenience fee of $250. Not every instance will be eligible for this fee, but should a passenger damage your vehicle, it is worth taking the issue up with Uber. You can also request cleaning fees through the company should a passenger make a mess in your vehicle that requires professional cleaning.
Does Lyft Pay for Car Maintenance?
Like Uber, Lyft has options available to you as a driver when it comes to routine maintenance. While you will still be responsible for the upkeep of your vehicle, they have different programs that make it more convenient for you to get your car the services it needs to stay on the road. These include partnerships with garages and scheduling help
It should be noted that all of these programs, while convenient, will still have to be paid for out of pocket by you, the driver. It can be difficult to truly gauge the quality of the work without knowing or having a relationship with the mechanics or the companies. If you are going to be responsible for the cost of the maintenance, it might be beneficial to you to go to a garage that you know and trust so you can feel confident in your car’s performance when you are out picking up passengers.
Is Car Maintenance a Business Expense?
The good news about vehicle maintenance and mileage for Uber and Lyft is that those expenses are all tax-deductible. When tax time rolls around, you can save a lot of money and get reimbursed for a portion of all of them. Everything from air conditioning repair, oil changes, and even food and drinks you provide for your passengers can be put down as tax deductions if you are using your vehicle for a rideshare service.
As a professional driver, you can also deduct your mileage from your yearly taxes. The rate at which you can deduct this expense changes every year, but you can expect it to be somewhere between $0.50 and $0.60 per mile. Be sure to keep track of the mileage you put on your vehicle when you are logged in to the app and driving for the rideshare service. The gas you use during these miles is also tax-deductible, so it is important that you know exactly how much you are driving in order to report it accurately.
Are Uber and Lyft Worth the Car Maintenance?
No matter how you look at it, there is going to be a lot of extra wear and tear on your vehicle from driving for rideshare. Some of the things you should expect to put strain on include:
As a rideshare driver, you are going to be doing a lot of idling while waiting for passengers to show up at the pick-up point or dropping them off at a destination. This can put a strain on your catalytic converter if you have one, and this is an expensive part to replace.
With all the stopping and starting that you have to do as a driver for Uber or Lyft, there is going to be a lot of strain on your brakes. This can wear down the friction areas on your brake pads and cause the need for many more pad replacements than usual.
The more you drive, the more abuse you will be putting the oil in your car through. This can cause a loss in viscosity since the oil breaks down as it is pushed through the various moving parts of your engine. As it deteriorates, it becomes less effective at lubricating the engine and will need to be changed more frequently.
Rideshare drivers tend to drive with lower fuel levels since they don’t get paid for filling up. By consistently running on empty, you could potentially be overheating your fuel pump. This can result in replacement of the pump much sooner than you would normally need it.
If you want to take advantage high demand for ridesharing vehicles around the Atlantic City Airport or Philadelphia International Airport, Uber and Lyft could be worth the extra cost of car maintenance. However, like any job in the gig economy, you will only get out of it what you put into it, and knowing some of the hidden costs of these jobs can help you determine whether or not the potential income will be worth the expense of the maintenance and repairs.
If you are considering getting started driving for Uber or Lyft, it is a good idea to get your vehicle checked and primed for extra usage. The experts at Kneble’s Auto in Mays Landing can take a look at your car and let you know if it is ready for that kind of wear and tear.
Schedule an appointment to get your vehicle in top shape and start making some extra money as an Uber or Lyft driver.