Driving for rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft has become work as both a full-time job and a side hustle. However, not every car is ideal for this type of work. Choosing the right vehicle can maximize your earnings potential and comfort as a driver, and many people find themselves asking what would be best before they start this journey.
We gathered some tips, did some research, and put it all together below for you when making this very important decision. Whether you're just starting out, or looking to refresh your current ride, consider these before making the leap!
Before you start down the journey of buying a vehicle, check out your rideshare platform. Often, it helps to take advantage of car buying and leasing programs offered by the rideshare companies themselves.
Both Uber and Lyft have partnerships with dealers and lenders to provide special pricing, discounts and financing options on eligible vehicles for their platforms. Uber offers a vehicle marketplace for drivers along with flexible auto-leasing terms in some markets. Lyft has its Express Drive program allowing week-to-week rentals inclusive of insurance and maintenance costs starting at around $250 per week. They also recently launched longer-term leasing programs.
Utilizing these rideshare-specific programs can potentially save drivers thousands compared to traditional car loans and leases. Be sure to research current incentive offers as you shop for your rideshare vehicle.
Fuel costs typically account for one of the largest ongoing expenses for rideshare drivers. That's why maximizing fuel efficiency should be a top priority when selecting a rideshare vehicle.
Hybrid models like the Toyota Prius, Hyundai Ioniq and Kia Niro are excellent options, with city fuel economy ratings of 50-60 mpg. Their electric motors and regenerative braking dramatically reduce gasoline consumption, saving drivers thousands per year. However, the extra battery weight slightly limits passenger and cargo capacity.
Fuel-sipping 4-cylinder compact and midsize sedans are another great choice. Models like the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, and Nissan Sentra get 30-40 mpg combined, much higher than larger 6-cylinder vehicles. High mpg subcompacts like the Hyundai Accent offer fuel savings but less passenger room.
Turbocharged engines often have worse real-world mpg than advertised. Their added power and complexity hurts efficiency. Naturally aspirated 4-cylinders tend to be most fuel-friendly for rideshare usage. Upgrading to low-rolling resistance tires can further boost mpg.
When researching vehicles, pay close attention to city rather than highway mpg ratings, as rideshare drivers do most driving in urban stop-and-go conditions. Drive potential vehicles in city environments to gauge real-world efficiency. Every mpg difference has a large impact on gas costs over tens of thousands of rideshare miles.
Choosing a fuel-sipping rideshare car provides significant long-term savings that add up with the high mileage of rideshare driving. Prioritizing efficiency pays dividends through lower out-of-pocket fuel expenses.
Providing a comfortable, spacious ride experience is key to satisfying passengers and earning 5-star ratings as a rideshare driver. Vehicles with ample leg room, head room, hip room, and overall spaciousness allow 3-4 riders to fit without feeling cramped.
Midsize sedans like the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, and Nissan Altima have roomy back seats with over 35 inches of rear leg room. Their sleeker exterior dimensions make parking and navigating traffic easier while still seating riders comfortably.
Crossover SUVs like the Subaru Outback, Toyota RAV4, and Honda CR-V also boast generous head and leg room along with added ground clearance for easier passenger entry/exit. Their tall ride height provides good visibility as well.
For drivers doing UberXL and Lyft XL routes, which allow up to 6 passengers, larger SUVs and minivans become necessary options. Full-size SUVs like the Chevrolet Suburban have vast amounts of passenger and cargo space but are more cumbersome to drive. Minivans like the Chrysler Pacifica and Honda Odyssey optimize interior room while remaining fairly maneuverable. XL and higher capacity vehicles can earn drivers 20-30% more per ride.
When test driving potential rideshare cars, bring along a few family members or friends. Have backseat passengers provide feedback on available leg room, ease of entry/exit, hip space, and overall comfort. Vehicles that passengers rave about will lead to higher earnings and satisfaction as a rideshare driver.
Beyond just physical space, the suspension, noise isolation, and overall drive quality play a big role in providing a comfortable, pleasant ride experience. This is crucial for rideshare drivers, as a smoother, quieter ride will earn you higher ratings and tips from passengers.
Test drive a variety of makes and models to compare ride comfort. Pay attention to engine noise, road vibration, and cabin isolation from outside sounds. Many luxury vehicles like Lexus and Mercedes prioritize gentle suspension systems and extensive sound-proofing to create a serene, noise-free ride.
Even affordable options like the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord put emphasis on smooth suspensions and quiet interiors. Models with active noise cancellation technology provide an even quieter cabin. If considering older or used cars, bring a passenger to get their feedback during test drives.
Upgrading components like tires, shocks/struts, and regular alignments can substantially improve ride quality over bumpy roads. High-quality tires like Michelin and Continental reduce road noise and vibration. Replacing worn shocks/struts removes rattling and bounce. Alignments keep the wheels properly oriented to the road.
A vehicle's smoothness and quietness directly impact passenger comfort and your overall ratings. Prioritize cars proven to have compliant suspensions, hushed cabins, and minimal engine drone to provide a peaceful, enjoyable ride for customers. This will maximize your tips and reviews as a rideshare driver.
Having ample cargo room for transporting passenger luggage and other items is imperative for rideshare vehicles. The more trunk space your vehicle has, the less likely riders are to downgrade ratings because their belongings didn't fit.
Hatchbacks and SUVs offer the most cargo versatility for rideshare driving. Their fold-down rear seats, roof racks for oversized items, and open cargo areas provide plenty of flexible space. The Toyota RAV4 has over 37 cubic feet of cargo volume with the rear seats down. The Subaru Outback wagon boasts over 68 cubic feet of maximum cargo space.
Even sedans should have at least 15 cubic feet of trunk capacity. Measure the trunk area before purchasing a car to confirm adequacy. Try fitting some suitcases or travel bags to test real-world use. Midsize sedans like the Toyota Camry (15.1 cu ft) and Honda Accord (16.7 cu ft) have competitive trunk sizes in their class.
For the ultimate in storage and versatility, minivans like the Chrysler Pacifica and Honda Odyssey have cavernous cargo volumes. With all seats folded, the Pacifica offers 140.5 cubic feet of storage - more than many small SUVs. The huge space and fold-flat seats allow virtually anything passengers bring to fit easily.
The more trunk space your rideshare vehicle provides, the less constrained your riders will feel trying to load luggage and gear. This results in happier customers and fewer downgraded ratings due to insufficient capacity. Aim for at least 15 cubic feet of trunk space, but larger is always better, especially if you drive XL routes.
Rideshare vehicles typically drive 2-3 times the annual mileage of a normal personal car, anywhere from 30,000 to 60,000+ miles per year. With this high mileage, you need an incredibly sturdy and reliable vehicle that can handle the intense daily wear-and-tear without breaking down frequently. Focus your search on brands and models with proven reputations for durability, longevity and low maintenance costs.
Toyota, Honda, Nissan and many other Japanese and Korean brands are renowned for their reliability and ability to rack up high mileage with minimal issues. In particular, the Toyota Camry, Honda Civic, and Nissan Altima have track records of easily exceeding 200,000+ miles or more when properly maintained. Consumer reports consistently rank these models among the most dependable and affordable vehicles to own over the long haul.
V6 and turbocharged engines often require more maintenance than naturally aspirated 4-cylinder motors. Look at projected maintenance costs in addition to mpg ratings when researching vehicles. Models like the Toyota Corolla are often cheaper to maintain long-term than performance sedans.
Regular oil changes, tune-ups, brake pad replacement and preventative maintenance are essential for maximizing the lifespan and minimizing the costs of operating a rideshare vehicle. Finding an honest, affordable mechanic you can build a relationship with is also hugely beneficial.
Prioritize reliability, proven durability at high mileages, and low projected maintenance expenses when selecting a rideshare vehicle. This diligence will pay off with fewer headaches and costs down the road.
Ideally, you should choose a vehicle that is no more than 5 years old and has less than 50,000 miles for rideshare driving. As cars age and accumulate higher mileage, they require more frequent repairs and downtime for maintenance. This cuts into your earning potential as a driver.
Many rideshare platforms enforce maximum vehicle age and mileage limits in order to meet safety and reliability standards. For example, Uber requires vehicles to be from 2008 or newer and have no more than 150,000 miles. Lyft has similar requirements, mandating vehicles be from 2006 or newer with less than 300,000 miles. Review your target rideshare company's current vehicle eligibility policies.
Getting a newer model with lower mileage (ideally under 50,000 miles) aligns best with most rideshare requirements. This allows you to maximize your time earning money on the road versus losing time and income from an older, less reliable vehicle breaking down. If buying used, scrutinize vehicle history reports to avoid models with accidents, salvage titles or excessive wear-and-tear.
Regular oil changes, tune-ups, brake pad replacement and preventative maintenance are essential for maximizing the lifespan and minimizing the costs of operating any rideshare vehicle. Finding an honest, affordable mechanic you can build a relationship with is also hugely beneficial.
Choosing the optimal rideshare car involves balancing factors like fuel efficiency, comfort, reliability and operating costs. Test drive different options and do thorough research to find the best car for your specific needs. With the right vehicle, you can make the most out of your rideshare driving experience.
Let me know if you would like me to expand or modify this section further. I can add more details on rideshare vehicle requirements and ideal age/mileage criteria.
Not only does the vehicle you end up with impact your earning potential and your comfort, it also impacts your P&L. Most rideshare drivers are running their own business, which means they can write off their business-related expenses. The IRS understands it costs money to run a business, so they don't tax revenue, just profits. It's on the owner, in this case, you the driver, to report business-related revenues and expenses to determine the profits to be taxed on.
When it comes to the IRS, the standard mileage deduction is 65.5 cents per mile driven for business purposes. Meaning, drive 1,000 miles, and write off $655 against the income you make from those 1,000 miles. Drivers have the ability to decide whether they want to deduct their actual vehicle expenses, or take the standard mileage deduction. For most, taking the standard mileage deduction is what makes the most sense.
The 65.5 cents per mile is the same whether you drive a car, truck, SUV, or army tank (would not recommend a tank). Everlance is a tool built to help you keep all of this straight. Miles, expenses, deductions, and everything else in between, so you're prepared with IRS-compliant reporting when it comes time to file your taxes. Click here to get started. Get Started on Everlance for Free.
In addition to your standard mileage and expense rates, consider the following. As a rideshare driver, you can maximize savings when buying your vehicle by taking advantage of relevant tax incentives and credits:
Consult a tax professional to utilize all relevant credits and deductions when buying a new or used rideshare vehicle. The savings will amplify your earnings.