March 8, 2018

Uber Car Requirements

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If you've ever ridden in a taxicab, you know they aren't the cleanest environments on earth. Cabs in some of the world's largest cities can be especially bad (we won't name any names).

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To drive for Uber, you'll need:

  1. At least 1 year of driving experience (3 if under age 23)
  2. A valid U.S. driver's license AND proof of residency.
  3. An eligible four-door vehicle and proof of insurance for that vehicle.

You'll also need to pass a background check.

Considering Uber directly competes with taxicabs, you may think they wouldn't much care what the vehicles look like. After all, most people aren't really selecting a taxicab or a rideshare for the ambiance.

However, Uber doesn't allow you to drive just any car for the company. If you're considering driving for Uber, we can help you figure out whether you have a vehicle that'll qualify.

Initial car requirements for Uber:

  • Your vehicle must have 4 doors. It can be a car, truck, or minivan.
  • You must have your vehicle inspected at one of Uber's inspection locations.
  • You must have current registration and insurance on your vehicle.
  • Your vehicle must meet your cities rules on the year of the vehicle.
  • You must meet your cities age requirements for Uber drivers.

But the rules for the type of car you can drive when working for Uber will vary a bit from state to state and city to city. Read on, we'll explain more below.

Style of Vehicle

Uber will allow its drivers to use a variety of vehicle styles ... as long as they have at least four doors. You can drive a:

  • Sedan
  • SUV
  • Truck
  • Minivan

as long as it has four doors.

In other words, you can't drive the "mint" two-door 1977 Chevy Chevett that's spent four decades in your grandma's garage. Even if a vehicle is in pristine condition, it still must meet the minimum requirements for Uber.

This makes sense, as you want your customers to have plenty of leg room with an easy in, easy out, which a four-door vehicle provides.

Uber does have different levels of service available that require different styles of vehicle.

TIP: Consider applying for one of the more advanced service levels if you have a luxury car available. As a driver, you then could be assigned passengers who request that level of service for a higher fee.

  • UberX: This is the most basic level of service, allowing use of any type of qualifying vehicle that can accommodate at least four passengers. (This does not include the driver.)

  • UberXL: These involve larger vehicles, such as minivans, that can accommodate more passengers (at least six). You'll receive a higher pay rate with UberXL passengers.

    However, if you have an UberXL-qualifying vehicle, you may also be given UberX passengers, who pay the standard rate, which can be frustrating.

  • UberPOOL: These involve an UberX qualifying vehicle and allow for carpooling between different passengers who want a lower overall individual rate.

  • UberSELECT: This service level is for luxury vehicles of any qualifying style with leather interiors that can hold at least four passengers.

  • UberSUV: This service level is for luxury SUVs with leather interiors that can carry up to six passengers.

Uber also has additional luxury services, such as UberBLACK and UberLUX, but these are for professional drivers only.

Year of Vehicle

The year of the vehicle you'll be allowed to drive for Uber varies from city to city. In some places, the Uber car will have to follow whatever rules are in place for traditional taxicabs when it comes to the model year.

In some cities in the United States, you need a model year of car that is 10 or fewer years old. In other cities, vehicles up to 15 years old will qualify.

However, some cities have more stringent rules, and the rules may change from time to time.

TIP: Check with the Uber website for the latest details on the vehicle requirements in your city of operation.

What Vehicles Aren't Allowed

Certain types of vehicles will not work for Uber drivers. These include the following.

  • Full Size Vans: These commercial style vans aren't always meant for passengers, which means they don't qualify for Uber.

  • Crown Victoria: You cannot drive a Crown Victoria model of vehicle for Uber. Why? Because Uber says so.

  • Salvaged Vehicles: If you have a salvaged title on a vehicle, it will show up during the application process, and Uber will deny the vehicle.

  • Marked Taxis: If you drive a taxicab part of the time - and it's clearly marked as a taxicab - you cannot also use this vehicle to drive for Uber.

To start driving for Uber, make sure you have a clean car. Check out tips on how to organize your vehicle here.

Vehicle Inspections

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You will have to have the vehicle inspected before you can begin driving. Don't worry: This isn't as daunting a task as it sounds like it could be.

After all, Uber just wants to be certain the vehicles in use are safe; it doesn't want to make the inspection process so daunting that it chases away potential drivers.

Uber has what it calls activation centers in the cities where it operates (remember, Uber isn't available everywhere).

These centers will perform your vehicle inspection. Some of these inspections are free, while others will cost about $20, depending on where you live.

You also have the option of using a different mechanic, but Uber must pre-approve it. You probably will have to pay more than $20 for this type of inspection.

Understand that if the inspection finds repairs are needed, you'll need to pay for these and have them completed before you'll be approved to drive for Uber. The inspection will look for things like tire tread, along with:

  • Working tail lights
  • Headlights
  • Windshield wipers
  • Seatbelts.

The inspection will focus on safety features for driving, rather than, for example, the soundness of the engine. You'll have to undergo the vehicle inspection process every year.

Vehicle Documents

To drive for Uber, your vehicle must be properly registered in your state. Just follow whatever rules your state has for using a vehicle on the roadways; you'll pass this part of the Uber application too. Common vehicle registration rules include the following.

  • Current Registration: In most states, you must register your vehicle with the state, paying any fees due on the vehicle on an annual basis. Depending on where you live, this could mean paying property taxes on the vehicle, use fees, or licensing fees.

    Some places require you to have an inspection of the vehicle done on a yearly basis too at your expense.

  • Current License Plates: Normally, at the same time you register the vehicle, you'll be obtaining license plates. You may have to pay extra for the plates, but most of the time these fees are just rolled into your registration fees.

    Some states require that you have both front and rear plates, while others only require rear plates. Most places use a license plate sticker to indicate that the plates are current. Uber doesn't care whether you have personal or commercial license plates, as long as they're current.

  • Current Insurance: At the time of an annual vehicle registration, most states require that you present proof of auto insurance. If you plan to drive for Uber, you need to notify your insurance company.

    You may have to have a slightly different insurance policy that may cost a little extra when driving for a ridesharing company. Failing to notify your insurance carrier to try to save money could lead to far bigger problems down the road if you suffer an accident while driving for Uber.

During the application process for Uber, you will need to provide proof of insurance (this must be in your name) and proof of registration for the vehicle you'll be driving. This does not have to be in your name..

Vehicle Expenses

Because you're using your own vehicle to drive for Uber, you are responsible for any expenses related to the vehicle.

Beyond auto insurance and registration that we mentioned earlier, costs for things like gasoline, maintenance, and repairs are your responsibility too.

Now, these are expenses you'd normally incur to drive a vehicle for personal reasons. So if you already own a vehicle that you use regularly, you won't be adding significant expenses to begin using the vehicle for Uber during your free time.

However, if you don't already own a vehicle, the start-up expenses you'll have to obtain and license a vehicle to use just for Uber can be quite extensive.

Renting with Uber

If you don't own a vehicle, consider renting to save some upfront costs. Uber has a program where it will help its drivers find vehicles to rent. The company doesn't rent them for you, but it will help you find an Uber-friendly place from which to rent.

Renting isn't the most cost-effective means of driving for Uber, so we wouldn't recommend this long-term. But it may be an option for those times when your car is in the shop or for when you're just starting out.

Additionally, Uber doesn't care if multiple Uber drivers use the same car, driving at different times. You just each have to be properly insured.

If you and a few buddies want to purchase a car to take turns sharing it to drive for Uber, just make sure you're all properly insured.

You also need to ensure that any of you can use this single car. Splitting the costs of operating a single vehicle between a few drivers can make working for Uber a bit more cost effective.

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