If you drive for a rideshare service, you rack up a lot of miles, which means extra wear and tear. A vehicle in the shop isn't making you any money, so keeping up with the maintenance is extremely important. If you're doing Uber or Lyft, Postmates, pizza delivery, or another driving service, here are tips on how to stay on the road and earn the most cash.
First off, if you drive your own vehicle for a living, you likely want to follow the severe service car maintenance schedule. You might be thinking, “Hey, I'm only taking two people to the airport. I never tow, so it's not severe service." Actually, it is. The average driver in the US racks up around 12,000 miles per year, but driving full time for a rideshare service can bring that annual total to 50,000 miles. A lot of those miles are spent carrying passengers and cargo through stop-and-go traffic in the summer heat. That's work more in line with a taxi or police car. Let's use some tricks of the trade from those services.
Oil While you probably know how often to change your oil in a regular daily driver, a rideshare vehicle needs a more frequent oil change schedule. You're looking at lots of idling, stop and go, long periods with the engine on, and a ton more miles in general, so you want to use a high-quality oil. Depending on the miles you cover, you may be looking at changing the oil as often as every two weeks. While that may seem excessive, it is excellent preventative maintenance.
Filters Change out the oil filter with your oil change, and take a look at the engine air filter, too. These two are key to preventing engine damage. Also change your cabin air filter more often. The usual schedule is once a year, but aim for twice a year to keep your vehicle smelling fresh.
Suspension & brakes, tires
Brakes Most drivers only change their brake pads every two to four years. With full-time rideshare work, however, you're probably looking at every six months. Get the highest-rated pads you can afford, and save money by swapping them out and replacing the brake rotors yourself.
Suspension Shocks and struts are wear items that need replacing, usually only around three times in the average lifespan of a car. If you are a full-time driver, you are looking at annual replacement. No skipping out on this one, as shocks and struts are critical components of the suspension that determine ride quality. No one wants to ride in a vehicle with an overly harsh or bouncing suspension, so get these replaced on time. In addition to shocks and struts, you will probably have to replace the vehicle's springs around 100,000 miles. If tourists regularly comment on the size of your area's potholes, you'll probably need to replace the tie rods early and get to know a reliable place for an alignment.
Tires Get a super-affordable tire pressure gauge and check your tire pressure daily before starting your shift. Why daily? Tire pressure affects everything from the ride quality and tire wear to gas mileage, so it's an easy and quick way to save more and earn more. Rather than going out of your way to a gas station with free air, use your own portable inflator. Keep tire rotation on your calendar, too, for longest tire life. A good rule of thumb is to do so during every oil change.
Keep it clean
Exterior Making a first impression with your vehicle's cleanliness is hugely important, as it's an area where you can receive a higher or lower rating depending on your results. You need to keep the outside cleaned with a regular cleaning regimen, or at least carry some quarters for the quick self-serve carwash every few days.
Interior Just as with the outside, your passengers will notice a filthy interior and leave appropriate ratings. Keeps the seats and carpets spotless with a 12v auto vacuum and a lint roller to quickly remove fur left by the pet owners. You'll probably have to use a vacuum after each shift if you drive full time. Use Scotchgard on seats and carpet to keep the upholstery looking new and prevent stains from spilled drinks or mud left by rainy days. Speaking of rain, use Rain X on all the windows for a clearer, safer view. Grab an air freshener, too. It won't help out maintenance but will keep the interior smelling nice.
Also look into exclusive Advance rewards for Uber drivers to save even more cash, and check out SpeedPerks, which is another way to get discounts. Have you been driving for a rideshare service? Let us know your car-maintenance tips that help you stay out on the road.