“Can I drive for Lyft with my car? Does it meet the requirements?” Scroll to the bottom of almost any post on my site and you’ll see that questions about Lyft’s vehicle requirements are more common than almost any other questions. Finding out if your car qualifies is one of the first steps toward becoming a Lyft driver, so if you think your car qualifies and you want to get started, apply to drive for Lyft here.
The guide below covers the most up-to-date Lyft vehicle requirements and I’ve done my best to mention city and state-specific requirements that might affect your area. Lyft ultimately holds the power to decide if your car qualifies or not, so use this post as a general guide to decide if you should apply to drive or not.
General Lyft vehicle requirements
- Vehicle must be model year 2004 or newer
- Atlanta: 2007
- Chicago: 2004
- Washington DC: 2006
- Kentucky: 2006
- Las Vegas: 2006
- Miami: 2009
- Minneapolis-St. Paul: 2006
- New York City: Governed by the TLC
- Pennsylvania: 2006
- Portland: 2006
- San Diego: 2007
- Seattle: 2006
- Must be a 4-door car, truck, minivan, or SUV
- Manual (standard) transmission is OK
- No major cosmetic damage
- Must pass a vehicle inspection: Mentor Session with a Lyft Mentor in most cities, state-mandated inspection in others
- Driver must pass a background check and driving record check
- Driver must be listed on vehicle’s insurance policy
How to apply when you don’t have a car
You might run into an issue during the application process if you don’t have a car, because the application forces you to input vehicle to complete the application. Many potential drivers don’t have a qualifying car, and plan to drive with a Hertz, Enterprise, or other type of Lyft rental. You can get caught in a loop: You can’t apply to Lyft without a car, and you can’t get the rental without being an approved driver.
To successfully apply without a car, apply to the Lyft Express Drive program. That application assumes that you need a car, so it will allow you to fill out basic information and do a background screening before you get a vehicle.
Lyft Plus – Minivans and SUVs for groups of 5 or more
Lyft Plus is the Lyft service for groups of riders five or more. Lyft Plus costs 1.5x the price of a regular Lyft, so a vehicle that qualifies for Plus can has higher earning potential than a regular Lyft car.
- Must seat 6 passengers
- Same model year requirements as regular Lyft
- Lyft Plus drivers receive requests for both Plus and regular rides. You can’t be a Plus-only driver.
If you car qualifies for Plus it will be automatically enabled to receive Lyft Plus requests. If you think your car qualifies for Plus but you’re not getting Plus requests, email Lyft and ask to be added to the Plus lineup.
Restrictions: Cars that don’t qualify for any Lyft service
- Full-sized vans (12 or 15-passenger vans like Ford Transit and E-Series, GMC Savana)
- Taxis and other commercially marked vehicles
- Salvage title or rebuilt title
Detailed vehicle standards
When you get your car inspected by a Lyft Mentor or by another state-mandated inspector, your car will be checked for the following:
- License plates: Current and valid
- Tires: Need sufficient tread. On a US penny, tread must reach Lincoln’s head
- Windows: Free of major cracks, no cracks in driver’s field of vision. Windows must roll up and down
- A/C and heat: Must be present and functioning
- Wipers: Functioning and in good condition
- Lights: All must function. Headlights, turn signals, brake lights, reverse lights
- Horn: Must function
- Seat belts: All must be present and functional
- Seats: Front seats must move forward and backward
- Body: Free of major damage or dents
- Tailpipe/muffler: Must meet state standards
What the requirements mean in the real world
Does reality match up with Lyft’s stated standards? For the most part, yes, the standards apply in real life, if you’ve taken lots of Lyfts or Ubers, you might have noticed that not every car is perfect. Here’s how you can expect the standards to apply in real life.
Who determines whether my car is ‘good enough’ and how closely do they look?
In most states, a trained Lyft Mentor will inspect your car based on the standards I’ve discussed here. At your Mentor Session, the Mentor will realistically take around 5 to 10 minutes to look at your car and check off items on a list inside their driver app. Mentors are paid a flat rate for each session, so it may be in their best interest to finish it as fast as possible so they can continue taking normal Lyft requests. Some Mentors will take the job more seriously than others and will look at your car critically, while others may speed through the process and ignore problems.
How much body damage can my car really have?
Lyft says that your car can’t have major cosmetic body damage, but what does that mean in the real world? In the end, whether your car’s damage is too severe is the decision of the person inspecting your car. When I underwent Lyft Mentor training, they told us that fist-sized dings or dents were ok, but that anything more isn’t acceptable. In the real world, most Mentors are ok with scratches and dings, but a massive dent or a piece of your car drooping/sticking out/obviously broken won’t be accepted.
What about the other standards. Is there flexibility?
Lyft makes no exceptions on model year requirements. For standards like tires/windows/lights/AC & heat, there’s not a lot of room for interpretation. You might be able to slip by with broken AC or a non functioning feature or two if the Mentor doesn’t look closely, but in the long run your passengers will notice and you’ll get low ratings. It’s better to fix your car now then to get hired only to get fired after your passengers complain about your car.
Does your car qualify for Lyft?
If you’ve read the standards in this post and you’re still not sure, the only two things you can do are to email Lyft or apply to drive for Lyft and find out during the application process. There’s no perfect online tool that can tell you for certain if your car qualifies or not. The only way to be certain is to apply and find out.
If you need to buy a car that qualifies for Lyft, start searching here:
- 1-800 Auto Yes - One-step application process
- Automotive.com - Shop for cars and loans
- myAutoloan.com - A fast way to see which types of auto loans you qualify for