Did you know that even if you’re an active Uber driver, your car can age out of the Uber system? Uber calls it “vehicle transitioning,” and it means that when your vehicle becomes too old, it will be downgraded to a lower service or permanently removed from the Uber system. If your car becomes too old to qualify for UberX, you’ll no longer be able to drive.
I’ve been aware of vehicle transitioning for a long time, but I recently got an email from Uber that described in detail how it works and when it will occur. I looked into how vehicle transitioning works and what you should do if your car becomes too old for Uber.
Uber vehicle transitioning: Aging out of the Uber system
Every year, Uber updates their vehicle model year requirements by one year to prevent cars on the system from being too old. When your vehicle becomes one model year older than the most current vehicle requirements, your car will undergo ‘transitioning’ to the next lower service, or off the platform entirely. For example, if your market requires 2006 or newer for UberX, your 2005 model that used to qualify will now be ‘transitioned’ off the platform at some point this year. What does that mean? It means your car has been booted off the system and you can’t drive with it anymore.
If you’re driving for UberSelect and your car is now one model year too old, your vehicle will be transitioned down to UberX. If your car qualified for Black but it becomes too old, it will be downgraded to XL.
What vehicle transitioning looks like in Los Angeles
I currently live in Los Angeles, and Uber sent me an email letting LA drivers know that if our vehicles are too old, they will be transitioned on February 24, 2016. That means Uber gave drivers with older vehicles a two-month grace period to continue driving in 2016. Here’s what the email looked like:
(Note: The vehicle requirements in your city may be different from the ones in Los Angeles, so only use this as an example of how Uber transitions vehicles and how it will work in your city.)
There is some subtext that’s worth pointing out, mainly that Uber assumes you know the vehicle requirements for LA. Most drivers haven’t memorized the various requirement for each Uber service, so transitioning can come as a surprise.
In Los Angeles, the vehicle model year requirements are:
UberX and XL: Vehicle must be 2001 or newer
Uber Select: Vehicle must be 2008 or newer
Uber Black, SUV, Lux: Vehicle must be 2011 or newer
So if your car is model year 2000, it will be transitioned off the platform, and if your Select car is model year 2007, it will be downgraded to UberX. This can come as a surprise to many drivers because when they joined Uber, model year 2000 or newer was accepted. When Uber updates the model year requirement, some drivers aren’t able to drive anymore.
What should you do if your car gets transitioned off the platform?
Beyond buying a newer car, there’s no way to avoid vehicle transitioning. Even if you’ve given 1,000 rides with an average rating of 5 starts and your car is still in perfect condition, Uber will kick your car off the platform if it becomes too old. If that happens to you, all you can do to continue driving is to get a newer car that meets the current vehicle standards. Ideally, you should get a car that exceeds the vehicle age requirement by three years or more, so you won’t get transitioned so soon again.
If you’ve been transitioned off the platform and you’re looking for a new or used car, I’ve seen a lot of great cars and auto loans with good terms 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
Does Uber give you reasonable warnings and a fair amount of time to deal with transitioning? I think they do an OK job of warning you about transitioning, but only if you read Uber’s emails closely. Uber begins warning drivers a few months before transitioning and gives you a two-month grace period to continue driving, but if you don’t read emails closely, transitioning may catch you by surprise and force you off the road.