If you’re thinking about using your own car to drive for UberX, XL, UberSelect, or Lyft, your vehicle will have to pass a vehicle inspection before you can start driving. Will your car be ‘good enough’ to pass?
Uber requires that you complete a vehicle inspection once every year at a pre-approved auto repair shop, or at an Uber ‘activation centers’ that are located in gas stations, parking lots, and at some local mechanic shops. If you apply online, you can complete the mechanical inspection after you pass the background check, but if you apply at an Uber activation center, you can complete the inspection right when you apply.
Inspections cost around $20 at auto repair shops, and they’re free at activation centers. Now that activation centers are all over larger cities, you can probably get your inspection done for free.
How to find an Uber activation center in your area
Uber will provide you with a list of mechanics and activation centers in your area who are qualified to do the inspection. Most chain repair shops (Midas, Jiffy Lube, etc) are approved to do the inspection and the whole process only take around thirty minutes.
Lyft requires a less-thorough visual inspection and test drive conducted by Lyft Mentors. The Lyft Welcome Ride doesn’t cost any money to complete.
UberX, XL, and Select drivers in all states: Your car must pass a mechanical and safety inspection
Before you can get on the road as an Uber driver, your car has to pass a mechanical inspection at a professional repair shop. The inspection covers mechanical and safety features that any well-maintained car should be able to pass with ease, and now that many inspections are performed at Activation Centers, inspectors go into even less detail than before.
Here’s what the inspection form looks like:
Two items on the list that many people regularly fail are the tire tread test and the brake pad depth test. If you haven’t replaced your tires or brakes in awhile, you could be in for some big up-front expenses before you can get on the road. The good news is that you can write off the expenses at tax time.
Free Inspections: Uber Activation Centers and other approved mechanics
In some of the major Uber markets like Los Angeles and San Francisco, Uber provides Activation Centers that can perform the vehicle inspection for free and help upload your other documents. If you pass the inspection at an activation center, Uber will upload the inspection document for you. Uber also lists other affiliated mechanics shops that can perform free inspections. Check Ubermovement.com to see if your city has an Activation Center or other locations that provide free inspections.
Will paint and body damage disqualify your car?
Read the form closely and you’ll notice that information about the condition of the body of your car is left out. Uber doesn’t accept vehicles with major body damage, but at what point do they find out? If you have your inspection done at a repair shop, they will overlook most body damage and focus only on the checklist.
If you have your inspection done at an activation center, the inspectors look more closely at body damage and reject your application if it’s too severe. You’ll also have to send Uber pictures of your car, so any major body damage will be brought to Uber’s attention eventually. A good rule of thumb is that baseball-sized dents and scratches are ok, anything bigger could disqualify your car.
Lyft drivers: Your Lyft Mentor will inspect your car (except in California)
New Lyft drivers are required to have their cars inspected by a ‘Mentor,’ a working Lyft driver who is trained and paid to on-board new drivers. Your Mentor will inspect your car using an in-app checklist, then they’ll have you give them a ride in your car. After that “Mentor Session” is done, they’ll fill out more items on the checklist and give their final recommendation. Read here to
For Lyft, your car has to pass a cosmetic inspection: Your lights have to work, your car can’t be too damaged, and your car must run and drive well. Careful mechanical measurements aren’t taken for the Lyft car inspection, but it’s easier to get rejected by lyft because the Mentor’s final judgement about you has has a good amount of discretion in making a final judgement about you.
Read more detail about the Lyft Mentor session in: You might not be hired by lyft if….
In California, your car must pass a mechanical inspection that is identical to the Uber inspection. (Lyft’s mechanical inspection form). Lyft does not reimburse you for the expense.
Check this stuff yourself before you pay for the inspection
It’s smart to look over your own car before you go in for an inspection. Otherwise, you might be tempted to spend too much money on repairs when a mechanic gives you a long, expensive list of work your car needs.
Inspect these things yourself, and if they don’t work properly, go to an auto parts store and try to fix them.
- Turn indicators (blinkers)
- Stop lights
- Tires – Find new tires here
Mechanics charge too much money for easy work that almost anyone can do, so if you find a broken light or a damaged wiper blade, find your vehicle owner’s manual and try to save some money by fixing it yourself.
What to do if your car doesn’t pass the inspection
If your car doesn’t pass the inspection, correct the issue and go back to redo the inspection. After you do, you can upload your inspection form to the Uber partner dashboard. The inspection only covers the most basic roadworthiness of a car, so if your car fails it’s probably not safe to drive and you should invest money into bringing your car up to standard.