If you’re thinking about using your own car to drive for Uber 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 and Lyft require 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.
Vehicle inspections are free at Uber’s activation centers and Greenlight Hubs, but if you choose to go to a different mechanic the inspection will usually cost up to $30.
How to find an Uber activation center that gives free vehicle inspections
Uber provides a list of activation centers in your area at help.uber.com. Enter your city in the upper corner, then search for the keyword “Inspections.” Click the article about vehicle inspections. It will contain another link to a list of activation centers and info about approved mechanics. Most chain repair shops (Midas, Jiffy Lube, etc) are approved to do the inspection and the whole process only take around thirty minutes.
Another way to find a free Uber inspection center is to go to uber.com/drive/*yourcity* (example: uber.com/drive/los-angeles/). From there, scroll down and find a link to Vehicle Inspections. There, you’ll find a map of inspection locations and more info on inspection regulations in your area.
Lyft requires an inspection that is very similar to Uber’s. Unlike Uber, you have to take your vehicle to a licensed mechanic and it won’t be free.
- Does your car qualify for Uber?
- Does your car qualify for Lyft?
- How to rent or lease a car for Uber and Lyft
What the Uber vehicles inspection looks at
The Uber vehicle 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.
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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.
Get a free Uber inspections at Uber Activation Centers and Greenlight Spots
In many larger markets, Uber provides free inspections at places called Greenlight Spots, Greenlight Hubs, or Inspection centers. These are locations that can perform the vehicle inspection for free and help you apply to drive and upload your 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 help.uber.com to see if your city has an Activation Center or other locations that provide free inspections.
Some cities are going paperless for Uber inspections
At my most recent inspection in Los Angeles, I was told that activation centers no longer use paper forms. So instead of taking a photo of the completed inspection form and uploading it to my Uber profile, all I have to do now is wait while the inspector does the inspection and updates my account. It’s more convenient before, but my old trick of using the Uber form for Lyft no longer works.
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.
The Lyft vehicle inspection
Lyft does not provide inspection locations, so you’ll have to print out the Lyft inspection form and pay a certified mechanic in your area to do the inspection. A Lyft vehicle inspection costs up to $30. New Lyft drivers are required to have their vehicles inspected at a state-licensed facility by a mechanic who will look at the overall mechanical and cosmetic condition of the car. The most important items are tires, brakes, and safety features like seat belts and lights.
The Lyft vehicle inspection covers:
- 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
For more info about Lyft requirements, read: Lyft driver requirements: What do they really mean?
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.
Can you do one vehicle inspection that covers both Uber and Lyft?
Many drivers like to stay active on both Uber and Lyft, which means keeping inspections up to date for both Uber and Lyft. It seems like a hassle to do two inspections when both companies have essentially the same requirements, so is there a way to get one inspection that is accepted by both Uber and Lyft? The answer is yes and no, depending on whether you visit a free uber inspection location or if you go to an independent mechanic.
If you get an inspection at one of Uber’s free activation centers you won’t be able to get paper proof of the inspection to give to Lyft, and the inspector won’t fill out your Lyft form for you.
If you go to an independent mechanic, you can ask them to fill out both paper forms at the same time. A mechanic certified to do the Uber inspection will be able to do the Lyft inspection too, so if you ask nicely the mechanic will likely fill out both forms for you.
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.