If you’re thinking about using your own car to drive for Uber or Lyft, your vehicle may have to pass a vehicle inspection before you can start driving. Do you have to perform an inspection, and will your car be ‘good enough’ to pass?
In most cities, Uber and Lyft require that you complete a vehicle inspection once every year at a state-certified 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.
Lyft requires a vehicle inspection that is very similar to the Uber inspection. Lyft provides free inspections at Lyft Hub office locations, but most cities do not have a Hub. If no Hub is available in your area, you’ll have to print out an inspection form and bring it to a state-licensed mechanic in your area.
- Does your car qualify for Uber?
- Does your car qualify for Lyft?
- How to rent or lease a car for Uber and Lyft
The Uber vehicle inspection
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.
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.
How much do Uber vehicle inspections cost?
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 around $30.
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Not all Uber cities require a vehicle inspection
When you apply to drive for Uber, you may find that your city doesn’t require a vehicle inspection. To find out whether you’ll need to get an inspection or not, you can go to uber.com/drive/*your-city*, for example uber.com/drive/los-angeles/. Search on your city’s page for drivers to find more detail about inspection requirements in your area.
It’s also possible that you’ll be able to get on the road before you perform your inspection. Closely follow all instructions Uber sends to you inside the Uber driver app and via email. You may have to complete a vehicle inspection in your first 30 days as an active driver.
Get a free Uber inspection at Uber Greenlight Spots and Greenlight Hubs
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.
How to find a free vehicle inspection for Uber
If free inspection centers are available in your city, they will be listed at Uber.com. To find a free Uber inspection center is to go to uber.com/drive/*your-city* (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.
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 had to do was wait while the inspector did the inspection and updated my account. It’s more convenient before, but my old trick of using the Uber form for Lyft no longer worked.
Will paint and body damage disqualify your car?
Read the inspection 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
You have to choices to complete the Lyft vehicle inspection: Visit a Lyft Hub in your area, or print out the Lyft inspection form and pay a certified mechanic in your area to do the inspection. Most mechanics charge around $30 for a Lyft vehicle inspection. The inspection covers essential safety equipment like tires, brakes, seat belts, and lights.
Can you get a free Lyft vehicle inspection?
Lyft is gradually adding options for free vehicle inspections in some cities. Lyft provides free inspections for new drivers at Lyft Hubs, which are in-person support centers for drivers. Visit this page to see if your city has a Lyft Hub.
Lyft also provides limited free ‘re-inspections’ at Lyft Hubs or partnered auto shops. Re-inspection centers only cover inspections for drivers who have passed an initial inspection, so if you’re using a vehicle that has not passed an inspection before, you won’t qualify for the free re-inspection.
To find a free Lyft vehicle inspection or re-inspection: Visit help.lyft.com and search for your city or state. The search results should contain an article that says “*your state* driver information,” for example, “California Driver Information.” That page will list inspection information, and if any free inspection options are available, it will be listed in the area of the page that covers inspections.
The Lyft vehicle inspection covers:
- Brake wear
- Parking break operation
- Steering mechanism condition (ball joints, tie rods, bushings, steering rack)
- Windshield – Cracks or no cracks
- Condition of other window glass
- Windshield wipers
- Headlights and taillights
- Turn signals and stop lights
- Front seat adjusment
- Doors: Open, close, lock
- Bumper condition
- Tire tread depth
- Interior and exterior rear-view mirrors
- Seat belts for drivers and passengers
For more info about Lyft requirements, read: Lyft driver requirements: What do they really mean?
Check these things on your vehicle yourself before you go to an Uber or Lyft 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
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 upload 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 an 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.