What To Know About Driving for Uber

The concept of Uber is one of the best technological advancements that has shaped the taxi business for the last five years. Basically, Uber is an application that can enable anyone to become a taxi driver using their own vehicle. This concept can make a great side hustle, as you get to make money while driving around town.However, before starting, here are five things you need to know:

1. Don’t expect to make a lot of money

There is a general misconception that Uber is a get rich quick scheme if the adverts by Uber are anything to go by. According to Uber commercials, you stand to earn at least 40 dollars per hour averaging to 90,000 dollars per annum. However, the truth is you don’t earn as much, except for special occasions like New Year’s Eve or when there is an evidenced surge in pricing.

There are two factors that determine how much you make on Uber, your location and the number of Uber drivers in your area. If there is a huge competition for customers in your area, then you won’t make as much money because this will limit the number of rides at any particular time. However, if you stay in a busy area, with a few drivers, then you can make more money because you will be constantly on the move. If you stay in a rural area, then there is no reason to even sign-up, you are likely to make no money due to little traffic.

2. You are in Self-employment

As an Uber driver, you are not an employee of Uber, but rather an independent contractor. This implies that Uber is not obligated to pay your taxes, any statutory deductions like a student loan or file your returns as normal employers do, but rather, that is your responsibility. Thus, make an effort to understand your tax obligation. For instance, there is a specific limit above which you might be required to pay your taxes quarterly instead of annually. This is the case particularly if you owe anything above 1000 dollars in one year, well its nothing to worry about, but something to keep in mind.

3. Think insurance

Am sure you already know that your car needs an insurance, but as an Uber driver which insurance specifically do you need? Comprehensive, third party or which one? Remember your personal cover does not include “for-hire”, implying that a lot of things are excluded when you are driving your car for commercial purposes. This complicates things, particularly for drivers who want to use Uber part-time.

For full time-drivers, the challenge arises from the fact that most insurance policies exclude public conveyance, implying that if you got involved in an accident while carrying a passenger, you will meet the medical costs and other damages from your own pocket. In most countries, Uber drivers are treated as Public service vehicles (PSV) and thus are required to take third-party insurance policies. This not exposes the car to the risk of loss, but also the driver.

According to the Uber website, the company provides a supplementary insurance for the drivers, the passenger’ and other third-parties, but only when the application is on. This implies that while offline, your car and you are left exposed. Thus, conduct a thorough research on the most appropriate insurance policy in your locality.

4. Understand the tax deductibles particularly mileage

In every business, the government gives you an allowable expense for all expenses that are directly involved in the production of a product or a service. In the case of an Uber driver, your most important business expense is mileage.The standard rate mileage which is the most applicable for Uber drivers and this refers to the national mileage rate that you can claim for every mile that you drive for your business.

In 2017, the rate was 53.3 cents for every mile covered with the Uber app on. The trick is to master how to keep track of this millage accurately as in most cases, Uber gives a lower figure meaning you will make the less mileage deduction. This mileage can also include rides you make between dropping off a passenger and picking the next one. Some drivers even include their ride to and from home, thus making almost every ride a tax-deductible expense.

5. Watch out for Surge price to make more money

Like every business, Uber is by the forces of demand and supply,with prices being higher when the demand is high and lower when the demand is low. Thus, watch out for major holidays, weekends and Fridays when most people are out partying as that is when the prices seem to be highest and you are likely to make double what you can make on an ordinary day.

For instance, in New York on New Year’s eve, passengers reported paying up to 10 times more than they would pay on an ordinary night. Well, the jury is out on whether this is ethical or not, but as a driver, there is no harm in making an extra dollar on a weekend to make up for a slow day during the week.

Thus, Uber is a great side-hustle with an opportunity to transition to a full-time job. With a good functional car, the right insurance in place and a willingness to work more hours than the normal 8-5, then you can earn some good money. These tips can help point you in the right direction.

Why I Gave Up Driving a Taxi Cab

A friend of mine was recently fired from his job as a taxi driver through no fault of his own. This is the reason I now drive for Uber instead of a cab company. Sorry in advance for venting…

Question: If 2 cars run a red light, one of them is a yellow cab and another one is a regular car, which one will be stopped by the police and issued a ticket?

Question: If 2, 3, or even 4 cars are standing in a no parking zone and one of those is a yellow cab, guess which one will be given a ticket?

Question: If 2 or more cars are crossing the street and all of a sudden the front cars stopped and 2 or 3 cars are on the cross road mark, guess which one will be singled out?

Question: If few cars were speeding and one of them is a yellow cab, guess which one will be given the ticket for speeding?

The answer is as easy as ABC. In all the situations the scapegoat will be the yellow cab. Yellow cabs may be most effective mode of transportation in New York City but the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) and The city of New York (especially the police department) treat these cab drivers who are relentlessly carrying passengers to their destinations like dirt. Yellow cabs are such an easy target of any kinds of propaganda that it is unbelievable. The TLC which are run by the city with the money earned from the cab drivers, may be the single worst people to deal with.

A cabbie has practically no rights. A cabbie means thief, a cabbie means Liar, a cabbie means being worse than a dirt. Even the so called mayor treats them like criminals. I urge the Taxi Commissioner to drive a yellow cab for a month and I can bet with my life that the experience will open his eyes so wide that they’ll never close again. The kind of abuse that cab drivers take from the police and TLC makes it seem like we are living under Saddam Hussein where the very people he governed had no rights what so ever.

I still remember one time my car just died on me after unloading a passenger. After numerous unsuccessful attempts to start it, a cop pulled up behind me. He simply didn’t care that it was a mechanical issue and I couldn’t fix it right then and there. He issued me a ticket. That was the last straw. Turns out, the car had a bad ground strap from the battery which wouldn’t allow it to start up. There was nothing I could do at the time.

The TLC Commissioner is born with a silver spoon… maybe a gold spoon in his mouth. The vast majority of Cab drivers are poor people who came to this land of opportunity to support his family. The Commissioner would never be able to even fathom the idea of sending money for a hungry family in Africa, India, Bangladesh and so on, let alone understand the situation. The cab drivers work 12 hours straight and many times after paying the lease, gas and food, they may end up with 30 to 40 dollars. That’s like $3 to $4 dollars an hour. Yes sometimes if the day is good then they may earn $100 for themselves and that amount is close to the minimum wage.

A cab driver does not become millionaire by driving cab. Most cab drivers work 72 hours a week taking one day off. He makes more money for the garage than for himself in any given week. And if he gets one or 2 tickets, that means the whole week’s worth of wages are gone.

Why the cab is the safest bet for city to issue a ticket is because the cab drivers normally do not go to court and fight the ticket. They’d rather pay than go to the court where they know that there is not even a 5% chance to win the case. I remember a time where various kinds of dump trucks and other construction vehicles that essentially shut down a busy during rush hour. I was literally a block away waiting 30 seconds for a customer to come back when a cop gave me a ticket for being in a no parking place, supposedly blocking traffic. I almost lost it right there.

The police, TLC and the ticket agents all know how to write tickets. They all know what to say in front of the judge so that the tickets stick. Because they are professional and boy do they know how to write the ticket the right way. I wonder one thing… New York City issues thousands of tickets every year. In fact the number is in millions and only a handful of the tickets were dismissed as the fault of the issuers. So what does that really mean? That all those receiving tickets are liars and the ones issuing the tickets are all saints who have never done anything wrong? I don’t think so.

And this, my friends, is exactly why quitting my job as a taxi driver was one of the best things I’ve done. Until things change, I would never recommend that profession. Yes, DIY car repairs is something I’ve had to learn since my employer doesn’t handle that, but I’ve actually had a lot of fun (most of the time) doing my own vehicle maintenance. Being an Uber driver really is one of the best jobs in the world I think.

Top 15 Items Every Uber Driver Should Have on Hand

If you drive for Uber or any other ride share, there’s a few things you should always keep in your vehicle. Not only will your riders appreciate some of these and leave you a higher rating or tip, you’ll be helping yourself by being more organized and less stressed. Here are 15 of the best things that should be in every Uber driver’s car:

1. Paper towels/napkins

A passenger will never forget an Uber driver who offered a paper towel or a napkin when they need it most. It is the simple things that leave a mark. So when you hit a speed bump and the water or the soda the passenger is drinking spills, have something to help them clean up.

2. A mileage log

You can log your miles by using an app or the old fashioned pen and a paper method. This simply means you are staying organized for tax time and write offs. In fact, many office supply stores sell mileage logbooks. This should be a priority if you intend to become a renown Uber driver. In essence, your mileage can be deducted against your gross income. This means you will pay less taxes.

3. Towel for service dogs

Uber drivers are allowed to carry a passenger and their service animal. So to keep any hair off the seats, always carry a towel in your car no matter if you have fabric or leather seats.

4. A mileage app

You can keep track of your customer’s mileage by installing an app on your smartphone. This is a free and more logical option than installing an expensive meter. There are also mileage trackers that double as mileage logs. This will help you claim the mileage for your taxes and stay ahead of the game.

5. Hands-free mount

GPS is essential for every Uber and Lyft driver these days. So it’s crucial that you use a GPS app and mount your mobile device on the dash to use it on the go. Having the mount also ensures your passengers are safe. You can be distracted by calls or messages but having your mobile phone in the right position means you don’t have to worry about distractions. Some states require them.

6. Portable phone charger

To make your Uber ride stand out, consider keeping a power pack where passengers can reach it (unless you have USB charging ports available in the back seat). You will most definitely come to the rescue of a passenger whose phone is dying. They should also be both Android and iPhone friendly to allow anyone to use it.

7. Auxiliary cord for music

Customers want to feel relaxed even in an Uber. If the kind of music you are playing is not what they listen to, consider offering an option where they can connect your auxiliary cord to their phone and play the music they want to hear.

8. Air freshener

As much as this may not be a priority to most drivers, but the truth is the smell of your car will be the first thing passengers notice. Unless you want your passenger to find another ride, make sure you have an air freshener but one with a mild scent (nothing crazy). Sometimes another rider may have left a not so pleasant smell behind or rainy conditions cause a general musty smell in the vehicle.

9. Sanitary wipes

You will sometimes encounter a mess that needs a quick wipe. If you don’t have towels or napkins, sanitary wipes can do the job just fine.

10. Barf bags

If your passenger gets sick or the unfortunate happens, you don’t want him/her to throw up in your car. A vomit bag will save you the headache of stopping the car to allow your passenger out or clean the vomit in your car.

11. Hand sanitizer

Your passenger may be uncomfortable if he has dirty hands. The best thing you can do in this scenario is to offer some hand sanitizer.

12. First aid kit

It is important to undergo basic first aid training and equip yourself with a first aid kit. Your passenger will be thankful and surprised that you offered a bandaid or a gauze pad.

13. Tools

You want to have a basic set of car tools in your trunk. Other than a scissor jack (which every car should have) for changing a flat tire, it’s good to have a can of Fix-a-Flat or small portable air compressor (source). Some other tools include: jumper cables, socket set, crescent wrench, flashlight, spare fuses, and even a roll of duct tape.

14. Pen and paper

A pen and a paper should always be in your glove box. There are important events that need to be jotted down like the time you picked someone up, the drop off time and stops in between if there were any. These are measures drivers should take to protect themselves when the need arises. Alternatively, a note taking app on your cell phone works as well.

15. Mints, Gum or Water

If you have been an Uber driver for some time now you understand that there are all sorts of passengers who call for you. If you happen to carry a drunk passenger, you can offer some peppermint or water to settle his/her stomach. The last thing you want is a passenger getting sick in your car (see barf bags above).

6 Essential Car Maintenance Tips for Uber Drivers

Your car is the most important asset if you are running an Uber business. As a result, you need to ensure that your car is in the best condition at all times. Uber customers love the fact that they can ride in a clean, upscale vehicle at prices cheaper than a typical taxi.

Many drivers lack enough knowledge when it comes to maintaining their cars. The following article is designed to address critical areas where checks are to be performed on vehicles on a daily basis. This will keep your car in the best operating condition at all times.

1. Wash your vehicle regularly

Every car in the Uber business needs to be very clean. The exterior and interior parts of the vehicle have to be cleaned thoroughly. As part of car maintenance, the engine should also be pressure washed every once in a while.

2. Regular oil and fluid checks

One of the most vital car maintenance procedures is to check the engine oil frequently. The oil should be changed on a regular basis following the manufacturers recommended interval. Not staying on top of oil and oil filter changes may lead to an engine failure. To save money, all you need is a set of car ramps, oil drain pan, wrench, oil, oil filter, and maybe an oil filter wrench.

The other car fluids need to be checked as well although they do not need as much attention as the engine oil. These include coolant, transmission fluid, brake fluid, power steering fluid, and of course windshield washer fluid to name a few. Make sure they are all at the right level and top off as needed.

It’s a great idea to use a good fuel injector cleaner or fuel system cleaner on a regular basis. It’s cheap and will often increase power, fuel efficiency, and just make your car run smoother in general.

3. Wax your vehicle

You definitely want to make sure that the exterior of your car is clean and the paint stays in good condition. This will also protect it from the elements. You can quickly achieve this by applying a quality wax on your car twice a year using a buffer. These days, you don’t need the best car buffer in the world to polish out imperfections and apply a coat of wax. Inexpensive models under $50 can do just as good a job as a $200 model. It is a great way to make your car look like new and get more customers.

4. Maintain the wheel bearing

KBB advises you have a full inspection, clean up and repack of wheel bearings with grease when you are having your vehicle serviced. Hub and spindle replacements are expensive procedures. These can be avoided by having the wheel bearings greased.

5. Grease all movable parts

The survival and longevity of your car is dependent on everything before sufficiently lubricated. Grease should be applied to all moving parts that rub against each other. This will prevent wear and tear from happening.

6. Maintain the cooling system

Another car maintenance tip is to change the coolant annually and flush the cooling system as a whole. To have a cooling system that is functioning well, distilled water and coolant are to be added in equal amounts. Corrosion and formation of deposits in the cooling system can occur if regular tap water is used.

These are just a few ways you can help maintain your car for years of successful Uber driving.