It’s easy to neglect car maintenance schedules, especially when you’re trying to tend to your vehicle’s needs in between driving, delivering, and making good money. It’s possible to turn a blind eye to maintenance, pretending that your reliable four-wheeled friend will keep rolling no matter how many miles you drive; but eventually reality will hit—and in a rather unpleasant way. Can you say, “$500 car repair?”
Experienced drivers know how crucial car maintenance is, but even seasoned pros might not fully know all the things a vehicle needs. We compiled this comprehensive car maintenance checklist for gig drivers so you’ll know how to keep up to date with your vehicle’s maintenance needs. This way you can drive merrily on your gig while avoiding any threat of being bitten. Here’s what we’ll cover:
- car maintenance for gig workers
- the basic car maintenance checklist
- the rideshare and delivery driver checklist
- benefits of (and for) car care
Car maintenance for gig workers
Your car is the most important tool in your business. Every car owner must take responsibility in caring for their car, but gig drivers need to be downright obsessive about it. Realizing that car maintenance might be important is a good start, but if you need confirmation that it’s absolutely essential for you as a gig driver, consider the things proper car maintenance will bring you.
- safety: If you properly maintain your vehicle and know that the moving parts are in working order, you avoid potential disasters such as brake and steering failures, faulty tires, or an engine stalling because it’s gummed up with old oil.
- optimal car performance: When your car has all the attention it requires, you can be assured that factors such as low gas mileage and poor visibility won’t present problems.
- maximum resale value: Your maintenance records will be part of what any potential buyer will ask to see before negotiating on a price when the time comes to sell your car. If the buyer is sure the engine and other parts have been well-nurtured, the value of your car will remain high.
- time savings: Sure, it’s inconvenient to take a morning off to change your oil or run your car to the mechanic for inspection or a once-over. That’s nothing, though, compared to losing access to your car for a few days, a week, or more, should a small problem devolve into a major repair.
Car maintenance is extremely important, and yes, it does cost some money. There is help to make the burden for drivers a lot lighter. Check out Gridwise + CarAdvise and Gridwise + Forever Car for discounts on maintenance and a service plan that will help you cover any repairs you might require.
Now let’s look at the basic things you need to do to properly take care of your vehicle.
The basic car maintenance checklist
How often should I change my oil?
By far this is the most common and the easiest element of proper car care. Your vehicle manual will confirm the manufacturer’s exact recommendations for when to change the oil. The general rule of thumb, according to Kelly Blue Book, is about every 5,000 miles. Some cars, namely those that use synthetic oil, may be able to go up to every 7,000 miles, while others might need to be changed more frequently.
Is it important to use a certain type of oil?
If you expect to avoid high car maintenance bills, you must make sure your car is filled with the right grade of oil. This article from WonderfulEngineering.com puts it to you straight. Cars need oil like we need blood. When a person gets a transfusion with the wrong blood type, a life or death situation can be created.
It’s pretty much the same with your car. Using the wrong type of oil can cause oil leaks, mileage reduction, engine noise, engine problems in cold weather, and worst of all, engine damage. The viscosity, flow rate, and nature (natural or synthetic) of oil that your car needs are determined by the car manufacturer. Don’t deviate, or let anyone talk you into using an oil other than the one that is right for your car.
How do I learn how to change my car’s oil?
For many drivers the solution is to find a shop that specializes in oil changes, or to trust this important task to a reliable mechanic. You can find mechanics and auto stores near you, compare prices, and read reviews when you use Gridwise + CarAdvise. You can even schedule your appointment, and receive discounts of up to 40%!
If you’re more of a DIY person, then you’ll need serious instructions on how to perform an oil change. Although it’s not exactly rocket science, on your first try you may want to enlist the support of a friend experienced in changing oil. If that’s not possible, check out this article from AutoZone.com for step by step instructions and easy access to the supplies you’ll need (they do sell these things, after all). This video from Chris Fix is geared toward beginners and will show you how to change your own oil.
Tire rotation and wheel balancing
There’s a lot more to taking care of your tires than merely keeping them filled with air. Tires support your car. They’re involved in keeping you rolling, of course, but have you thought about their role in steering and braking your car? These functions are vital to your safety, as well as that of any passengers you might have along with you.
How important is it to rotate my tires?
Because tires have so many important jobs, they undergo a lot of wear and tear. However, they don’t all wear out at the same rate or in the same spots. That’s why you need to rotate your tires. The tires take turns being placed in different positions so they can wear more evenly.
If you fail to rotate your tires, here are some things you can expect:
- tire noise
- tire vibration
- steering wheel vibration
- uneven tread wear and/or voided tire warranty
How often should I rotate my tires?
Your manufacturer will recommend the exact frequency for tire rotation, which is usually around every 5,000 miles. There are suggested patterns to use to help facilitate the equal wear of all four tires. Front-wheel drive cars will need to have tires rotated in a different pattern than rear-wheel or all-wheel drive cars. If you do this job yourself, make sure you use the pattern that works best for your vehicle. This article from TireGrades.com says more about tire rotation and describes the different patterns. Even with this sage Lyft or DoorDash driver advice, though, it’s always best to confirm what you should do with your manufacturer or a trusted mechanic.
What about balancing my tires?
Balancing your tires is also a good idea if you want to avoid all the same problems you can get from neglecting to rotate them. Tire balancing consists of placing weights inside each tire to make sure they roll smoothly, without vibration.
You can balance your tires when you rotate them, but you may not need to. Check with your manufacturer, but it might be safe to wait to balance the tires every other time you rotate them, rather than each time.
Even if you’re diligent about caring for your tires, they’re bound to give out at some point. When you need to purchase new ones, use Gridwise Tires, and get $10 off each tire you buy.
Taking care of your brakes
Brakes are a high-cost item that absorb a lot of punishment. They should take high priority when it comes to car maintenance for gig economy workers. Brakes also comprise multiple components and can be very expensive to replace. That’s why it’s wise to be attentive to your brakes, and fix the small problems before they become huge ones.
An even more important reason to care for your brakes is safety. Losing control of your car can cause more problems than you can afford to deal with. It pays to keep your senses keen and to be faithful to your maintenance schedule.
How do I know if my brakes need attention?
You know your car better than typical car owners, so this part will be easy for you. The key words are listen, feel, and notice. Here are some signs that you might want to check your brakes or have a mechanic look at them:
- whistling, screeching, or grinding noises upon braking
- longer than usual stopping distance
- listing to one side when braking
- vibrations in the steering wheel when braking
and, in case you fail to notice these signs. . .
- illuminated brake warning light on dashboard
How do I maintain my braking system?
Prevention is protection, so it’s good to have a regular regimen for checking your brakes. Any good Uber driver advice is going to tell you that as a gig driver, the amount of starting and stopping you do puts extra demands on your brakes. Here are some tips for maintaining your brake system to get the most mileage possible from it:
- Keep your brake fluid at its optimal level.
- Perform occasional checks. If you can see your brakes through the wheels, check for pits and scratches.
- Look under your car. If there is rust, this could affect the brake lines, which could spell disaster for you.
- Check your brakes at least every 10,000 miles but preferably at the rate recommended in your manufacturer’s manual (yes, that’s something we should all read).
If you feel unsure about what a brake line looks like or whether your brake cylinder is getting a bit pitted or scratched up, use Gridwise + CarAdvise to find a reliable mechanic who knows what brakes are all about.
Keep your battery charged
Most cars operate on one 12V battery, but many others, such as hybrids and EVs, have additional batteries to tend to. Without a strong battery, you risk stalling and possibly not even starting, especially in cold weather. Although batteries work most of the time without complaint, it pays to check from time to time to ensure yours is in full working order.
How do I know if there’s something wrong with my battery?
Your battery fuels the electrical system of your car, so you may notice some signs of wear before you head out one morning to find it’s totally dead. Your lights might dim, your car may take an extra moment or two to turn over, and other unusual things can happen. You might get messages about your key fob not being recognized, or maybe your anti-theft system won’t kick in every time. Sometimes, the entertainment system acts up. Before you take your car in for expensive diagnostics, check on the health of your 12V battery.
How can I check the health of my battery?
First, find out the age of your battery. After about 4 years, you’ll probably begin to notice some issues. To run your own diagnostics, you’ll need a battery tester. This article from MechanicBase.com describes this process and recommends regular checks.
If you are completely new to this, you will need help. This video from Chris Fix will provide just that. You’ll see how to test and clean your connections, which is something most of us can do without a problem.
Diagnosing and/or changing a car battery can be daunting to those of us who don’t come close to gearhead status, and also expensive if the testing equipment needed has to be bought. Your mechanic can test your battery for a minimal charge.
It’s always good to do this periodically, based on manufacturer’s recommendations. Your battery will wear out faster if you take many short trips, without allowing the car to run long enough to adequately recharge.
If you do get caught without enough charge to keep your car going, you’ll need roadside assistance! Gridwise benefits has a roadside service program that’s simple to join and easy to love.
Cooling system concerns and maintenance
Who doesn’t want to keep this part of their car’s operation true to its name: “cool”? All cars create heat when their engines are running, but rideshare and delivery drivers really take their cars’ engines to the limit. Fortunately, cooling system maintenance is a breeze. Here are some things to consider.
Why worry about how “cool” my car is?
An overheated engine will cause far-reaching problems that can result in the complete failure of your engine. The coolant system runs fluids through the engine that keep it from overheating, and possibly even fusing. In colder climates antifreeze fluid prevents ice from forming inside the engine. If oil is akin to a car’s blood, the cooling system might be like the lymphatic system. It’s crucial to your car’s health, and you can’t neglect any signs that it needs your attention.
What are the signs of a cooling system in trouble?
You’ll know it’s time to take care of your cooling system if you notice
- overheating (usually indicated by a dashboard warning)
- the smell of coolant fluid
- excessive consumption of coolant
How can I make sure my cooling system is in good health?
Keep your radiator full. Either check this yourself or have an automotive professional do it for you. Opening the radiator cap while the engine is hot is not a move you want to make. Depending on how much you use your car, and how hard the cooling system has been working, check periodically, as often as once a week. This video by ExpertVillage features Jeff Wong describing how to take care of your radiator’s needs.
Clean your radiator. You might be able to do this yourself; otherwise ask an expert to do it for you. Aim for about twice a year. You might want to schedule this, or do it yourself, at the same time you perform an oil change.
Flush the cooling system. About once a year, or at an interval your manufacturer recommends, your car’s cooling system should be flushed through with fluid to remove any debris or unhealthy fluid accumulation.
Taking care of your car’s transmission
Your car’s transmission can be a matter of life or death. You don’t want to be caught in a tight traffic situation, especially on a highway, only to find that your engine lacks the power needed to get you where you’re going safely.
How do I know my transmission needs attention?
The transmission system in your car is designed to allow it to move from one gear to another smoothly. When you go uphill or need to accelerate, it should shift down; and when you get to a comfortable cruising speed, it should shift up.
If these things stop happening, without fail you need to get your transmission to someone who can check it and diagnose your problem. There are other signs of transmission trouble, including
- bumping noises when the car is in neutral
- whining noises
- slipping gears
- leaking transmission fluid
What can I do to ensure the health and longevity of my car’s transmission?
As you might imagine, your transmission needs fluid in order to operate the gear system with the least amount of friction possible. The transmission fluid is easy to access in most vehicles. It pays to check that it is at its optimal levelIt is also important to either change it or get it changed by a professional so that it doesn’t become dirty.
This video from Scotty Kilmer demonstrates how a typical car’s transmission fluid can be changed in a unique, yet practical and entertaining, way. As you can see, this is a job that might be best performed by a trusted professional. Use Gridwise + CarAdvise to find someone who gets under that car like there’s nothing to it, and doesn’t charge you an arm and a leg.
Prevent trouble with healthy belts and hoses
How do all the fluids get through the engine, and how does the engine make the wheels turn? A look under your hood will tell you that these important jobs rely on belts and hoses. There are many to consider, and if you expect to keep your car running well, you’ll need to check them regularly.
Why do I have to keep checking my belts and hoses?
When components of your car are absolutely integral to your car’s performance, not to mention your delivery or rideshare earnings, the answer is obvious. Taking care of these simple looking parts can prevent many a DoorDash car repair during a busy week or Amazon Flex fail in an unsafe area.
Failure to check your belts and hoses can result in
- snapping hoses
- unhooked belts
- total transmission, cooling system, or engine breakdown
Getting stranded with a problem related to belts and hoses can leave you waiting a long time for a tow, unless you have Roadside Service from Gridwise. If being roadside stranded isn’t enough to inspire you to make occasional checks, repairs for hoses and belts start at $200.
How will I know there’s a problem with a belt or hose?
Fortunately, belts and hoses normally take a long while before they break or become unhooked. You might notice leaks that result from holes in a hose in any one of your car’s systems, or there could be squeaking sounds that indicate a belt needs a bit of love.
If you want to avoid getting to this point, you can check your belts and hoses, or have a mechanic do it for you.
What belts and hoses can I check?
The most important belts, depending on the age of your car, have to do with getting your engine to move the car.
- In older cars, the timing belt synchronizes the operation of the camshaft and crankshaft so the pistons fire properly. If it’s worn or under-lubricated, engine damage can result.
- In newer models, the serpentine belt, or fan belt, connects the engine to just about every other system in your car. You don’t want this baby to break on you, either!
You’ll want to ensure the belts are working properly and don’t show tears or breaks.
Hoses, as you might imagine, carry all those precious fluids for the various systems in your car. They include
- heater hose
- fuel hose
- radiator hose
- brake fluid hose
- power steering fluid hose
Those of us who are unsure about how to find and evaluate hoses will probably want to leave this job to our trusty mechanic. Just in case you’d like to know more, you can read this article about belt maintenance, or watch this video from AskPatty.com about how to check your belts and hoses.
The rideshare and delivery driver checklist
Like we said in the introduction, ordinary drivers have enough car maintenance concerns, but gig drivers have many more. With all the stopping and starting, the hours on end of the engine running, driving around in all kinds of weather, and being ultra-dependent on a highly functional vehicle, delivery and rideshare drivers have an even greater need to ensure these and other car maintenance tasks get taken care of.
This Gridwise post outlining a car maintenance schedule every gig driver should follow itemizes all the factors that support a successful driving gig. From washer fluid and brake pad condition to windshield wipers and tire wear, this car maintenance schedule tells you how often tasks should be performed, and offers tips on other incidentals such as keeping your car clean and free of road salt during winter to prevent corrosion.
As a gig driver, you can’t afford to neglect your vehicle. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be excessively costly.
Benefits of (and for) car care
There is a way both to prevent expensive car problems and prepare for them should they arise. Even those of us who are excellent at maintaining our vehicles will find problems that need to be addressed, or may even be surprised by a breakdown. There’s never a convenient time for a gig driver to be stranded, so that’s why you need Gridwise Benefits.
Here are some of the protection, deals, and discounts you will receive:
- savings of up to $50 a month with Gridwise Gas
- low cost, high quality roadside assistance
- flexible car rental plans
- opportunities to rent your own car for cash
- $10 off every tire you purchase
- great deals on used vehicles with the Gridwise auto-buying plan
- car maintenance help,repair shop reviews and selection, scheduling, and big discounts with Gridwise + CarAdvise
- a vehicle service plan that protects you against high-cost repairs, includes 44% off regular price
Gridwise Benefits helps you keep your car running so you can keep driving, delivering, and earning. Every gig driver needs to have the world’s best rideshare and delivery assistant.