When rideshare or delivery driving is your business, your car is more than just a vehicle. It’s your most important business asset and your source of income. Without your car, it’s pretty difficult to keep your cash flow going.
Because you depend so heavily on your car, you need to keep it in good working order at all times. Sure, maintenance can cost some money, but over time, it’ll be worth it. Why? Because if you don’t take care of your car, you could soon find you’re stuck coming up with cash to pay for a major repair.
If and when you do, that $100 you should have spent on maintenance could turn into $1000 or more in fixing what went wrong. On top of that, you could also lose out on $100’s or $1,000’s in income as you sit on the sidelines waiting for your car to be drivable again.
We want you and your car to be together for as long as possible, with as few breaks as possible, so we’ve put together a maintenance schedule every rideshare or delivery driver should follow.
Why do I have to follow a car maintenance schedule?
Like we already said, being left without your car can be a real catastrophe.
Some drivers have breakdowns that take them off the road for at least 2 weeks.
That may cost you hundreds of dollars in repair expenses AND a loss of thousands in income. The most painful part of the ordeal is that it doesn’t have to happen. The whole thing can be avoided, if you stay on top of your car maintenance.
Sticking to the following maintenance schedule helps minimize the chance of you getting stranded without a car.
Windshield wiper blades: If you want to drive like a pro, you definitely need to be able to have a perfectly clear view of the road! Check your wipers frequently, and if they aren’t working up to snuff, replace them with high-quality, long-lasting windshield wipers.
Windshield wiper fluid: There’s nothing more annoying than getting caught without windshield wiper fluid! That’s why it’s a good practice to check your wiper fluid every week and ensure it’s at least half full.
Tires: Check all 4 of your tires for punctures, gashes, scuffs, or bulges. Also, ensure no steel cord is visible at all. If you see any issues, it might be time for a tire change.
Tire pressure: As rideshare drivers, we’re out on the road constantly, so our tire pressure can rapidly decrease. Take a moment to check your tire pressure once a week to make sure they are inflated properly. Compare your tire pressure to what is recommended in your owner’s manual. If you don’t have your owner’s manual, don’t worry. Google it!
Body and bumper damage: It’s incredibly easy to get a few bumps and scratches without knowing it when you drive 8 – 12 hours a day, often in congested areas. So once a week, or more, have a quick walk around your car to inspect for any new damage, including bumps and scratches. Check closely for any signs of rust as well.
Brake lights and headlights: This one’s especially important for late-night drivers. Park your car in a safe spot, turn your headlights on and ensure all bulbs illuminate. To check your brake lights, back up to a wall, press and hold your foot brakes and use side and rear mirrors to see both brake lights reflected by the wall.
Dashboard warning lights: This is an easy one. When you start your car, simply check your dashboard for warning lights. If you see one pop up, you can simply check your car manual for any lights that come on. If you don’t have your car manual, or even if you do, you can always Google your specific issue as there is almost definitely someone that’s asked about the light on a forum somewhere. Don’t fall into the habit of ignoring these lights!
Leaking fluids underneath the vehicle: Use a flashlight to look under your car for power steering fluid, brake fluid, coolant, transmission fluid, anti-freeze or anything else that could be leaking.
Oil level: Most mechanics and dealerships will recommend oil changes as specified in your car’s owner’s manual which usually falls somewhere between every 2,000 and 6,000 miles. When you’re a rideshare or delivery driver, that mileage piles up rather fast. Check your oil levels every week to make sure they’re keeping your engine running cool and clean.
To check your oil levels, make sure that your engine has cooled down. Then, take the dipstick out and wipe it off with a rag. Put the dipstick back in and then pull it out and see if the oil levels are where they should be. If they aren’t, you may have a leak which you should get checked out by a pro.
Pro Tip: Always check your engine lights everytime you drive and do your best to take care of any issues as soon as possible.
Every 3,000 Miles
Oil Change: Always check your vehicle’s oil change schedule in your maintenance manual. In most cases, you’ll probably want to change your oil somewhere around every 3,000 miles. Clean oil is crucial. It keeps your car running now, and it also contributes to the longevity of your car. You could stretch the oil changes a bit farther, but it’s safest to try to change your oil at 3,000 miles unless your owner’s manual says otherwise.
Check belts and hoses: Your car’s belts and hoses are key to keeping your car on the road. So, you’ll want to check them out regularly to see if they need to be replaced. If your hoses appear to be brittle, are worn or are bulging, you will need to get new ones. If your belts are frayed or worn, then you’ll need to get replacements.
Air filter: Your air filter keeps harmful substances from getting into your engine, so If it’s damaged or dirty, nasty particles can enter your engine and really clog up the works. Check to ensure that it’s not dirty or blocked. If so, you’ll need to have it replaced.
Brake pads, rotors, and fluid: Your brake pads, rotors, and braking fluid make up your braking system, and if your braking system isn’t working correctly, you might get into serious trouble. Every time you change your oil, take a quick look at your pads, rotors, and fluid to ensure they’re in good working order.
As a gig driver, you may be able to get special discounts for routine maintenance checkups like these. Gridwise users can take advantage of Gridwise’s partnership with CarAdvise to save 10-40% on care care. Tap “Vehicle” to check out the CarAdvise program!
Every 6,000 miles
Tire Rotation: Tires last longer if they’re evenly worn down, but your front tires typically get worn faster. That’s why it’s important to get your tires rotated frequently to prevent the need to replace them faster than you’d like, and spending lots of extra money.
Spark plugs and wires: Ensure that your spark plugs and wires are ready to get the party started. These usually only need to be changed every 30,000 miles or so, so you probably won’t find problems with them all that often.
Replace your cabin air filter: Installing a fresh cabin air filter is probably one of the easiest things you can do to keep your car comfortable. Most vehicles make the cabin air filter easily accessible, and replacing it is as easy as opening a box. The cabin air filter may not be critical to your car’s operation, but it makes riding in your car far more pleasant! This is something you can do for yourself, so if you keep your eye on it and replace it as needed, it won’t turn into a repair you have to pay someone else to do.
Windshield wipers: Like we said before, good windshield wipers are something you can’t afford to ride without. Don’t wait until you can barely see through your windshield to check and change your windshield wipers. Constantly check your wipers to ensure they aren’t getting overly worn. When you replace them, do it with a wiper that’s going to stand up to all kinds of weather and last a long time.
Every 15,000 miles – Find a Good Mechanic
At 15,000 miles you’ll need to check your battery, serpentine belt, timing belt, and wheel alignment, among other things. For these more sophisticated maintenance tasks, it’s best to find a great and trustworthy mechanic, and take your car in for a full inspection.
A good mechanic is like having a good doctor. They give you good recommendations, and allow you to make the final decisions. When you find a mechanic you know you can trust, you will have made a connection you’ll want to keep for as long as possible.
A trustworthy pro can be the difference between your car lasting just 100,000 miles and 300,000 miles, so don’t take this task lightly. How do you find one? Ask friends and family, check Yelp and other review sites, and make sure you do your due diligence.
Bonus – Car Wash
This is a big one, especially in winter. Regularly washing your car keeps salt from rusting out and damaging your car’s undercarriage. It’s recommended that you wash your car at least once a month, to keep everything clean and running smoothly – even when it’s not winter.
Taking your car through the car wash on a regular basis can add up quickly, so be on the lookout for car washes that offer driver discounts – like Rynse! An even more affordable option is to do it yourself, but that can be time consuming.
What if my car breaks down anyway?
Sometimes your car just quits on you, no matter how much you’ve taken care of it. Make sure you have roadside assistance coverage in case you break down on the road. Gridwise’s benefits program gives gig drivers the roadside assistance they need – for only $1/week.
If your car does end up in the shop for an extended period of time, you can always rent a car temporarily to stay on the road. You may want to seriously consider this so you can keep up a steady stream of income. Interested in learning more? Check out this car rental program for gig drivers.
Whatever you choose to do, if you maintain your car with full attention and care, it will serve you well and be a fully reliable source of income now and in years to come.