If you drive for Uber, Lyft or another ride sharing service you know how dirty your car can get with time. While you may run through a car wash from time to time is it really worth it?
Simply put, washing and detailing are two separate things and both are important. Think of detailing as white-glove treatment to make your vehicle really shine and pop, where as a car washing is more of a bare minimum ‘maintenance’ type of activity.
If you drive for Uber, Lyft, or another ride sharing service, in this blog post I’ll explain why having your car not only washed but detailed is a great idea for protecting your vehicle and your reputation in this business, and offer a few reasons why it may be easier, more affordable, and more convenient than you think. Detailing is not as inconvenient as you may think these days!
1. It can affect your reputation and ratings
Truth be told, your car will get dirty and riders will notice over time. If you’re beginning to notice a few bad ratings here and there, it may be worth checking out the backseat or taking a minute to inspect door handles and other areas.
For most drivers, simply driving through a car wash or depositing a few quarters for a quick vacuum is perfectly acceptable if you drive infrequently, but cleanliness (on the inside and outside) is something you’ll want to pay attention to in order to avoid these bad ratings and complaints.
While there isn’t really much data in this area, many Uber and Lyft users cite a dirty car as a reason for a poor rating or no tip as you can read about here on Reddit.
2. Auto detailing discounts exist for ride sharing drivers
Did you know that some car wash franchises offer discounts for Uber or Lyft drivers? Many, like FSCW in Wisconsin actually offer a 10% wash discount For Uber and Lyft drivers with a visible sticker. Some also offer discounts for interior services as well.
It’s worth a quick Google search to find out what car wash or detailing businesses near you offer discounts for Uber and Lyft drivers. If you’re not already in a car wash membership club (which I will discuss later), saving a little extra especially if you normally get your car washed a few times a month can add up to quite a bit over the course of a year.
Discounts on oil changes, auto parts, and detailing supplies
It’s also worth noting that as an Uber or Lyft driver you also can save on routine oil changes at some chains. Even auto parts stores provide pretty good discounts on both parts and rewards you can apply to detailing supplies like sprays, wipes, and microfiber towels.
Both Uber and Lyft have similar rewards programs outlining what partnerships and programs they have arranged with these retailers to save you money.
One of these you can read about here is through Advance Auto Parts. Uber offers 10% off in-store and online if you open a card with them, and also have a pretty good customer loyalty program that can earn you rewards through.
I do know that Oreilly and Advance Auto Parts do stock quite a few auto detailing products, so it may be worth checking out if you already are frequenting these places for wiper blades, bulbs, and everything else you need to maintain your vehicle.
Here are links to the rewards programs you can ready about directly from the Uber and Lyft:
- Click here for more info on Uber Driver offers and rewards
- Click here for more info on Lyft Driver exclusive offers and rewards
3. Convenient car wash membership programs and apps
When it comes to wash and detailing a car that you’re using every day, convenience is making washing and detailing easier than ever for Uber and Lyft drivers.
One option I would recommend is to find an auto detailer in your area or even an on-demand car wash app. Detailing is more expensive, but worth having done a few times per year just to shampoo or deep clean areas like seats you can’t clean with a vacuum alone.
This usually takes anywhere from 1 to 3 hours depending on what kind of detailing package you purchased, but doing this at least a couple times a year can really help to not only protect your vehicle but keep passengers satisfied with the experience.
Car wash membership programs
If you’d rather find a local car wash chain, there are several that offer membership programs that you can take advantage of. While you won’t achieve the same results as you would from a professional detailer, they can be a decent alternative. Check out my post Unlimited Car Wash Membership Programs – Are They Worth It? to see if it’s right for you.
Membership programs aren’t really in the same category as a detailing service (where wax is applied, and light scratches are removed), but I recommend them just for removing heavy dirt and salt you may pick up. Especially as a driver in rust belt states.
I’m not a huge fan of these membership programs when they are tunnel-based (since scratching can occur quite easily), but there are some decent hand-wash options out there.
This video (from an Uber driver) I thought did a good job discussing the benefits of a membership program like this.
4. To protect your vehicle from messy passengers
Even if you don’t decide to have your vehicle detailed throughout the year, keep in mind that you will come across messy passengers. Whether it’s someone who has an accident (vomit or otherwise), muddy work boots, or simply hasn’t bathed in a while, you will need to keep deodorizers and basic cleaning supplies on hand.
I recommend having at least some basic emergency cleaning supplies in your trunk for cleaning up after passengers that have left a mess in your vehicle.
After all, if you drive enough, someone will get sick and your mats will get dirty.
Use a diluted multipurpose cleaner for quick carpet cleanup
I like to use a basic diluted degreaser or multipurpose cleaner (diluted 10:1 with water) for cleaning carpets or rubber mats. Just pick up a bottle of Simple Green, an empty spray bottle, and some microfiber towels and you’re really good to go for just about any situation.
Ditch the good floor mats
It’s also a good idea to break out some affordable floor mats when you start your shift.
Although I really like the WeatherTech brand, you may just want to go with something more affordable that you don’t mine getting dirty. You can even keep these in your trunk and simply place them over your nice mats.
Tip: Keep cleaning supplies in your car
To keep these basic supplies, I highly recommend picking up a small caddie or storage container where you can keep a few simple supplies like auto detailing wipes, microfiber towels, leather cleaners and conditioners, and even a handheld vacuum.
A simple auto detailing kit that includes both interior detailing accessories is not a bad idea. I found this one on Amazon (with toolbox) for around $25 the last time I checked. if you’re looking to build your own, a few basic items that I really recommend (or check out our Shop page) are:
- Lexol cleaner and conditioner
- Detailing detailing brush pack
- Microfiber towels
- Soft bristled carpet brush
- Empty spray bottle (for diluting cleaners)
Like many have mentioned, keeping your vehicle at least washed regularly is the best thing you can do to help protect your user rating and keep customers happy. For protecting your investment (and removing fingerprints) I highly recommend a good wash, wax and detail from a trained professional.
Even if you only have it done 1 or 2 times per year, having your vehicle detailed by a professional is well worth it if you transport a ton of riders over the course of a year.
While I am no tax expert, detailing is also usually something you can deduct from your taxes if you are self employed. Again, consult your tax professional on these matters :)
So there you have it. What advice do you have for other Uber or Lyft drivers as it relates to car care and maintenance? Let me know.