Car care and safety tips for rideshare drivers and more

Driving for a rideshare company means you are going on a road trip every day. Having your car prepared for travel is one of the best things we can do for our safety and to be successful as drivers.

Best Roof Box has an article that covers so many great topics like the right way to check the oil in your car, safety items we all should carry, and more. Even though the article is geared towards those taking a road trip with their families, there is still plenty of great information we can apply as rideshare drivers.

Monday: Are you driving for the rideshare or delivery app that pays the best?

Keeping track of those miles for tax purposes

It is important for gig workers, especially rideshare drivers, to track their mileage for tax purposes.  Gone are the days when you needed to keep a little book in your car to log all those miles you drove.  

According to MileIQ, the IRS says your mileage log must include:

  1. Your mileage.
  2. Dates of your business trips.
  3. Places you drove for business, and.
  4. The business purpose for your trips.

Smartphones and GPS technology has made tracking miles a breeze for all of this information.  One of my personal favorites is MileIQ. Their mileage tracking app is an easy answer for how to keep track of mileage for taxes. It creates an automatic and contemporaneous mileage log for all of your driving.

It saves those records securely in the cloud, so you never have to worry about losing it. Additionally, those records can be pulled up or printed out years later if you ever have to face an IRS audit.

GetApp has a list of 10 different apps to track your mileage each one does the job but the interface and the data tracking varies.  Review them all to see which one works best for you.

Remember mileage for personal reasons should not be tracked as part of what you report to the IRS.

Friday: Car care and safety tips for rideshare drivers and more

How to prevent being scammed out of your Instant Pay account

There seems to be a pretty big uptick in a scam affecting us drivers. It may not be new but it is occurring a lot more frequently.

Someone contacts you pretending to be Uber or Lyft. They usually start off by saying something that catches you off guard. It might start with a compliment, like, “You are one of the top 100 drivers in your area and you just earned a $500.00 bonus.” Next they ask for your email, password, and details around your security question so they can verify your identity. They will then claim that the bonus will appear in your account in the next few days.

Another example is the scammer claims that your account may have had a security breach and they need to verify your identity. They then ask for your email and password attached to your Uber/Lyft account and again details surrounding your security question.

Both of these attempts are geared at gaining access to your account in order to drain away your hard earned money. Once they have access they will change your bank details, your password, and lock you out. The Rideshare Guy has a great video on these scams and more.

We’ve got to be on our toes. Uber or Lyft will almost never call you. Do not under any circumstance give out the email attached to your rideshare account or any details concerning your security question.

Think about updating your password to your account frequently. I know it can be difficult to constantly come up with new passwords. I like to use a password manager like Lastpass and it’s free for the basic version. You have just one login and one password to remember with them.  It will remember all subsequent logins and passwords for you and autofill them is the appropriate field. I find it extremely helpful.

Wednesday: Keeping track of those miles for tax purposes

What are your car wash options?

Keeping your car cleaned both inside and out is an important part of being a Rideshare Driver.  Riders notice when your car is clean and they really notice when a car is dirty. They may not say anything while riding with you but they will definitely let you know with their rating.  

Doing your own car washes is obviously the most economical. The problem is many drivers live in urban areas without access to a hose and a power outlet for a vacuum. 

Filling up your car at a gas station and then adding on a car wash where available can work but too often the gas station car wash is low quality and over time will scratch your car’s clear coat, lowering your car’s resale value. Wash your car in these car washes at your own risk. 

Taking your car to a dedicated car wash location is more expensive but does provide a better result. There are two types: cloth, and touchless options. I prefer locations that offer a touchless wash. Search for a place that offers a monthly fee for unlimited cleaning inside and out. Howstuffworks explains the difference between these two. I Googled my favorite spot and checked their reviews before making a commitment. 

The final option is a mobile car wash service. This is the most expensive option with prices starting at $49.00 per wash or more. They bring everything – including the water – making it very convenient. These companies often do oil changes for an additional fee so this may be the perfect option for you.

Remember that whichever method you choose, the costs can all be tax deductible.  Please make sure you keep good records throughout the year. 

Friday: You were just involved in a car accident, what do you do?

What do you look for when buying a dash camera for rideshare?

Everyone is talking about dash cameras for their cars, especially rideshare drivers. It is a great way to protect yourself by proving you were not at fault in an accident, proof for Uber or Lyft of an unruly rider who chose not to wear a mask or is acting inappropriately, evidence of your actions if you were pulled over by the police and so much more.

There are a lot of options out there when it comes to buying a dashcam, so what are some of the features that you may want to have?

Price – DashCam models can start out at $50. and move on up to more than $400,. but some of the features you may want as a rideshare drive can be found in the $200 range. 

Easy installation – No one wants to read a book or need a computer science degree in order to install your camera in your car and the app on your phone.

Video quality – 720p is pretty standard but you might want to consider 1080p which would allow you to zoom in on a face or license plate. Some models in the upper price range are now offering 4k but that is more of a luxury than a necessity. 

Parking Mode – We all have to leave our cars unattended from time to time. This mode will automatically start recording the moment it senses a vibration.

Dual Cameras – You also want a model that has a camera facing forward to record any kind of traffic incidents you may encounter and one that is rear facing to catch the activities of an unruly rider. 

Wireless streaming  – This is a nice to have feature because it allows you to view footage from your camera without having to remove a memory card. 

Dash cams can be found at many of the big box stores or online. For this kind of purchase I like Costco because of their excellent return policy, and they never charge a restocking fee! However, they do require you to pay a membership fee.

Wednesday: Car Wash Subscriptions

Tax prep time

2021 is finally here and with that comes hopes for a better year. Unfortunately, another thing that comes to mind is taxes. For Digital Platform workers(rideshare and food delivery drivers), 2020 was a year full of challenges and your tax return for this year will likely be challenging as well. 

The key to removing some of the stress of filing is record keeping. Your filing date this year is Thursday, April 15th, giving you 4 1/2 months to prepare. Start gathering your records now if you haven’t done so already.. 

According to Turbotax you want to have records for;

  • Car mileage accrued while driving for rideshare. This includes all of your mileage from the moment you turn on the app to when you went offline.
  • Car maintenance receipts
  • Operating expenses like your cellphone bill. (If you use this phone for both rideshare and personal use, you can only claim a portion of this expense.)
  • Business permit fees for rideshare
  • Anything you purchase for your riders like water, gum, or even cleaning supplies used to clean up after your riders.

A great tip is to have a credit card that you use specifically for all of your operating expenses.

One last thing to consider is Unemployment Insurance and any money you received from PPP. According to the US Chamber your PPP loan is not taxable even if it is forgiven but your UI is. Make sure you have this information on file.

Putting in the work now will help make 2021 a great year!

Wednesday: Dash cams…are you required to notify your passengers they are being recorded?

50 car maintenance hacks

We are all looking for ways to save money. As rideshare drivers, one of the biggest expenses is car maintenance. Even though we can write these expenses off of our taxes, no one wants to spend more than they have to.

One of these easiest ways to save money is to do the work ourselves. Home Hacks offers up to 50 car maintenance hacks that anyone can do. They include using hand sanitizer on frozen car door locks, nail polish on a chipped windshield, Coca-Cola on rusty rims, and more. Most are easy remedies to many of the problems we all face. Even though these hacks are inexpensive, remember that anything you purchase for this purpose is tax-deductible.

Monday: Tax prep time

Tips to avoid being a carjacked victim

We have all seen and heard about rideshare drivers being victims of a carjacking. This is one of the most serious hazards that we face, Even though we have no control over the actions of others, there are some things we can do to lower our chances of this happening to us!

The Information Insurance Institute has compiled a list of seven things we can all do right now to avoid being a target:

  1. Always have your mobile phone handy—and charged.
  2. Avoid being alone in your vehicle in certain areas, such as high crime neighborhoods, isolated roads, and intersections, and desolate areas of parking lots. 
  3. Be aware of your surroundings. Pay special attention to people who seem to be lurking or cars that suspiciously follow you into driveways. Call 911 and use your key fob or other car alarm if you feel a threat.
  4. Be wary of how carjackers lure victims. These include bumping your car, pretending to be stranded motorists, or flashing their lights as if there were something wrong with your car. In each of these scenarios, you might be tempted to pull over—only to have your car taken. Stay inside with the windows shut and the door locked and, if you feel a threat, drive to the nearest police or fire station. 
  5. Practice safe parking. Stick to well-lit areas. If you have any doubts about where you parked after the fact, find a security guard to accompany you to your vehicle.
  6. Don’t sit in your car with the door unlocked or the windows rolled down. 
  7. Don’t stop at isolated ATMs, which might put you and your bank accounts as well as your car in danger. 

Taking these simple actions can go a long way in ensuring your safety and the safety of your passengers.

Wednesday, Dec 30th: What is Uber offering drivers in California from the passage of Prop 22

Covid-19 vaccination – Uber asks that rideshare drivers be classified as essential workers

Rideshare drivers have been considered essential workers since the beginning of Covid-19 pandemic. Now that the vaccine is about to be released, it appears that there may be an end in sight. 

State governments and in discussions right now to determine who should be at the front of the line for the vaccine. Uber’s CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi sent governors across the country this letter asking for them to ”ensure these individuals (rideshare drivers) can receive immunizations quickly, easily and for free” he went on to say, “I offer Uber’s assistance to you in making that a reality.”

Whether states decide to go along with his request has yet to be seen. The big question is if approved, will drivers decide to line up at the front on the line and be vaccinated and then drive?

Wednesday: How many hours do you drive as a rideshare driver?

Is decorating your car for the holidays a good idea?

Holiday decorations are up everywhere you look. Retailers seem to put up those decorations earlier each year but this year the general public is doing the same. According to WYMT-TV the reason is the pandemic. Since everyone is at home more, decorating is an activity that can bring joy to all those who see the lights and decorations. 

But what about Uber drivers and their cars? We’ve all seen those photos of drivers who have gone way over the top by decorating both the inside and outside of their vehicles, but is this a good idea? If you want to celebrate the holidays, go ahead and add a few decorations and maybe some lights but keep it simple. Another idea might be to include some decorations that celebrate other holidays outside of Christmas like Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. Make sure that anything you do add to your can does not impede vision or cause a safety hazard in your car.

No matter what you decide to do, just remember that we are going through this pandemic together, and sharing kindness during this season can do no harm!

Monday: Covid-19 vaccination – Uber asks that rideshare drivers be classified as essential workers.