Thanks to the gig economy, there are now more ways to make money than ever before. However, many of the most popular and most lucrative methods require to use your car. On the surface, this isn’t a huge deal, but this can cut into your earnings, and if you’re not careful, it can also get you into some trouble.
To make sure you make the most out of your career as a driver, here are some things you should know before turning your car into a money making machine.
The first thing you should know if you’re considering working for one of these gig economy companies is that your job security depends slightly in which one you choose. For example, Uber has been under scrutiny in London and elsewhere in the UK for its aggressive corporate taxes.
They were granted a 15 month license back in 2018, but beyond that no one really knows what the future will hold. Many of these app-based companies were launched in the US where there are different regulations and attitudes related to corporations, so make sure to stay up-to-date with their status before going all-in with one as a full-time career.
Other companies, such as the UK-specific Deliveroo, are also facing uncertain futures as workers organize and attempt to establish better labour standards. You can still make money in the meantime, but just know you’re entering a marketplace that’s very much in turmoil.
Whether you’re driving for Uber or doing deliveries, remember that you’re responsible for your own petrol.
This means driving a big, thirsty car will cause you to earn significantly less than if you drove a more fuel-efficient hatchback or hybrid.
To give you an idea, let’s say you drive for Uber four nights a week. Each night, you do about 15 rides, making £6 net (after fees and taxes) for each ride. That comes out to a total of £360 for the week.
However, if the average distance travelled for each one of these rides is four miles, that means you’re driving 60 miles a night and 240 miles during the entire week. If your car gets just 20 miles to the gallon, that means you need to put an extra 12 gallons of petrol in your car each week. Considering the average price of petrol in the UK is just over £4 per gallon (£1.20 x ~4 litres to the gallon), this comes out to an extra £50 per week.
In this scenario, your weekly earnings drop down to just a bit more than £300 per week. However, if you drive a car that gets 35 miles to the gallon—which is much closer to the national average—then you only need to put an extra seven gallons of gas in the car each week, which comes to about £28 a week, dropping your earnings from £360 to £332.
Depending on which car you drive, it may work out that this doesn’t matter to you. However, as you get into the world of driving for money, keep this in mind so that you’re not disappointed by how much money you make.
Wear and Tear
On top of petrol, you need to consider how much wear and tear you’re putting on your car. In the above example where you’re driving an extra 240 miles a week, which comes out to just about an extra 1,000 miles per month, you need to consider how this is going to affect your maintenance schedule.
Right now, the average person in the UK drives around 7,000 miles per year. If you already do this amount of driving in your regular life, then this means you’re going to be putting a little less than twice the amount of miles on your car as you normally do.
This could mean having to replace your tires each year instead of every two or three year, as well as doing your brakes multiple times per year. You’ll also need to change your oil twice as often, and all of this extra maintenance can really put a strain on your wallet. Also, driving more will cause your car to wear down faster, perhaps leading you to have to replace it sooner than you’re prepared to do.
Again, this may be worth it considering the opportunity to make some extra money, but do the maths before you decide to become a driver so that you can avoid surprises down the line and maximize your earnings.
We all know how important insurance is, but when driving your car to make some money, you need to do some extra research to make sure you’re fully covered.
For example, check with your current insurance provider to see if your policy applies to contract work. Many have stipulations that nullify coverage when you use your car for business.
Also, if the insurance policy is not in your name—meaning you’re listed as a driver on another person’s plan—you may not be covered when driving for a delivery/transportation companies.
Some will provide you with some sort of third-party liability insurance, which means you will be covered for any damage you do to others.
So, for example, if you get into an accident while driving, you won’t have to pay for the damage you do to the other person’s car, or to your passengers, but you may be left high and dry when it comes to your car.
In the event you’re not covered, consider speaking with your insurance company. You may be able to add on some coverage to make sure you don’t get stuck with a big bill after being in an accident while driving for one of these companies. This of course means a higher monthly bill, but this is probably going to be much better than being stuck with a totalled car you can’t afford to fix.
Is It Worth It?
Ultimately, this will depend on you, the type of car you own, and the amount of work you’re willing to put into making all this work.
The money you can make driving, can be good but before you go all in, check to make sure these factors we’ve discussed aren’t going to limit your earnings and give you a giant headache.