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Driving with Lyft is an exciting opportunity to meet new people and make extra money on your own terms. You can set your own schedule, working most any hours you like. If you prefer driving late at night, then there’s no boss to tell you that you can’t. Prefer to get up before the sunrise and be done working by noon? That’s just fine, too.
Before you can start your rideshare driver career, however, you need to have the right car. The specific car you’ll need will depend on which Lyft service you’re driving for, but you should know that Lyft has specific car requirements for all their types of service. The company takes safety very seriously, and they won’t allow you to use any vehicle that puts you or passengers in danger. Likewise, the company is serious about customer service, so they won’t let you use a car that makes it inconvenient for passengers to get in and out.
Based on these two principles, then, there are a variety of things that will make your car ineligible to give Lyft rides. Let’s take a look at some of them in this post, so that you can spend more time giving rides and less time reading Lyft’s vehicle requirements.
- Having Fewer Than Four Doors
- Having Room for Fewer Than Five People (Including the Driver)
- Not Having Functioning Seat Belts
- Having an Out-of-Date Registration or License Plate
- Excessive Body Damage
- A Dirty Vehicle Interior
- Having a Vehicle That’s Too Old
- Using a Commercial Vehicle
- Old Brake Pads
- Not Having a Luxury Vehicle (for Certain Lyft Services)
All vehicles for the Lyft service must have at least four doors. This is mostly a matter of passenger convenience. You don’t want to ask a passenger to slide the front seat forward and then wedge themselves through the gap to get into the back row of seats.
Not only is it an unpleasant experience, but it also slows down the ride, blocking traffic and making it take longer for the passenger to reach their destination. It’s no surprise, then, that Lyft requires four doors for all vehicles. It just makes life easier for everyone.
Your vehicle must be able to seat five people, including the driver. Practically, this means that you need to have a passenger capacity of four. You should make sure that all seats in the vehicle are usable by passengers. That is, don’t block any of the seats with boxes, your dry cleaning, or a pile of trash. While having all four seats filled is unlikely, you should prepare for it to happen. This is especially true if you’re giving Shared Lyft rides.
This is a serious safety violation. Not only is wearing your seat belt crucial to protecting yourself in the event of an accident, but it’s also required by law in most states. Therefore, Lyft will not let you use a vehicle in which all of the seat belts don’t work.
Be sure to regularly check that the seatbelts are working, including the awkward middle one in your back seat. Even if no one wants to get stuck sitting in that seat, it could happen, and that belt could save that passenger’s life.
You must keep all documents related to your vehicle up to date. This includes the license plate for your vehicle. Don’t let it expire. It’s not just against Lyft’s terms of service, but it’s also against the law. The last thing you want to happen while driving with Lyft is to get stopped by the police. It’ll be inconvenient for you and the passenger, and it will likely get you deactivated from Lyft’s service.
A couple tiny scratches or dings are not a big deal. They’re inevitable in the normal course of driving your car, and it’s fine to have them when driving with Lyft (though we recommend getting them fixed, as it can make you look less professional).
While small blemishes are fine, it’s not acceptable to drive a vehicle for Lyft that has serious body damage. If there’s a big dent in one of your doors, for instance, Lyft isn’t going to let you use the vehicle. Don’t try to hide this, as it will likely come up on the inspection form as part of your car’s vehicle inspection.
Your car cannot be dirty if you want to drive it with Lyft. It’s one of the most unprofessional things you can do. Even if you’re an excellent, courteous driver in all other respects, having a dirty interior shows that you don’t care about your passengers’ comfort and riding experience. Be sure to keep your interior vacuum and detailed. If any stains do happen to your carpet, or anything scratches your seats, get it fixed.
The maximum age for your vehicle will depend on your city, but you’re not going to be driving anything older than 10 years no matter what your city. It’s a problem of both reliability and perception. Even if you do have an extremely reliable car that will make it to 500,000 miles with nothing more than regular oil changes, Lyft can’t be sure of that. They’d rather err on the safe side and only have newer vehicles as part of their service. Also, passengers will appreciate not riding around in a car that looks old. You may not care about such things, but many passengers do judge the quality of a ride based on the age of a vehicle.
You’re only allowed to give Lyft rides using a personal vehicle. No limousines, taxis, or other commercial passenger vehicles are allowed on the service. This is because these vehicles have their own special licensing requirements, and Lyft cannot vouch that drivers have them. Lyft insurance is a complicated enough matter already without adding commercial vehicles into the mix.
Also, just to be clear, you aren’t allowed to use commercial non-passenger vehicles, either. As amusing as it would be, Lyft isn’t going to let you pick up passengers on your tractor.
A common way to fail the Lyft vehicle inspection is to have brake pads that are worn down. It’s easy to forget to maintain this aspect of your vehicle, as you may not even notice the decrease in braking performance. However, this is quite dangerous, and you should be sure to get your brakes checked and serviced regularly. Not only will it keep everyone safer, but your passengers will appreciate the resulting smoother ride.
This final point only applies to certain types of Lyft services, but it’s worth keeping in mind. All the requirements we’ve discussed so far apply to the regular Lyft service, as well as more luxurious Lyft rides. The higher-end rides, however, also come with their own set of requirements.
To start with, there’s Lyft Lux. This is Lyft’s luxury service. On average, fares for this service cost twice as much as regular Lyft rides. With this extra cost, passengers expect only luxurious vehicles and the utmost in customer service. The vehicle you choose is the most important consideration. Only the following vehicles are eligible Lyft Lux vehicles:
- Acura — ILX^, MDX, RDX, RL, RLX, TLX^
- Alfa Romeo — Giulia
- Audi — A4, A4 Allroad, A6, A7, A8, Q3, Q5, Q7, RS4, RS7, S4, S6, S7, S8, SQ5
- Bentley — Continental Flying Spur, Mulsanne
- BMW — 3 Series, 5 Series, 4 Series Gran Coupe, 6 Series Gran Coupe, 7 Series, ActiveHybrid 5, ActiveHybrid 7, ActiveHybrid X6, ALPINA B6 Gran Coupe, ALPINA B7, M5, M6 Gran Coupe, X1, X3, X4, X5, X6
- Buick — Enclave, Envision, LaCrosse, Regal, Regal Sportback
- Cadillac — ATS, ATS-V, CT6, CTS, CTS Wagon, CTS-V, CTS-V Wagon, DTS, Escalade, Escalade ESV, SRX, STS, XT5, XTS
- Chevrolet — Suburban, Tahoe
- Chrysler — 300^
- Ford — Expedition^, Explorer^
- Genesis — G80, G90
- GMC — Acadia, Acadia Denali, Acadia Limited, Yukon, Yukon Denali, Yukon Limited
- Hyundai — Equus, Genesis
- Infiniti — FX, FX35, FX50, G37, JX, M, M35, M37, M45, M56, Q40, Q45, Q50, Q70, QX, QX50, QX56, QX60, QX70, QX80
- Jaguar — F-Pace, X-Type, XF, XJ
- Kia — K900
- Land Rover — Discovery, LR4, Range Rover, Range Rover Evoque, Range Rover Sport, Range Rover Velar
- Lexus — ES, GS, GX, IS, LS, LX, NX, RX
- Lincoln — Continental, MKC, MKS, MKT, MKX, MKZ, Navigator, Town Car
- Maserati — Ghibli, Levante, Quattroporte
- Mercedes-Benz — 300-Class, 350-Class, 400-Class, 420-Class, 500-Class, 560-Class, C-Class, CLA-Class, CLS-Class, E-Class, E55 AMG, G-Class, GL-Class, GLA-Class, GLC-Class, GLE-Class, GLK-Class, GLS-Class, M-Class, ML55 AMG, Maybach, R-Class, S-Class
- Nissan — Armada^
- Porsche — Cayenne, Macan
- Rolls-Royce — Ghost, Phantom
- Tesla — Model 3, Model S, Model X
- Toyota — Land Cruiser, Sequoia
- Volkswagen — Atlas, Touareg
- Volvo — S60, S80, S90, XC60, XC90
There’s also the case of Lyft Lux Black, which has an even smaller set of vehicles allowed. In addition, all vehicles for Lyft Lux Black must have a black exterior and black leather interior. To learn more about this premium service, consult our guide.
Finally, there are the Lyft services that have higher passenger capacity requirements. These are Lyft XL (formerly known as Lyft Plus) and Lyft Lux Black XL. In addition to everything we’ve already discussed, these vehicles need to have capacity for at least six passengers. Lyft Plus rides don’t have to have the bells and whistles of Lyft Lux Black XL, but both types need to have the passenger capacity.
Make Sure You Have the Right Car Before You Drive with Lyft
We hope you now understand the things that can make your car ineligible to give Lyft rides. The Lyft vehicle requirements are in place to make sure that your passengers are safe, comfortable, and happy with the service they receive. This is also why the company conducts a driving record and background check for anyone who wants to drive for the service.
Want to make sure that your car is eligible to drive for Uber as well? Then check out our guide to Uber vehicle requirements.
Brett Helling is the owner of Ridester.com. He has been a rideshare driver since early 2012, having completed hundreds of trips for companies including Uber, Lyft, and Postmates. In 2014 he acquired Ridester.com to share his experiences with other drivers. His insights are regularly quoted by publications such as Forbes, Vice, CNBC, and more. He is currently working on a book about working in the Gig Economy, expanding his skill set beyond the rideshare niche. Read more about Brett here.