Nothing is more frustrating than when you’re rushing to an appointment and open the Uber app to order a ride, only to get the dreaded “No Cars Available” error.
Depending on where you live, you may have never experienced this, but it happens all the time to many people.
Read on to learn why this happens, what it means, and what you can do about it.
- What Is the “Uber No Cars Available” Error?
- Why Are There No Uber Drivers Available
- What to Do When There Are No Uber Drivers Available
- Why Is Uber Not Working? Other Common Errors
- Plan for the Future: Schedule an Uber Rider
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Final Thoughts
What Is the “Uber No Cars Available” Error?
The Uber No Cars Available error can show up when trying to order a ride. It means there is a driver shortage and no Uber cars around.
Instead of showing you the estimated number of minutes that it will take for an Uber driver to reach you (which the app usually shows before ordering a ride), you’ll see “No Cars Available” in the black box instead.
How Do I Know If Uber Is Coming?
If you order a ride, you will be able to see the location of the driver in real-time as they move towards you.
Sometimes, it can show that they are not moving when they are, due to GPS and internet connectivity errors. However, that’s rare — usually, you will see the driver moving towards you on the map.
Why Are There No Uber Drivers Available
Experiencing the “No Uber drivers available” message on your app? Here’s a quick breakdown of why this might be happening:
- App Issues: Occasional outages or glitches can affect Uber’s app functionality.
- Location Limitations: Residing in a smaller city or town might mean fewer available Uber drivers due to limited gig workers in the area.
- Time of Day: Fewer drivers might be available during late-night hours. For example, availability is often reduced past 10 PM.
- Driver Shortages: External factors, like the COVID-19 pandemic or safety concerns (e.g., increased carjackings in places like Chicago), have led to a significant drop in active Uber drivers.
- Bad Weather: Extreme weather conditions, like storms or hurricanes, can deter drivers from being available.
These are the most common issues, but given that Uber is a technology platform, other causes can also arise.
What to Do When There Are No Uber Drivers Available
There are multiple steps you can take when you face the message “No Uber drivers available” on the ride-hailing app. These steps include:
- Try Another App (Like Lyft)
- Wait and Try Again
- Request the Ride Anyway
- Change the Route or Pickup Point
- Change the Type of Uber
- Call a Taxi
1. Try Another App (Like Lyft)
If you encounter a “no drivers available” message on Uber, consider checking the Lyft app or another ridesharing service. Different platforms have different driver pools, so availability may vary.
Just because Uber doesn’t have available drivers doesn’t mean Lyft won’t. In some areas, Lyft might even have more active drivers or less demand, increasing your chances of finding a ride.
I always try this solution first, and it usually yields positive results.
2. Wait and Try Again
If you encounter the “no cars available” error, consider waiting a bit longer. Whether you’re at a party or at home, use the time to relax, watch TV, or read.
After some time has passed, check the app again; availability often changes as drivers finish rides or move closer to your location.
Uber’s alert typically means there aren’t nearby cars at the moment, but this can quickly shift as drivers drop off other passengers or search for new ride requests.
3. Request the Ride Anyway
If no drivers are available, you can request the ride anyway and wait for a driver to show up. Eventually, a driver may randomly become available to take you to your destination.
Sometimes, especially in times of high demand where SURGE pricing is active, driver supply is limited and drivers are scarce. But, if another rider cancels, the driver they were paired with becomes available, and could get matched with me.
I usually give it around 5 minutes, and if a driver still isn’t available I try other solutions.
4. Change the Route or Pickup Point
If you can’t find a driver at your current pickup location, try adjusting the pickup point by a few blocks on your app’s map. This strategy can bring you closer to available drivers or address issues related to one-way roads, which might require drivers to take a longer route to reach you.
I have found this to solve the problem, especially on the weekends during busy hours like bar close.
Uber seems to group riders and drivers into “zones”, so you might be in a zone with limited availability. If you move locations, you can sometimes enter another “zone” with less demand – increasing your chances of a ride.
5. Change the Type of Uber
I’ve found this solution to also work in times of high demand. UberX is my go-to ride choice, but sometimes both that and Lyft rides are surging – meaning incredibly high prices.
In times like this, I can usually find Uber Black or Uber Select is actually cheaper than an UberX or a regular Lyft ride due to the surging prices.
Most riders don’t use this trick, so the demand for the other services usually isn’t higher – meaning you get a nicer ride at a cheaper price.
6. Call a Taxi
Another option is to find the phone number of a local taxi cab company. Call a taxi if Uber is down or doesn’t have any drivers.
This has saved me a few times on New Year’s Eve, where Uber and Lyft prices were surging to the highest prices I have ever seen. While the experience isn’t great, the price is.
Cabs nickel and dime you on normal days, but can actually be saviors because those prices often pale in comparison to the prices of inflated rideshare rides.
Why Is Uber Not Working? Other Common Errors
In addition to no drivers being available, there might also be some other common issues preventing you from getting a ride:
- Outstanding Payment: If you can’t request a ride, you may have an unpaid balance from a previous trip. This usually occurs if your last payment method was declined. Simply clear the outstanding payment to order a new ride.
- Internet Connectivity: If the app is malfunctioning, like not displaying the map or loading slowly, you could have a weak internet connection. Ensure your mobile data is active and not exhausted. Alternatively, switch to Wifi or move to a location with better reception.
- GPS Issues: Ensure your GPS is active. If you’re using a fake GPS app, uninstall it and try using Uber again.
- App Crashes: If Uber crashes frequently, your phone might lack sufficient memory. This is often seen with older phones or those with low RAM. Consider deleting unused apps, photos, or videos. Also, close background apps to free up memory.
Plan for the Future: Schedule an Uber Rider
If you live in a less populated area, or if you are going to need an early morning or late night ride, consider taking steps to schedule Uber in advance.
While scheduling a ride doesn’t guarantee driver availability, it does initiate a 10-minute search for nearby drivers. This increases the chance of a driver becoming available for your trip.
Pre-scheduling allows better preparation. Rather than risking no available drivers at the last minute, scheduling ahead gives you a buffer to explore alternatives like Lyft or public transit.
An added perk is price-locking. If you schedule at least an hour ahead, your fare is locked in, shielding you from potential surge prices due to high demand and limited driver availability.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about Uber.
Is Uber reliable at night and early in the morning?
Uber’s reliability at night and early morning varies by location. In less urban areas, there may be fewer drivers early in the morning, making it less reliable. Additionally, during rush hour, heavy traffic and high demand can impact reliability, potentially increasing wait times.
Is Uber more expensive at night?
Uber’s pricing isn’t determined by the time of day but by demand and driver availability. Prices might be higher during peak demand times, like rush hour, rather than late at night when demand is typically lower. However, other factors can influence the fare.
What time of day is Uber cheapest?
Uber is usually cheapest during off-peak times when demand is low. Typical off-peak times are mid-morning and early afternoon, like 11 AM to 2 PM, and late evenings on weekdays.
Conversely, SURGE pricing, which increases fares, often occurs during high demand periods, such as weekday mornings around 8-9 AM.
If you see the Uber No Cars Available error, don’t panic. Wait a few minutes and try again — often, that’s all you need to do. If that doesn’t work, try Lyft to see if any drivers are available there.
In the future, schedule rides in advance. That will reduce the chances of this happening and give you time to find an alternative mode of transport if it does.