10 Items Every Uber and Lyft Driver Needs in their Car
I have complied a list of things that many Uber and Lyft drivers have in their car. Luckily, I was given a cell phone mount and usb charger when I signed up for Lyft, but it has been years since they have given that out to new drivers. I have two cars and sometimes I don’t have some of these things when I switch cars with my wife so I know how much of an issue it is when I don’t have the proper items in my car when I drive on Lyft or Uber.
The most important thing are accessories for your cell phone. You are always interacting with your smartphone when you drive on Uber and Lyft, so mounting it where it is visible and charging it are the most important things to have in your car. I have received many comments about dashcams so I have put it #3 on the list. I don’t believe everyone needs to get one, but a lot of people do and those who have it feel very strongly about it. Electronic Toll Transponders (like EZ-pass) are another must have for any driver since it saves a lot of time and also eliminates the need to keep cash on you and the risk of having to pay the penalty for not having cash while going through a toll.
The rest of the items are for emergencies, like spills, vomit, dead car battery and flat tires. I think every driver needs these items whether or not they drive on Uber or Lyft since it sucks being stranded on the side of the road and you need to wait for help. AAA does a great job but it can take up to 3 hours for them to come, whereas anyone can change a tire in under an hour (normally 20 minutes).
- Cellphone mount – I personally use a vent clip while others stick it on the windshield. I like having full view of my windshield, but others noted that vent clips damage the vents. Either way, you need to get one. [Update: A Facebook user commented that he uses a CD mount clip, which I thought is a pretty good idea. I have added a link to the most popular one below.] I have on occasion driven with the phone in my lap or down near my gear shift and its not very convenient and gets very annoying after an hour or so. Its also pretty dangerous to be driving while looking at your phone on your lap. Here are the ones I use:
- Vent clip: Cell Phone Car Mount Holder
- CD Slot Phone Mount: Mpow CD Slot Car Mount, Universal Cell Phone Holder
- Windshield Mount: 2-in-1 Mobile Phone Car Mount
- USB charger – GPS, Google maps and the Uber/Lyft app uses a bit of power so you need to keep your phone charged. The old Uber iPhone 4s can get about 3 hours of use on a full charge so you can survive without one if you’re only doing a few rides. However, consider your battery life shot if you drive for a few hours since there won’t be much battery left. I’ve tried a few from Amazon and none of them worked real well until I found this one. My friend has a 4-port version but I just use the 2 port to keep it small. Also, the multi-connector USB cable is very handy for Uber and Lyft. You can charge almost any phone with just one cable (no more multiple cables)
- Dash-Cam – This was a huge topic recently following the assault of an Uber drive caught on camera by one of these. You will need to check with your local laws to make sure that it is legal and you will need to let all your passengers know that they are being recorded. Because of the legality of it, I can’t recommend every driver get one, but it may give you some piece of mind when driving late nights. I have spoken to a few drivers who had this one and they seem to like it. It has two cameras, which can be rotated 360 degrees, and comes with a 32GB SD Card:
- Dash Cam – Falcon Zero F360 HD Dash Cam
- EZ-Pass or electronic toll transponder – here in Boston, you can pick one up from any DMV and it usually have a separate line so you don’t need to wait forever to get one. I highly recommend every driver get one. Sometimes, you can get a small discount by just using one (during off-peak times) so it definitely pays to have one. It usually charges my card in pre-determined amounts. I have it set for $25 and you would be surprised how fast $25 can go. It is a huge time saver and I rather not fumble with cash and change while driving my passengers around. Also, this will prevent situations where you don’t have cash for the toll and have to ask your passenger for it. If you need reimbursements, EZ-pass statements and receipts make it much easier to send in proof of the toll.
- All season floor mats – these will keep your carpet cleaner and makes it much easier to clean. I generally get the OEM all season mats right off of Amazon or Ebay and usually cheaper than when you get it from a dealer. Sometimes you can get lucky on Craigslist if you have a very popular car. I got an entire set for about $80 each for both of my cars (one on Amazon, one off Ebay from a car dealer in Texas). WeatherTech is a solid brand for floor mats, but they are pricey, running about $200 for the front and rear floor mats. Sometimes you can find them at car dealerships at a discount in the spring. Make sure to install it properly and it the floor mat should be hooked into the car interior floor with clips, not over any other floor mat. Avoid getting the generic one-size fits all types. They often aren’t that good and tends to move around a lot if its loose.
- Paper towels and tissues – you never know what your passenger might need or what kind of spills you may get from passengers. Either way its good to have.
- Emesis bags – better known as puke or vomit bags. The likelihood that a passenger pukes in your car is pretty slim (I would say 1 in 2000 rides) but its best to be prepared for it if it ever happens. I usually stash one behind each front seat and only costs bout 50 cents each for a pack of 24. Here is the ones I bought:
- Tire inflator and pressure gauge – these things are pretty cheap, small and runs off of your cigarette light adapter. I usually use it twice a year, once when it gets colder outside and the tire pressure dips a few PSI, and then in the spring when I am changing out my winter tires to my summer tires. It is very handy to keep in the car and small enough that you can put it in your trunk without using up much space. I also have a cheap pressure gauge that you can get at any gas station or car parts store like Auto-zone or Advanced Auto. Here is the tire inflator I have:
- Spare tire or flat kit and car tool kit – most cars now a days come with a fix-a-flat kit and a tire compressor (standard on BMWs) as they come with run flat tires. Make sure you know how to use one of these. Many cars still have the option to put in a donut (small temporary tire) or even a full size tire so if you feel better about changing a flat rather than using fix-a-flat, then you can get a cheap used OEM rim and a new tire and you’re good to go. Usually it runs about 300-500 bucks, which is similar to a cheap spare tire kit from the dealer. There are some downsides to Fix-a-flat so make sure to read up on it before you use it. Usually, you will need to replace the tire after using a fix-a-flat on it, whereas normally you could patch a flat tire.
A car tool kit is handy in case you need to remove a hub cap or pry something open.
- Jumper cables and/or a portable battery jump pack – My old car had corroded battery terminals so my car had a very hard time starting once a month or so. So I bought this portable battery pack and would have to jump start my car every now and then. (The solution was to pour hot water over it, removing the mineral deposits that was causing the battery issue.) It also came in handy when my dad left my hazard lights on when he parked and drained my battery. I had to come by and jump start the car. Random battery issues can happen, especially in the winter so its great to either have a battery pack (make sure to charge it every so often) or have jumper cables so you can get a jump start or help others in need. If your battery terminals look clean and changed your battery within the past few years, you should be fine. Also, this jump starter pack has a built in compressor. It is a bit more convenient than having to plug in the tire inflator that runs off of the cigarette adapter.
- A flashlight – If you drive on Uber and Lyft, you have a smartphone with a flash on the back. Make sure to get an app that can turn on the flash. It is usually called a Flashlight app. It is very handy in case a passenger drops something in your car and you need to help find it.
- Vacuum – This is a strong portable vacuum at a great price: Black and Decker 20V Max Lithium Ion Pivot Vacuum Cleaner. It’s small enough to keep in your car and the charge lasts for about a month for spot cleaning.
- Ice Scrapper/Snow Brush – this is only for those who live in cities that can get below freezing. It usually takes about 20 minutes to melt ice from a windshield with the car running, but an ice scraper can do it in a minute. It is a must have, but only for drivers in the northern states. I now carry a tiny one year round in case I forget to put the larger one in my car.
- Universal Lug Wrench – After doing my own car repair for the last decade with just the in-car tire iron (and an impact wrench on occasion), I finally found out about how useful a 4-way tire iron is. It has a lug wrench for almost all sizes and its really easy to use. You can use two hands to loosen just about any nut and you can spin it while holding it to quickly remove and put back on lug nuts. It is a huge time saver. (For those stubborn nuts, its best to use a L shaped tire iron, and then stand on it to loosen the nut). I am not sure why I found out about this now instead of years ago. Here is the one I bought:
- First Aid Kit – My old car came with one stock from the factory, but you can get one at any pharmacy. I have never had the chance to use mines that is going on 10 years old now, but it could come in very handy in case of an accident or if you want to help in an accident. This is the one I bought to update the one I bought a decade ago:
- Seat Belt Cutter + Safety Hammer – this is in case of a very bad car accident and you either need to break a car window or cut a seatbelt to get out. I am hopeful to never have to use this, but better safe than sorry. This is what I have: