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What Car Should I Drive For Grubhub? (FAQ Series)

Quick Reference: Tax and PPP help.

What car should I drive for Grubhub? Since we are completely on our own when it comes to our car expenses, what is the best car to use as an independent contractor for Grubhub?

The best answer may be “the car you have.”

Okay, there may be and probably are better answers. I think more than anything it depends on how much you will be driving. If this is a side hustle and it's only a few hours a week, I definitely wouldn't suggest you think of changing cars.

I should throw in that sometimes, the best answer isn't a car. Bike delivery can be a good option, although Grubhub doesn't seem to have as many options where that is an option as other providers.

What car should I drive for Grubhub?
What car should I Drive for Grubhub?

Okay, I'm full time. What car should I drive for Grubhub?

Here are the most important factors that I believe you should consider when determining what car to drive for Grubhub:

  1. Reliability
  2. Rideability

Notice what's not in there? Fuel efficiency. It's not that fuel efficiency is a bad thing, but if it comes at the cost of the other two, then it's not worth the savings.

Reliability

This one is probably a no-brainer. Or maybe it isn't, I don't know. That Geo Metro might still be getting you 40 plus miles per gallon but if it's busted down more often than not, that doesn't help you a lot. Your car just has to run well. If your car is constantly in the shop, you can't deliver. If you can't deliver, you can't earn money. Personally, I tend to lean towards older and lower valued cars because overall cost to operate tends to be lower, but that's only true if the car is reliable. If you have a mechanic you trust, have them check over your car for future issues. And for gosh sakes, do the freaking maintenance. You HAVE to keep that car in top condition, your earnings depend on it.

Why is Rideability more important than fuel efficiency?

It's because you're going to spend a lot of time in your car. If it's a miserable experience, you will have a tough time being motivated. If it's harder to get that extra two, five, or ten hours of driving in because of how it feels to drive the car, you are less likely to actually DO Those hours. Those hours you aren't delivering will cost you far more than a fuel efficient vehicle can save.

This can also be a health issue. If you do this full time, driving can be a high risk area for repetitive stress related issues. Knee, ankle, hip and back issues can arise. If the car doesn't allow good posture, if the seat isn't supportive in just the right ways, you can develop injuries. There have been studies with taxi drivers and truck drivers showing more frequent knee and other muscle and skeletal problems due to frequent motion while driving. Back issues can be a major problem for full time drivers due to the quality or style of the seat. Any of these health issues could cost you far more than any gas you could purchase no matter what kind of guzzler you drive.

Factor in Cost Per Mile

Here's the funny thing: Driving a 20 year old Buick that only gets 20 miles per gallon can cost a lot less than a brand new Hybrid. That is because there are so many other expenses related to driving. A newer vehicle is going to lose a lot of value per mile, to the point that depreciation, not gas, is the highest expense area when using a newer car. Remember that the number of miles on a vehicle are a primary factor in determining a car's resale or trade in value. I know depreciation sounds like a fancy accounting term, but it's a very real cost. You WILL pay that price, however you pay the price when you sell or trade in the vehicle for far less due to the miles. You can learn more about cost per mile here.

What Car Should I Drive for Grubhub? Is it Better to get a different car?

Here are my thoughts. These are my opinions – there are plenty who would have different opinions, I'm sure.

I think it starts with what you are driving. Start with the first two factors: Is it reliable? Is it comfortable enough to put the kind of hours into that you want to? Do you start getting sore after long enough in the car? Do your joints or your back give you trouble after driving so much? If there are issues with either of these, you might think about alternatives. That or find a better alternative for your hustle than driving.

If your current car costs a lot per mile to operate, you may want to think about an alternative. I saw a guy posting he was thinking of using his Corvette to drive. Don't be an idiot. High miles and high end vehicles are not a good combination, simply because high miles DESTROYS the value of the high end car.

Do you replace the car primarily because of fuel efficiency? I don't recommend that. Your gas is NOT your biggest area of cost, and replacing the car can very likely cost you more than you save. Transaction costs, sales tax, financing, registration, all those things can end up costing you more than you even spend on gas.

If I decide to get a different car, what car should I drive for Grubhub?

I can't tell you one particular kind of car. The best I can say is, run the numbers. Think about the actual cost of the car. Get something you can spend a lot of time in, but don't get something that costs you more than you earn. Pay very close attention to the cost of operating your car, and if you're buying a car for delivery, you REALLY have to think about depreciation. That car is going to lose value, and it will lose it quickly because of the kind of miles our driving requires.

Ask yourself this question: When you factor in what it costs to replace the car, are you earning enough to justify getting the car? Run the numbers folks.

Do NOT buy a new car for delivery. Seriously folks… Think about it – your sales tax, registration, property taxes, can all add up to 2 to 4 thousand dollars. A new car loses a minimum of 10% of it's value just by driving off the lot. You're going to spend $5,000 so you can save 50% on something that costs around $3 a gallon? How many years do you have to drive to save that kind of money?

But don't get too cheap. You can go out and find a $500 beater, and depreciation isn't going to be an issue, that's for sure. But, is it going to keep you going?

Should I buy, lease, or pay cash?

Do not lease. Just don't do it. Most leases put severe restrictions on the miles you can drive. It's not a good option for something that requires a couple thousand miles driving per month.

Personally, I'd really discourage financing. If you have to finance, you're getting a car that's going to lose a lot of value very quickly. There are just too many risks and costs with financing, especially if your earnings are pretty precarious anyway.

If there is any way shape or form that you can pay cash on a vehicle, do it. Get a car you can afford. Dave Ramsey has some good advice on buying a car. If you're set on making a car payment, try this: Pay cash for what you can get. Pay that car payment you would have been making to yourself and put it in savings. After a couple months, sell the beater, you'll probably get pretty close to what you paid – use that money and add it to what you saved, and upgrade. Do this every few months until you get to something you feel comfortable with.

Here's the other thing you need to do. Understand the true cost of your car per mile, and set that aside. That covers your depreciation and maintenance costs when they come up. Add it to your car payment that you're making to yourself and you really make sure you are covered with your car.

What car should I drive for Grubhub? A car you want to drive, a car you are comfortable driving, and a car that will keep running for you.

What do you drive for Grubhub?

Please comment below with your thoughts.

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