Does driving for Uber or Lyft really work as a side hustle?

There are many articles showing how many have hopped on the bandwagon supporting the “gig economy” but do the numbers really work out for driving as your “gig” after hours?

I’m not too convinced that the far majority of these gig economy drivers understand the true cost of their operation. I’ve talked to several drivers, myself, to determine their overall success driving for either of these companies and most state that the “money is good” until they’ve had significant repair or maintenance work on their vehicles. One driver who had gone through the sale of his existing vehicle in order to purchase a new Toyota Prius, explained how much value is lost on a newer vehicle upon putting on the insane amount of mileage that is required to make a healthy wage driving for Uber. Even if the revenues are good up front, on the back end, after all costs of operating his vehicle are considered, the effective wage he earned put him under legal minimum wage levels.

Now there are a few people out there that know how to maximize profits while working in the gig economy. Some will buy the absolute oldest vehicles that are still allowed to be driven under Uber or Lyft, and know to keep them only for a short period of time before selling the vehicle to minimize further depreciation on the car. Others know what type of vehicle to buy to minimize maintenance expense and maximize vehicle longevity. Finally, some drivers game the system by purchasing a 20 year old Camry in addition to their late model Camry in the same color, market the newer vehicle, but drive the older vehicle “illegally” so as to minimize costs and maximize their effective wage. This I thought was the most clever tactic, and it makes sense, but it clearly goes against these ride-sharing giants’ policies.