Lil’ Victory: Turning a Liability into an Asset with Turo

Gathering Dust, Gathering Rust

We are a two car household. Since the COVID shutdown in March of 2020, my husband has been working remotely from home. Each weekday morning, I leave for the day in one car while the other sits in our driveway. This has been the case for over a year. Meanwhile, we’ve continued making monthly insurance payments on both cars. We were paying $100 a month for a car to sit in our driveway and depreciate.

The Rise of the Rideshare 

I came across Turo after listening to a podcast.Turo is one of several major ride-sharing app-based companies. People lend their cars to others through the app at cheaper rates than the big car rental companies since there’s lower overhead operating costs. People use the apps in a variety of ways, from loaning their cars a few times a year to owning a fleet of 20+  rental cars and operating a small business with several full-time employees. Although I’m new to this, rideshare apps have been popular for years now. Since 2020, their popularity has increased due to situations like my family’s, the used car shortage, and the increase in the car-based gig economy such as food and package delivery. Rideshare, like it’s peer-to-peer lending peers (pun intended) is here to stay. I’ll be looking out for Turo’s IPO, word on the street is that they filed for an IPO in August. 

Listing Our Car On Turo

Between our Subaru Impreza and our Jeep Cherokee, I knew that the Jeep would bring in more money. According to Turo, the Cherokee is their second most popular rental vehicle in Oregon. Upon entering the VIN number, my plans were dashed. Apparently, cars with rebuilt titles are not eligible to list on Turo. The Subaru it is!

Listing the car took longer than expected. Once I entered the VIN, a message popped up that there was a recall for some part of the car that needed to be serviced before we could proceed with the listing. My husband scheduled the car appointment, and a week later we were good to go. Luckily, the recall servicing on the car showed on the VIN report almost immediately, Turo warned that this could take a few weeks. 

I continued to create the profile and came across another hiccup: pictures. We had to detail the car inside and out, find a decent looking parking lot, and take the best auto glamour shots possible. Our hard work paid off, less than a week after listing, our car was booked! 

Our First Bookings

A guy rented the car for 5 days, and we netted $267 in profit. He drove a couple hundred miles, refilled the tank, and washed the car before returning. It was a fantastic first experience. 

Three days later we had another booking, cha ching! A lady wanted to rent the car for one day…a little bit of a red flag but okay. On the Turo app, the pick-up time is 11:00 am. Guests can request early pick-up. At the last minute the guest requested to pick the car up at 7:00 am. Turo offers no way to charge extra for early pick-up. We agreed. The second red flag occurred when the guest asked us where we wanted her to park her car. At this point I’m thinking “why the hell does she want to rent our car when she lives locally and has her own car?”. She picked up the car, left her car in our driveway and confirmed my speculation when she told my husband “I’m going to go over the mileage limit”. Turo includes up to 400 miles in the price; every mile above that comes at an additional cost. A day later she returned the car in good condition, having driven 519 miles. We netted $67 for the trip plus $26 for the additional 119 miles, so $93 altogether. 

In the future, I’ll be more skeptical of one-day trips, but really there’s almost no way for me to know what someone intends to do with the car. They could be renting it to spare their own vehicle from the hurting they’re about to put on our odometer. Or, they could be someone visiting town for a few days, using our car to putt around town. We can’t know for sure, and that’s the risk we take with peer-to-peer lending. One thing I do know is that in less than 2 weeks on the app we’ve made $360! That covers our car insurance for 3 months. 

Our Future on Turo

For now, we are going to continue this side hustle. Very minimal work is required and risk is mitigated by Turo’s insurance policies. I’d like us to give this extra income a job so that it doesn’t contribute to lifestyle inflation via random Amazon purchases. Since this money needs a job now, and we have yet to create a solid budgeting system, we will put all of the money into my husband’s Roth IRA and crypto.

If you’re curious to see how much your car could earn on Turo, use their calculator.

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