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Technology has presented us with a whole new range of ways to earn money and grow wealth. The gig economy and side hustle culture have truly revolutionized the way we make money.
There will always be times when we need extra funds to make ends meet or save for a large purchase. That used to mean getting a part-time job, picking up some extra shifts at work, holding a garage sale, etc.
Today, if you need extra money, you can get a side gig, and your side gig options are literally limitless. One of those options is car sharing with Turo. It’s the one I chose, and for me, it has turned into a six-figure business.
🖐️ Do you have a gig work or side hustle story to tell? Do you have words of wisdom that might help others looking to make it in the gig economy? Find out how we can collaborate to get your story out there. Get in touch!
What is Peer-to-Peer Car Sharing?
If you don’t know what Turo or Peer-to-Peer Car sharing are, let me explain.
In short, car sharing allows you to rent your personal car and make money doing it while providing insurance and security if something goes wrong.
We all know traditional rental car companies like Hertz, Avis, or Enterprise. Peer-to-peer car sharing is a business model along this same line. Only, you rent out your personal vehicle (or a fleet of vehicles) on an app. This is an alternative to a traditional rental car company and gives customers other options outside of the more traditional avenues like Avis, Enterprise, or Hertz.
👉 When you list your personal vehicle on a peer-to-peer car sharing platform, you allow other people to borrow that vehicle in exchange for money.
There are a handful of apps that facilitate the transactions of car-sharing. The three main players are HyreCar, Getaround, and Turo. These platforms provide key functions that are critical in a car sharing business:
- Connecting you to people who want to rent your car.
- Vetting customers (to some extent) to ensure they are eligible to rent your car.
- Covering your car with insurance if the car is damaged or totaled.
- Ensuring your car is covered with cleaning, toll charges, tickets, gas, and other costs.
In exchange for all of these features, you pay a portion of your earnings to the car sharing platform.
👉 For example, I currently list all my cars on the platform Turo. They provide me with all the benefits listed above. I provide the car and then we split all the revenue 70/30. I get 70% and Turo gets 30%.
Car-Sharing vs Car Rental: Why Do People Choose Car Sharing?
Why would someone rent a car by car sharing with Turo when they can just rent with a traditional rental car company? That’s a good question, so let’s go over it.
Car sharing is more accessible if you are someone with less than perfect credit. For renters with poor credit or no credit score, traditional rental car companies may not even be an option.
Other real advantages of car sharing are:
- You do not need to have a credit card.
- It is more accessible, provides more options, and more flexibility.
- Car sharing can be more affordable (depending on the city, car & renter).
So, car sharing provides an important alternative to traditional rental car companies. Because of this, there is a lot of value in listing cars on car sharing apps.
HyreCar vs GetAround vs Turo: Which Car Sharing Platform Is Best?
So we now know what car sharing is, but what about the various car sharing platforms out there? There are three key players in the car sharing game: Turo, GetAround, and HyreCar.
While all of these platforms complete the same basic functions, there are some differences between them.
I wanted to lay out all three of the major players for you because I think it is important to understand your options and the pros & cons of each platform.
Turo is the platform I have had the most experience with and it’s the one I know inside and out. Because of this, for the rest of this article, I will be referring solely to Turo and how to build a car sharing business on the Turo platform.
How to Start a Car Sharing Business on Turo
Now that we know what Turo is and we know what car sharing is, let’s look at how to get started with Turo and how to grow a car sharing fleet of your own.
I’ll try to cover everything you need to know about starting a car sharing business on Turo in as much detail as possible.
Choosing a Car
Before you can start making money from renting cars, you first need a car. There are two ways to rent a car on Turo.
- One is to rent your own car. If you have a car you aren’t using or if you don’t regularly use your primary vehicle, this is a great way to start your car sharing journey. You won’t have to worry about choosing a car because you’ll be working with what you’ve already got.
- If you don’t already have a car available or if you want to expand your car-sharing business, you’ll need to buy a car to share. That means you’ll be making important decisions on what car to buy!
Theoretically, you can list any car you want, but that does not mean that you will be able to rent it.
👇 If you’re thinking about renting your own car, you can skip the next three sections and go straight to listing your car on Turo.
Get to Know Your Market
Before you buy a car, you should understand who your target customer is going to be. This is because your target customer will greatly dictate what type of car you should get and what type of car does well on the Turo marketplace.
Who Is Your Target Customer?
Who is going to be renting your car? Or more specifically, who do you want to rent your car?
👉 For vacationers who want to rent your car on Spring Break, a convertible or a large SUV might be a good choice. 👉 If your target is people traveling to your city for work, a more economical car like a 4 door sedan would be appropriate. 👉 If people are renting your car to take to the mountains for their annual snowboarding trip you would probably want a 4-wheel drive SUV or crossover.
What Does Your Customer Need?
You will want to know your market. Why are people renting your cars, and what cars are needed in your area?
👉 Does it rain a lot where you live? If so, a convertible probably isn’t the best. 👉 If you live where it snows a lot, maybe a 2 wheel drive small coupe isn’t the best. 👉 A good tip is to look around where you live and see what cars other people are driving, and that can be an indicator of what car could be purchased for Turo.
These indicators will help gauge what type of car will do well in your area and what cars people will rent.
☝️ Remember, the point isn’t just to list a car on Turo. You want people to rent your car, and that will never happen if your car is impractical for your area or city.
Buying a Car for Turo
Once you know what type of car you should get, you’ll need to find a car to buy. I’ll try to cover everything you need to know about buying a car for Turo in this next section.
New or Used?
The first question is whether to buy new or used?
When it comes to buying a car for Turo, regardless of what “type” of car you buy, it’s important to never (and I mean NEVER) buy a new car to list on Turo. The reason is simple: the depreciation will kill you.
When you buy a car for Turo, it is very important to buy a car at the lowest possible point in the depreciation curve.
This is a standard depreciation curve for a vehicle (or course, there are exceptions to this rule):
A car takes the biggest hit to its value in the first year of ownership, often close to 20%. That means when you buy a new car, the second you drive it off the dealer’s lot, that car will be worth 20% LESS than what you paid for it.
That doesn’t work with Turo. We want our cars to be worth MORE than what we pay for them. How do you do that? Let me explain.
🚗+💵-🛠=🤑 You want to make sure that the price you get for the car and your earnings from the car exceed the price you paid and any maintenance expenses. That’s how you make money!
To have a car worth more than you pay for it, you should never buy it new. You should buy it at the lowest possible point in the depreciation curve. If you look at the curve, you’ll see that after around the 7th year. Once we hit the depreciation bottom, the year by year depreciation has drastically declined.
The first 5 years of a car’s life are where it loses the majority of its value. After it has hit the depreciating bottom, the car retains its value much better and, in some cases, can even appreciate (gain value).
⚠️ Remember that when your car exceeds the mileage or age requirement or if maintenance costs become prohibitive, you will want to sell it.
Finding the Right Car
Where do you find cars that are at or near their depreciation bottom?
You can check out websites like Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist and find cars that are available for sale. A good rule of thumb for finding the depreciation bottom is seeing what the average lowest price you find for a car is.
This is just one example, but if you follow this rule of thumb you have a great chance of being set up for success in your car-sharing journey.
In addition to buying cars at their depreciation bottom, it is also important to buy cars below market value. You see, just because a car has hit its depreciation bottom does not mean you are automatically going to be getting a good deal on that car. That’s where market value comes into play.
👉 Market value is the price of a car on average in any given market.
To determine the market value, you can turn to resources like Kelley Blue Book or even simply do your own market research. To do market research, all you have to do is go online to various websites and look up the specific type of car you are looking for.
What’s the advertised price? Is this above or below the average price for this model and year? What would be considered a good deal?
Before you go to buy your car, you should know how much the average price for that car in your market is, you should know how much you expect to pay for the car, and you should know what fair market value is.
☝️ To get the best deal, you’ll want to try to pay below market value. Never pay over market value. That is setting yourself up to lose money later on down the road.
Dealer or Private Seller?
You’ll need to decide whether you want to buy your used car from a dealership or a private party.
The problem with dealerships is that very rarely (if ever) will you be able to buy a car for below market value from a dealer. Because of this, it is almost always a better idea to buy your used car from a private party.
💡 Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist are great places to do this.
With these platforms, you can easily find cars below market value, and you can buy them for lower prices than you would get from a dealership.
If you find the car you want to purchase and have a good idea of what you want to pay for the car and what you should pay for the car, you need to check the vehicle in person.
There are a few things you should do and some things that I do every time I go look at a vehicle.
First, run the CarFax. The importance of this step cannot be overstated. Running the CarFax will allow you to see the maintenance and accident history of the vehicle. You will learn how many miles the car should have (rolled back and inaccurate mileage is a very real problem in the world of used cars). It will tell you how many owners the car has had and the status of the title.
These are all critical things to know before buying a vehicle, and running the CarFax is a necessary step of the buying process.
In order to run the CarFax, all you need to do is ask the seller for the VIN or vehicle identification number and then go to CarFax.com and buy the report. This does cost money, but it is a worthwhile investment for your Turo side hustle.
🛒 A single CarFax report costs $39.99. Three will cost you $59.99, and six sell for $99.99.
Once you have run the CarFax you can now go and meet the seller.
Now, when it comes to actually seeing the car in person, I encourage you to bring someone along with you who knows about cars. If you don’t have a person in your life who can play that role, that is okay, but it is best to at least have 1 other person with you. For example, I bring my fiance and business partner with me every time I go look at a car.
When looking at a vehicle to buy, here are some things to do.
These are just a few things that you should look out for when buying a used car.
⚠️ If you don’t feel comfortable doing a pre-purchase inspection, take the car to a trusted mechanic and pay to have the car inspected. A pre-purchase inspection could potentially save you thousands later on down the road.
Paying for the Car
The last question of the car buying process is whether to pay cash or finance your purchase.
This is a debated topic amongst Turo hosts because most savvy business owners say that smart entrepreneurs use other people’s money to make money. This is true, but I don’t think it necessarily applies to Turo.
Let me explain.
Turo is a great platform, and I think it is an amazing side hustle. Still, no matter how successful you are on the Turo, how much you make or how many cars you have, the Turo platform will never be yours. It will never belong to you. Because of this, there will always be an element of the Turo business that you will never control.
Turo has control. They decide the policies. They decide the rules. They decide who stays or goes.
Because of this, I advise against financing Turo cars.
Listing Your Car on Turo
Once you have a good car that you’ve purchased for a good price, the rest is easy. Let’s dig into the fun stuff: renting out the car.
Once you have your car, it is time to list it. Listing the car is pretty straightforward, you simply go onto the Turo website and click “Become a Host.”
From there you follow the prompts outlined by Turo, this includes things like giving your information as well as information for the car. You will have to take some car photos, get the VIN and license plate information for your car, and also select how much you want to list your car for, among other things.
Starting out on Turo involves some trial and error.
Pricing is adjustable, so see what other cars in your area cost and then rent your car for something similar (or even $1-$2 lower to attract more renters).
Provide an honest, truthful description of the vehicle and set expectations with the prospective renter so you’re set up for success.
Pair a straightforward and honest description with some good photos (no need to hire a professional photographer, smartphone photos are perfectly fine) and a competitive price, and you are ready for success!
Choosing Your Insurance Coverage
The last step of the process of renting your car on Turo is choosing your insurance coverage. This is important because it will dictate how much you will earn each trip and how much coverage you will have in case of an accident or total loss of your vehicle. Accidents do happen, so it is important to be covered.
Turo offers five different host protection plans. Below is a brief rundown of Turo insurance coverage directly from Turo’s website:
PlanFeatures 60 plan✅ Earn 60% of the trip price ✅ Up to $750,000 in third-party liability insurance ✅ Turo pays 100% of eligible damage costs ✅ No deductible ✅ Includes exterior wear and tear reimbursement ✅ Includes loss of hosting income during repair OR $50/day replacement vehicle reimbursement (10 day max) 70 plan✅ Earn 70% of the trip price ✅ Up to $750,000 in third-party liability insurance ✅ Turo pays 100% of eligible damage costs above the deductible ✅ $250 deductible ✅ $30/day replacement vehicle reimbursement during repair (10 day max) ❌ Doesn’t include exterior wear and tear reimbursement ❌ Doesn’t include loss of hosting income during repair 75 plan✅ Earn 75% of the trip price ✅ Up to $750,000 in third-party liability insurance ✅ Turo pays 100% of eligible damage costs above the deductible ✅ $750 deductible ❌ No replacement vehicle reimbursement during repair ❌ Doesn’t include exterior wear and tear reimbursement ❌ Doesn’t include loss of hosting income during repair 80 plan✅ Earn 80% of the trip price ✅ Up to $750,000 in third-party liability insurance ✅ Turo pays 100% of eligible damage costs above the deductible ✅ 1,625 deductible ❌ No replacement vehicle reimbursement during repair ❌ Doesn’t include exterior wear and tear reimbursement ❌ Doesn’t include loss of hosting income during repair 85 plan✅ Earn 85% of the trip price ✅ Up to $750,000 in third-party liability insurance ✅ Turo pays 100% of eligible damage costs above the deductible ✅ $2,500 deductible ❌ No replacement vehicle reimbursement during repair ❌ Doesn’t include exterior wear and tear reimbursement ❌ Doesn’t include loss of hosting income during repair
The Turo plan you choose is really up to you, your risk tolerance, and your financial situation. There is no “good” or “bad” coverage policy. It is 100% dictated by what you decide is best for you and your personal situation.
⚠️ Whichever policy you choose though, it is crucial to understand the ins and outs of that policy. What does the policy cover? Are there things that aren’t covered? What do you have to do to be covered? What are the terms of service? Knowing these details is very, very important.
Once you’ve followed the Turo prompts and steps, you’ve taken photos, you’ve chosen your protection package, you’ve figured out your price – that’s it! You’re ready to get your car listed on Turo.
Getting Your First Rental
Now for the exciting part: time to start making money from your Turo car!
Once your car is listed, Turo does the heavy lifting of actually getting it rented. As long as your car has good photos and is listed at a competitive price, your car will get rented out. It is just a matter of time.
But, once that day finally comes and it is ready to be rented there are some very important things to do.
When you get a Turo rental, you will receive a Turo notification of the rental, when the rental is, who it is with and for what time. You will also be able to access this same info in the Turo app as well as the Turo website.
Once you get this notification it is time to start prepping for the rental.
That’s all there is to it. Your car is now on its first rental! But, what about when it is returned?
When returning the car, the same process happens but in a different order.
Car Sharing Business Expenses
Car sharing involves cars, and if you’ve ever owned a car, you know that there are some complexities to owning even one car, let alone a fleet of low-priced used cars. Let’s look at some common issues.
Like any business, a peer-to-peer car sharing business model has costs. Here are some typical expenses of a Turo fleet
- Insurance. You are still required to have insurance on your vehicles per your state guidelines. The cost of this will be dictated by the car and your own driving record.
- Maintenance. There will, of course, be maintenance on your vehicles. I will go deeper into that in a moment.
- Repairs. Your vehicles will inevitably get damaged, and repairing them will cost you money.
- Parking. Depending on where you store your vehicles, you may need to rent commercial parking. I rent a commercial lot for $100 per month to store my cars when they are not being rented out.
For the most part, the cost of doing business will mostly come down to storage (if applicable), insurance, maintenance, and repairs. The cost of these items will be dictated by what car you own and who rents your vehicles. For example, a Toyota is going to have significantly less maintenance cost than a Mercedes.
The last hidden expense you should keep in mind is depreciation. If you buy cars at the depreciation bottom (as mentioned earlier), depreciation is not much of an issue. But if you buy cars brand new, depreciation will be a massive cost that will eat into your bottom line.
Maintenance and Repairs
Maintenance and repairs are going to be a huge part of running your Turo business. Let’s first talk about maintenance.
When it comes to maintenance, it isn’t uncommon to have to do maintenance a bit more often than you would normally do because your cars are being driven more frequently, and it isn’t entirely uncommon for cars to be abused on rentals.
Below are some common maintenance issues that will come up with your fleet.
- Oil & Filter Changes. This is just your standard oil change. You can do this yourself for between $30-$40, depending on the car.
- Alignment. Tires will become unaligned as guests hit curbs and potholes in your cars. This isn’t something you will need to do all the time, but expect to do it multiple times a year.
- Tires. Tires get worn more quickly when they are being driven on rental cars. Replacing tires will be inevitable.
- Suspension Components. On all of my cars, replacing suspension components has become a regular part of the routine. For example, sway bar end links, inner tie rods, outer tie rods, etc., are all components I have had to replace on all of my cars.
These are just a few examples of the maintenance issues that could come up with your Turo vehicles. All the costs associated with these maintenance issues will be dictated by your own abilities.
As for repairs, this is another one that is bound to become an issue at some point. Guests will damage your cars. It isn’t a matter of if. It is a matter of when.
When it comes to damage to your vehicle, as long as you have done your part in protecting yourself with Turo rentals (i.e., following the terms of service), then you will be covered, and you should be reimbursed when it comes to any Turo damage.
Eventually, you will need to retire a car on Turo.
When should you sell it to get a new one? This is a question that doesn’t have a clear-cut answer, but my best answer would be: When the car stops making money.
There is no clear-cut way to tell when a car should no longer be listed. Some people like to sell them when they are older and getting outdated. Some like to sell them to make room for newer refreshed cars and let other people drive them into the ground.
I like to sell mine when the maintenance is becoming too much for the car, and it simply doesn’t make sense to keep it any longer.
Sometimes I will sell my cars after a couple of years on the platform, sometimes I will never sell them, and they will get totaled on a trip, and that is when they get taken off. It really does depend on the vehicle and your ability to complete maintenance and repairs on that vehicle.
🧮️ At the end of the day, car sharing with Turo is a numbers game. It is important to keep track of all the expenses associated with your cars. That way, you know when a car is getting too expensive to justify keeping.
Accounting (Earnings, Taxes, etc.)
Now, of course, like any business, there are accounting issues that need to be considered when it comes to Turo.
Let’s first talk about income potential.
There is no way to predict how much you can expect to make by car sharing with Turo because it will be determined by the vehicle you own, the expenses of the vehicle, how much it’s rented for, how often it’s rented, any overage charges on the car (damage claims, cleaning fees, smoking fees…etc.), where you’re located and more.
Many factors go into play when deciding how much you can make from Turo, and many of these factors vary greatly from host to host.
💡 My recommendation would be, grow slowly until you know your market, know your vehicles…etc. Once you gain some experience, you will know how much you should expect to make per vehicle.
As for accounting, one of the biggest recommendations that I give to any new Turo host is to get a good accountant. Get into the habit of tracking expenses, profit, and keeping a detailed P&L. Find an accountant you trust and one that is familiar with peer-to-peer car sharing.
💡 Getting a good accountant who is familiar with peer-to-peer car sharing is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your business.
This process I have laid out is easier said than done. There are some challenges in car sharing with Turo, for example, if your car gets damaged, trashed, or stolen.
There are always issues that come up with any side hustle and car sharing with Turo is no different. The best thing any car sharing host can do for themselves and their business is to know the terms of service. Always know what you are getting into when it comes to Turo, know and understand the rules, know what you need to do to be protected — this is so incredibly important.
Turo is a wonderful side hustle, and car-sharing is a great and lucrative business model. I truly believe that anyone can succeed at it. It really comes down to just a few steps:
- Know the terms of service.
- Buy cars at the right price.
- Follow the process.
If you do this, you can truly change your life with a Turo and Car-Sharing side hustle.
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