Last Updated on 2024-01-05

Instacart Car Requirements - Updated For 2024

We worked with these active, experienced gig-workers to write this article and bring you first-hand knowledge.

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Tadas Antanavicius

Experienced writer/researcher in the gig industry working alongside our gig-workers

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Michael Vaness

6 years of experience working across DoorDash, Instacart, and Spark

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William Ross

10 years of experience working across Uber, Instacart, Shipt, GrubHub, and Uber Eats

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Oliver Kruetzmann

4 years of experience working across Instacart and Uber Eats

Instacart does not have any major car requirements to be a shopper. You can use any kind of car, old or new, to complete deliveries.

You are, however, required to make sure you are covered with appropriate car insurance. And that’s a sticky subject: you’ll want to make sure your insurance policy covers “commercial use” of your vehicle for making Instacart deliveries.

What kind of vehicle can I use for Instacart?

Instacart does not provide you with a vehicle. Although Instacart does not have any sort of vetting process to check the quality of your own vehicle prior to giving you grocery batches, there are some practicalities for you to consider.

Your vehicle should be big enough. To take the most profitable (big) orders, you’re going to need to fit bags and boxes of groceries into your. A tiny convertible with a small trunk probably won’t get the job done. But, you do have the option of going after orders that only require 1 or 2 bags. They don't pay as well, and the tips are smaller, but there can be many of them, especially in bigger towns.

Your vehicle shouldn’t be liable to break down in the middle of a grocery run. If you’ve just finished a grocery run and go to start your car - only to find that the battery is dead and now you’re waiting for AAA to jumpstart it - the Instacart customer on the other end is going to be upset. Instacart might forgive a one-time incident like this, but a repeatedly broken-down car might be enough reason for Instacart to end your time as an Instacart Shopper.

William Ross, an Instacart Shopper who has been doing gig work since 2014, emphasizes this risk: “I stress the importance of driving a new or fairly new vehicle - it's going to save you a lot in time costs (considering time is your most valuable asset when working self-employed). Having tried to do gig work while driving a car more than ten years old, I found it stressful, inefficient, unsafe and reflected poorly on my performance. Things went a lot smoother once I upgraded. If you have to, rent or finance a newer car.”

In theory, you don’t need a “car”. While not officially endorsed by Instacart, there are reportedly shoppers performing deliveries with electric scooters and other smaller vehicles. And there are other ways to do Instacart without a car.

Did you know you can work for Instacart without a car?

There are many ways to get around the requirement to use a car for Instacart. Here is a summary list:

  • Use a bike or scooter
  • Use public transportation - busses, trains, and subways
  • Ride along with another Instacart Shopper
  • Rent or borrow a car
  • Sign up for the in-store only Instacart Shopper role, if available in your location

Can I get a rental car or borrow one from a friend to do Instacart?

Yes, you can use someone else’s car to be an Instacart Shopper. There are many ways to do this, let’s review a few of them.

Use a special car-sharing service built for Instacart Shoppers

You can rent a car through a service like HyreCar to do your Instacart work. These cars are rented from your peers, so rates can vary, but might be something like $35 - $65 per day. This is probably the easiest option, since the platform is made for people exactly like you.

Use a typical car rental service

You can also rent a car from a more traditional rental car company, like Zipcar. Rates will vary by your location, though you might have more trouble making it work financially since most car rental companies will be priced for consumers, not delivery drivers.

Please note that many of these rentals have limited mileage, so it’s worth reading the fine print to ensure that your chosen vehicle is suitable for the task.

Borrow a friend’s car

The most cost-effective option might be to convince your friend to let you use their car for your deliveries. This is a viable option, however you should definitely make sure your friend’s insurance policy would cover you while you are performing a commercial activity (doing Instacart deliveries) - it is unlikely that would be the case, unless you start paying extra for such a policy add-on.

Does working for Instacart make my car payment tax deductible?

You might be able to deduct some expenses from car payments you’re making on your financed car purchase, proportional to how much you use your car for “personal use” versus “business use” (like doing Instacart).

William offers his perspective: “In my experience, my miles and monthly car payment were tax deductible.”

The details here can get complicated, so you should discuss this with a tax advisor to figure out exactly how much you can deduct.

What if my car gets damaged while I’m doing Instacart?

Unfortunately, Instacart would not get involved if your car gets damaged (say, in the parking lot). Your only option will be to investigate whether your insurance company will help deal with the damages - this would be exactly the kind of incident you aim to get covered when ensuring you have “commercial” car insurance prior to starting driving for Instacart.

Careful with bringing other people into your car while shopping

Instacart’s guidelines prohibit “bringing anyone along (including minors) who does not have an Instacart Shopper account while providing services on the platform.” So if you’re thinking about whether your car qualifies, do remember that you should plan to be the only one in your car.

Michael Vaness, an Instacart shopper with over 3 years of experience, elaborates: “Though many shoppers tend to break this rule, it is a violation of the TOS with Instacart, and you can be deactivated if you are turned in with proof. As Instacart shopping can be a competitive job, other shoppers are likely to report people who do this.”

DUI’s can affect your eligibility to shop, even if they happen after you’re already a shopper

Even if you initially pass the background check just fine during signup, Instacart occasionally re-runs the background check when you’re already working. This means that a criminal offense, like a DUI, can impact your eligibility even down the line.

Michael witnessed this becoming an issue: “I had a friend who cleared his background check, and worked for instacart for about 2 years. On his day off, He got a DUI. Instacart did a random screening on him a few months later, saw the DUI, and deactivated him shortly after.”

Ready to get started working for Instacart?

Read more about the shopper & delivery role, or take a look at the in-store only role.

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