6 Ways to Cut the Cost of Driving

When gas prices soar, so do your costs of doing business. But by making simple changes to your driving habits, you can stretch the value of each gallon.

November 1, 2008

Real estate is an on-the-go profession. In fact, you've probably joked at one point or another that your car is your second office. Today that joke isn't quite as funny, as sky-high gas prices make it prohibitively expensive to spend your day driving clients around town.

Obviously the biggest way to save is to drive less and plan the shortest route. But when you're working in real estate, that's not always an option. So here are a few other ways you can save gas and improve mileage, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

1. Watch the brakes. When you speed up or slow down too quickly, you waste gas. In fact, rapid acceleration and braking can lower gas mileage by up to 33 percent when driving highway speeds. Anticipate stops to avoid sudden braking and accelerate gradually (your clients will appreciate it, too).

2. Inflate those tires. Keep your tires properly inflated to the maximum recommended pressure. Get regular engine tune-ups to improve performance and avoid gas-wasting problems such as worn spark plugs, dragging brakes, or low transmission fluid.

3. Lighten your load. Are you lugging around too much in your car? Extra For Sale signs in your back seat, a box of staging supplies in your trunk … it all adds up. Carrying an extra 100 pounds in your car can reduce miles per gallon by up to 2 percent. Clean out your trunk and limit your carload to items that you really need—but let your clients stay.

4. Pace yourself. The faster you drive, the more you'll pay. For each 5 miles per hour you drive above 60 mph, you'll be paying, on average, an extra 26 cents per gallon for gas, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Improve your gas mileage by driving 55 mph instead of 65 mph or higher, and you'll get a 15 percent savings. Plus, you'll avoid a speeding ticket, and we all know how pricey those can be.

5. Shift into high gear. If your car has overdrive or high gear, start using it when you're driving on the highway. Overdrive uses less gas because your car's engine speed goes down, saving wear and tear. Also, embrace cruise control. Maintaining a constant speed also offers savings.

6. Consider fuel-efficiency in your next purchase. Unless you're in need of a new car, this might not be the most practical solution for you at the moment. But upgrades to the latest car models are eking out more miles per gallon, even for that gas-guzzling pickup truck. Check out the Federal Gas Mileage Guide that provides gas mileage for new and used cars and trucks. And read the fuel efficiency stats for new car models in REALTOR® Magazine's 2009 Auto Buyer's Guide slide show.

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