How Can I Improve Fuel Economy in the 2013 Ford C-Max? "I have had a 2013 Ford C-Max for four months and am getting about 37 mpg. How does one manage to get over 40 mpg? Use little brake? Keep heat low? Buy premium gasoline? I would appreciate any advice and convincing that I did not make huge mistake to not buy a Toyota Prius as originally planned."

Alina You shouldn't beat yourself up over your gas mileage because Ford on Aug. 15 acknowledged that its EPA estimate of 47 mpg for combined city/highway mileage was overly optimistic.

Plenty of other C-Max Hybrid owners fell well short of 47 mpg, and some complained that, like you, they couldn't even reach 40 mpg.

Ford voluntarily lowered the 2013 C-Max Hybrid's mileage estimate to 45/40/43 mpg city/highway/combined and announced it would compensate buyers as a goodwill gesture. If you bought your C-Max, you can expect to receive $550 from Ford, and if you leased yours you will receive $325. Expect to be notified soon about how to claim your compensation.

You also should receive notice from Ford advising that you can bring your C-Max to a dealer to have your vehicle's software updated with measures that Ford says should improve your real-world mileage. The software changes will shorten the time it takes for the engine to warm up, reduce the electric fan speed and how often the air-conditioning compressor comes on, close the grille shutters more often and increase the maximum speed the car can drive in electric mode to 85 mph. Ford has not estimated how much this could improve mileage.

As far as what you can do to improve mileage, let's start with what you shouldn't do, and that is buy premium gas. Buying premium will lighten your wallet, but it will not improve your fuel economy.

One suggestion that could improve your gas mileage is, whenever possible, to start braking early so your car comes to a long, gradual stop instead of an abrupt halt. Hybrids such as the C-Max have regenerative braking systems that capture kinetic energy generated during braking and convert it to electricity that's stored in the hybrid system's battery.

The longer the brakes are applied in a stop, the more energy is captured. The more energy there is in the battery means the hybrid system can run on electricity more often — increasing your gas mileage.

Try that braking technique, see a Ford dealer for the software updates and get back to us in the future about your gas mileage.

Ford to Reimburse C-Max Owners for MPG Discrepancy

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Contributor Rick Popely has covered the auto industry for decades and hosts a weekly online radio show on .  Email Rick