Ford Motor Company is sending restitution checks to C-MAX Hybrid owners after advertising false EPA mileage estimates for the car. They claimed this car would get 47 mpg. But real owners reported only getting 30-40mpg -- or less!

How could there be such a big discrepancy? It's because up to now, the government has been allowing automakers to do their own EPA fuel testing, and issue their own mileage estimates -- essentially on the honor system. But we now know how inaccurate those numbers can be.

If you do most of your driving on the highway, automaker's fuel estimates might be fairly accurate for you. But if you're like most drivers, and do the bulk of your driving in and around town, your actual mileage will likely between 40-50% lower than the sticker indicates.

The take away: If you own a gas-powered vehicle, take the listed EPA highway estimate and divide it in half. That will be a more realistic expectation for your car's actual fuel economy.

Image of Clark Howard About the author: Clark Howard

Clark Howard is a consumer expert whose goal is to help you keep more of the money you make. His national radio show and website show you ways to put more money in your pocket, with advice you can trust. View More Articles

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