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Roadside assistance for proud ethanol supporters

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When is the last time you were stranded on the side of the road, wishing you were a member of a motor club? Or, perhaps, you are already a member of a motor club, but that motor club has a habit of bashing ethanol. You need to keep reading.
By Holly Jessen | September 28, 2015

I’ll just cut right to the chase. If you’re looking for an example of a person that should have roadside assistance, but doesn’t, I’m your woman. I’ve been known to lock my keys in my car. I’ve also run out of gas while driving down the road.

I could share some really embarrassing stories, but I think I’ll just move on to my most recent need for roadside assistance. It happened about a month ago, after intense rain that caused flooding in the streets of Grand Forks. My vehicle made it through the first three flooded areas, but stalled out right in front of the turn off to our apartment building. We had to pay for a tow truck out of pocket and our mechanic told us it was hydrolocked. Translation, water was all up in the engine and we were without our second car for more than two weeks, while a refurbished engine was installed.

Every time something like this happens, I think, I should have roadside assistance. But I never actually do anything about it. Ron Lamberty’s column from our February issue of Ethanol Producer Magazine tells me I might not be alone, at least in the “I have difficulty with actually following through with completely reasonable ideas” category.

Lamberty, senior vice president of the American Coalition for Ethanol, revealed in his column,“I Wish Someone Would Do Something About How Fat I Am,” that not many people in the ethanol industry had, at that time, taken advantage of a pretty good deal offered by Association Motor Club Marketing. Not only does the motor club offer ethanol supporters a discount, but it’s less expensive than AAA, a motor club that is known to bash biofuels.

So, after my latest roadside “adventure,” I decided to talk to Gene Hammond, chairman of the board of both AMCM and Travelers Motor Club, of which he is also president. Here’s what I found out.

As ethanol supporters, for $35, my husband and I (and up to two other family members, if we had other drivers in our household) could have a year of roadside assistance coverage from AMCM. (It’s $25 for a single driver.) If we’d had it before I drove our car into floodwaters, turning it into a giant paperweight, the cost of towing it to our local mechanic would have been covered. (Up to $100.) I could also get assistance for those times I needed a jump start (check), gotten a flat tire (yep), locked my keys in my car (see above) and more.

Let’s get back to that whole discount thing. To get the discount, which is a savings of $10 per year, I have to do is go to the motor club’s website and click on “ethanol supporters” in the top orange line, at the far right side. Here’s a link directly to that page.

If I’d done this before my car was flooded in the street, here’s what would have happened. First, I would have accessed an app on my phone, which signals that someone should call me from one of AMCM’s 11 call centers. The caller would first ask, are you safe? (Answer, wet halfway to my knees and upset, but, yes, safe.) The caller would then ask me to look at a map in the app, which displays a red dot, and ask if that is, indeed, my location. On average, AMCM members wait 31 minutes for assistance, he said, although that number can go up if the system is overloaded with calls, such as during city-wide flooding.

Here’s the next logical question. Why is AMCM offering a discount to ethanol supporters? The answer brings us back to 2012, Hammond told me. He read a front page newspaper article about AAA’s concerns about E15. So he asked AMCM’s claims department to keep tabs on whether any of the motor club’s 19 million members had problems related to ethanol.  “We watched it for 2 years,” he said. “Not one road service call attributed to ethanol, any blend, whether it be 10 or 15 or whatever.” In fact, Hammond feels ethanol has benefited members, since ethanol content in most all fuel the problem of gas freeze up is a thing of the past. “If anything, we have had less road service calls,” he said.

That’s when Hammond got in touch with ACE and Growth Energy. AMCM and Travelers Motor Club went on the record, supporting ethanol. (Lamberty wrote another column about that for our December 2014 issue.)

And that’s how the “ethanol supporters” discount came about. Hammond is a business man. He’s happy to sell AMCM memberships. But that’s not his main motivation. “We would like to have friends of ethanol join our club,” he said. “But. That’s not why we got into this. We got into this just to set the record straight.”

AAA’s fight against E15 just doesn’t make sense to Hammond. As someone born and raised on a South Dakota farm, what does make sense to him is that ethanol has many benefits.  “The reason we are in this fight is, ethanol has made such a difference to rural America,” he said. “The small towns. The farmers. It’s good for economic development and it’s great for America becoming energy independent.”

That’s why, a couple weeks ago, AMCM representatives were in Washington, D.C., with members of Growth Energy. It’s the second time this year the group has been there to tell the story of 19 million members and not one issue with ethanol. And, the more ethanol supporters that sign up by clicking on that button, the stronger the company’s story will be.

The good news is, that number is growing. The company has even been approached by ethanol producers that want to give AMCM memberships to their shareholders, as Christmas gifts. “It’s beginning to find more traction all the time,” he said.

In other news, I need to become a member of AMCM. And, if you are an ethanol supporter that sometimes needs roadside assistance, I think you should too.

Growth Energy proudly supports AMCM

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From The Auto Channel

AAA Remains Clueless With Regard to Beneficial Fuel Alternatives

WASHINGTON, DC – August 3, 2015: Recently the American Automobile Association (AAA) filed comments concerning the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) Renewable Volume Obligation (RVO) proposed rule for 2014 through 2016. Once again, AAA has shown its ignorance on issues when it comes to the importance of consumer choice, American jobs and homegrown fuel.

Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy, noted, “AAA is failing in its mission to look out for the best interests of the consumer. By aligning itself with the oil companies and actively opposing E15, the most tested fuel to date that is less expensive, renewable and a homegrown alternative that offers motorists a choice and savings at the pump, it is showing its true oil-soaked agenda.”

Buis added, “E15 is the most tested fuel ever. The Department of Energy (DOE) tested 86 vehicles, totaling over 6 million miles without any issues regarding engine performance or durability. Furthermore, NASCAR has used E15 for five years, racing nearly 8 million miles in its top three series. To say that ‘E15 is not ready for prime time’ shows AAA’s ignorance about the value-added properties of increased octane, which helps boost engine performance, and reduces emissions, as well as and the benefits that come along with producing E15, such as increased American jobs, a cleaner environment, reduced dependence on foreign oil and a less expensive fuel for consumers.”

“But don’t just take my word – listen to experts in the field who have been working on cars for years,” he added. Gene Hammond and Mark Muncey, the co-owners of Association Motor Club Marketing, which services vehicle owners in all 50 states, have made clear their support for E15, noting they have never seen an issue with the fuel.

Hammond, who has worked in the auto club business for 40 years, said, “Not one of our over 18 million members has called us with a problem related to the new E15 fuel or any ethanol blend. Travelers Motor Club and Association Motor Club Marketing support the use of E15 in vehicles as a safe and affordable alternative to gasoline.”

Muncey, who has nearly 20 years of experience in the motor club business, said, “We decided to research the road service data from our members. Today, four years after EPA approved E15 and two years after AAA declared it was premature, we can say for certain that our members have not reported any problems with E15.”

Hammond concluded, “Our focus is on providing unmatched service to our motor club members, and in our eyes, real-world experience trumps a study paid for by opponents of ethanol every time. In addition to no service calls or complaints about E15, the fact is that winter gas line freeze problems have virtually disappeared due to the increased use of ethanol. If you drive a vehicle that has been approved for the use of E15, and want to try it, we encourage you to try it with confidence.”

To Check or Not Check Luggage

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Article by Dr. Linda Ralston, aka Utah Tour Doctor

I am leaving for a last minute trip to California for just 4 days and there is always the consideration, do I check or not check? My choice varies according to the purpose and length of the trip and the amount of electronics I need to take with me.  I use to always use the overhead bin, but it has become a real zoo getting even a small bag on board a flight.  Therefore, I have developed a check list for deciding whether to check versus not to check a bag when flying.

Check a Bag:

  • Traveling for a long business or pleasure trip of 1 or more weeks . . . the longer the trip the increased need to pack more clothes.
  • Weight or size of bag exceeds the limits for carry-on luggage.
  • Preference for personal toiletries (special shampoos, etc.) or lodging at destination will not have toiletries (i.e., safari, camping, backpacking, etc.)
  • Assigned a late boarding group . . . even if you are sitting in the front of the economy seating if you are in the Group F, those boarding passengers before you will store their roller bags in overhead bins near your seat.
  • Airplane type for one or more segments of my flights do not have adequate overhead compartment bins available. If I need to wait for my luggage to be brought to me at the gate, this eliminates the convenience and time factor of what I might save by carrying-on luggage.
  • If traveling alone and there will be a lengthy time period between flights, then I will not want to drag my carry-on luggage to and from every shop, bathroom, restaurant, or Internet Cafe in order to comply with TSA guidelines for unattended luggage.
  • Frequent flyer status, membership, credit card used to book flight, first or business class ticket eliminates the fees for checking luggage.
  • If checking luggage, I will purchase a separate travel insurance package that covers lost or delayed luggage. Do not depend on the airline to provide compensation for delayed luggage or assist you immediately upon arrival.

Carry-on Bag Only:

  • Traveling for a short business trip of 3-4 days.
  • If traveling for an international or longer trip and I want to pack a change of clothes in case my checked luggage is lost or delayed.
  • Minimal number of clothes & shoes needed.
  • Weight or size of carry-on bag falls within the size requirements for carry-on luggage.
  • Need to save time by avoiding the luggage carousel and connecting with ground transportation in order to meet a scheduled appointment.
  • Hotel at destination has shampoos & other toiletries that might be needed. (If I do plan to pack any liquids, the bottle must not exceed 3 ounces and all bottles must fit within a sandwich bag.)
  • Guaranteed early boarding or Priority Seating to ensure that you have access to the overhead bin near your seat.
  • Verified that the airplane type for each segment of my flights have adequate overhead compartment bins available.  Yes, you can Gate Check your carry-on, but this eliminates the time saved by not checking a bag.
  • Verify that I can lift the carry-on bag over my head to place in the overhead compartment.  I should never expect someone to help me load or retrieve my luggage.
  • Avoid luggage fees for checking luggage . . . just make sure that you do not exceed weight or size limits.
  • Returning from an international destination where I may be buying items that are fragile or valuable, then I will want to pack these items in a carry-on for the return trip. (Check out a folding carry-on bag to pack for extra space enroute.)

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5 General Travel Tips

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So my bags are packed and I’m ready to go. This afternoon, I’ll be on the road again. One of the parts of my job I have loved as a professional genealogist is the travel. I have travelled across 38 states and around the world conducting the business of family history: presenting, researching, business development, and more. Having taken all of these trips, I have some general travel tips for you.

1. Save Suitcase Space

Are you taking an extended trip? I’m often gone for ten to fourteen days or more. Work clothes, relaxing clothes, shoes, computer equipment. This can take up tons of space. Now, when I pack, I cut back on the clothes. I bring enough clothes for four or five days. Then I do laundry while I’m on the road.  Many hotels have laundry rooms where you can wash your own clothes. If not, there is probably a laundromat nearby. A last resort is to have the hotel launder your clothes for you. When choosing the last option, I try to find their rates online first so I can budget for it appropriately.

2. Plan for Getting Stuff Home

In the old days, I remember taking trips to Salt Lake City and making reams of photocopies. I would ship an entire box of paper home (Although there were times I carried the paper onto the plane with me and shipped my clothes home!). Nowadays, there is far less paper and far more electronic products. Last year when I was in London I was faced with a dilemma. I had packed my suitcase so carefully to get there and was very proud of myself that everything fit. Then came the time to pack to fly home. I was faced with a bunch of photocopies, used books, souvenirs for my nieces, and other items. And zero space in the suitcase. I had to borrow a suitcase from my friend Audrey. This year, I’m intentionally bringing an extra suitcase. Packed very lightly for the trip over. But when it is time to come home, there should be no problem with bringing stuff home.

3. Bank Fees

Banks can charge exorbitant fees nowadays. ATM fees, especially can add up. Not only does my bank not charge me ATM fees, they reimburse me the fees that other banks charge. This saves me lots of money when I’m on the road. When travelling internationally, I use the ATM when I arrive to obtain cash in the local currency. Even paying an ATM fee is often less than getting currency from a bank at home. And I put as much as possible on my debit card, which usually charges no fees at all.

4. Supermarket Run

Think about how much money you spend on your trips, running into convenience stores for bottles of water or soda, snacks, and more. Whenever I arrive in Salt Lake City, the first thing I do after checking in is run to the local supermarket. I buy snacks, fruit, and a case or two of water. Over the course of the trip, I end up spending far less money than I would have otherwise for such items. The case of water alone usually saves $20-25.

5. Get Your Passport

Percentagewise, fewer Americans have their passports than most European countries. People often think an overseas trip is so expensive. While the expenses can add up, having your passport frees you up to take advantage of last-minute deals from airlines, hotels, and travel websites. These can save you hundreds of dollars or more. But you won’t be able to wait months to get your passport. And if you pay the rush fees, you will soak up much of your cost savings.

Traveler’s Tip: Get to know your hotel’s general Manager

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By Barbara De Lollis, USA Today

While the chunk of a hotel’s personality may come from its brand name – Marriott, Four Seasons or Montage, it’s the general manager who controls the volume dial.

He (typically) or she has the power to influence your experience, especially the service and treatment of VIPs and frequent travelers.

So, while in the Los Angeles area this week, I plan to introduce you to some of the area’s “GMs,” as they’re called in hotel land.

I’ve sat down so far with the GMs at the new W Hollywood, the luxury Montage Beverly Hills, the discreet L’Ermitage in Beverly Hills and the family friendly Loews Santa Monica. On today’s agenda: London West Hollywood and J.W. Marriott/Ritz-Carlton in downtown Los Angeles.

Why should you bother to get to know your hotel GM? Here’s why:

It might increase the odds of your being recognized inside your hotel, which could at some point translate into perks – whether a restaurant credit, free cocktail, additional newspaper or, in some rare cases, an extra-nice upgrade.

If you’re lucky, you also may get the chance to hear a few of your GMs more humorous hotel stories (trust me, they each have a million of them).

At the very least, you’ll know who to go to when and if you have a problem or you begin to notice a troublesome pattern. The problem may not be the employee’s fault, after all, and it may be indicative of a broader problem that the GM needs to fix.

It’s usually guests with higher expectations who tend reach out to GMs, Bill Doak, general manager of the Loews hotel on Santa Monica beach, told me on Sunday afternoon. Doak’s a former Four Seasons guy (Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Hotel) who most recently was the GM at the too-cool Mondrian before taking the helm of the welcoming Loews Santa Monica.

Sometimes, Doak says, a guest he’s gotten to know through frequent stays will send him an email in advance of their arrival.

“I have a number who’ve sought me out,” he told me over lunch at the hotel’s lower pool deck that’s practically on the beach. “They’re usually guests with higher expectations because they’re on business. They have to operate at a higher efficiency than normally might be available.

“Once they know the GM, everybody else in the hotel becomes aware of their presence,” said Doak, a Los Angeles native. “(The employees) know so we have them on alert to what their expectations are. They might be a frequent guest of the Peninsula or the Beverly Hills Hotel, but they come here because they like the location. It’s a little bit relaxed. They pay a good rate for a suite and we have to anticipate what they’re accustomed to.

“You can’t be a GM now and not be available – and not only, available but proactively involved with guests.”

11 Random Travel Tips

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Article by Rachel from Venere Travel.

Tip #1 Remember to pack a hat: In the summer months, these help provide shade and look adorable. In winter and autumn months, the added layers give warmth.

Tip #2 Leave that second outfit at home: Chances are, you will never wear it. How many of us really do? Plus, you can save some room.

Tip #3 Take plenty of pictures: It’s better to have too many than not enough! Besides, you an always delete them later.

Tip #4 Keep a box of dryer sheets with you: They remove static from clothes and hair while smelling amazing and taking up little room.

Tip #5 Toilet paper is not a given: If you are traveling outside the country, you may learn to really love those packs of tissues you can buy real cheap!

Tip #6 Go ahead, pack those midnight snack-running sneakers: You will wish you had your comfortable shoes a few days into you trip. Mine is about day 1.5.

Tip #7 First Aid-kit: You never know when you may need one of these, but they are always extremely handy to keep around.

Tip #8 Flip flop persona: Flip flops will be your best friend in a hotel shower situation. Be sure to grab a pair.

Tip #9 Your currency: If you can help it, don’t change your currency at the airport. It is Always more expensive.

Tip #10 Entertain yourself: This is a good time to read a book or learn to play solitaire as you will have several hours to kill.

Tip #11 Set a new time: Set your watch to your destination’s time zone and beat jetlag.

Now, it is time to travel. Use all of the tips you have learned to create great memories. Go, get packed up for your trip. Where will your travels take you?

Winter Driving Tips

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Severe weather can be both frightening and dangerous for automobile travel. Motorists should know the safety rules for dealing with winter road emergencies. AMCM reminds motorists to be cautious while driving in adverse weather. Go to your AMCM website or phone app for more information.

AMCM recommends the following winter driving tips:

Avoid driving while you’re fatigued. Getting the proper amount of rest before taking on winter weather tasks reduces driving risks.
Never warm up a vehicle in an enclosed area, such as a garage.
Make certain your tires are properly inflated.
Never mix radial tires with other tire types.
Keep your gas tank at least half full to avoid gas line freeze-up.
If possible, avoid using your parking brake in cold, rainy and snowy weather.
Do not use cruise control when driving on any slippery surface (wet, ice, sand).
Always look and steer where you want to go.
Use your seat belt every time you get into your vehicle.
Tips for long-distance winter trips:

Watch weather reports prior to a long-distance drive or before driving in isolated areas. Delay trips when especially bad weather is expected. If you must leave, let others know your route, destination and estimated time of arrival.
Always make sure your vehicle is in peak operating condition by having it inspected by an approved Auto Repair facility.
Keep at least half a tank of gasoline in your vehicle at all times.
Pack a cellular telephone with your AMCM telephone number (APP), plus blankets, gloves, hats, food, water and any needed medication in your vehicle.
If you become snow-bound, stay with your vehicle. It provides temporary shelter and makes it easier for rescuers to locate you. Don’t try to walk in a severe storm. It’s easy to lose sight of your vehicle in blowing snow and become lost.
Don’t over exert yourself if you try to push or dig your vehicle out of the snow.
Tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna or place a cloth at the top of a rolled up window to signal distress. At night, keep the dome light on if possible. It only uses a small amount of electricity and will make it easier for rescuers to find you.
Make sure the exhaust pipe isn’t clogged with snow, ice or mud. A blocked exhaust could cause deadly carbon monoxide gas to leak into the passenger compartment with the engine running.
Use whatever is available to insulate your body from the cold. This could include floor mats, newspapers or paper maps.
If possible run the engine and heater just long enough to remove the chill and to conserve gasoline.
AMCM is equipped with tremendous technology and remember if you have a cell phone we can almost always locate you with the technology we have. AMCM is always there for you when the unexpected happens.

Auto Clubs Endorse E15

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by Chuck Beck from Ethanol Today Magazine

Untitled-2

AMCM & ACE talk with media via conference call.

Untitled-1The E15 fuel blend (gas with 15% ethanol and 85% gasoline) is getting the thumbs up from two national motor club organizations.

Recently, Gene Hammond and Mark Muncey, co-owners of the Association Motor Club Marketing (AMCM) and Travelers motor clubs, announced that the over 18 million Americans their motor clubs serve have never experienced any problems with the E15 fuel blend since the fuel became available in 2012.

Hammond notes their stance is different from other motor clubs.

“For the past two years, AAA has lobbied the federal government to suspend sales of E15, suggesting it could void warranties or cause engine damage. Following the approval of E15 we began examining our road service data and found no evidence ethanol has caused any problems for our members. We support the EPA decision to approve E15 for use in cars and light trucks starting with the model year 2001.

“Ultimately our focus is on our members, and in our eyes, real-world experience trumps a study every time. During my 40 years in the motor club business, not only have I not seen an increase in service calls that were fuel-related, but we have yet to have one of our over 18 million members call us with a problem related to the use of ethanol,” Hammond said.

Hammond notes that using E15 provides an economic benefit that motor club members should not overlook.

“Recent statistics show that E15 has been priced 30 to 40 cents lower than straight gasoline and 3 to 10 cents lower than regular which contains ten percent ethanol. But more importantly, giving drivers more choices at the pump means competition for traditional grades of gasoline, and that creates lower prices across the board. Whether a consumer uses E15 or not, we feel merely having it in the marketplace will help everyone save money when they fill up,” Hammond said.

Muncey says the endorsement by both motor clubs should send a strong message to retailers.

“We believe E15 is a much needed product across this country, we feel it will help consumers everywhere by giving them more choices at the pump,” Muncey said.

ACE senior vice president Ron Lamberty agrees, saying it’s important to have the motor clubs speak out and share their stories on what their members have seen, and more importantly haven’t seen, when it comes to using E15.

“Real-world results trump ghost stories, and the real-world findings of these two auto clubs mirror what we have heard from fuel station owners who sell E15: they’ve had no customer complaints, no breakdowns, and no repair bills from drivers who fill up with E15. In fact, because E15 is a higher octane fuel that costs less than regular, stations with E15 are gaining customers and E15 has become the second highest volume fuel in most of the stations that sell it,” Lamberty said.

Lamberty says he’s hopeful that this announcement will help put to rest some of the myths and lies the Big Oil lobby and AAA have tried to spread over E15.

“With all the time, money, and lobbying anti-ethanol groups have put in to this E15 ghost story, if there were any cars stranded because of E15 or if there was a single warranty claim denied because of E15, we would have heard about it by now. The car owner would be a household name. It hasn’t happened, and it’s not going to happen.”

ACE members receive discounted AMCM membership

Many ACE members and ethanol supporters have grown tired of AAA’s attacks and are looking for an alternative auto club. That’s why in addition to working with Travelers and AMCM to coordinate their support of E15, ACE has established a partnership specifically with AMCM to allow ACE members to join its motor club by going to www. amcm-online.com where they will receive an additional $10 discount from the $35 membership fee when they join online. That’s only $25 annually for AMCM motor club benefits like towing/winching assistance, battery assistance, flat tire assistance, lock-out assistance, fuel and oil delivery, fluid and water delivery, hotel and travel discounts, 5% cash back hotel program, $500 hit and run/ theft reward, and more.

At press time, a number of ACE members had taken steps to share the message about the AMCM discount for biofuels supporters: Chippewa Valley Ethanol Company sent the information to its 952 shareholders, Glacial Lakes Energy shared it with its 1,000 member email list, and the Missouri Corn Growers Association passed it on to its 2,700 members. If you would like to share this information with your members or shareholders, contact ACE at 605-334-3381 to request printed materials and/or a shareable electronic message.

 

“Our members have not reported any problems with E-15” – Travelers Motor Club

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(OKLAHOMA CITY, OK. October 27, 2014) – Gene Hammond and Mark Muncey, co-owners of Travelers Motor Club and Association Motor Club Marketing, which serve vehicle owners in all 50 States, today announced their support for the new E-15 fuel blend (15 percent ethanol and 85 percent petroleum in motor gasoline).

Hammond, who has worked in the auto club business for 40 years said, “Not one of our over 18 million members has called us with a problem related to the new E-15 fuel or any ethanol blend. Travelers Motor Club and Association Motor Club Marketing support the use of E-15 in vehicles as a safe and affordable alternative to gasoline.”

Muncey, who has nearly 20 years of experience in the motor club business said, “We decided to research the road service data from our members. Today, four years after EPA approved E-15 and two years after AAA declared it was premature, we can say for certain that our members have not reported any problems with E-15. We support the use of E-15 in vehicles approved by EPA to use the fuel.”

“Our focus is on providing unmatched service to our motor club members, and in our eyes, real-world experience trumps a study paid for by opponents of ethanol every time. In addition to no service calls or complaints about E-15, the fact is that winter gas line freeze problems have virtually disappeared due to the increased use of ethanol. If you drive a vehicle that has been approved for the use of E-15 and want to try it, we encourage you to try it with confidence,” said Hammond.

For more information about Travelers Motor Club and Association Motor Club Marketing, visit us online at www.travelersmotorclub.com and www.amcm-online.com. You can also follow us on Twitter at @TravelersMC and @amcm_online.