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  • in reply to: Ford Escape 2005 #2493

    Okay, here’s my take on this. First, I would get the tech to either a dealership or a good independent technician and have them run a diagnostic with, if possible, the latest OBD-II software. I believe that the diagnostic run will tell you where the problem lies. And, even without the OBD diagnostic, I can tell you that the problem lies in the emission control module.

    This is a pretty general statement as when I say “emission control module”, the answer is pretty generic. The problem could be in the MAF* sensor, the BARO* sensor, the MAP* sensor or in a combination of them all, plus the the sensors looking at the fuel system. Indeed, it might even include sensors at the wheels, the transmission, even on the exhaust system.

    You see all of these systems, in one way or another, interact with one another. And, the way you described the failure tells me that the problem is in the emissions control side of the engine.

    In fact, what you described indicates there is a serious mechanical problem with your Escape’s emissions control system. However, as I indicated there are so many intersecting points between systems that it won’t be an inexpensive fix. In U.S. currency, I would think it would cost about $1,500 to fix. That would make it somewhere about E1,350.

    in reply to: Ready to stick a fork in my eye #2353

    Before you go using a fork on your eyeballs, take a little time and relax. Things could be worse. First, I would find another shop to have your vehicle checked. If an experienced technician doesn’t know that the first thing to do, after running into a check engine light, is running an OBD-II diagnostic to find where the problem might be, then I would think he doesn’t know very much about today’s cars and engines.

    Next, I would take the car to a shop that might have an idea about what might be going on. Yes I know a dealership costs a lot more than an independent shop, but they may have a better idea of what to do with an OBD-II scanner. And, since they are a dealership, they should also have the latest and greatest software for their scanners.

    You mentioned that when you returned to the mechanic that they found metal pieces in the oil pan. If that’s the case, then there is something going on; it’s likely that the new water pump or a related piece of the engine has suffered a major failure, though you don’t say so. Indeed, there are a couple of things that I really need to know if I am to help you out fully. First, has there been an increase in the temperature of your coolant? Second, and this relates to the OBD-II scan, are there any new trouble codes that have been generated? Until I have that information I really can’t give you more than just an informed guess.

    My guess is that not only has the water pump failed again, but, when it failed it took out another key piece of the engine. It’s possible that the failure took out the pulley that turns the serpentine belt that runs several items including things like the alternator and the like.

    In other words, there has been a major failure in your engine that will take more work to figure out. Still, the key things here is pulling the trouble codes from the Engine Control Module (ECM) so that the problem can be diagnosed more exactly.

    in reply to: Headlight Issues, why were they off? #2344

    This is a question my wife asked me not long ago after she returned rather flustered from an early-evening road trip. And, as I thought about it, it turns out that it is a valid question. Here’s the situation that prompted it.

    On the day it happened, she was driving to a local destination about 15 minutes from the house. As she drove along the daylight was waning and the dusk was getting thicker. Suddenly, other drivers started honking at here; it was just about the time when she also noticed it was awfully dark. Getting alarmed, she pulled off into a parking lot and checked the lights; they were off. She hopped back into the car, turned around and began heading home. To light her way, she drew back on the high-beam stock to turn on the brights. Of course, as she drove every time a car approached her she had to turn off the high beams. It was very distressing and she asked me what happened.

    I checked things out and found that the rotary headlight switch was turned all the way to the left — off. There are four settings on the switch parking lights; automatic headlights; daylight running lights/automatic, and off. To access the switch, you turn it clockwise to set the switch.

    I don’t know what the rationale for this was other than adding and setting up a daylight running light/automatic position on the headlight switch. The trouble with this is that the headlight/running light setting is also the automation setting for the vehicle — a 2015 Ford Fusion. In this setting, the headlights automatically go on when the vehicle is started. They remain on as daytime driving lights (DRL). There is another setting for the headlights, right next to the DRL setting. It the standard headlight setting. In this setting, the headlights are on but are not automatic. Also, they do not act as DRLs. The other settings, next setting to the left is for the parking lights, while the last setting is off.

    In the DRL setting, as noted, the headlights turn on and off automatically and they set the interior lights so those lights come on, providing you with about 20 seconds of lighting before they shutdown. In the other settings — headlights and parking lights — the is an chime warning that sounds to let you know.

    I will grant you that this is a clever scheme to ensure that vehicles meeting the requirements for DRLs under the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (I believe it is 208), but it is also disconcerting when you realize that the headlights can be turned off and you will never know it because if there is no alarm, you assume that they are on. I would have thought that Ford would have implemented the alarm for the three non-automatic settings, but, it is only implemented for two, parking and non DRL headlights. I should think that the automaker would do a recall to update the software on this, but I haven’t heard of anything like it. It is good consumer relations to do this and I know an automaker like Ford that is customer-driven will fix this problem, sooner than later.

    in reply to: Chevy S10 2.2 Engine Problems #2336

    A few years ago — okay 35 or so — I had a General Motors “X-car,” the automaker’s first real attempt at building vehicles that were not only good basic transportation, but also “foreign car fighters.” Almost to a car, they were powered by 2.2-liter four-cylinder engines that were, one way or another, related to the famed Iron Duke of Pontiac fame.

    To be honest with you, I drove that machine — a coupe with a very notchy four-speed standard — four six years, until we traded it for a Ford mid-sized sedan, powered by their 3.0-liter six. To my thinking, the Pontiac X-car was as reliable as I could find and it probably would still be with us had we not run across a good deal on the Ford.

    I am sorry that you have had problems with your 2.2-liter engine and after looking around and checking with a few sources, I can offer a couple of opinions — this has been hashed all over various internet groups and Chevy forums — that I picked up while reading.

    I know that the engine used a timing chain with a tensioner which can wear out over time. It’s possible that once the tensioner has gone the chain loosens and instead of remaining stretched, it becomes floppy. Once it becomes floppy within the engine, there is nothing to stop it from slapping the side of its housing. That’s why you notice that it sounds something like a slapping piston, but, trust me, if it were a piston slap, you would be looking at a much different scenario.

    It is true that there were some reliability problems reported with the 2.2, but, given the numbers that were cranked out over the years it was used (roughly 25 years), it has really worked out far more reliable than the reports had indicated.

    Now, if there was truly a piston slap in this powerplant, you would be looking at a major teardown and rebuild, using oversized rings to take up the added space between the pistons and sides of the cylinder. Indeed, if you did need this particular fix, you would find the engine much less reliable and far more thirsty because the piston size remains essentially the same with the added space taken up by oversized rings. And, since there is really no good seal between the cylinder wall and the upper area of the piston crown, the engine is really not any good anymore, though, GM did offer this fix.

    As to other noises from this particular powerplant, I can honestly find few other points, though, someone did indicate that the torque converter bolts could be loose. However, again, if this was the case, there would be a major issue with the transmission and the 2.2 as you would have to replace the tranny with a rebuilt. Still, it is possible that bolts could be rattling around, however, I doubt it.

    in reply to: Engine Ran Out of Oil Now Knocking #2335

    If your car runs out of oil and on restoring the oil level it knocks, then it is likely you have done some major damage internally to the powerplant.

    Let’s face it, aside from other major liquids in an engine, oil plays what is perhaps the most important role in motoring. First, as you can guess, oil lubricates the engine. It enables the metal-on-metal contact that various parts such as gears and the drivetrain to handle the constant exposure to other metal parts without breaking down.

    If the oil is allow to go too low, engine parts lose their protection and become worn out almost immediately. In fact, if you let the oil go too low, then when the episode ends all you will have is the shell of car with no engine. Replacing that engine and getting it to work properly costs you the better part of $4,000, including labor, most of the time.

    You can see then that oil plays an important part as the engine’s primary lubricant. It also plays another part as a coolant. You see, engine oil has a major, but secondary job, it carries off lots of the heat generated by your engine.

    In order to do this, the gallery system of your car is of key importance. Not only does the series of conduits within the engine act to move oil around the engine, as it moves, it picks up the heat and carries it to the outer extremities of the engine. At that time, the engine oil passes its heat to the water jacket where it is then carried to the radiator and then on out of the engine. At the same time, the oil is cooled and it is then moved around the engine again where it is heated up and cooled down again.

    If the engine were left to just use the radiator and antifreeze/coolant to handle the cooling chores within your engine, then it is likely the system could only handle percentage of the car’s cooling requirements. Yes, the coolant does handle major cooling, but it is cooling and engine that already been cooled by the oiling system, in the first place.

    Now, as to the knocking that you have been left with, it is quite likely that when the oil went below acceptable limits and your engine overheated that something burned or went out of spec. For example, if the engine oil dips below the minimum levels needed by the driveshaft or half-shafts, it is quite possible that the bearings on the shaft were harmed. If the oil is too low, bearings can quickly go out of round and instead of orbiting in a circular manner they become eccentric ever so slightly that the do work but the also slap the side of their carriers as well. Thus you have the engine slap.

    It is also possible that the dip in the oil level also exposed your cylinders to damage where the piston crowns may have burned a bit and may have gone out of round like the bearings. And, while this is only ever so slight, the pistons can also become a bit eccentric in shape and instead of moving smoothly up and down the cylinders, they will slap a bit against the cylinder walls. The same is true of rings which can easily become eccentric and instead of holding the piston close to the side of the cylinder where they seal the cylinder and scavenge any leftover oil, they also tend to favor one side and can also slap against the cylinder wall.

    You can see then, it is important to keep checking the oil and not allowing it to fall below the recommended level from your car’s manufacturer. It is also important to change it as the intervals recommended by the manufacturer as well. In general, the old oil change knowledge and standard of changing oil and lubing the chassis at 3,500 miles is still a good rule to follow.

    However, if you can’t follow the 3,500-mile standard, using a 5,000-mile rule will also work as most manufacturers recommend that as the right oil change interval. Some even recommend 7,500 miles but, in my opinion, that’s really stretching it. I hope this helps.

    in reply to: Chevy Truck Dies While Driving #2334

    You didn’t tell me whether the check engine light came on when the problem occurred. If the check engine light comes on it might be somewhere in the gasoline system. Have you checked the fuel in the tank itself? It is possible the fuel is old and needs to be replaced. Or, it is possible that there is dirt and grit in the tank that is occasionally blocking up the flow of gas. For this problem the fuel tank has to be dropped and it needs to be flushed. The filter in the tank can sometimes also become temporarily blocked and require cleaning. This is one possibility.

    Another possibility — and the one I think that is the most likely — is a failure in the truck’s fuel control module. I think that you will find that if you do a diagnostic check with a OBD-II code reader that the codes will be pointing towards this electronic error. The symptoms of this include exactly what you are talking about. You drive the trucks a certain number of miles, it heats up and it fails.

    What I suspect is likely happening is that the circuit board for the fuel module is being heated and it becomes warped. As it becomes warped — it resumes more or less normal shape — when it cools — the board loses contact with either the finger stalk with which it talks with the rest of the engine. Or, it some of the devices that are solder to the board become lose and lose contact with the board. The result is that the truck stalls out, with no visible failure indication. Yes, it is recorded in memory, however, unless you have the diagnostic reader, there is no way of knowing that an error has occurred.

    Trust me when I tell you, though that you will have to look at the electronic side of things for this problem. You have already explored and replaced the parts that can be replaced. And, since the problem keeps on occurring, it is likely a sensor or circuit board.

    in reply to: Towing capacity #2332

    The final numbers in this are nearly equal, as you can see. This means there’s no room for error as the total weight that you carry in your vehicle bears directly on the hitch design and since we do know that you are in the 1,860-pound area, we have to reiterate that you have hit the total as the weights nearly match. If they do match, then you have to think of cutting back on the hitch rating.


    The VSC or vehicle stability control system is usually installed in front-drive cars to ensure that the response of your driving wheels remains equal. In other words, if you are driving along on a sandy stretch of road and you find that your VSC light suddenly blinks for a second or two, you will feel the VSC system kick in as your front wheels shift power back and forth until they equalize and the light goes out.

    It is one of the many systems now required by the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards maintained by the National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA).

    If the system clicks on and there is no response from the driving wheels, it indicates there is a problem somewhere, usually an air leak. You will find that when you run and OBD-II diagnostic that the error codes that are returned can range from 120 to P0455, P0446, P0441, P0505. Generally, the error codes point to the air link. Now you can run all the added scans you would like, however, it is likely the codes will be the same. It requires visual and aural checks to see where the problem is.

    By and large, you will find that there is a central culprit in this issue is usually the gas cap. Many people don’t think they need to tighten the cap down until it is a bit beyond finger-tight. However, the cap has to be tightened until there is no possibility of air getting into the the engine. It’s a fairly quick cure but no one ever thinks of the obvious when there is a vehicle issue. It always seems to be the worst-case scenario. Now, it could be that it is worst-case, but if you are like me who usually starts with the easy and relatively obvious solutions, then I think it will be a quick fix if the VSC lights go on because the easy is usually the one that actually goes.

    Now, how do you reset the VSC code if you see the indicator lit and nothing is happening? As I have noted it usually indicates there is an air leak somewhere in the system. Most likely, the cause is something simple like a loose gas cap.

    Once you have fixed the system, you have to reset it.The way to do this is driving the car until the light goes out, if you are not associated with a brand dealership working on this problem, then use the method that is described in their service manual.

    • This reply was modified 5 years, 1 month ago by mstern001. Reason: adding end piece on reset
    in reply to: Towing capacity #2309

    Here’s the short answer, you had better look for a trailer hitch with a lower weight rating (fifth wheels tend to be very heavy) because it looks like you will be over the limit quite quickly.

    Let’s say you have a normal family of a wife and two kids, and, perhaps a pooch. Each person on board contributes to the weight your vehicle can carry. Now, as to weight, let’s say your weight weights 120 pounds, you weight 180, and your kids have a combined weight of 45. Now, the process begins. You add up each person’s weight and you come up with a weight of 345 pounds. Subtract it from the 1,888 pounds, along with the hitch weight of 1,120. It comes out to 1,465 pounds.

    Now let’s guess at the luggage you will be carrying. At a guess, it is one suitcase for you and perhaps your wife, unless she needs here own. And, the little ones have a couple of their own (they’re little and need more stuff). Let’s say each of your suitcases averages 45 pounds and your kids averages 60 pounds. How does it impact the situation? The same as with the people: add up the number of pounds and subtract it from the weight. Let’s see comes what the impact is. Your vehicle weight is now 1,715.

    Now, what will you be carrying with you? Will you have a spare tire? How about some tools for flats or other issues? Perhaps a spare few gallons of gas, for just in case times when you are running low in the middle of nowhere. Depending on the tools, it can range from 25 to 40 pounds, while the spare goes the better part of 70, and finally, the gas can and gas enter the picture. One gallon of gas adds roughly 4 to 6 pounds of weight to your car. At 6 pounds and 5 gallons of gas, you are adding another roughly 35 pounds of weight. So, with the tools, spare, and gas you add 145 pounds and the total 1,860 pounds. Essentially, that’s the limit you can carry.

    If you look at how I did the math. You determine the amount of weight your truck can carry starting at the trailer hitch. Then, you take that figure and subtract it from the value on the door. Next, you add in the passengers and items you carry and then items in the bed. You are right on the edge of where you have to be. You can live with the fifth wheel, but, if you carry only another 100 pounds in the cab, then you are over the limit.

    What happens, even if your trailer has the best set of brakes in the business (trailer brakes are activated by your truck’s braking system, though they act independently, most of the time, to the normal braking system of your Ford), your truck’s handling becomes compromised. As a result, you find yourself “steering” more to remain on track and to keep your fifth wheel in place, too.

    If you already have the fifth wheel mount installed, there’s little we can do about it as it is usually riveted to the pickup bed for sturdiness, though, some fifth wheels are bolted in and those bolts can loosen and back out over time. The result of this is a loose fifth wheel.

    in reply to: Service Emission System Warning Light #2305

    When the service light on your 2005 Escape Hybrid it could indicate at least two possible problems. The first is that there’s an overall problem with the sensor and the second there is an issue with the emission system.

    The problems that can be indicated include normal failures such as the module itself or a sensor. Or they could also indicate that there is a problem with the emission system. Emission system problems can range from a canister in the system to a fan or a pump. The emissions system. To determine where the general area might be you will have to run a OBD-II scan and then get a readout with a reader.

    Generally, you will need a manufacturer’s OBD-II-specific reader to obtain a finely threaded view of the problem. If you have one of the many OBD-II scanners available, but not one from the manufacturer, then the results will be very generic, such as telling you the five or six major Emissions System warning available in the public domain. Indeed, if you intend keeping your car for a long while, then it might be a good idea to purchase the manufacturer’s OBD-II scanner and a subscription to updates to keep it current.

    Most of the time the emissions system will work away flawlessly, until it doesn’t. It is at this time that the OBD-II scanner from the manufacturer will be needed.

    Sometimes, though, the Emissions System software is fine. Instead, it is one part of the system or another. It is possible that you will find the answer by running a scan, however, if it is a problem with a short or an open, it may mean you will have to walk stage-by-stage through the system until you find where the issue is. For instance, it could mean there is a short in a loom or wire or it could also mean there is a switch problem. In this case, the OBD-II scanner may or may not find the spot of the problem. However, it might also point to the general area of the issue so the size of the job is more limited.

    in reply to: What is ResistAll and is it Worth it? #2304

    Good for you! There’s no reason to purchase a ResistAll protective package, even though many dealerships will use it as a come on to sweeten a new-car deal. Typically, they will put a price of about $900 and then when they sense that you may not want the add-on, they drop the price, ping to sweeten the deal.

    The thing of it is this, your car doesn’t need this type of protection because it already has it. Baked into the final paint runs of your car — there are as many as 15 total layers of paint under the clearcoat (remember this, we’ll get back to it in a moment) — is a paint bond/hardener that keeps the top layer of your paint in good shape. Generally a isomer bond, this type of surface is the protection you car needs as it hardens the paint and the surface bond. The bond makes it nearly impervious to things like acid rain, bird droppings and the like, each of which can destroy your car’s painted surface.

    At one time, protective coverings like ResistAll were needed. That time was about 35 years ago when the paints were just starting to change into what we know today. At that time — 1980 or so — paints were quite weak, so to speak, in that their chemical covalent bonds were not as strong as paints of the later 1980s when the real revolution in paints was realized. The key part of this was the development of clearcoat, the final piece of the paint puzzle. It is the bonding material that keeps the top layer paints in good shape. Indeed, at the time when this development occurred, the paints below had not caught up with the clearcoat on top. If you kept it up, using an isomer-based sealant (if you are old enough you probably remember the ads in a junkyard where the special sealant/protectant was wiped onto an old car that was then washed a number of times, you know that this was something special for the time), then you would seal the paint like clearcoat. Until the widespread use of clearcoat, this was what you had to do to protect the paint. At this time, ResistAll might have been warranted.

    Today, though, it isn’t warranted. Indeed, it does more harm than good. ResistAll, believe it or not, is a very thin coat of varnish that is sprayed onto a car. For the most part, the surface is protected. The glass, though, isn’t. Instead, as sand and dust blow across the window, the surface is cut with thousands and thousands of nicks, cuts, and abrasions.

    There is no easy way to remove this, unless you know something. That something is the product used by make-ready and cleaning shops, MX-7. It is really a chemical stripper for paint, and glass. For glass, there is a low-hardness abrasive compound that won’t scratch the paint or windows (that were covered with the substance on application). You just wipe a bit on the windows and off comes badly scratched varnish. What you are left with is a nicely clean window — the original clear glass appears. One of the caveats when using MX-7 is that you may need a second application because the original application was uneven.

    in reply to: Battery Gauge Reading High #908

    Inside the charging circuit of every battery charging device are devices called rectifiers. These devices are used to help turn DC into AC — cars use alternators for their electricity, not generators — with the assistance of bridge diode rectifiers and capacitor and the like.

    Normally, the charging circuits work so well on a vehicle and for so long that no one gives them a second thought. However, in your case, it’s quite evident that one or more of the protection rectifier circuits has gone.

    As you note, it happens slowly as you are driving along which makes me think that the circuit has gone into a soft error mode where it takes time for heat or something else to cause the fault to occur.

    The good news is that it’s fixable. You need a new alternator or you can pick up a used one at a local scrapyard to save some money. You may enjoy doing it this way, however, I am of a different mindset. I like the first option — dropping in a new alternator — the cost is rather minimal for all the things it does — $840 — and since it will likely provide you with many miles of good service, the price of the part becomes more minimal over time.

    in reply to: Brake Pedal Sticking #906

    I do have some bad news for you: your brake system is shot. When the pedal goes straight to the floor and you have to pull it back up to reset things are, indeed, telltales that your system is broken.

    It might be a leaking master cylinder or it might be a leak at one of the wheels through the brake cylinder. Or, it might be leaking brake lines.

    This is something you can’t let go. Without your brakes, well, you car will have a very tough time stopping, if it stops at all. Let’s assume it stops and let’s assume that before you get behind the wheel you are determined to get the brakes fixed. What do you check. Quite quickly, you should:

      Look under your car and check to see if there are any red or red-brown stains. The stains are brake fluid. If you have easy access to the lines, open the hood and see if there are any weak or wetspots. Of course, wetspots are a giveaway that the brakes are shot because the fluid is actively leaking through hole(s). There should be an especially large brake fluid stain here because it is a nexus of sorts as the brake lines either run through or next to the exhaust manifold output.
      Next, check the rigid brakes line that lead to the cylinders in each wheel. If there is a red or red-brown stain on the ground and wet areas on the inside tire walls of you car, it is a good indication that there’s a leak.

    There is one other item to check, the brake reservoir. It’s the source of the brake fluid. It can be damaged and not only act as drain, but also act as a source of contamination and other issues.

    Normally, the brake fluid is has a solid color that rarely changes. If there is a problem, you will see bubble in the master cylinder. This is because as the brake pedal travels up and down in your travels, you are pushing small amounts of air into the system that have to go somewhere and the result is the bubbles in the master cylinder. Also, the brake fluid may look dirty to your eye. If it does then the chances are good that you will have to replace the master cyinder and related systems.

    How much will this cost? The cost can run up to $1,400, depending on the location and experience of the technician.

    • This reply was modified 5 years, 4 months ago by mstern001.
    in reply to: Service Theft Deterrent System – Car Won’t Start #903

    As to your question about whether the theft deterrent system messaging can be turned off the answer is usually no. There’s a good reason for this. Today’s car, truck, or SUV is meant to operate with the engine control module (ECM) on. Part of the software for the ECM’s operation makes a call to the theft deterrent system to ensure that it is working correctly.

    Now, imagine this, if you would. If you could turn off the anti-theft system, you would leave your car vulnerable to thieves, which isn’t something that appeals to most drivers. Honestly, can you see turning off the anti-theft system given the level of car thefts in most major urban areas? And with the investment you are making in the car — most new cars are in the $25,000 range, while most new SUVs are in the $35,000 range — it doesn’t make much sense shutting the anti-theft system down, even for a day.

    As to turning it off so you can start the car, why would you turn this system off for a short time? Just have the Cruze towed into the dealership. It’s a lot less challenging than worrying about turning the system off and getting the Cruze, which may stall or have another electrical problem that could leave you high and dry in the middle of nowhere. So, it’s best to leave the system alone and call a tow.

    • This reply was modified 5 years, 4 months ago by mstern001. Reason: added lines to the answer
    in reply to: Service Theft Deterrent System – Car Won’t Start #902

    Most automakers will leave you a failsafe just in case of a problem like this. Now, it could be due to sitting there listening to a favorite tune or tunes or perhaps a football game on a Sunday. Maybe even a favorite host on Satellite radio, but, whatever it is, there’s help. And, it is not far away.

    So, we’ve established that the battery is flat and the key is in the ignition for the duration. Here’s what you want to do:

    1. Take a look at the ignition side of the steering column, paying close attention to the key
    2. Next, look practically straight down from the key
    3. Then, feel around the under side of the steering column; you should find a small hole directly beneath the key
    4. Next, get flat-bladed screwdriver, about a #2 will do
    5. Insert the blade into the hole, moving it around until you get the best leverage; this should take a minute or less
    6. Once you feel it is firm, turn the screwdriver slowly to your right, while pulling on the key
    7. You should hear a small click as the key is freed; remove the key and wait for a tow to a dealership
    8. At the dealership, ask for a battery recharge — or replacement because today’s batteries don’t like to be brought down to zero. The reason for the dealership charge is they can reset the Cruze’s engine control module so you don’t have to drive around long distances trying various so-called solutions that might or might now work

    There you have it. In fact, it has probably taken me longer to walk through the steps that it did to free your ignition key.

    As I said, Chevy and other makers usually provide this type of failsafe. Thinking about an old Chevy Cobalt of our acquaintance, the method was nearly the same, except it was a pushbutton and not a screwdriver.

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