Does My Choice in Oil Affect Change Intervals?

Posted August 16, 2017 6:52 AM

Oil changes are probably the most recognized service on a vehicle. Almost all Mishawaka residents know about them. But do we know enough?

Several decades ago, oil changes were fairly standard: every three months or 3,000 miles or 5,000 kilometers. But recent advances in both engine technology and oil quality have led to longer oil change intervals.

Delayed or skipped oil changes are a problem for Mishawaka residents because they lead to the build-up of oil sludge in your engine. Oil sludge forms when engine oil breaks down, which happens with both time and miles. Obviously, driving will take its toll on engine oil, but the oil also breaks down even as the vehicle just sits in the garage. This is why oil change intervals are listed in both time and distance traveled, and the phrase “whichever comes first” is applicable.

Oil sludge is essentially petroleum jelly. Imagine this stuff squishing around in your vehicle engine, pushing into small engine passageways and blocking passage of oil to vital engine parts, shortening your engine's life expectancy.

To prevent sludge, you have to get your oil changed regularly, as often as the manufacturer recommends. Check your owner's manual for every vehicle you own to know the interval for each one. Don't assume they will be the same.

If you tow a trailer, haul heavy loads, make a lot of short trips around Mishawaka, usually engage in stop-and-go (or around-the-town) driving, drive in cold or hot Indiana weather, or drive in polluted or dusty conditions, you may need to change your oil more frequently. Check your vehicle's owner's manual for a “severe service” recommendation.

If the manual doesn't give you the advice you need, talk to your friendly and knowledgeable THOMPSON AUTO DIAGNOSTIC service advisor. He will be able to answer any questions about preventive maintenance or vehicle care that you may have, including how often to change your oil.

Mishawaka residents need to get the right weight and type of oil recommended for their vehicles. More and more are using synthetic oil in their vehicles. Synthetic oil typically lasts longer and is more resistant to sludge formation than conventional motor oil. But it is also more expensive. So it can be tempting for Mishawaka residents to ask for conventional oil, but if you replace synthetic oil with conventional oil, you will have to change your oil more often to prevent sludge build-up. In the end, you're probably not saving money at all.

Also, your engine may not be designed for the conventional oil. Check your owner's manual before replacing synthetic oil with conventional.

Talk to your THOMPSON AUTO DIAGNOSTIC service advisor for more information.

THOMPSON AUTO DIAGNOSTIC
1445 MCKINLEY AVE
Mishawaka, Indiana 46545
574-256-1001
http://autodiagnostic.com



PCV Valve: What Is It?

Posted August 1, 2017 6:36 AM

Most Mishawaka drivers know something about preventive maintenance on a vehicle. We know we should routinely replace the oil and wiper blades and other fluids. But have you heard of a PCV valve ? This little car part needs to be replaced regularly or it can cause some serious problems in your vehicle engine.

PCV stands for Positive Crankcase Ventilation. The crankcase holds your motor oil and is located at the bottom of your engine.

When fuel is burned in your engine, it produces waste gases that are mostly vented out through your exhaust system. But some of these gases push their way past the pistons and into the crankcase. There, these gases can mix with motor oil to produce oil sludge, which can damage vehicle engine parts through corrosion and by clogging engine passages. Mishawaka vehicle owners should be advised that if the engine is running at high speeds, these gases can also cause pressure inside the crankcase to build up. This pressure, in turn, can blow gaskets and damage seals, leading to oil leaks.

The waste gases that leave the engine are comprised of about 70% unburned fuel. They used to be vented off the crankcase into the atmosphere. But starting in 1964, laws mandated that these gases be recaptured. Manufacturers began installing PCV systems, which recycled the gases into the air intake system where they could be mixed with fuel and sent to the engine to be burned.

The PCV valve is a one-way valve attached to the crankcase. Waste gases exit the crankcase through the valve but cannot enter.

Over time, the waste gases leave deposits on the PCV valve that can gum it up. So it needs to be replaced occasionally. This is an inexpensive part of preventive maintenance that is often overlooked, but which can have very expensive consequences. It's good auto advice to keep this little valve clean and working well.

In order to maintain efficient circulation, the PCV system also has a breather tube that allows clean air to enter the crankcase. This air is usually filtered through the engine air filter. But some vehicles have a separate air filter for the breather tube called the breather element. If this is the case with your vehicle, proper maintenance of the PCV will include replacing this element. To find out whether your vehicle has this type of PCV system, check your owner's manual or ask your service advisor at THOMPSON AUTO DIAGNOSTIC.

The PCV system reduces harmful vehicle emissions. The maintenance it requires is simple and inexpensive at THOMPSON AUTO DIAGNOSTIC. A fouled or damaged PCV system can lead to serious engine damage for Mishawaka drivers.

Let's all learn to practice good car care. It's good for our wallets, and it's good for our Indiana environment.

THOMPSON AUTO DIAGNOSTIC
1445 MCKINLEY AVE
Mishawaka, Indiana 46545
574-256-1001
http://autodiagnostic.com



Another Couple of Years: Making Your Vehicle Last With Help From THOMPSON AUTO DIAGNOSTIC

Posted July 24, 2017 2:19 AM

A while back, the Cash for Clunkers program was all over the Indiana news. Mishawaka people could trade in their old vehicle for a new one that got better gas mileage and receive a government rebate.

A lot of Mishawaka motorists had so-called clunkers that they wanted to keep. They're good commuters, grocery getters or toy haulers. They enjoy that fact that they're paid off, or soon will be. They would gladly like to keep their vehicles for 200,000 miles (320,000 kilometers) or more – as long as it's economical to do so.

There are plenty of Mishawaka drivers whose vehicles are running after 150,000 or 200,000 miles (240,000 or 320,000 kilometers). We can learn from what they're doing to keep our own vehicles on the road in Indiana.

The Mishawaka drivers of high-mileage cars often report a common denominator of never skipping an oil change.

That may sound a bit unsophisticated, but it's really not. First off, oil is the life blood of your vehicle's engine and it needs to be clean to properly lubricate. Skipping oil changes leads to clogged oil filters and sludge that is bad for your engine.

There's another reason the scheduled oil change is so important for Mishawaka car owners. It's simple – a THOMPSON AUTO DIAGNOSTIC professional is going to be looking at your car. All of your fluid levels will be inspected and topped off so they won't get so low that damage can be done. If there is a significant fluid loss, let's use brake fluid as an example, your THOMPSON AUTO DIAGNOSTIC technician can look for the cause of the loss and find the problem before it leads to an accident or repair.

Your friendly and knowledgeable THOMPSON AUTO DIAGNOSTIC service advisor will also visually inspect your vehicle for worn belts and hoses, uneven tire wear, leaking shock absorbers and more. Problems get addressed before they lead to repairs that cost more than the car's worth.

Realistically, things are going to wear out as your vehicle gets older. On the way to 200,000 miles (320,000 kilometers) you'll go through several batteries, probably a couple of alternators and water pumps, a set of shocks and likely some brake rotors.

Of course, these things cost some money, but they are less than new vehicle payments in Mishawaka. With proper service at THOMPSON AUTO DIAGNOSTIC and regular inspections, you'll keep surprise repairs to a minimum and more money in your wallet.

THOMPSON AUTO DIAGNOSTIC
1445 MCKINLEY AVE
Mishawaka, Indiana 46545
574-256-1001
http://autodiagnostic.com



How to Get Better Gas Mileage in Mishawaka

Posted July 17, 2017 9:40 AM

There is no escaping it: things work better when you take care of them. Something most of us in Mishawaka can relate to is our computers. You've probably noticed how they get slower and slower over time. It takes longer to start up and programs take forever to load. Eventually, many of us just get a new computer at our nearest Mishawaka computer store. But computer experts know that there are things you can do to delay the need for a new computer purchase. You can run utilities that clean off temporary files and clean your memory registry. You can optimize your hard drive and a number of other things.

What you're doing is maintaining your computer to make it efficient. It's the same thing with your vehicle. You maintain it to make it more efficient. It works the way it was designed to and that means it uses less fuel while you drive around Mishawaka. And you save money.

To help organize our discussion, let's think of things that rob us of fuel economy in two ways: increased friction and inefficient fuel combustion.

Friction. Anything that increases friction increases drag or load on the vehicle engine. It has to work harder to overcome the drag – and that takes more fuel. The first thing that comes to mind is engine oil. Low oil means there's not enough to fully lubricate the engine so there's more friction. Dirty oil won't lubricate as well as clean oil. The same principles apply to transmission fluid. Getting your oil changed and transmission serviced on schedule at THOMPSON AUTO DIAGNOSTIC will reduce friction and help you get better fuel economy.

Another friction related problem is underinflated tires. When your vehicle tires are low on air, it's like driving on Indiana highways through sand – your vehicle has to work harder to move every mile. Check your tire pressure at least once a month.

Wheels out of alignment and dragging brakes also increase friction. And your tires and brake pads will wear out much sooner as well. At THOMPSON AUTO DIAGNOSTIC, we provide quality brake and wheel alignment services.

Let's move on to Fuel. You have to get the right amount of clean fuel to the combustion chamber at precisely the right time. A dirty fuel system has varnish and gum interfering, and the fuel injectors may be unable to deliver the correct amount of fuel at the right pressure  and in the spray pattern — that the engineers intended. A vehicle fuel system cleaning at THOMPSON AUTO DIAGNOSTIC will get all of that working right and really improve fuel economy.

Replacing your fuel filter on schedule will help keep your fuel clean. Replacing a sticky PCV valve will allow unburned fuel from the engine to be returned to the intake system to be used. Replacing worn spark plugs will burn your fuel as efficiently as possible.

All of these things can help you save money on gas at Mishawaka pumps.

Give us a call.

THOMPSON AUTO DIAGNOSTIC
1445 MCKINLEY AVE
Mishawaka, Indiana 46545
574-256-1001
http://autodiagnostic.com



Upgrade Shocks for Better Handling in Mishawaka

Posted July 9, 2017 10:53 AM

Many Mishawaka drivers probably don't think of their shock absorbers as an important safety system; but that's just what shocks and struts are. They're all about ride control – keeping your vehicle tires in contact with the road and managing body motion.

Every time you hit a bump or pothole on a Mishawaka road, your tire wants to bounce up. The bigger the bump, the higher the bounce. Your shocks or struts push down on the tire to maintain the traction you need to start, stop and turn.

If you've ever ridden in a vehicle with bad shocks, you know how it wallows on corners. The front end dives when you hit the brakes and the rear end squats when you accelerate. It's not only uncomfortable, it is difficult to handle.

You may have heard vehicles described as having “flat cornering." That means that when you take a corner, the body doesn't roll very much. When shocks start to get worn, your vehicle will roll more on corners. The weight of your vehicle's body shifts and tosses your vehicle to the outside of the turn, making it harder to control.

With good shocks, you can turn corners with confidence. When the shocks are bad, the body rolls too much and you need to slow down to maintain the same level of control. When you have to combine brake dive with body roll, you can quickly end up with an unsafe handling situation.

Shocks can break or start to leak, but they usually just wear out. After all, your vehicle shocks will move up and down over 75 million times in 50,000 miles/80,000 km. If you replace shocks at THOMPSON AUTO DIAGNOSTIC in Mishawaka, it will restore your vehicle's original ride control and quality. You can even upgrade shocks and struts if you want better handling or towing capacity on Indiana roads.

Shocks are an important safety system: don't wait until they are completely shot, perhaps risking your safety or damaging other suspension components. At THOMPSON AUTO DIAGNOSTIC we can help you with quality shocks and struts as advised in your owner's manual, usually at around 50,000 miles/80,000 km, for a comfortable, safe handling ride in Mishawaka.

Give us a call.

THOMPSON AUTO DIAGNOSTIC
1445 MCKINLEY AVE
Mishawaka, Indiana 46545
574-256-1001
http://autodiagnostic.com



Stay Safe in Mishawaka by Putting Your Cell Phone on ICE

Posted July 2, 2017 8:41 AM

We don't want to think about it, but each Mishawaka resident who drives or rides in a vehicle is potentially an accident victim. In the worst-case scenario, those people are unconscious and unable to communicate with Indiana rescue workers.

Rescue workers and Mishawaka police are well aware of this difficulty, even if the rest of us don't stop to think about it. They can all recount stories of searching through glove compartments, pockets, wallets, purses and cell phone directories for a person's name and for contact information for someone who can help them get the person the medical care they need.

This contact information is critical in an accident because Mishawaka medical workers need to know about allergies and potential drug interactions. Also, in Indiana, some medical treatments can't be provided without authorization or consent, and there can be insurance and billing issues if the person's medical care is not properly arranged.

ICE provides a solution for these concerns. ICE stands for In Case of Emergency and is a way for others to quickly identify emergency contacts in your cell phone.

Bob Brotchie, a paramedic from Cambridge, England, developed the idea for ICE in 2005. It soon spread around the globe. The system is simple, affordable and highly functional. Mishawaka rescue workers can tell you that they can't always find purses and wallets at the scene of an accident. But these days, almost no one in Indiana goes anywhere without their phone.

To add ICE to your phone, simply put ICE in front of the names of those people who should be contacted in case you are in an emergency. For example, “ICE-Dad,” or “Ice-Deborah,” or “ICE-Dr. Mitchell.” Mishawaka rescuers can quickly identify and access this information, saving valuable time. The only thing Mishawaka drivers have to do after that is to keep their contacts current. Every time you change the batteries in your smoke alarm, it is a good idea to double-check your phone and make sure your ICE cell phone numbers are up-to-date. Of course, we'd rather avoid an accident in the first place. It's good advice to keep up with preventive maintenance (we can help you with that at THOMPSON AUTO DIAGNOSTIC in Mishawaka) and practice good car care and driving habits. Those can go a long way to keeping you safe on the road. Planning for the unthinkable helps your rescuers find the information they need quickly. Let's put the world on ICE.

 THOMPSON AUTO DIAGNOSTIC
1445 MCKINLEY AVE
Mishawaka, Indiana 46545
574-256-1001
http://autodiagnostic.com

 

 



The THOMPSON AUTO DIAGNOSTIC Guide to Saving Fuel: Car Weight

Posted June 25, 2017 10:42 AM

The team at THOMPSON AUTO DIAGNOSTIC in Mishawaka, and Indiana car owners are all talking right now. Better gas mileage. Fewer emissions. Mishawaka drivers want to save the environment and their pocketbooks.

And we all know—or should know—that preventive maintenance will help maximize fuel economy. But is there something more people in Mishawaka can do? After all, some of us folks can't cut back on our driving, and others would like to do more to economize.

Weight is one major enemy of fuel economy. The more you lug around in your vehicle, the more fuel you have to burn to get from point A to point B. And that means buying more gas in Mishawaka and producing more emissions.

Of course, your vehicle's weight isn't negotiable. And you can't do much about the weight of your passengers. And this isn't an article about diet and exercise.

But look around your vehicle. Are you hauling a bunch of unnecessary weight around? Do you really need your golf clubs every time you leave your home? Store sports equipment in the garage. Load it when you need it and store it when you don't. Who knows? The extra exercise just might reduce the other type of weight in your vehicle.

The same goes for anything else in your car: make-up kits, music collections, extra electronics, spare clothing; whatever your particular extras may be. Pack it when you need it; store it when you don't.

Clean out your trunk. You'd be surprised how much weight you're lugging around in plain old junk. Toss old papers, leftover food and regular old dirt. Even if it's not a lot of weight, you'll feel better when you get into your car. A good cleaning is also part of good car care.

Now, don't toss stuff you really do need. You do need that spare tire—the one in your trunk. And a kit of emergency essentials is not a bad idea. But just carry around the day-to-day essentials. You can pack a more extensive kit and store it in your garage, then toss it in your vehicle when you go on a longer trip, but you don't have to lug it around all the time. After all, are you a driver? Or are you a junk chauffeur?

Lose the junk and save some money in Mishawaka.

THOMPSON AUTO DIAGNOSTIC
1445 MCKINLEY AVE
Mishawaka, Indiana 46545
574-256-1001
http://autodiagnostic.com

 



It Pays to Take Care of Your Transmission at THOMPSON AUTO DIAGNOSTIC

Posted June 19, 2017 10:07 AM

If you've been paying attention, you've noticed that vehicle engines are getting more and more powerful in Mishawaka. At the same time, they are getting better and better fuel economy. I've gotta tell 'ya, most of that's because of technological advances in transmissions. To get a better understanding of why that is, let's talk bicycles.

You've probably seen plenty of cyclists on Mishawaka roads. Perhaps you ride yourself. Then you know that a cyclist's cadence is the number of times per minute he or she pedals. The ideal pedal speed is the zone where they can most efficiently generate power over a sustained period of time. The experienced Indiana cyclist uses her gears to keep her pedal speed in the ideal zone whether she's climbing a hill, cruising on a flat stretch or killing a downhill.

Think of it this way: if you have a 1-speed bike, you really have to pump hard to get up to speed. Your top speed is limited by how fast as you can pedal. And if you're climbing a steep Indiana hill – forget about it.

Now let's add a couple of gears: one lower and another one higher. With the lower first gear, you can get up to your ideal pedal speed more quickly. When you shift to second, your pedal speed drops below ideal for a while as you work to get back to peak efficiency. Same thing happens when you shift to third, but now you can go much faster than you could with a 1-speed bike using the same effort. Add more gears and you can see that it's much easier to maintain ideal pedal speed. The result, quicker starts, better hill climbing, higher top speed and, most of all, a lot less fatigue for the Mishawaka rider.

Like a cyclist on a bike, every vehicle engine has an ideal engine speed called its power band. When an engine is running in that zone, it can make power very efficiently. It's the vehicle transmission's job to keep the engine in the power band over a wide range of operating conditions. Today 5 or 6 speed automatic transmissions are pretty much the minimum, and 7 and 8 speeds are fairly common in Mishawaka.

Obviously these sophisticated transmissions are very expensive. In fact, next to your vehicle engine, your transmission is the most expensive component in your vehicle, so it pays to take good care of it. Your manufacturer has a recommended service interval for changing your old, contaminated transmission fluid. Servicing your transmission on schedule at THOMPSON AUTO DIAGNOSTIC keeps it operating at its best and can prevent costly damage. Ask your friendly and knowledgeable THOMPSON AUTO DIAGNOSTIC advisor if it's time for transmission service. Come see why smart Mishawaka drivers trust their transmissions to THOMPSON AUTO DIAGNOSTIC.

Give us a call.

THOMPSON AUTO DIAGNOSTIC
1445 MCKINLEY AVE
Mishawaka, Indiana 46545
574-256-1001
http://autodiagnostic.com



Tire Maintenance in Mishawaka

Posted June 11, 2017 7:04 AM

With the recent focus in the Mishawaka area on improving fuel economy, we've been told how important it is to maintain our tire pressure.

Mishawaka drivers know that tires wear out, but we want to make them last as long as possible because they're not cheap to replace. In addition to saving gas, properly inflated tires last longer. Underinflated tires will wear out more quickly.

Some people in Mishawaka wonder if they should add a few extra pounds of pressure when they fill up their tires. Bad idea. In fact, there are very good reasons not to overinflate your tires. For one, the middle of the tread will wear unevenly because the full tread is not contacting the road properly. That also adversely affects your handling.

Stop by THOMPSON AUTO DIAGNOSTIC to see about tire maintenance for your vehicle.

THOMPSON AUTO DIAGNOSTIC
1445 MCKINLEY AVE
Mishawaka, Indiana 46545
574-256-1001
http://autodiagnostic.com

Every vehicle in the Mishawaka area has a sticker on the driver's side door jamb that tells you the vehicle manufacture's recommended tire pressure. This recommendation is an integral part of the vehicle's suspension tuning. A lot of engineering actually goes into the recommended tire pressure, so it's important for drivers to follow it.

What else do Mishawaka drivers need to know about tire maintenance? Tire rotation and balancing are very important. Let's start with rotation. Because the front tires handle the brunt of turning forces, the shoulders of the front tires wear more quickly than the rear tires. At THOMPSON AUTO DIAGNOSTIC in Mishawaka, we rotate the tires so that they all get to do some duty on the front, and they'll all wear evenly over their live.

For most vehicles, front tires are rotated to the rear and vice versa. Others recommend a cross rotational pattern. Some vehicles use an asymmetrical tire so those tires need to stay on either the right or left side – it'll say which on the tire. Some high performance cars have asymmetrical tires and different sizes on the front and rear. These can't be rotated at all. Your owner's manual will have details for your vehicle or ask your service advisor at THOMPSON AUTO DIAGNOSTIC.

How often should people near Mishawaka rotate their tires? Your owner's manual will have a recommendation. Your technician at THOMPSON AUTO DIAGNOSTIC in Mishawaka can do a visual inspection to let you know if it looks like it should be done. The interval is typically around 5,000 miles/8,000 km.

You know, some people don't think new tires need to be balanced. What they aren't taking into account is the wheel. Between the wheel and the tire – even a new tire – there's enough variation to require balancing.

When you add the valve stem and tire pressure monitoring sensors required on new cars, balancing is definitely important. When a tire's out of balance, it's actually hopping down the road. Mishawaka vehicles with tires out of balance will feel the vibration through the steering wheel if a front tire's out of balance and through the seat if it's a rear tire.

Proper wheel balance promotes tire life and increases safety for Mishawaka drivers and their passengers. Historically, lead weights have been attached to the wheel to bring it into balance. Lead gives some environmental concern, so steel weights are starting to be substituted. 

The team at THOMPSON AUTO DIAGNOSTIC also wants to remind you that it is important to always use the same size tire on an axle. Different size tires on the front or on the back can lead to some real handling problems. And tire manufacturers recommend that when you get two new tires, they be installed on the rear because that's where you need the most traction to avoid spinning out.

 



When You Hear the Crash in Mishawaka: What to Do After an Accident

Posted June 5, 2017 9:00 AM

Motorists in North America drive about 3 trillion miles/4.8 trillion kilometers every year. There are over 250+ million licensed drivers, and approximately 6.2 million accidents happen every year. Unfortunately, if we're going to drive vehicles, there are going to be accidents. Knowing what to do in case of an accident can help reduce the stress and cost of the situation. It can also protect you from false claims, incorrect judgments and unjust liabilities.

Never leave the scene of an accident. This is a crime, even if the accident is not your fault. If you leave the scene, it is referred to as a “hit-and-run,” and the fines are steep in Indiana. You can even lose your driver's license or spend some time in jail. If someone has been injured in the accident, most laws require you to help them. You must call for help. If you can, you must also render first aid.

Call 9-1-1 or get someone else to call 9-1-1 as soon as possible. Tell the operator if there are injuries or any circumstances that require fire services, such as leaking gas, broken utility lines or, of course, flames. Put out flares, turn on your flashers or lift your hood to warn other Mishawaka motorists that there's been an accident.

File a police report. This can seem like a hassle when there are no injuries and only minor damage to vehicles. But you'd be surprised at the lawsuits and false claims that can arise from fender benders. You want a police report to protect yourself.

Don't talk about the accident with anyone except the police. After an accident, adrenaline is pumping and emotions are running high, and our first reaction is often to relive and recount our experience. Don't. Again, people can and will use your words against you, and in a highly emotional state, you may not say exactly what you mean. Entire court cases have hinged on the meaning of one misplaced word. Talk to the police. Don't admit guilt or fault, not to the police or to anyone else. People often feel guilt after an accident, but later, when details are analyzed, it turns out not to be their fault. Don't say, “I'm sorry,” but rather, “Can I help? What can I do?” Sympathy has often been misconstrued as an admission of fault. On paper, your words will sound more sterile than at the accident, and they can be used against you.

Collect contact information from everyone involved in the accident. Get the officer's name and badge number. Get the other driver's name, address, phone number, date of birth, driver's license number and expiration and insurance information. Get a description of the other vehicle as well as its license plate number and vehicle identification number (VIN). Most insurance companies don't keep records of license plate numbers, so the VIN is the best identifier you have of another vehicle.

This is going to be too much to remember once you're in an accident. So write down or make a note on your phone with the information you need.

Ask witnesses to wait for the police to arrive. If they can't, then get their contact information. Ask them to jot down what they saw. If witnesses refuse to give you their names, write down their license plate numbers. That way the police can find them if necessary.

After the accident, call your insurance company. Also, if you have or think you might have an injury that did not require immediate care at the accident, contact your physician right away.

There's a lot Mishawaka drivers can do to prevent accidents. Defensive driving. Good car care and preventive maintenance. But if an accident does happen in the Mishawaka area, we should be prepared to handle it well. It will ease the stress of the situation and protect us from potential legal and financial harm. Be prepared. It's good auto advice in every situation. Ask our pros at THOMPSON AUTO DIAGNOSTIC for more safe driving tips the next time you visit.

THOMPSON AUTO DIAGNOSTIC
1445 MCKINLEY AVE
Mishawaka, Indiana 46545
574-256-1001
http://autodiagnostic.com




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