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09
Aug

Using The Correct Motor Oil Weight in your Acura and Honda Automobiles

Everyone knows that lubrication is critical in all internal combustion engines. Because of this, motor oil companies spend millions of advertising dollars each year to convince you that their products are superior to their competitors brands. Regardless of whether you prefer to buy your oil in a yellow container, a white container, or a gray container; regardless of your thoughts about conventional oils vs. partial or full synthetics; the most critical thing is the weight of the engine oil.

Honda and Acura engines are machined at very tight tolerances.This is one of the reasons they are known for their longevity and are legendary for their ability to accumulate high mileage over the vehicle’s lifetime. It is extremey important to always have adequate lubrication. If you have a Honda or Acura that calls for 5w20, then only use 5w20 motor oil. It doesn’t matter what your hot-rodder buddy says about 5w20 being too thin. He isn’t a Honda Engineer. If you choose to use 5w30, 10w30, 10w40, or 20w50 “racing oil”, in a Honda or Acura that calls for 5w20, you will literally starve the internal engine parts of adequate lubrication.

The engineers at American Honda Motor Company know what they are doing. For maximum fuel efficiency, maximum engine life and dependability, always adhere to the recommended weight of motor oil. This information can always be found in the owners manual and usually on the oil filler cap of many Honda and Acura automobiles.

Here at Accurate Automotive, every member of our Service Department’s technical staff has been previously employed as a technician at various franchised Honda and Acura dealerships in and around Nashville, Tennessee. Because of their dedication and passion involving the care and maintenance of our service customer’s Honda and Acura automobiles, our technical staff is adamant about the use of the proper fluids. This includes the correct application of engine oils, automatic transmission fluid, power steering fluid, and engine coolant.

We often tell folks to come in and see why we are the best place in Middle Tennessee to purchase and service your Honda and Acura automobiles. We personally invite you to come in and view our inventory of Honda and Acura automobiles. While you are here, ask us to show you around the Service Area as well. We seriously believe that after you see the quality of our inventory cars, our drive-thru (write-up) Service Bay, and the 8 bay Service Department; you will agree that Accurate is the best place to purchase and service your Honda and Acura automobiles.

Below is a list of engine oil weight applications:

Honda Accord (both V6 and 4 cyl.) 5W30 (’92 thru ’97) 5w20 (’98 thru 2010)

Honda Civic Hybrid 0w20

Honda Civic Si 5w30 (’99 & ’00) 5w20 (’02 thru 2010)

Honda Civic (all others) 5w30 (’92 thru ’95) 5w20 (’96 thru 2010)

Honda CRV 5w30 (’97 thru ’01) 5w20 (’02 thru 2010)

Honda Del Sol (DOHC VTEC) 10w30 (’94 thru ’97)

Honda Del Sol (all others) 5w30 (’93 thru ’97)

Honda Element 5w20 (’03 thru 2010)

Honda Insight 0w20 (’00 to 2010)

Honda Odyssey 5w30 (’95 thru ’01) 5W20 (’02 thru 2010)

Honda Pilot 5w20 (’03 to present)

Honda Prelude (DOHC VTEC) 10w30 (’93 thru ’96) 5w30 (’97 thru ’01)

Honda Prelude (All Others) 5w30 (’92 thru ’01)

Honda S2000 10w30 (’00 to 2009)

Acura CL (V6 and 4 cyl.) 5w30 (’97 thru ’99)

Acura 3.2 CL 5w30 (2001 only) 5w20 (2002 and 2003)

Acura Integra (includes GSR) 5w30 (1992 thru 2001)

Acura Legend 5w30 (1992 thru 1995)

Acura MDX 5w30 (2001 and 2002) 5w20 (2003 thru 2010)

Acura RDX 5w30 (specifically calls for “Mobil 1 or equivalent”)

Acura NSX 10w30 (1992 thru 2005)

Acura 3.5 RL 5w30 (1996 thru 2004)

Acura RL 5w20 (2005 thru 2010)

Acura RSX (Type S) 5w30 (2002 thru 2006 Type S only)

Acura RSX (except Type S) 5w20 (2002 thru 2006)

Acura 2.5 TL 5w30 (1996 thru 1999)

Acura 3.2 TL 5w30 (1995 thru 2001) 5w20 (2002 and 2003, includes Type S)

Acura TL 5w20 (2004 thru 2010)

Acura TSX 5w30 (2004 thru 2010)

Acura Vigor 5w30 (1992 thru 1994)

 

20 Responses to “Using The Correct Motor Oil Weight in your Acura and Honda Automobiles”

  1. 1
    Jim Osborn Says:

    My local Honda only repair shop has on all my many receipts for oil changes that they have used 10W30 oil. “Jiffy Lube” has on all their reciepts that they use 5W20. I have an ’02 Odyssey with 123,000 miles on it. The engine seems in perfect condition and runs great. I thought I could easily get 300,000 miles or more on this vehicle, but now I wonder about the Honda only repair folks. Have they shortened the life of my Odyssey engine? Be honest, please don’t protect them, because I am sure they must feel very strongly about their decision to use the thicker oil. Thanks for your comments and professional help. I love your comments above about Honda engineers design and specifications. We should always check with the folks who created the engines, not from old Uncle Charley.

    Oklahoma, U.S.

  2. 2
    ebrian Says:

    Hello Mr. Osborn,

    Your local repair shop is wrong. They are using the incorrect oil weight in your 2002 Honda Odyssey if they are putting 5w30 in it.

    I do not have a 2002 Honda Odyssey owners manual but I do have a 2004 Honda Odyssey owners manual and that manual clearly states, “always use a premium grade 5w20 detergent oil displaying the API Certification Seal”.

    There is also a chart in this owners manual, next to the quote above that illustrates that 5w20 is the proper weight of oil in ambient temperatures (below -20 deg.F thru well over 100 deg.F)

    Again, I do not have the 2002 owners manual but this information is on page 211 in an ’04 Honda Odyssey owners manual.

    Honda began recommending 5w20 in the Honda Odyssey in 2002.

    As for engine damage, I have no idea. I can find no information in the manuals that indicates that the use of 5w30 is acceptable in any engines that Honda has specified the use of 5w20, but if I were you, I would not immediately go out thinking that I’ve got to get rid of my 2002 Honda Odyssey. I would go out and get some 5w20 oil and a Honda filter and perform that service….today.

    If you continue to use this particular shop, I would highly recommend supplying your own oil. That should ensure the correct weight of oil is being used for future oil changes. Incidently, there is a noticable difference in fuel efficiencey between the use of 5w20 and the use of 5w30…. in some cases 1 to 2 MPG.

    Thanks for your comments and I hope this helps.

  3. 3
    Mark Newsted Says:

    Ok,

    As a new Honda CRV Owner you have convinved me that 5W20 is definitely the best weigh oil to use. But now what is the best 5W20 to use ?? Castrol, Penzoil, Quaker State, Amzoil etc. What brand of Oil do you use ??

  4. 4
    ebrian Says:

    Hello Mark,

    I will be writing a separate blog post on this subject but I’ll give you a preview. The brand of oil that you wish to use in your CRV is really your preference. However. once you pick an oil, try to stick with that brand because using different brands of oil may have adverse chemical reactions, due to the various additives that can be in the different brands of oil.

    Today’s motor oils are rated by the American Petroleum Institute (API). In the rating of the oils, the API uses a grading system on an “S” scale (for spark, gasoline engines) and “C” scale (Compression, diesel engines). On the back of the container of all major oil brands, there will be something that looks similar to “API Service SM,SL, SJ,SH”. Again, you may also see a C rating in there as well. As I said earlier, the “S” rating is for gasoline engines and the further down the alphabet the second letter is, the better the oil is. For example, SF oil would be considered an inferior motor oil in todays standards. Currently, most major brands (including conventional, partial synthetic, and fully synthetic motor oils) will be SM / SL and that is the important thing. Thanks for looking at our blog posts.

    Ed

  5. 5
    Zam Kam Says:

    What exactly do you mean by “adverse chemical reactions” when changing brands? I’d like to know because I bought a 2002 TL-S last month but I don’t know what type of oil the previous owner was using. What’s going to happen after my next oil change? What’s the worst case scenario? Thick black smoke coming out the exhaust pipe? Engine melting? Car exploding?

  6. 6
    ebrian Says:

    The “adverse chemical reactions” that can occur with using different brands of motor oil basically cause the foundations for sludge.

    Regardless of what brand or brands were put in the engine prior to your ownership, if you do not know the previous brands, simply use your choice of a major brand that you will be using through-out your ownership.

    Most brands use very similar chemical additives for detergents, and anti-friction properties. The problem arises when a car owner changes brands constantly and bases the brand choice on “what’s on sale”.

    Don’t do that….Stick with one brand and you will be fine.

  7. 7
    Jon Nicks Says:

    I have a 95 Acura Interga LS with about 140,000 miles. Can’t recall the brand or weight of synthetic oil my regular mechanic installed. One day, however, I noticed that all the oil was gone, with no detectable leak to speak of. This had never happened before. What gives? I mean the thing was absolutely dry. A couple of questions: Does synthetic oil, which my mechanic recommends, any better or worse for performance and engine longevity? Since replacing the regular oil with the synthetic, the car seems to run more effortlessly. Still, could be that the mechanic is out to make another buck? Anyway, went to the local franchise auto supply store. They were adamant that I needed a 10w 40 synthetic, because of high mileage. Can this be true? That is, should I use synthetic at all? And, if so, what is the proper weight. Would the weight be the same as regular oil, and, if not, why not? I hope I asked intelligent questions. Thanks! Jon

    P.S. A couple of other questions on fluids. With an automatic what can be expected when the transmission oil/fluid is changed in a manual. How often should the fluid/oil be changed? The same two questions apply to the break fluid. The mechanic wants me to change both. Since it’s a used car, I don’t really have any way to determine when the the transmission fluid was changed. Is there any tale-tale to look out for. Thanks again.

  8. 8
    ebrian Says:

    Hey Jon,

    You have asked some good questions.

    First of all, American Honda has never recommended the use of 10W40 weight motor oil in your engine, so that is some bad advice you are getting from your auto parts supplier. Your vehicle takes 5W30 all year around, Honda does allow the use of 10W30 during the summer, if you live in an area where temps rise daily above 100 degrees F and you simply want to use the 10w30…However, Honda still says that even in high temps, your engine is still protected with the 5w30.

    As far as synthetic goes, it won’t make a big difference. We have found that Honda Civics, Honda Preludes, and Acura Integras, which are all geared low for good acceleration, are also very high RPM engines. Over time, this operation at higher rpms does wear on the top of the cylinder walls. This extra clearance sends some of the compression produced in the combustion chamber, into the crankcase. This results in pressure that must bleed off through the PCV (positive crankcase valve). This pressure is released into the intake, to enable the engine and CAT to burn any hydrocarbons out before sending it into the air….This constant pressure release takes some oil with it. The reason you do not see smoke coming out of your tail pipe is because the CAT cleans it up first….But you probably have some residue (a dry black dust on the rear bumper above the tailpipe), where the exhaust has blown some of it back on the car. Your engine is using some oil and with synthetic being more expensive, I would simply use a good conventional 5w30 during the winter…..And check it every fuel tank fill up to get a idea of the rate of oil consumption. DO NOT use a thicker oil to prevent oil consumption…Remember that the first job of oil is to lubricate and the camshafts are critical because they are the furthest from the oil pump. If you use thicker oil, you will have wear on the cylinder head, where the camshafts are spinning. Simply check and top-off the oil when you fill the gas tank. But I still recommend that you change the oil every 3000 to 3750 miles…That is 3000 miles if you do mostly short trip driving and 3750 if the majority of your daily driving includes 25% to 50% highway driving, or where you drive long enough to get the engine to operating temp for longer than 30 minutes.

    On your other questions, you were not clear on the transmission that is in your car, but here you go….The automatic transmission fluid should be changed every year, or every 15,000 miles (whichever comes first) and you should only use the Genuine Honda Fluid. This is very important. Do not use a generic Dextron fluid. Use the Genuine ATF fluid (part # 08200-9001). If you have a manual transmission, you can use 10w30 motor oil, 10w40 motor oil or the Honda manual transmission fluid…I recommend the Honda Manual Trans fluid (part# 08798-9031) because we have found a difference in shifting quality in cold temps when the Manual transmission fluid is used instead of just motor oil. The manual transmission fluid should be drained and filled every 30,000 miles in higher mileage cars. Whether you have a manual or automatic transmission, you will only need 3 quarts (and it won’t require all of the 3rd quart, regardless of transmission).

    By experience, I can tell you that the 1995 Acura Integra already has a weak brake master cylinder, so maintaining brake fluid quality is important. The brake fluid should be changed every 30,000 miles as well and you should use DOT 3 or DOT 4. DO NOT USE DOT 5. Also, if you do not do this correctly, you will be replacing a brake master cylinder next summer when the outside temps rise because your brake pedal will be creeping to the floorboard, while you are sitting a traffic light. This would be the result of bleeding the system which can tear and / or nick the seals in the bore of the master cylinder, resulting in internal fluid leakage from chamber-to-chamber. The fluid does need to be changed every 30,000 miles, but DO NOT flush the brake system or bleed the system. Simply pull the old brake fluid out of the master cylinder reservoir, clean the screen, and put the new fluid in.

    Hope this helps

  9. 9
    Polo Meza Says:

    Hello,

    I recently bought my 2005 CR-V, the last and only owner did all maintenances at the dealer, but I see that the dealer always had put 10w30 oil, like referece, here in McAllen TX, the winter is about 30 F, but we have like 3 months about 95 F, and like two or three day in the 108 F grades, I’ve read manual ownership and you states the same, recommends 5w20 (below -20 deg.F thru well over 100 deg.F), it will be safe to put that oil???? even at 108 F??? or for that reason the dealer puts 10w30??

    any help?

  10. 10
    ebrian Says:

    Hello Polo,

    10W30 is twice as thick in cold weather and when the manufacturer is calling for 5w20, it is the wrong oil weight for several reasons.

    Whether it has done internal engine damage or not, I have no idea but you need to stick with the 5w20 motor oil.

    Sorry to be so negative, but there is a lot of people out there that would be amazed that the number of dealers do not use the correct motor oil brands and weights as recommended / required by the manufacturer.

    Ed

  11. 11
    Randy B. Says:

    Please tell me this then, why is it that in Japan, the L15A (07 Fit) motor uses 10w30 or 5w40 weight oil straight from the Honda Japan owners manual? 5w20 is only used for CAFE regulations and emissions crap. In Europe, nearly ever Honda owner’s manual I have came across recommended either 5w30, 5w40 or 10w30/40… So which Honda should we be listening to? The one who has our engine’s longevity in mind? or the one who has the emissions and keeping the feds happy in mind? What’s further more, the Civic Si requires 5w30 and the S2000 requires 10w30 as per the Honda USA owners manual, and clearly those engines have the exact same (if not TIGHTER) tolerances than the other engines…

  12. 12
    ebrian Says:

    Hey Randy,

    I must disagree with you about the S2000 engine being manufactured at the same (or even tighter) tolerences…That simply isn’t true. This engine consumes a little oil, straight out of the box and because the S2000 has a powerband effect at the 6000 RPM mark, it is being operated at much higher RPM levels.

    As for CAFE standards: What would using a thinner engine oil have to do with an engine producing less emissions? The answer is one word “friction”.

    You cannot have it both ways:

    Many folks will say that 5w20 motor oil is too thin and that it will break down when the engine is being operated in higher RPM levels. But, if the oil was breaking down and not giving adequate lubrication, the engine would be consuming more fuel…because of excessive friction.

    On the other side of the coin; if you use a heavier weight of crankcase oil in a Honda engine that calls for 5w20, it will consume more fuel….The reason that has been given is because the engine has been machined to much tighter tolerences and the heavier oil will not properly and completely lubricate (flow) to the entire crankcase bearing surfaces….leading to added and unnecessary friction.

    I don’t know about you claims involving the Japanese & European side of Honda and nor does it matter…The U.S. version of the Civic stopped using a carburetor and went to fuel injection in all models of the Civic in 1988. Well into the 90s, Japanese Civic models were still using a carburetor and even a vacuum advance type of distributor. And many of the other Japanese versions of Honda products are not even seen in this country.

    The fact is, that the guy that builds the engine says to use this weight of engine oil. I am not an engineer and I have 5w20 oil avaialable where I am. In fact, the Castrol 5W20 motor oil that our service department buys in bulk is actually a little cheaper than the 5w30 weight.

    With American Honda saying this is the proper oil to use, with it being available, and with the cost being the same; Why wouldn’t you use the correct weight of engine oil?

    Honda designed it…..Use what they recommend in the crankcase….It’s couldn’t be more simple than that.

    Ed

  13. 13
    Queenie Says:

    Ed, what are my recourse at the dealer if I discover that they are using the wrong weight of oil? Their invoice does not state what type of oil used. They state that their invoice system doesn’t put the specific weight on the invoice. I would expect that they would know what the best oil to use since they are the dealer/service people. But I’m finding that they are using different weights each time I have my oil changed.

  14. 14
    ebrian Says:

    Don’t just go to any franchised Honda or Acura dealer without checking them out first….Just as you would with any other automotive shop.

    That blue sign with an “H” on it does not mean that they “can do no wrong”. In fact, many times these dealers could not conduct business in the manner at which they do, if they didn’t have that manufacturer’s sign to hide behind.

    This is becoming painfully evident with the number of former GM dealers that had to close up because they lost their franchises a few months ago with the GM reorganization…..Just because these dealers were no longer a “franchised dealer”, did not mean that they could not service GM vehicles as an “independent dealer that “specialized” in those brands…..But many of them knew that their current business practices and conduct would not be acceptable and they would not be able to stay in business if they were not a franchised dealer….unless they started treating their customers much better, which they were obviously unwilling to do.

    Another thing that you need to know is that American Honda rarely interferes with a franchised Honda dealer’s service department (unless it is a new car warranty situation)….. If you have a problem with a Honda franchised dealer, the American Honda customer service representitives in Torrence, CA will tell you to talk with the service manager of the dealership….So again, your relationship with your local Honda dealer is between you and the manager of that dealer…Honda basically says that in this relationship, “three would be a crowd”

    Finally, oil weight is critical…..And Honda produced their engines to take one weight of oil under a very wide range of temperature changes…In other words: winter, spring, summer, or fall; the same weight oil can be used during an oil change….unless you live where extreme temperatures are present (look in your owners manual for these extreme temperture-to-oil weight adjustments). The fact that this dealer uses different engine oil weights would make me think that they don’t care and that they use different weights of oil, based on the best price of the oil from their supplier….In other words, “whatever makes the most profit for them” is what they will use….This could result in different oil weights and different oil brands being used, depending on what was “on sale” when they filled their bulk oil tank the last time.

    I don’t blame you at all for wanting the weight of oil that was put in your vehicle to be documented on your invoices…..That is very responsible and smart.

    If I were you, I would find another place to get my oil changed.

    Ed

  15. 15
    rocky Says:

    I have a 1996 Acura 2.5 TL. It has 300,000 original miles with no problems. However, at a recent trip for an oil change the tech said I needed to put 5 w30 oil & not 10 w 40. Is that correct considering the high mileage of the car?

    The reason 10w40 had been put in by a former mechanic was because there was an oil leak that at the time couldn’t be located and he said with 10w40 it would drip slower. The leak has since been found and corrected. What is the right oil viscosity with such high mileage? Thanks 4 your help.

  16. 16
    ebrian Says:

    At no time (regardless of mileage) does the manufacturer specify 10w40 engine oil in a 1996 Honda or Acura crankcase. 10w40 motor oil is thicker and I could see how that would leak slower….. But tar is also a petroleum based liquid and it is also thicker and would also leak slower than 5w30 engine oil, so why not use it?

    The key to using the lower weigh oil is for lubrication purposes. 10w40 (like tar) is too thick and that is why Honda specified the thinner weight of oil.

    You may want to find a new mechanic.

  17. 17
    Colin Says:

    Hi Ed
    Your insight has been really helpful, thanks. I live in a country thats is constantly over 85 degrees except for a couple of days in a year and i have a Honda CRV 2003 model and have been using 5w20 engine oil i have been told recently i’m killing my engine and that i should put 30 in as soon as, it has made me kind of worried that i may have done some damage to my engine with 5w20 in a tropical climate. Any advise would be appreciated,
    Thanks

  18. 18
    ebrian Says:

    5w20 is the specified oil weight for temps ranging from -20 degrees F to well over 100 degrees F….. 5w30 is never mentioned, recommended or specified. Keep using the specified weight of 5w20 engine oil.

  19. 19
    fish Says:

    The comments are very useful. My situation is not too different from the others that have made comments. I own a 2007 Camry with a four cylinder and read as much information as possible to insure long engine life/maximum gas mileage. I have used synthetic oil since purchasing new, the car has 47,000 miles on it. The manual says use 0w20 or 5w20 and i have adhered to this. Additionally the owners manual says change every 5,000 miles which i have adhered to. Not too long ago i called the dealership to make an appointment to correct the gas pedal size, this is apparantly what caused the acceleration problems, however, during the course of the conversation the service tech said Toyota has recented changed the oil change requirements to 10,000 miles, if, synthetic oil is used. I asked a mechanic if i could use a 5w-30 oil, and he said that may cause the engine to smoke due to the tight tolerances and he said this oil even though it is slightly thicker could change the position of the piston in the cylinder, and could allow oil to leak past the rings and could cause smoke. He said why take a chance, stay with either 0w-20 or 5w-20 and use a high quality filter with an anti drain back valve. I read many articles about which oil to use and if they carry the ILsac (5)& SM rating then there’s not suppose to be one brand that is better than the other. I was also told that if i use an extended life oil filter that captures 99.9% dirt and can hold 19+ grams of dirt, then it should filter the oil effectively for up to 10,000 miles. I used to be one that changed the oil every 3,000 miles,with dino. I now use 100% synthetic and go 5,000-10,000 and we’ll see what happens. Our 2001 Accord has 125,000 miles with no problem, and the 2007 Camry 47,000 miles with no problems, other than the loud injectors that the service guy said all the late model Camrys have. He also said the transmission fluid is lifetime. I still havn’t figured out how they can make a lifetime transmission fluid.

  20. 20
    ebrian Says:

    Ow20 engine oil and 5w20 engine oil are both already a partial synthetic…. It simply has to have synthetic properties to be that thin. I would not use the thicker oil (especially in the winter time)…. 5w30 is simply too thick for the tighter tolerances and it will not lubricate properly.

    You are correct on the SAE “S” catagory located on the oil container…. The further down the alphabet that you go, the more refined the oil is…. I am a little over 40 years old and remember SF oil being on the shelf when I was in highschool… ‘S’ stands for spark (gasoline engine)…. the ‘C’ rating stands for compression (diesel engine)…. Some oils will have both an S rating and a C rating, such as Rotella T.

    Dirt inside of an engine is sort of an urban legend….. How does ‘dirt’ get into the crankcase? Even a dirty air filter will only put dirt in the combustion chamber and ‘eat-up’ the piston rings… What the oil filter is filtering is solidified oil that has been too hot, or it is solidified because it has had an excessive amount of moisture added to it (remember a by-product of internal combustion engines is steam) and if it has ‘sludged-up’ it has been exposed to a lot of moisture because it has been in the engine too long…. the other source of dirt in the engine are impurities in the bottle of oil, that you are pouring in the engine…. The only other thing that would be filtered are pieces of the engine….. And that is lack of lubrication and normal wear (such as during the initial ‘break-in period’ when the vehicle is new).

    We recommend oil changes be performed every 3750 miles with the most conventional engine oil we can get… We use regular Castrol GTX in our shop and it has the exact same SAE ‘SM” rating as the most expensive synthetic oil.

    Finally, as for the lifetime ATF, automatic transmision fluid is used in hydraulic application in transmissions and again the only ‘dirt’ comes from within…. In theory, the things that ATF does is: it stays cool enough to properly lubricate the hard parts (valves in the valve body, the case bearings, planetary gears, ect.), it keeps fluid pressure under operation (which means the fluid itself has a sealing property to it), and it protects and keeps the internal rubber seals in the transmission lubricated …. In reality, it also suspends tiny pieces of material (such as the clutches in the clutch pak as they wear)… The construction of your Toyota transmission is completely different, than the Honda transmission…. The Honda transmission does not have a pan, nor does it have a filter…. Drain and fill the Honda ATF every year or 15,000 miles (whichever occurs first)… And only use Genuine Honda ATF when filling back up to the proper level. I also recommend that the fluid in the Toy transmission gets changed every 30,000 miles… Take the pan off the Toyota transmission to dump the fluid and install a new pan gasket during re-assembly…. You can also install a new filter at that time if you wish, because with the pan removed, there is the filter…. Then, simply properly fill with the Genuine Toyota fluid.

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