Saturn S-Series Starting Problems

jarquerjarquer Member Posts: 3
edited October 2018 in Saturn
I have a 95 Saturn s-series with trouble starting when cold. Sometimes it take 5-10 minutes to get it started. When it does start it is all you can do to keep it running. I have had it to 2 different repair shops spending way too much to not have the problem fixed. No one seems to kow what to do or look for now. Help.


  • jbalcerakjbalcerak Member Posts: 3
    I noticed that you put up a message about your car not starting when it is cold outside back in december. Did you ever figure out what it was? I seem to be have the same problem with my car right now. It has been in and out of two different shops for the past two and half months.
  • wevridgewevridge Member Posts: 2
    dies on hwy. Replaced bad coil. Now won't start. Floods imediately 4 or 5 rotations. Spark is very weak---barelky a flicker. All reaing on scantool look good except on asynchpulse=no, don't know what that is.
  • katsam38katsam38 Member Posts: 2
    I am having great difficulty getting my car to start this morning. I had it started yesterday no problems and moved it forward in my driveway after a raging blizzard. Now, she wont start. She almost catches, but then nothing. I thought it was the battery so I got a boost...NADDA! I am wondering, that with the amount of snow and winds we had would that be a factor of why it wont start? It is cold today, and the sun just started shining. Could there be snow somewhere that I cant see? The tailpipe is clear and open, so it isnt that....any help would be appreciated.
  • jarquerjarquer Member Posts: 3
    Haven't figured it out yet, had several parts replaced that they thought was the cause, still doing the same thing. If I every get it figured out will let you know, and if you figure it out I would appreciate knowing what it was. Thanks :cry:
  • jbalcerakjbalcerak Member Posts: 3
    I got it fixed on tuesday.... it was the computer.
  • katsam38katsam38 Member Posts: 2
    Got mine fixed as well...first it was the spark plugs. I had her flooded after so many people "trying" to get her going. They were soaked with gas. So that was all good, came out 2 days later, and no start, not even a click. Starting motor....gone...had it replaced...went through that again 2 days later had it replaced again. Working great now....thanks though and hope yours keeps going! :)
  • bubbabollesbubbabolles Member Posts: 1
    My wife left the lights on last night which of course caused the car battery to die. This morning I tried to jump it, but it wouldn't respond to a jump. I would turn the key and there would be no clicking. The only thing that happened was that the dashboard lights, radio lights, cigarette light started blicking. Some of the lights on the outside also started blinking. They weren't my hazard lights either. So I got my battery checked and charged again. Although the battery was fine the same things happened again. No noise and blinking. The blinking only lasted for about 1 minute and then it stopped until i turned the key again. What is wrong?
  • tony52tony52 Member Posts: 1
    I hope someone can remind me what these symptoms mean:

    The battery in my 1996 SL2 discharged because the car was sitting for several months unused (I know, I know -- I should have disconnected the battery!).

    So I recharged it (pretty sure, anyway). Now the lights come on, etc. but when I turn the ignition the car cranks for about 1 second then stops cranking and there is a loud rapid clicking noise.

    I've seen this symptom before in other cars but I can't remember what they mean. Can anyone help?

    Thanks very much,
  • mazdamadmanmazdamadman Member Posts: 1
    don't know if u have fixed your code problem yet. i believe it is related to the crank positioning sensor. a synch pulse is the seventh pulse read thru the crank sensor when the number one cylinder is at top dead center(tdc). meaning that u have no reading of that pulse could be a bad crank positioning sensor. eventhough they rarely go bad
  • brently527brently527 Member Posts: 1
    I hope someone can help me. My '97 Saturn (104K) starts well in the morning. I drive home everyday about noon. When I try to start it, it cranks, and will eventually start, but it takes a good 8 to 10 seconds to get it going. The weather is hot when I have these problems, not sure if this has anything to do with it. Any thoughts?
  • oufan4oufan4 Member Posts: 3
    We purchased a 1998 Saturn coupe (80,000 miles now) for our daughter 2 years ago, was running ok (with the exception of the "check engine light" that comes on every once in a while.) But in the last year, she has had problems intermittently starting her car. There is no consistency and it doesn't matter if it is hot or cold, except it seems to happen more in the spring/summer(we live in Texas). It starts fine in the morning after sitting all night, then after school it won't start. This will happen for several days in a row, then it will be fine for weeks & months. Then it starts over again. She normally has to wait about 10 mintues then it will start.(all the electrically stuff works, radio, windows, locks, etc) Once or twice, it took longer to start. It has been to two mechanics--the first one could not find anything wrong, the second one is not sure. It only not started once for him, all other times it started right up. The second mechanic said the starter looked fine and it could be a ignition problem, but before we spend the $$$ on this...If anyone could shed some light on this, we'd appreciate. It's starting to become extremely frustrating. Also, could it be the security mode I read about on the internet? Thanks
  • cytotechcytotech Member Posts: 1
    I am having similar problems. It randomly wouldnt start one day. After I let it sit for an hour or overnight it started fine. I took it to a shop and it started everytime for them (engine was always cold).they told me they could find nothing wrong. After I drive it and get the engine hot is when it has problems. Im stuck.
  • oufan4oufan4 Member Posts: 3
    Interesting (but not surprising) someone else is also having same problems. The 2d mechanic said he finally narrowed it down to something in the ignition cylinder (?). Something about the key is turning but not far enough to get the car started only enough for the a/c, radio, power windows, etc to work. Unfortunately, he said only a Saturn dealer can fix it. The nearest for us is 2 hrs away and their service dept said the car will not have to work for them to see if that is really the problem. Not sure what we will do as this always happens at the most inconvenient time. Please post on this web site, if you ever get your problem fixed. I am interested to see if it is the same.
  • sailorbttrflysailorbttrfly Member Posts: 1
    My cars been through a lot, and now it won't start half of the time. It will turn but it won't start, and thoughts or comments? Also, I'll be driving on the freeway and all of a sudden the engine will start to idle roughly. The RPM will go up to like 6 when I haven't messed with the gas. Any comments on that?
  • wopahowopaho Member Posts: 1
    1997 Saturn Wagon keeps getting stuck in park. Push on brakes, rock the car, wiggle gear shift. Doesn't always lock in park. just every few days.
  • shorty4ft9shorty4ft9 Member Posts: 2
    :confuse: After sitting with the car running for a few minutes I popped the clutch on my Saturn. It immediately wouldn't start afterward. We tried jumping it off... wouldn't work. We took the battery to be tested and it was dead, so we bought another one. It wouldn't start. It turns over fine and then dies. The inside dash lights blink off and on as well as the outside lights when we open the door or try to start it. Everything is flashing for approx 30-60 seconds then stops. We have checked to make sure the motor is grounded, fuel filter & lines are clear. We checked the fuses, as well as all the spark plugs and wires. Can you tell us what we need to do?
  • shorty4ft9shorty4ft9 Member Posts: 2
    My car is doing the same thing. Did you find a solution for this problem?
  • shoppermomshoppermom Member Posts: 1
    Just purchased '98 SC1, paperwork from owner showed a new battery, starter and alternator check on 7/11/07. The car wouldn't start, put on the battery charger, but battery showed full charge. We had to jump start the car, drove to Batteries Plus where the battery was tested, and showed to be bad, alternator also tested came out ok. Now the weird part, the car needed to be jumped again to get it home, but would not start with the jumper cables. We had to push it and pop the clutch. Why would it start with the jumper cables one time, but 20 minutes later not start? I'm getting the battery replaced, but I'm wondering if it could also be - a) the ground cable from the battery, b) the crank position sensor, or c) the starter solenoid. I'm wide open to any and all ideas, I would like to narrow it down if I can before I sell a kidney to pay a mechanic to dig into this.
  • saturn56saturn56 Member Posts: 7
    Wow I am so glad to hear that I am not the only one with this aggravating promblem!...My 1995 saturn s2 coupe runs great except when I park it for awhile then want to get it started agion it wont start for a couple of mins.....just had a tune-up my mehanic tells me there nothing wrog...but it keeps happening!!!help!
  • saturn56saturn56 Member Posts: 7
    Having the same promblem,and my mehanic says there is nothing wrog!
  • smallvlesmallvle Member Posts: 1
    i've had my '95 Saturn SL 1 or 2, i can never remember, for a little over a year now, and every once in a while, it would not start, then i would try again, and it would start. but at the begining of this month, it just died. it wouldn't start, and my dad tried jumping it, tried pushing it and popping it in 4th gear, but finally we had to tow it. $300 and a new starter later, and it dies again yesterday. so i had to tow it again, and $153 and no more ignition-kill switch later, and it does the same thing tonight! i have to call my mechanic in the morning, but can anyone help me? i read somewhere that sometimes the fuel injector on these cars goes, and that causes starting problems, but i'm your typical girl, i only know how to start and drive a car, nothing else. please help!!!!
  • kdkaykdkay Member Posts: 2
    Many of you are experiencing the same strange problem as I was.1995 Saturn would start fine one day and the next it would not. This went on for several months and I could not find the problem....nor could anyone else.I finally found the answer.My fuel pump relay switch was bad.It is located in the fuse box next to glove comp. Simply swap it with one of the others in the fuse box and see if it starts. Also I had a problem with the cooling fan not working for quite some time and that ended up being the Temperature Control Switch and the Temperature Control Sensor, not sure which was causing the problem but I recommend changing both, they are only $9 Each and take about 5 min to change.They are on the driver side of the motor near the top rad hose.I was even told that they could affect your cold starts as well since they send a message when engine is cold to feed more gas. The combination of these 3 things solved both my always starts and cooling fan now works. Hopefully this will help atleast some of you..I know how frustating these problems were for me.
  • skausskaus Member Posts: 11
    Hi All
    Yesterday I was 95 miles from home and I had a transmission leak from the filter.
    I lost 3 qts of oil. I replaced the filter and put 3 qts back . The reason I looked under the hood was 2 fold. I kept stalling at my destination and the ABS light was on. The engine would stall only if I applied the brake pedal.

    Six hrs later in panic mode ,having to drive 85 miles back home I found 1 solution.
    Remove fuse from brake and I made it home. If I but the fuse back in and press the brake pedal the engine will die .

    Okay my transmission was soaked with oil. I cleaned off all oil. I checked the wiring harness and it was clean .

    **In front of transmission are 2 sensors or switches.
    If I look at wiring diagram it shows Brake transmission safety interlock ,Brake sense switch and stop light switch all in series. Could one of these be my problem?
    Another thing when I step on brake pedal the dash board left and right signals light up dimly .
    Please let me know what you think. Thanks
  • jlwilsonnnjlwilsonnn Member Posts: 1
    I believe it is "B" the CKP. aka crankshaft position sensor. Just curious, how did you get Crankshaft position sensor in there as on of your choices???
    Whether you jump started it or popped the clutch is inconsequential. What it needed both times is just a little time to cool down. The CKP sometimes overheats as it ages but its rare and tech's just haven't come across it. As it heats up the electrical properties change. The Impedance, measured in ohms, changes too much beyond tolerances to operate.
    Many messages in this string are, I believe, the same problem.
    I know, I had the same problem. Even had one tech tell me he thought it was the automatic transmission. :shades:
  • juliomex4everjuliomex4ever Member Posts: 13
    My Saturn doesnt have much of a problem the thing is when i try to start it it chugs and sometimes doesnt turn on. . Should i hold the key turned and continue chuggging it or stop cuz it might mess up the car. Also i think the problem could be old spark plugs is that the problem? This is my first car and i would like to know as much as possible in maintaining it. Its at 119,660 miles.
  • racermouseracermouse Member Posts: 6
    Just bought a 99 SL2. Had same problem many of you describe, sometimes would start right up and usually would take many attempts of cranking over before finally starting. kday post was exactly the cure, switching the relays. Now car starts right up every time. I researched extensively many forums and there were about 10 things I was gonna try that other people suggested. However, I logically determined that many of these were not the cause, and here is why:
    1- if the starter cranks but the engine won't start ( and then sometimes does) its not the starter.
    2- once the engine finally starts and then runs fine, its not the fuel pump, or ignition.

    I determined the most likely cause was something keeping fuel from reaching the engine to start it. And so it became an electrical switching type problem, and as mentioned previously, once started it runs fine, so not something that would keep it from running altogether, like a bad fuel pump.

    My hat is off to kday for finding a fix that involves not spending ANY $$$ to repair.
  • christyschristys Member Posts: 1
    hello all i hope some one has some insite to my issue.....
    okay have 1993 saturn sl1 recently engine light comes on but goes off after a few seconds then car stalled while in an intersection tried to start back up wouldnt start so i left and let it sit for a few hours came back car started with no problem drove is 15 minutes down the road stopped to get a bit to eat thinking it was a fluke went to start it suprise suprise wont start had to get a jump which took 10 minutes to do next day started it in drive way started right up but i was afraid of driving it for fear of being stranded again... any one have any ideas?????? :confuse:
  • carless08carless08 Member Posts: 1
    As a good Aunt I thought I was doing my 16 year old Niece a favor by buying her her first car a 1993 Saturn. It's turned into a nightmare. I purchased it about a year ago and it sat in my driveway until her birthday in the spring. I would go out and attempt to turn it over every so often and it would be dead. I figured it was from sitting so I charged the battery. When it became a consistent problem I brought it to my mechanic who said it was the battery. A new battery later the problem was still not resolved. There seemed to be something draining the battery so I began pulling out fuses. I thought I had it narrowed down to the rear window motor. Spring came and my niece recieved her gift.
    Through the warm months the car was dead a few times usually in the morning. She would have it jumped and then it would be OK. Through the winter months it's a daily occurrence. It's been in and out of the shop. Besides the new battery it's had a new starter, alternator and radiator but no one can seem to figure out what this problem is.
    The only other thing when it sat in my driveway the roof actually leaked( I had it sealed) water definitely got down the doors into the window mechnisms. The rear motor never worked.
    Any input would be greatly appreciated.
  • dylan01dylan01 Member Posts: 1
    Hi, my daughter has a 1999 Saturn, which only has 40,000 miles on it, so its in perfect condition (it was previously owned by my father). Anyway, when it is very cold, seems to be when uder 15 won't start. It's not the battery, it cranks fine. Had previously brought it to mechanic, who put it on computer diag and of course found nothing. I notice that I don't hear the Fuel Pump kick-in when I turn the is it possible that the pump "freezes up" ??? I have been told that its very unlikely that is happening...also unlikely that gas line is prob, and I have been using gas line anti freeze lately. Mechanic said that I may want to change Fuel pump if it keeps up, but we're talking about a 300. + job, since pump located in fuel tank....would hate to go that route, if thats not the prob. I've also tried rapping the fuel tank when this happens to see if I could give it a kick start. There is also a fuel pump relay somewhere. I guess I could try replacing that , although the Saturn dealer says that hes never seen one of those have problems. If anyone could give me a hint where that is located, I would appreciate it, as its not in fuse box with other fuses and relays. OK, If anyone has any suggestions, I'd appreciate it....Thanks !
  • kdkaykdkay Member Posts: 2
    I had the same problem with my 95 except it was doing it in the summer as well. It was the fuel pump relay. I didn't even buy a new one i just switched it with the HVAC relay and everything works fine. I have had some people reply and say that worked for them also, so yes they do go bad and computer diagnostics will not detect it. Did you check both fuse boxes? My 95 has a fuse box under the hood and under the dash next to glove box(which is where my fuel pump relay was). I'm not sure if mine just wasn't making good contact or what cuz my HVAC all work fine and that's where i put the relay that was originally the fuel pump one. Good luck to you, hopefully that is your problem and not the 300 fuel pump. If the car runs fine once it does start then it shouldn't be the fuel pump.
  • clifford59clifford59 Member Posts: 1
    i'm having the same issue with my 1993 sc2, did you find out your problem yet, i'm changeing the fuel filter tomorrow hopefully that does it
  • jarquerjarquer Member Posts: 3
    unfortunately I changed the fuel pump and some other parts that had been suggested and it still is not working properly. I switched out the relay fuses like someone suggested and seemed to work for awhile, then back to the same old thing. I am gong to buy some new relays and see if that cures my problem. Good luck. :(
  • racermouseracermouse Member Posts: 6
    Well, I thought that switching the fuel pump relays was the cure. I WAS WRONG! The problem reappeared. Since then I have replaced FP relay and FP fuse. Also went in from driver side to wiring to fusebox (behind center console) to check for loose wires into fusebox as had been suggested. No help there. Next thing I was gonna try was replacement of CKP (crank position sensor) since they are inexpensive ($13.99 at autozone) and also I would get a look at the starter as you need to remove it to replace the CKP.
    I just happened by the library today and found one of those huge Motor Repair Manuals ( like 5 inches thick) for GM 99-01. There was an 8 part section on
    Engine Crank- No Start. problem= intermittent start
    connect to OBD and check malfunction history
    check circuit 402.
    ALSO, it said that when you turn the key to ON (not to start) the fuel pump should run for 2 seconds (every time) This I knew and when I go to start mine I have the radio off so I can listen for it- weirdly though, sometimes mine would start without hearing the FP make a sound. I would wait for the stupid chime to stop (5 dings) and then it would start most times.
    I am still looking for a way to turn off the annoying chime, but don't pull the chime fuse, it kills the whole ignition sysytem.
    So, I had surmised I had a problem with the fuel pump and/or filter, and I was going to take the car into the dealer and see if they can pull up the 'malfunction history'
    and tell me what the 402 thing is, along with checking fuel pump and fuel pressure.
    On the way home, as I got off the freeway and came to a stoplight, it now developed the infamous CHUGGLE at idle. Jeez, you had to keep the thing at 2500 RPM to keep it from stalling. Since then I went out to the garage twice and started it, but it needs to rev at least 2500 rpm to keep from stalling. That's where I am now.
  • racermouseracermouse Member Posts: 6
    I don't know what all years this covers, mostly later 90's (mine is '99) but check yours- there are 2 fuseboxes. One is under the hood, other is on PASSENGER Side of center dash console (radio, A/C) it is a plastic door with velcro. put your finger in the hole and pull it off. on the backside of the door is a chart with all the locations of the fuses and relays. swap the FP relay with the one next to it (HVAC blower). When you turn the key to on you will hear it click. Also, there is an FP fuse (should be 10 red) under the Rear Window Defogger relay. Pull off the defogger relay, then pull the FP fuse and check it. Sometimes when mine won't start, pulling the FP fuse and then reinserting it makes it start (weird huh?) CAUTION- when you pull the FP fuse, it will cause your radio to lose all presets and turn your clock back to 12:00.
  • racermouseracermouse Member Posts: 6
    I've just gotten out of surgery on the knee, so there won't be any car repairing again soon. I do have an update on the chuggle issue since my last post.
    I got a can of CRC carburetor cleaner (use some good stuff, not a cheapie so it can blast) and removed the throttle body and sprayed it out and the idle air sensor screw. Then I re-removed the EGR and sprayed it out also. Upon removal of the EGR , I found a little chunk of carbon deposit stuck in its needle valve, which turns out was the culprit. I had previously cleaned out the EGR with a toothbrush and this must have dislodged the chunk.

    Even though I am still chasing the starting problem, since cleaning out the throttle body the car runs like it has a new engine. and the weirdness continues....
  • racermouseracermouse Member Posts: 6
    The next thing I was going to try was to replace the CKP (CPS) Crank Position Sensor, but I didn't want to start replacing part by part until I found the problem. So I went to a shop and had them do a diagnostic and OBD scan.
    Code 336- CKP sensor fault code signal intermittent.
    So I went to AutoZone and picked up one SU-185, only $13.99. This repair will be around $200 if you have a shop do it.
    Now I am 2 weeks out of knee surgery with a knee immobilzer on, and I crawled under that car and did it in 2 hours, WITHOUT removing the starter.
    NOTE: The bolt that holds it into the engine block was so loose I unscrewed it with my fingers. This most likely contributed to the failure of the CKP.
    If anyone out there wants to do this themself and need more info email me I can tell you how I did it w/o removing starter. Also, I got great info from a Youtube video. There is a guy that has over 120 Youtube vids on saturn repairs of all types, and he is very good.
    my email : [email protected]

    repair vids>
  • krisbj22krisbj22 Member Posts: 1
    I have a 2001 Saturn SL sedan. Frequently, I'll take a short drive to the store, the bank, etc. park, turn the car off, come back 15 minutes later, turn the key and nothing happens. The battery is fine, the radio runs, all lights turn on, door locks function, but the car will not turn over. Absolutely nothing happens.

    I have noticed that it seems to be related to the temperature. It only seems to happen on warm days. I've taken it in to be looked at by both the dealer and a private mechanic. They all seem to think it's the starter, but I don't agree. The car starts just fine most of the time.

    Anyone else have this experience or have any insight?
  • racermouseracermouse Member Posts: 6
    hey krisbj22, while researching my problem, (and I did alot of research!!) I found that Saturns typically run hot. This of course causes many engine parts and accessories to prematurely fail. It is well known in the Saturn repair circle that starter windings develop dead spots and solenoids burn out frequently. If you are of the mechanically inclined, remove your starter and solenoid and take it to your local Autozone where they will bench test it for free.
    Good luck!!
  • masters142masters142 Member Posts: 2
  • paul03paul03 Member Posts: 4
    Help me please! My girlfriend bought a 95 sl1 and It ran fine for a while exept for a wierd idle when she stops. I checked the vaccume lines and there all fine. Just recently she was having trouble tring to start it. She has to push the gas pedal to the floor to get the car to start. When she goes into reverse or forward the car stalls and frequently stalls while she drives it. I told her to turn the key to the run position and wait 10 seconds then start it ,and that only works sometimes.By the way the car does not have a check engine light on if that helps any. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
  • saturn56saturn56 Member Posts: 7
  • paul03paul03 Member Posts: 4
    I tried doing the hvac relay swap and that did not help. I can hear the fue pump start up too. I cleaned the throttle body and the sensor with the spring the were really gumed up but that did not help. Mabey fuel filter? or bad Injectors?
  • 442dude442dude Member Posts: 373
    Its a common problem on the S-series...check the ECTS (engine coolant temperature sensor) - Located on the right side of the engine as you look at it from the front, on the block just below the head...easy fix, should cost you about $ 25.00 and take about 15 minutes...They redesigned them after 1995 because of the frequent failures. Make sure the new one you buy has a brass, not plastic tip. Also check the connector, if its corroded you may need to replace it as well.
  • dan138dan138 Member Posts: 1
    could this be the same solution for my problem? my 2002 SC2 will start but after a few seconds the idling will be 0. After starting again for a few times and put a little bit of will be ok...I really need help here.
  • 442dude442dude Member Posts: 373
    HI Dan...sorry I didn't see this sooner...hope you've resolved the problem by now...

    The ECTS on these cars has been blamed for it your problem...I'm not sure.

    Is your check engine light on? Or has it come on recently?
  • paul03paul03 Member Posts: 4
    I replaced the ects today when I did an oil change it did not solve the problem you still have to press the gas to the floor and it has an erratic idle. Any ideas ?
  • 442dude442dude Member Posts: 373
    Did you check the connector for corrosion? The connectors get messed up from the coolant leaking can tell if its messed up by the green color on the contacts of the connector.

    Are you saying that you have to floor it to start it or to keep it running? Your throttle body might need to be cleaned, they're known to get funky from all of the oil mist flying around in the PCV system...just a thought...but first:

    Is your check engine light on?
  • lavey84lavey84 Member Posts: 1
    I noticed a few weeks ago after I filled up my gas tank that my car wouldn't start. I recently got a tune-up and the car ran fine but then the next day I drove to work, went out to lunch and when it was time to go home the car wouldn't start. I tried to start the car again and the car started and I let the car idle for 30 minutes, when I put the car in gear it shut off again. I ended up getting the car towed back to the dealership and they told me that they couldn't find anything wrong. They said that it might have been the gas. I put a fuel injection treatment in the car and it worked fine. I thought the problem was fixed but once again I filled the car up and had the same problem. I can't even turn the air on, because when I turn the air on the car has a problem starting. I thought about getting a fuel injection treatment, because the only time that the car seems to work is when I put a fuel injection treatment in it.

    Any suggestions? :confuse:
  • paul03paul03 Member Posts: 4
    Yea I cleaned the throttle body It was covered in oil or carbon and I saw no sign of corrosion on the wire or contacts and you have to push the pedle to the floor to start sometimes you have to start it twice. No the check engine light is not on. I am good with cars too I just pulled the motor and tranny out of my 03 civic si and fixed many problems not going into detail and put it back in and ran fine the first time I started it been good for 4000k now. These saturns are starting to piss me off.
  • 442dude442dude Member Posts: 373
    Remove and check the EGR valve...they tend to get filled with carbon and the pintle will stop moving. You can clean it and put it back in, use carb cleaner or any cleaner of your choice, just make sure that the pintle moves freely...if they're carboned up you won't always get a check engine light even though there's a problem.
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