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How to Drive a Manual Transmission — Cars.com

How to Drive a Manual Transmission — Cars.com


so you want to drive a car with a manual
transmission well I have bad news and good news the bad news is there are
fewer models on the market now than ever before that have a proper three peddle
manual transmission the good news is the ones that do offer the feature are
easier to learn on then old cars were whether you’re going to drive a new car
or an old car I commend you and I’ll get you started now the first part of the
lesson is I’m going to explain what’s going on when you’re operating the
manual transmission now it isn’t absolutely necessary could just be about
a stick and a pedal but what I found is people tend to grasp this a little bit
faster learn faster if they understand what is actually going on under the
surface a car with a gas or diesel engine has a transmission with multiple
gears for the same reason a bicycle does a good bicycle not one of those retro
hipster one speed bikes these the idea behind having these gears is you can
pedal only so fast and you reach a certain point and to go faster you need
to shift up same thing is true with a car’s engine let’s take a look at the
tachometer the tachometer is a gauge that shows engine speed and essentially
all cars have them even automatic you just don’t pay attention to it it’ll be
marked typically one two three four or in some cases ten twenty thirty but the
idea is multiplied by some number that is the revolutions per minute of the
engine and when you hit the gas a bit you’ll see the needle goes up as the
engine speed increases typically though a gas engine will run only up to about
six to eight thousand rpm it depends on the car and there are some exceptions in
this car it’s about 7400 rpm where you see a redline begin and that redline is
called the red line and the engine is not supposed to run in the red line
because it can be damaged now newer cars are less likely to
actually incur damage than older ones but still that’s not where you want to
be so if you want to go faster and faster in a car you need to be able to
shift to the next gear simple right just like a bicycle well there’s one
area where it’s not like a bicycle on a bicycle when you start out you just
pedal 1 2 3 4 you can start from a standing stop an engine on the other
hand has an idle speed of typically 750 rpm so little run from 750 rpm – in this
case 7400 but below 750 nothing so what’s happening is when you’re sitting
still your engine is going 750 rpm and your transmission and the gears are not
moving at all and you’ve got to get them going together at the same speed and
that is going to be your job through the use of the clutch clutch pedal and you
are going to suck at it it’s going to be hilarious to me you’re gonna hate it but
I’m laughs and just thinking about it but here you probably ought to laugh at
it too because you’re going to be bad but if you stick with it and practice
you’re going to get better so let’s start with the pedals you’ll see the
extra one here the third that is the clutch pedal but it looks like there are
four pedals in this car and that is because this one is technically called
the dead pedal but a better word for that is the footrest it doesn’t really
do anything and footrest is a good name because that is what you’re supposed to
do and that is rest your foot there do not leave your foot on the clutch pedal
the whole point behind the clutch is use it and then you get off of it put your
foot on the dead pedal or the foot rest here’s an important tip before you even
get started when you’re operating the clutch pedal you need your whole leg
you’re not putting your heel down anchoring it like you might with the
accelerator pedal and just tilting at the ankle you need your whole leg it’s a
little bit more like a brake pedal in that regard also when you apply the
pedal you always go all the way down to the floor and release all the way out
always step in all the way release all the way and when you’re not using the
clutch rest on the dead pedal now before you even head out if you’re just
learning how to drive a manual transmission think ahead and wear
sensible shoes you don’t need fancy driving shoes or anything but you’re
the tip don’t wear a big clunky shoe and don’t wear anything with a big heel and
don’t judge me I’m trying to help you and it’s free once once you learn how to
drive you can wear whatever you want but for training purposes be sensible now
let’s get to know the shifter or the stick which is how you put the
transmission in the different gears the pattern for the forward gears is pretty
much the same in everything and you’ll see it either on top of the knob or
somewhere nearby typically the difference between
vehicles is really just about how many forward gears it has this car has six
older cars may stop at four forward gears some cars these days have seven
all just affect how much shifting you’ll be doing now one of the most important
things you need to know is when it’s not in gear and that is neutral neutral
position is straight in the middle of all of these and you’ll know it’s in
neutral when the stick wobbles left and right now I’m gonna step on the clutch
pedal even though the engine is off and you’ll see now I’m in first gear up and
to the left now notice it doesn’t slide left and right in neutral there’s my
wobble so first second is below to the right and up is third and so on it’s
pretty simple stuff now all cars are gonna have a reverse gear that can be in
a different location used to be up in to the right for a lot of cars now and
nowadays are starting to see them on the left the best cars will have a little
lock out like this lift collar that prevents you from going into reverse
unless you really mean it and when you’re practicing going into
first once you get a little bit good at that you can start doing the same thing
with reverse okay you want to find an empty or nearly empty parking lot or
road and it’s important that it be flat because you’re going to be practicing
taking off in first gear and reverse and the effects of gravity can just
complicate things it you need to start the car when you start a manual
transmission it’s always important to make sure it is a neutral wiggle that
stick and in newer cars especially it’s necessary not just good practice to
step on the clutch pedal because that will allow the engine to start without
stepping on that pedal you can turn the key all you want it wouldn’t have
started with a new car so when you take off from a stop in a car with manual
transmission you are essentially trying to coordinate the application of the gas
and the release of the clutch pedal or the engagement of the clutch but what
I’m going to do is have you practice first without stepping on the gas at all
just use the clutch pedal to get a feel for the clutch engagement now when you
lift off the pedal you’re engaging the clutch when you step on you’re
disengaging I’m just gonna call it clutch in and clutch out because that’s
the simplest thing to remember when the time comes to actually do it so what
you’ll do is you’re going to watch my feet watch everything I do you’re
stepping on the clutch pedal alright stick goes into first I happen to have
the brake on so I’m going to take the parking brake off and then you’re just
gonna slowly let that clutch pedal out see what I’m doing right now now if you
have a newer car this is actually a little easier because the engine control
unit the computer senses the load and will compensate and give you a little
bit more gas so here you can see my foots off the pedal I’m in first gear
and I’m moving pretty simple stuff every car is different and I’m gonna do it
again for you here’s how we stop I’m right I’ve got my foot over the brake
clutch in and I pull the shifter out of first into
neutral and come to a stop all cars are different what you’re doing is you’re
getting a feel for where the clutch engages in some cars it’s lower in the
pedal travel like close to the floor and some it’s higher up all cars are
released a little bit different so again clutch in first gear let it out slowly and there you go you put her around you
can put around a little bit in first gear if you want to will discuss whether
or not we drive in first gear in a bit so clutch in stick into neutral brake we
stop now it’s actually the same situation for going in Reverse aside
from the gear being different clutch in I’m lifting the collar as necessary for
this putting it in reverse and slowly letting that pedal out I am looking
behind me and I have a backup camera so it’s I don’t want it to look like I’m
just blindly backing up there we go and we’re moving now you might find that
I’m gonna stop now ready remember clutch in break and take the stick into neutral
verse skier tends to be a little bit faster than first because it’s the only
one you got so it will feel a little bit different you’re gonna want to practice
with that too now having gotten a feel for the clutch application I’m going to
show you how we apply the gas and release the clutch at the same time and
lets you do the same thing you just did but faster here we go
clutch in first gear now watch my feet I’m going to add some gas and release
the clutch and we’re moving in first gear you can hear we’re moving faster
this time okay same as last time clutch in braking stick back into
neutral now you probably want me to tell you what RPM you should be going when
you release the clutch to take off I can’t tell you that reason being first
of all all cars are different I want to say it’s gonna be around 2,000 rpm just
to get you going but first all cars are different and second I don’t want you
focusing on the tachometer you’re much better off getting a feel for this just
by doing it and I feel the same way about when we get to the point where
we’re shifting through the higher gears as well so we did it once let’s do it
again ready clutch in into first gear
adding a little gas letting out the clutch okay now let me give you one tip
that I think is one of the most useful things that that I found from
instructing people on how to drive manual transmissions and that is there’s
a notion that this has to be the perfect synchronized balletic application and
release perfectly even and that’s actually not true what I’ve found is a
lot of people find the process a lot easier while they’re learning if they
partway through releasing that clutch they just if it starts to grab just hold
for a second and then release the clutch the rest of the way I’m gonna try and do
that again so you can see what I’m what I’m doing rather than just trying to
robotically go in with the gas and out with the clutch it’s you’re applying you
come out a bit with with your clutch foot see my hand here wait a second when
it starts to grab just give it a half second and then release the rest of the
way here’s what I’m doing ready kind of hard to see I know but maybe you
understand from what I’m describing and the thing with that is you’ve got to be
a little bit careful about overdoing it you cannot take forever to get your foot
off the clutch pedal what you’re trying to do is go from clutch in the clutch
out reasonably quickly and you don’t want to do what’s called riding the
clutch where you’re kind of controlling the car speed by how much you’re letting
the clutch slip that’s bad news and it wears the clutch really quickly but on
the other hand this one tip seems to help people an awful lot now you’ll
notice if you do things real slowly clutch in first gear if you do think
slowly you can give it less gas here we go ready I’m hardly giving it any gas
it’s not much different from when I didn’t use the gas at all right
if you want to take off faster you’re going to have to give it more gas for
example clutch in first gear see that much faster same things true if
you’re on a hill and I’m gonna address Hills in a bit too if you’re on a hill
uphill I should say you’re gonna have to give it more gas to get you going now
what can go wrong well certainly things can go wrong in this process one is you
can pop the clutch maybe not give it enough gas and kill it and that looks a
little like this okay so the car bucks a bit it’s probably not
going to hurt the car so what else could go wrong as you’re taking off well you
give it too much gas you can spin the tires it’ll go something like this now that is definitely cooler than
killing it but don’t get addicted because neighbors
don’t like it cops don’t like it and it does put some strain on your car it’ll
wear out your tires to that end there’s something else you should be aware of
that could go wrong and that is you could smell a terrible odor chances are
that’s the smell of your clutch and that means you are slipping the clutch too
much and if you see smoke that’s definitely a sign then it’s time to pull
over and cool off let the car cool off you should cool off all it means is
you’ve got to go a little lighter on the gas and a little quicker on the clutch
pedal if you’re just revving revving revving and slow it in letting the
clutch out and controlling your speed with the clutch you’re gonna get smelly
you’re gonna get smoked and you are gonna take hundreds or thousands of
miles off of the clutch unnecessarily and once you’ve gotten good enough at
accelerating from a stop be it in first gear or reverse you’re probably ready to
go into the higher gears and I do recommend you still do this in a and an
abandoned street or a parking or lot or the like it is much easier the hard part
is over all you got to do is watch my feet I’m gonna have to be steering
during this so excuse me if I don’t say everything perfectly
here we go clutch in first gear okay we’re at first revs up clutch in
second gear clutch out clutch in third gear clutch out scuse my turn clutch in fourth gear clutch out
clutch in fifth gear clutch out touch in sixth gear clutch out it’s pretty simple
now what could go wrong in these circumstances well you might
accidentally wind up in a higher gear than you want to soon and you’re gonna
step on the gas pedal and nothing’s gonna happen I’ll show you it’s like so
right now I’m in fourth gear hardly moving hardly moving and the car
vibrates there’s a sound and a vibration that means the engine is lugging and
it’s not good for it it’s not gonna hurt it too badly it’s not like the old days
cars are much better protecting themselves and they used to be but in
those circumstances all that means is you need to be in a lower gear so let’s
say I’m moving forward I’m in third gear to low what do I do
clutch in go down a second clutch up everything’s fine it’s not that
difficult now I’m sure you have an Uncle Tony or something like that that always
told you never be in top gear below X miles per hour
well I’m sorry Uncle Tony but I’ve driven hundreds of cars with manual
transmissions and they’re all different what matters is that you’re not lugging
the engine if your car is perfectly happy in its top gear going 40 miles an
hour if you’re just cruising you’re fine nothing to worry about something else
that could go wrong is you could Rev too high and hit the rev line and it might
look like this all right what just happened there was
my modern car hit what’s called a rev limiter and that was a pretty hard rev
limiter it what it does is it actually stops you from going into what would be
a hazardous condition for the engine old cars didn’t have rev limiters either
hard like this one or soft soft meeting the car might just slowly lose speed or
might kind of bounce on the rev limiter to get your attention so again a newer
car you’re not likely to do any damage now once you’ve been experiencing all
this successful up shifting you’re probably going to need to know how to
stop right and it’s actually not that difficult people
I think tend to make it more difficult than they need to with some
misconceptions about how to slow down and stop in a manual transmission car by
and large here’s what you do I’m in 4th gear right now let’s just say I’m in
fifth I’m in fifth you use your brake as you normally would you come slower
slower slower slower so when you get close to the stop you put the collection
put the transmission in neutral and you’re fine you don’t have to down shift
through the gears when you come to a stop cars are all geared differently
I’ve been in a couple where I’ve noticed that the the the engine starts to falter a
bit at relatively high speeds and I might want to take it out of gear a
little bit sooner but by and large with all the cars I’ve driven even let’s say
sixth gear as we are here you come close to your stop you’re getting closer and
closer clutch in put it in neutral everything’s fine I’ve alluded to the
complicating effects of gravity especially when you’re learning I’m
gonna give you one tip that I think will help but first here’s what we’re talking
about clutch in I’m on the brake pedal I’m
gonna let off the brake now you can see we’re moving obviously that can make
things a little bit more difficult when you’re just learning to get going but
I’ll show you how it’s supposed to go first gear see no problem because I am a
professional actually it’s not that I’m a professional I just have experience
and eventually you’ll have experience and you’ll be driving through San
Francisco like it’s no big deal and to be honest on a steep hill I might have a
little trouble myself but here’s a great tip that you might find useful even once
you do have experience and that is to use the parking brake especially the
hand brake and usually manual transmission cars still have a hand
brake watch what I do with my feet now clutch in first gear now what I’m doing
is I’m applying the handbrake I’ve got my finger on the button here still so
it’s mobile now I’m letting off of the brake pedal and then what I do is I give
it gas and I left the clutch out a little bit
till I feel it grab and then I release the parking brake and I’m off now this
can be really helpful even if you are experienced as I said because let’s say
you park on the street nose up uphill and someone parks behind you and leaves
no room so you have no margin of error to rollback even a little bit that’s the
situation where you would again clutch in in gear
parking brake let go of the regular brake pedal and then there you go it’s a
good tip now for what it’s worth nowadays newer cars have added a feature
called Hill hold and that’s whether they have automatic or manual transmissions
whereby you take your foot off the brake or put the clutch and put it in first
gear let off the brake and it will hold the
car for you and fortunately that has come along right about the time that
cars have stopped having an easy-to-use hand brake like this it would be pretty
hard to do what I just demonstrated with a pedal because you only have two feet
or with an electronic parking brake switch here’s a question you might not
think of do you need to shift in order the answer is no like right now I’m in
third gear right let’s say I gave it a lot of gas
I can go right into fifth because the engine speed was high this is the kind
of thing that might happen if you are taking off from a light or something or
on a hill let’s say in first gear and you give it a lot of revs and you rev up
pretty high you can go from first to third no reason not to now here’s
something you shouldn’t do and that is coast in neutral I know Uncle Tony told
you you save gas by coasting in neutral by doing this right okay
maybe at some point in history that was true probably not very true probably not
worth much but take a look what’s happening right now I’m slowing down in
gear you know what’s happening my fuel injectors are off they are not pumping
fuel that’s how modern cars work so what’s happening is if I’m accelerating
and then I’m coasting you’re going down a hill like this foot off the
accelerator I’m not using gas what happens if I put it in neutral like
Uncle Tony says then I am using gas because gas is needed to keep the engine
turning so there you go Uncle Tony you outsmarted yourself
so I’ll try and give you some other tips while I’m at it here’s one don’t drive
in first gear it’s not a 100% guideline but by-and-large first gear is for
getting to second gear and you do your driving at second gear once again having
driven dozens and dozens of manual transmission cars I’ve been in a couple
where second gear was a little bit too tall as we call it for driving and
really bad traffic and slow traffic and I did have to drive in first gear but
unless you have a car like that there’s really no need to be in first unless
you’re on your way to second here’s a reminder for you when you come to a stop
don’t do what I’m doing right now leave the the transmission in gear or in first
gear with your foot on the clutch pedal it’s bad practice but it also it
produces some somewhere on a bearing called the throw out bearing that is
engaged whenever you are standing on the clutch pedal that is designed to
momentarily engage and then disengage if you sit for long periods you’re just
putting tremendous extra wear on that bearing so don’t do it now here’s a note
about down shifting here I am going pretty quick in sixth gear and I want to
go down to fifth I want you to see how easy
this is clutch in went to fifth clutch out not a whole lot of bucking all right
same thing could be true if I were going in sixth gear now I’m in sixth I want
you to see as I make the switch I’m getting out of this bumpy Lane as I make
the switch it’s not bad now if you’re getting a little bit better at this
you’re more advanced that’s when you learn to flip the throttle to rev-match
it’s called you see how I just gave the gas pedal a bit of a jolt there now I’m
going back to sixth to do it again for you what you’re doing is you’re aligning
the revolutions of the essentially to simplify at the engine and the
transmission for what it’s worth ninety-eight percent of the wear on your
clutch happens when you’re going from a stop in first gear or in Reverse so it’s
not critical that you rev match but once you get a little bit more practice you
might find that you’re able to do it and keep your shifts your down shifts
smoother like so watch again nice and smooth eventually you’re gonna
have to park your manual transmission car and it can be a little bit different
from an automatic because there is no park setting for the transmission so
I’ll show you what I’m what I’m doing I’m in neutral I took my foot off the
clutch right you’re gonna rely on the parking brake whether it’s a handle a
pedal or an electric switch which is the new thing but people tend to also want
to leave the transmission in gear especially if you live someplace hilly
because let’s face it parking brakes aren’t perfect they’re not infallible
and especially as the car ages so what do you do well there are a couple ways
you can do it you can put the clutch in put the car in gear let’s say first and
then turn the engine off let the clutch out and you’re good
you could also presumably let’s just do it for the sake of argument you’re in
neutral clutch out turn the car off then push
the clutch pedal put it in gear release the clutch pedal and then you have the
added security of having the engines drivetrain keep the car from moving just
to be extra careful what I’ll do if I’m parking say nose into a space I will put
it in Reverse when I park so if I come back and let’s say I absent-mindedly
start the car and pop the clutch and not realize it’s in gear at least I’m going
backward or not into the wall in front of me and likewise if I back into a
space or back up into my garage I’ll Park it in first gear for the opposite
reason well I think that’s about all the help I can give you beginners wasn’t
this car black when we started it’s okay it’s we should use two cars for this
shoot one was a black Subaru BRZ this one is a Toyota 86 they’re essentially
twins so it all worked out fine I’m impressed if you notice by the way what
was I saying yes I think I’ve done what I can for you I hope you’ve absorbed
what I’ve shown you and that you have the confidence now to try driving a car
with a stick shift there’s no question you’re not going to be good at it at
first you’re probably gonna kill the engine a
few times you’re probably not going to hurt the car unless it’s really old and
frail you might hurt your ego a little bit but give it time one thing you need
to recognize is driving a car with a manual transmission proficiently is kind
of like typing without looking at the keys your aren’t really good at it until
you aren’t thinking that hard about it just one day you’ll realize you’re doing
it second nature subconsciously and that’s when you’ll be good at it
whoever is lending your you a car to let you try to learn to drive a stick you
might want to buy him dinner because chances are you going to take a few
miles off there clutch but it’s all part of the learning process good luck you

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100 thoughts on “How to Drive a Manual Transmission — Cars.com

  1. Never ever tell anyone who drives a stick you know how to as well……. you will be the first person they ask at the bar to drive them home when they are wasted.

  2. I just bought a 2014 civic si and people laugh at me cause I don’t know how to drive stick but I’m determined to learn and out race them on the tracks

  3. Man I hated my mom with a passion when she forced me to start learning manual. Stuck with it though and now I love it. Way more control with a manual in my opinion and way more engaging. Plan on driving manual for the rest of my life!

    Oh and to anyone who is reading this and may be learning how to drive manual once you get first gear down the rest of it is super easy!

  4. What's the fun of being in a parking lot I was forced to drive home in a stick when I learned… this man makes it boring.. 🙁

  5. I have a manual and automatic 2018 Camaro RS. This was helpful though because I've been meaning to learn stick shifting. Driving in manual in the Camaro is a bit different than what you explained in the video but knowledge is still knowledge. I'll need this info for a future car or something. Thanks for the help.

  6. Thank you for making this video! I’ve only ever driven automatic but I’m planning on buying a manual g35 and would like to actually be able to drive it

  7. In the future I plan on getting a stick shift car to have for fun I guess (if I can afford to live like that). So this was really useful in making my dream car become a major possibility in the sense of actually knowing how to drive it.

  8. Omg give this guy an award, my dad explained it to me several times but I wouldn't get it it was frustrating, but with this guy I got it thank you sr.

  9. This is an excellent video. The guy may seem a little corny, but hes not. It's the only way to explain it.

  10. Hilarious.
    Come to the UK
    I'll teach you to drive a manual car in less than 30 minutes.
    It's not bloody rocket science.

  11. All the douchebags that slam the stick and dump the clutch every time they shift should watch this. They've watched too much fast and furious. Most important tip to driving a manual is smooth is fast.

  12. It’s wild to me that everyone in America learns in an automatic as a standard and only manual if they want. It’s the opposite in the uk.

  13. DO NOT brake in neutral, I had this drilled into me when I was learning by my instructor. If you brake in neutral, you are not in control of the car, it's coasting and if you're taking your test you will get minors for this, you will also get minors for having your clutch down when turning a corner like this guy does. I've noticed a lot of American videos teach coasting and that means you're not in control of the car in case you need to suddenly accelerate or change direction. Always brake in gear and then press the clutch before the revs drop and the car stalls. When you have come to a complete stop, then go into neutral.

  14. I learned in a 1966 mustang with a 4 speed that I bought and built in high school. There was this one light in town that I always seemed to stall at. And it would take forever to start again because at the time i didnt have a key in the switch so i had a flathead screwdriver at my feet… after the car stalled and bucked the screw driver would get thrown under the seat. And once I found it I was so freaked out by the cars honking behind me, I would start it in gear and stalled immediately, thus embarrassing myself even more.

  15. I don't see myself driving an Auto, I just find that Auto is just for lazy people. I own a a White 2013 Toyota 86 GTS, and just so you know I can start the car without having the clutch in. Also a good tip, if you rev the car too much before going into first and sometimes second you'll bunny hop a little, this happens when the clutch can't handle the high rpm at low gear. Also from others I know who are petrol heads they said try not to hold in the clutch half way while engaging the gas, for learning it's fine however if this becomes habit you'll find that you'll put more wear on your clutch and the petal.

    This video just brings me back to the day's when my parents were teaching me how to drive.

  16. Like honestly who needs to learn on how to drive a automatic car. That's easier than riding a bike

  17. Awesome instruction! I have been driving manual for 28 yrs. My wife didn't like it so picked up a Ralliart automatic 5 yrs ago(boring) Sold it over a year ago and bought a 2018 Sti. Tomorrow she tries it for the first time.👍

  18. Question for you. What happens if you brake and come to a stop without putting it into neutral? I don't recall you mentioning that in the video.

  19. I’ve been riding dirt bikes since I was 5 and first time I ever drove stick was when I turned 16 drove 40 minutes home through traffic and didn’t stall once

  20. My 1st stick was a 72 datsun 240z with 150,000 miles on it..Got it when I was a kid for 800.00 bucks..The seats were bolted to sheetmetal salvaged from the back of a washing machine that the guy had "secured" to the floors with sheet metal screws to cover the gaping 3 foot holes under the carpet..the body was filled with bondo and was 3 different colors so one day we painted it white with a bucket of paint and some paint brushes….at least it was one color now..the clutch and 4 speed actually worked well when the rest of the car wasnt shedding parts down the road…..those were the days!

  21. Next time do the lesson with a student driver (WITH NO IDEA HOW TO DRIVE) on the driver seat. TO SEE HOW GOOD YOU AS A TEACHER.

  22. Nice video. One thing, though. You really don't have to push the clutch all the way in after you start the car. Once you get going, you can feel the release point fairly easily and then shift. It makes for smooth shifting and no wasted motion and each shift is quicker and smoother. I don't consider myself an expert, but after 45 years of driving manual transmissions, I have learned a thing or two.

  23. i just started using manual, and i kinda almost release clutch and press gas at almost the same time almost instantly, is that bad in anyway? use this in both from standstill to first clutch and changing clutch..

  24. Great video man! I love my 2017 GT Manual and am not looking forward to my next race car that has auto. I'm a manual fan for life regardless of how well the new auto 10 speeds do at the track. With manual trans you are fully in tune with the vehicle. I never get the same feel in auto.

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