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Detecting and Resolving GMC Terrain Jerking Issues: Common Causes and Solutions

Common Causes of Jerking in GMC Terrains

If you own a GMC Terrain and notice your vehicle jerking, it is an indication that something is wrong. A jerking GMC Terrain can be frustrating and dangerous to drive, and it is essential to diagnose the problem promptly.

In this article, we will discuss the common causes of jerking in GMC Terrains and possible solutions to these problems. 1.

Dirty Fuel Injectors

Fuel injectors play a crucial role in ensuring that your car runs smoothly. However, if your Terrain’s fuel injectors get clogged with dirt, grime, or debris, it will affect the fuel supply to the engine.

This may cause the engine to misfire, leading to a jerking motion. A damaged fuel injector may also cause your Terrain to stutter or even stop altogether.

Solution: A proper cleaning of the fuel injectors is the best solution to this problem. You can use a fuel injector cleaning solution to clean your injectors and restore their proper functioning.

2. Bad Spark Plugs

Spark plugs provide the electric spark required to ignite the fuel in the engine.

When your Terrain’s spark plugs become old or damaged, they can cause a misfire or erratic engine operation. This can lead to jerking and rough idling.

In extreme cases, your Terrain may stop running altogether. Solution: Replacing your damaged or worn-out spark plugs is the best solution.

It is recommended that you replace your spark plugs every 30,000 miles to prevent this problem. 3.

Faulty Ignition Coils

Ignition coils work with the spark plugs to provide the electric spark that ignites the fuel in the engine. If your Terrain’s ignition coils are faulty, they may not be providing enough power to the spark plugs, causing intermittent misfiring.

The result is jerking or stalling of your vehicle. Solution: If you suspect that your ignition coils are faulty, it is recommended that you take your Terrain to a certified mechanic to get them checked.

Depending on the assessment, the mechanic may recommend repairing or replacing the ignition coils. 4.

Clogged Air Filters

The air filter in your vehicle is responsible for keeping dirt, debris, and other particles out of the engine. It ensures that the engine is getting the clean air it needs to run smoothly.

If your Terrain’s air filters become clogged, it can restrict the air supply to the engine, resulting in jerking and poor acceleration. Solution: Regularly replacing your air filters is an easy solution to this problem.

It is recommended that you replace your air filters every 12,000 miles or every 12 months, whichever comes first. 5.

Transmission Issues

Transmission problems are another common cause of jerking in GMC Terrains. Your vehicle’s transmission is responsible for transferring power from the engine to the wheels.

If your Terrain’s transmission is slipping, it can cause the jerking motion. Other symptoms of a slipping transmission include delayed shifting, difficulty accelerating, and strange noises.

Solution: Transmission problems are often complicated and require the expertise of a certified mechanic. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, it is essential to take your Terrain to a reputable mechanic for a proper diagnosis.

Diagnosing GMC Terrain Jerking: Symptoms and Solutions

If you are experiencing jerking in your Terrain, it is essential to diagnose the problem promptly to avoid further complications. Here are some symptoms that can help detect the problem.

1. Engine Malfunction Light

The engine malfunction light is usually the first sign that something is wrong with your vehicle.

If this light comes on, it is essential to take your Terrain to a mechanic to diagnose the problem. 2.

Stuttering or Hesitation

If your Terrain is hesitating or stuttering when you press the accelerator, it is a sign that the engine is not running smoothly. 3.

Rough Idling

Rough idling is another sign that your vehicle may be experiencing issues. If your engine seems to be running rough even when your vehicle is stationary, it is essential to take it to a certified mechanic to diagnose the problem.

4. Lack of Power During Acceleration

If you feel a lack of power during acceleration, it is a sign that your Terrain is experiencing issues with its fuel supply, spark plugs, or transmission.

Solutions to the above symptoms include checking and cleaning your fuel injectors, replacing your spark plugs, checking your ignition coils and air filters, and diagnosing your transmission. Regular maintenance of your Terrain can also keep it running smoothly and avoid jerking.

In conclusion, experiencing jerking in your GMC Terrain is not uncommon. However, it can be dangerous and frustrating to drive.

The above common causes and solutions can help you diagnose and fix this problem. It is essential to diagnose the problem promptly and consult with a certified mechanic for the proper solution.

Maintaining your Terrain’s components according to the recommended schedule can help prevent this issue in the future.

Understanding the Transmission System in Your GMC Terrain

The transmission system is an essential part of your GMC Terrain. The transmission system’s primary function is to transfer power from the engine to the wheels, allowing your vehicle to move.

Understanding how the transmission system works can aid in diagnosing any problems that may arise.

Transmission System Components

The transmission system comprises several components. These components include the torque converter, the transmission fluid, clutch, gear selector, and the gears.

Torque Converter: The torque converter is a fluid coupling that transfers power from the engine to the transmission. Transmission Fluid: Transmission fluid cools and lubricates the moving parts of the transmission system and helps regulate the transmission’s temperature.

Clutch: The clutch is a mechanism used to engage or disengage the transmission’s rotating shaft from the engine’s power output. Gear Selector: The gear selector enables the driver to choose the gears to use in various driving conditions.

Gears: The gears in the transmission system transfer power from the engine to the wheels. The gears work in a synchronized motion to increase or decrease speed.

How the Transmission System Works

The transmission system’s primary function is to transfer power from the engine to the wheels while allowing for different movement speeds. When your Terrain’s engine is running, the torque converter uses oil pressure to transfer the engine’s power to the transmission’s input shaft.

The transmission fluid then circulates through the transmission, lubricating the moving parts and cooling the system. The clutch, which is located inside the torque converter, engages or disengages the transmission’s rotating shaft from the engine’s power output.

When the clutch is engaged, power is transferred to the transmission’s input shaft, and when disengaged, power is disconnected. The gear selector, located on the steering wheel or on the center console, enables the driver to select the gears to use for different driving conditions.

These gears work in a synchronized motion and are responsible for increasing or decreasing the Terrain’s speed.

Faulty Fuel System and Jerking in Your GMC Terrain

The fuel system is another critical component of your GMC Terrain. A faulty fuel system can cause your Terrain to exhibit jerking, which can be dangerous and frustrating.

Here’s how a faulty fuel system can cause jerking in your vehicle.

Clogged Fuel Filter

The fuel filter is responsible for filtering out impurities in the fuel before it gets to the engine. A clogged fuel filter can restrict fuel flow to the engine, causing it to misfire, which may lead to jerking.

The fuel filter should be replaced or serviced regularly to prevent this problem.

Dirty Fuel Injectors

Dirty fuel injectors can also cause jerking in your Terrain. Fuel injectors are responsible for delivering fuel to the engine’s combustion chamber, where it is burned to produce power.

If these injectors get dirty or clogged, they can reduce the fuel supply to the engine, causing misfiring, stalling, or jerking.

Malfunctioning Fuel Pump

The fuel pump is responsible for pumping fuel from the tank to the engine. If the fuel pump is not functioning correctly, it can cause fuel starvation in the engine, leading to misfiring, stalling, and jerking.

Symptoms of a faulty fuel pump include difficulty starting your Terrain, stalling, and erratic engine performance.

Symptoms of a Faulty Fuel System

Some common symptoms of a faulty fuel system include:

– Jerking or hesitating when accelerating or driving at a steady pace. – Stalling or hesitating when idling.

– Difficulty starting the engine. – Reduced engine power and acceleration.

Solutions to a Faulty Fuel System

To prevent jerking in your GMC Terrain caused by a faulty fuel system, the following solutions can be applied:

– Regular maintenance: Ensure that you service your Terrain regularly and as recommended by the manufacturer. Regular service includes replacing the fuel filter and cleaning the fuel injectors.

– Replace the fuel pump: If the fuel pump is not functioning properly, it should be replaced to prevent further damage to your Terrain. – Use quality fuel: Quality fuel will help keep your fuel system clean, free from impurities and debris.

In conclusion, understanding the transmission system and fuel system of your GMC Terrain enables you to diagnose problems that may arise and help you prevent further damages. A properly functioning fuel system and transmission system keeps your Terrain running smoothly, making it safer and more comfortable to drive.

Regular maintenance and servicing of your Terrain’s components can help prevent jerking and other issues.

Importance of Regular Maintenance in Preventing GMC Terrain Jerking

Regular maintenance plays an essential role in keeping your GMC Terrain running smoothly. Neglecting your vehicle’s regular maintenance schedule can cause various issues, including jerking.

Here’s why regular maintenance is crucial in preventing GMC Terrain jerking.

Fluid Changes

Fluid changes are one of the essential components of your vehicle’s regular maintenance schedule. The transmission fluid, brake fluid, and engine oil need to be changed regularly to prevent wear and tear on the components.

Dirty or low fluid levels can cause your Terrain to exhibit jerking symptoms.

Air Filter Replacement

The air filter plays a crucial role in keeping the engine clean by filtering out dirt, debris, and other contaminants. A dirty air filter can restrict airflow to the engine, causing it to work harder than required, which can lead to jerking and rough idling.

Regular air filter replacements can help prevent this issue.

Fuel System Service

The fuel system is responsible for delivering fuel to the engine, where it is burned to produce power. The fuel filter, fuel injectors, and fuel pump require regular maintenance to prevent clogs and build-up of debris.

A faulty fuel system can cause jerking and other issues.

Spark Plug Replacement

The spark plugs in your Terrain are responsible for igniting the fuel in the engine, creating power. Worn-out or dirty spark plugs can cause a misfire in the engine, leading to jerking or stalling.

Regular spark plug replacements can help prevent this problem.

Tire Rotation and Balancing

The tires of your Terrain wear out unevenly over time. Uneven tire wear can cause imbalances in the vehicle, leading to jerking and vibrations.

Regular tire rotation and balancing can help prevent this issue. GMC Terrain Engine Problems and Jerking: Explained

The engine is the heart of your GMC Terrain, responsible for generating power and making your vehicle move.

Engine problems can lead to jerking, which can be frustrating to drive. Here are some common engine problems and their causes that can lead to jerking in your Terrain.

Dirty Air Filter

A dirty air filter can cause your Terrain to have a lack of power during acceleration, rough idling, and in some cases, jerking. A dirty air filter restricts airflow to the engine, making it work harder than it should, which can lead to strain on the engine and jerking.

Fuel System Issues

Fuel system issues can cause jerking in your GMC Terrain. Clogged fuel injectors, a faulty fuel pump, and a dirty fuel filter can restrict fuel flow to the engine, causing it to misfire or stall.

These issues need to be diagnosed and fixed promptly to prevent further damage to your Terrain’s engine.

Ignition Coil Failure

The ignition coil is responsible for providing the electric charge that powers the spark plugs. A faulty ignition coil can cause misfiring or stalling in the engine, leading to jerking.

Symptoms of a failing ignition coil include difficulty starting your Terrain, stalling, and reduced engine power.

Transmission Issues

Transmission issues can cause jerking in your GMC Terrain. Worn-out or damaged gears, a faulty torque converter, or low transmission fluid levels can cause the transmission to slip, jerk, or hesitate.

Regular transmission service, including fluid changes, can help prevent transmission wear and tear that can lead to jerking.


Regular maintenance of your GMC Terrain is vital in preventing jerking and other issues. The engine, transmission, fuel system, and various components need to be checked, serviced, and repaired regularly to ensure that your Terrain is running smoothly.

Neglecting regular maintenance can lead to expensive repairs and complications. It is essential to follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule and consult with a certified mechanic if you notice any issues with your vehicle.

With proper care and maintenance, your GMC Terrain can provide safe and reliable transportation for years to come. Impact of

Dirty Air Filters on GMC Terrain Performance

The air filter in your GMC Terrain plays a crucial role in maintaining the performance and efficiency of your vehicle’s engine.

It is responsible for filtering out dirt, dust, debris, and other contaminants from the air before it enters the engine’s combustion chamber. Over time, the air filter can become clogged and dirty, impacting your Terrain’s performance and potentially causing jerking.

Here’s a closer look at the impact of dirty air filters on GMC Terrain performance.

Restricted Airflow

A dirty air filter restricts the amount of clean air that can flow into the engine. The engine requires proper airflow to function efficiently and burn fuel effectively.

When the air filter is clogged, it restricts the air supply, leading to a decrease in engine performance. The lack of sufficient airflow can cause the engine to run rich, meaning it receives a higher ratio of fuel compared to the amount of air.

This imbalance can result in jerking, reduced acceleration, and even stalling.

Decreased Fuel Efficiency

When the air filter is dirty, the engine compensates for the restricted airflow by consuming more fuel. The engine requires a balanced mixture of air and fuel for optimal combustion.

A dirty air filter disrupts this balance, causing the engine to burn excess fuel to compensate for the limited air supply. As a result, your Terrain’s fuel efficiency decreases, and you may notice more frequent trips to the gas station.

Reduced fuel efficiency can also contribute to jerking as the engine struggles to maintain a stable fuel-to-air ratio.

Increased Engine Wear

A dirty air filter can allow particles and contaminants to bypass the filter and enter the engine. These particles can cause abrasive damage to internal engine components, such as cylinders, piston rings, and valves.

Over time, this increased wear can lead to decreased engine performance and increased chances of jerking. The presence of dirt and debris can also contaminate the engine oil, further exacerbating the wear and tear on engine components.

Impaired Combustion Process

When the air filter is dirty, it can affect the combustion process within the engine. Insufficient clean air supply can result in incomplete combustion, where the air-fuel mixture does not burn completely.

Incomplete combustion leads to a buildup of carbon deposits and soot in the combustion chamber and on spark plugs. These carbon deposits can cause misfires, rough idling, and jerking as the engine struggles to operate smoothly.

Prolonged Engine Detriment

Neglecting to replace or clean a dirty air filter can have long-term consequences on your GMC Terrain’s engine. Continuous exposure to dirt and debris can lead to more severe engine problems, such as increased engine wear, decreased fuel efficiency, and potentially costly repairs.

Regularly maintaining and replacing the air filter can help prevent these issues and keep your Terrain running smoothly.

Electrical Problems that Can Cause GMC Terrain Jerking

Electrical problems can also contribute to jerking in your GMC Terrain. The electrical system of your vehicle plays a crucial role in powering various components that contribute to its overall performance.

Here are some common electrical problems that can cause jerking in a GMC Terrain.

Faulty Ignition System

The ignition system is responsible for starting and powering the engine. A faulty ignition system can cause misfires, leading to jerking or hesitation during acceleration.

Issues within the ignition system, such as a malfunctioning ignition coil, failing spark plugs, or damaged ignition wires, can disrupt the proper combustion process, resulting in jerking.

Malfunctioning Sensors

Modern vehicles rely on various sensors to monitor and control different aspects of the engine’s performance. These sensors provide crucial information to the engine control module (ECM), which adjusts different parameters to ensure optimal engine operation.

Malfunctioning or faulty sensors, such as the mass airflow sensor, oxygen sensor, or throttle position sensor, can send inaccurate data to the ECM, resulting in inconsistent fuel-air mixture or improper ignition timing, causing jerking.

Wiring Issues

Faulty or damaged wiring within the electrical system can cause intermittent connectivity or short circuits. When wiring issues occur, it can disrupt the delivery of electrical signals to the various components of the vehicle.

This disruption can lead to irregular engine performance, including jerking. Wiring problems can be challenging to diagnose and fix, as they may require thorough inspection and testing by a professional mechanic.

Battery or Charging System Problems

A weak or dying battery can affect the electrical system’s performance, leading to erratic behavior in your Terrain. Insufficient power from the battery can cause voltage drops, leading to momentary dips in electrical supply to critical components.

Similarly, a faulty alternator or charging system can result in inadequate power generation and cause intermittent jerking or rough engine operation.

Grounding Issues

Grounding ensures proper electrical conductivity throughout your vehicle. When the grounding system is compromised, it can result in electrical imbalances and disruptions, causing jerking or hesitation.

Common grounding issues include loose or corroded connections and damaged ground wires.

Addressing Electrical Problems

Diagnosing and addressing electrical problems can be complex and require specialized knowledge and equipment. It is recommended to consult a qualified technician or professional mechanic who can use diagnostic tools to identify and resolve electrical issues in your GMC Terrain.

Promptly addressing any electrical problems can help prevent further damage and ensure your vehicle’s overall performance remains consistent. In conclusion, both dirty air filters and electrical problems can contribute to jerking in your GMC Terrain.

Regular maintenance, including air filter replacements, can help prevent restricted airflow and maintain optimal engine performance. Additionally, addressing any electrical issues promptly by seeking professional assistance can help ensure the proper functioning of your vehicle’s electrical system, minimizing the chances of jerking and other performance issues.

GMC Terrain Jerking and its Relation to the Car’s Suspension System

The suspension system in your GMC Terrain is responsible for providing a smooth and comfortable ride. It consists of various components that work together to absorb shocks, maintain stability, and ensure optimal handling.

While the suspension system primarily focuses on ride quality, it can indirectly contribute to jerking issues in certain situations. Here’s a closer look at the relation between GMC Terrain jerking and the car’s suspension system.

Worn Out or Damaged Suspension Components

Over time, the suspension components in your Terrain can wear out or become damaged due to normal wear and tear or external factors like rough road conditions. Worn-out or damaged shock absorbers, struts, control arms, bushings, or sway bar links can affect the stability and control of your vehicle.

When these components are compromised, it can lead to jerking sensations, especially when driving over bumps or uneven surfaces. The weakened suspension system may not effectively absorb impacts, causing the vehicle to bounce and jerk.


Proper alignment is crucial for stable and smooth handling. When the wheels of your GMC Terrain are not correctly aligned, it can cause uneven tire wear and affect how the vehicle tracks down the road.

Misalignment can also lead to a loss of control and cause jerking or pulling to one side. Improper alignment can be caused by factors like hitting potholes, curbs, or objects on the road.

Regular alignment checks and adjustments can help prevent jerking due to misalignment.

Tire Issues

Tires are an integral part of the suspension system, as they provide grip and absorb shocks from the road. Worn-out or improperly inflated tires can have a significant impact on the performance of your Terrain.

Bald or unevenly worn tires can result in reduced traction and compromised stability, leading to jerking during acceleration, braking, or cornering. Inadequate tire pressure can also contribute to irregular tire wear and affect the suspension system’s performance, potentially causing jerking.

Suspension Modifications

Some GMC Terrain owners choose to modify their suspension systems to enhance performance or give their vehicle a specific look. While modifications can provide certain benefits, improper or unbalanced suspension modifications can lead to negative effects, including jerking.

Inadequate modification techniques, incorrect component installation, or incompatible parts can disrupt the suspension system’s functionality, causing the vehicle to behave unpredictably and result in jerking.

Addressing Suspension-Related Jerking Issues

If you suspect that the suspension system of your GMC Terrain is causing jerking issues, it is important to have a comprehensive inspection performed by a qualified mechanic or technician. They can assess the condition of the suspension components, check for misalignment, and identify potential tire-related issues.

Depending on the findings, the following actions may be recommended:

1. Suspension Component Replacement: Worn-out or damaged suspension components may need to be replaced to restore the intended functionality.

This could involve replacing shock absorbers, struts, control arms, or sway bar links. 2.

Suspension Alignment: If misalignment is identified as the cause of jerking, the wheels and suspension components may need to be realigned to restore proper geometry and balance. 3.

Tire Inspection and Replacement: If tire wear or improper inflation is contributing to jerking, it may be necessary to replace the tires and ensure they are properly inflated and balanced. 4.

Suspension Modification Review: If suspension modifications have been made, a review of the modifications and adjustment of any improper modifications may be necessary to address jerking issues.

What Role the ECM Plays in GMC Terrain Jerking Issues

The Engine Control Module (ECM), also known as the Powertrain Control Module (PCM), is a critical component of your GMC Terrain’s electronic system. It acts as the vehicle’s brain, monitoring and controlling various engine and powertrain functions to ensure optimal performance.

While the ECM mainly focuses on managing the engine’s operations, it can indirectly contribute to jerking issues. Here’s a closer look at the role the ECM plays in GMC Terrain jerking issues.

1. Engine Performance Control: The ECM regulates fuel injection, ignition timing, and airflow to achieve efficient engine operation.

Any malfunction or fault within the ECM can disrupt these processes, leading to inconsistent power delivery and potential jerking. ECM issues can cause misfiring or improper timing, resulting in erratic engine operation.

2. Sensor Monitoring: The ECM relies on input from various sensors, such as the mass airflow sensor, throttle position sensor, and oxygen sensor, to gather information about the engine’s conditions.

If any of these sensors fail or provide incorrect data, the ECM may make inaccurate adjustments to the engine’s fuel-air mixture or ignition timing, potentially causing jerking. 3.

Diagnostic Capabilities: The ECM has built-in diagnostic capabilities that can detect and store trouble codes related to engine or powertrain issues. When a fault is detected, the ECM illuminates the check engine light and stores relevant diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs).

These codes can provide valuable information about the underlying issue causing jerking and guide the diagnosis and repair process. 4.

System Integration: The ECM communicates with other systems in your Terrain, such as the transmission control module (TCM) and the anti-lock braking system (ABS). If there is a communication issue or fault within the ECM or any integrated systems, it can affect the vehicle’s overall performance, potentially leading to jerking.

Diagnosing and Addressing ECM-Related Jerking Issues

If you suspect ECM-related issues are contributing to the jerking in your GMC Terrain, it is recommended to consult a qualified mechanic or technician with expertise in diagnosing and repairing electronic systems. They will use specialized diagnostic tools to retrieve stored trouble codes and conduct further testing to identify the root cause of the jerking.

Potential solutions may include:

1. ECM Reprogramming: In some cases, reprogramming the ECM with updated software or firmware can address performance-related issues.

2. Sensor Inspection and Replacement: Faulty or malfunctioning sensors that provide incorrect data to the ECM can be identified and replaced to restore proper functionality.

3. ECM Replacement: In rare cases of ECM failure, the ECM may need to be replaced to resolve the jerking issues.

It is crucial to trust the diagnosis and repair of ECM-related issues to professionals with the necessary expertise and equipment. Attempting DIY solutions without proper knowledge and tools can lead to further complications or incorrect repairs.

In conclusion, while the suspension system and the ECM primarily focus on different aspects of your GMC Terrain’s performance, they can indirectly contribute to jerking issues. Maintaining a well-functioning suspension system, timely addressing worn-out components or misalignment, and ensuring proper ECM operation by diagnosing and addressing ECM-related issues can help resolve jerking problems and restore your Terrain’s smooth and comfortable ride.

The Importance of Choosing the Right Octane Rating for GMC Terrain Fuel

Selecting the proper octane rating for the fuel you put in your GMC Terrain is essential for maintaining optimal engine performance and preventing issues such as jerking. The octane rating indicates the fuel’s ability to resist knocking or premature detonation in the engine.

Understanding the significance of choosing the right octane rating can help you make informed decisions about fueling your Terrain.

Understanding Octane Ratings

Octane ratings generally come in three common grades: regular (87 octane), mid-grade (89 octane), and premium (91-93 octane). The octane rating represents the percentage of octane present in the fuel compared to heptane, a hydrocarbon blend susceptible to engine knocking.

The higher the octane rating, the greater the fuel’s ability to resist knocking.

Relation to GMC Terrain Performance

Modern vehicles like the GMC Terrain are equipped with advanced engine control systems that adjust various parameters, including fuel delivery and ignition timing, to maximize performance based on the fuel’s octane rating. Using the correct octane rating specified by the manufacturer ensures that the engine operates optimally.

Using Fuel with a Lower Octane Rating

Using a lower octane fuel than recommended for your Terrain can result in knocking or pinging in the engine. Knocking occurs when the fuel-air mixture ignites prematurely or unevenly, causing pressure waves that can damage engine components and lead to jerking.

The Terrain’s engine control module (ECM) is designed to detect knocking and adjust parameters, but prolonged exposure to low-octane fuel can strain the system and impact performance over time.

Using Fuel with a Higher Octane Rating

While using a higher octane fuel than the manufacturer’s recommendation is generally not harmful, it may not offer any significant benefits. Higher octane fuel is designed to resist knocking in high-performance engines with high compression ratios.

The GMC Terrain’s engine does not typically require a higher octane rating, and using it may lead to increased fuel costs without noticeable performance gains.

Recommendations for GMC Terrain Fuel

To ensure optimal engine performance and minimize the risk of jerking, it is recommended to use the octane rating specified by the manufacturer for your GMC Terrain. Consult your owner’s manual or the sticker located on the inside of the fuel door to determine the appropriate octane rating for your specific model.

If your Terrain’s owner’s manual suggests using regular (87 octane) fuel, it is best to stick to this recommendation for everyday driving. Using higher-octane fuel is unnecessary unless directed to do so by the manufacturer.

However, in some situations, such as tow

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