Honda Civic EK9 Type R Buyer’s Guide & History

Honda Civic EK9 Type R

Honda Civic EK9 Type R Buyer’s Guide & History! The EK9 has one of the best performance hatches to come out of Japan during the 1990s. Good ones are becoming harder and harder to find and the car has become some what of a classic Honda.

Honda EK9 Type R Honda Civic Type R EK9 buying guide will give you all the information you need to know about purchasing one of these spectacular cars.

How to Use Honda Civic EK9 Type R Buyer’s Guide

This guide is broken up into a number of different sections. To start with we will be looking at the history of the Honda Civic EK9 Type R and then we will go into the buyer’s guide section of the article.

Honda is Type R name was reserved for the company’s special performance models and it first appeared on the NSX Type R in 1992. The EK9 Civic has the third car to be given the Type R badge after the NSX and the Integral Type R DC2.

Honda introduced the EK9 Civic Type R in 1997 and it shared many characteristics with the Integra Type R. The car was put on a serious diet and anything unnecessary, such the sound deadening was removed.

Power was produced by a 1.6-litre hand ported B16B engine that boasted one of the highest power outputs per liter of all time for a naturally aspirated engine. With 182 horsepower at 8,200rpm and 118lb ft at 7,500 rpm, the EK9 Civic Type R was no slouch and could go from 0-100 km/h (62 mph) in as little as 6.7 seconds.

Along with the hand ported engine, Honda also fitted a front helical limited-slip differential and a close-ratio 5-speed manual transmission. To improve chassis rigidity, Honda’s engineers strategically seam welded the monocoque chassis, a first at the time. Cornering performance was also improved with the use of upgraded sway and strut bars.

On the inside, the EK9 Type R was given a red themed interior, with red Recaro bucket seats, red door cards, and red Type R floor mats. To top it off, Honda fitted the Type R with a titanium shift knob and a Momo leather-wrapped steering wheel.

In 1998, Honda launched the Civic Type R Motor Sports Edition. This car came with steel wheels, no power windows or steering, no air conditioning, no radio and the same red Type R interior.

The Type Rx Civic was fitted with a CD player, auto air condition, body colored retractable electric door mirrors, power windows, aluminum sports pedals, a keyless entry system, and a carbon center panel.

In 1999. Honda tuning company Spoon Sports produced a N1 racing version of the Type R Civic that featured a B16B engine with a redline of 11,000 rpm.

Honda Civic EK9 Type R

Honda Civic Type R – EK9 Specification

Model Honda Civic EK9
Year of production 1997 – 2000
Layout Front-engine, front-wheel drive
Engine Inline-4, B16B
Capacity 1595 cc
Power(hp) 182
Torque(lb/ft) 118
Gearbox 5-speed manual
Tyres 195/55/R15
Weight 1073 kg (2366lbs)
Top speed 235 km/h (146 mph)
0 – 100 km/h (62 mph) 6.8 seconds

How to Purchase a Honda Civic Type R – EK9

Present that we have covered the history and specifications of the EK9 Type R, let’s take a look at buying one. This section of the article will be focusing on specific problems and things to watch out for on the EK9.

Always try to inspect any second hand Civic Type R EK9 yourself or find a third party that can do so for you. Honda’s are known to be reliable, but they can go wrong, so try to always physically inspect any vehicle before purchasing it.

When organizing an inspection of a Civic Type R EK9, make sure you try to view the car in the morning when the engine is cold. Warm engines can hide a number of different problems, so don’t let the owner/seller pre-heat the vehicle before you arrive.

Try to avoid inspecting any EK9 when they are wet. Water can hide a load of issues with the bodywork or paint, which can be expensive to fix.

At the end of the buyer’s guide we have information on how to get the best deal on a Civic Type R, where to buy one, and how to import one from Japan. Carry on reading below:

Vin Location

We always recommend that you check the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) of an EK9. The VIN on an EK9 Type R should look something like this: EK9-#######.


Around 16,000 EK9 Civic Type Rs were produced and a fair few are in poor condition, so it is important to inspect any one you are thinking of buying thoroughly. Still, they are a reliable car and if they are looked after properly they should provide many more years of motoring enjoyment.


To start your inspection, open the bonnet and take a good look at the engine bay – do you see any signs of trouble? Is it clean and well maintained?

Once you have done this, check all the fluid levels to see if they are at the correct height. Incorrect fluid levels can lead to a whole host of problems and are a sign of a poorly maintained vehicle.

The engine oil and oil filter should be changed regularly. Old oil that sits at the bottom of an EK9’s crankcase can breakdown and become diluted in the presence of contaminates such as dirt and gas, leading to premature engine wear. Below we have listed when they should be replaced.

Engine oil – Honda states that oil should be changed every 10,000 km (6,000 miles), but many owners like to do it every 5,000 km (3,000 miles) or every six months to a year. Replace with good quality synthetic or semi synthetic 10W-30, 15W-40 or 10W-40 oil will work (30 better in cold climates, 40 better in warm). Tuning company Spoon recommends 10W-30 in most circumstances. 

Oil filter – The filter should be changed every 10,000 km (6,000 miles), but some enthusiastic owners will change it every 5,000 km (3,000 miles) with their engine oil change. The original oil filter has the part number H15400RBAF01. Hamp or OEM oil filters are the most recommended (other brands can work as well).

Any contaminates or metallic particles in the oil should make you walk away. Black oil is okay and just indicates it may be time for an oil change. Oil that smells like fuel or coolant could indicate that the piston rings are worn or the head gasket is failing.

At around 40,000 km (24,000 miles) the air filter and fuel filter should be replaced. Part numbers 17220p2ne01 and 16010st5e02 respectively. Coolant should be changed every 78,000 km (48,000 miles) or so.

Burning Oil

EK9s can burn a bit of oil if the wrong type is used, so watch out for that. Some find that something like 10W-40 oil can help fix the problem. Burning oil and smoke can be a sign of other more serious issues with the vehicle.


Make sure that the cambelt/timing belt has been changed every 100,000 km (60,000 miles) or 5 years on EK9s. It is a good sign if it has been changed sooner as it shows that the owner cares for the vehicle. If you are unsure when it was last replaced, get the work done immediately if you buy the car. The following should also be changed/worked on along with the cambelt on an EK9 Type R:

If this work has not been carried out, either move onto another EK9 or try to get a discount on the vehicle and get the work done yourself.

Exhaust System of an EK9

Inspect as much of the exhaust system on an EK9 as possible, checking for any leaks, corrosion or repairs. Black sooty stains indicate a leak. Excess corrosion on the weld points of the exhaust system is a major problem that needs to be fixed. Remember to check for any cracks or dodgy repairs along the exhaust or exhaust manifold.

Aftermarket exhaust systems are available, but they can lower the value of the car (especially now that the EK9 is starting to become a classic). Make sure that any aftermarket exhaust has been installed correctly.

Oil Leaks on EK9 Type R Civics

As the EK9 is getting a bit older expect to see some very minor oil leaks on some of the cars you inspect. If you notice a large oil leak or there is a big pool of oil underneath the car, you should probably walk away. Make sure you check for any oil leaks both before and after a test drive of an EK9 Civic Type R.

Compression Testing EK9 Type Rs

It is not necessary to do a compression test before purchasing an EK9 Civic Type R, but they can give you a lot of information about the health of an engine. If you do want to do a compression test on an EK9 we recommend that you take it to a mechanic (unless the owner is happy for you to do it and you know what you are doing.

Compression readings across all four cylinders should be around 210 – 230 psi. The most important thing with a compression test is to make sure that the results are all within about 5 to 10 % of each other and that the results are not too low.

How to Start Driving a Honda Civic Type R EK9

Always get the owner to start a vehicle for you as it will give you an indication how they treat it. If they thrash the car when it is cold, you know to walk away. Additionally, if you get the owner to start the vehicle you will be able to see if any smoke comes out the back when the engine starts.

When the owner turns the key in the ignition, the car should start immediately. Listen out for any strange noises or signs that the vehicle is struggling to start. If the EK9 you are looking at struggles to start or runs rough, there is a problem. Any bangs or load knocks should make you walk away from an EK9. If the temperature is cold outside, the car may run rougher, but should smoothen up.

Metallic whining sounds can be a sign of a failing power steering pump or oil pump. Additionally, squeals from the cambelt area may indicate that a belt is worn (cambelt itself, alternator, etc.). Chugging or misfiring may be caused by low compression or worn injectors.

VTEC Engagement

Make sure that the VTEC system engages properly when you test drive an EK9 Civic Type R. Once the car is up to temperature, accelerate both hard and slow to test this. If VTEC does not engage it could be caused by anything from incorrect oil pressure to coolant temperature issues and more.

Smoke and Engine Vapour from an EK9

Remember to check for any smoke or vapour from the exhaust when the car starts and while it is running. Vapour caused by condensation is perfectly fine as long as it disappears. Excessive amounts of smoke or vapour should make you walk away from an EK9 Type R. We have outlined what the different smoke colors mean below:

White smoke – Is usually caused by water that has made its way into the cylinders and could be a sign of a blown head gasket. If the smoke smells sweet, it is almost certainly coolant.

Blue smoke – Is usually caused by wear to the pistons, piston rings, and/or worn valve seals. To check for blue smoke, get a friend to follow you as you drive the car or get the owner/seller to take the car through the rev range. Blue smoke on start-up and overrun is a sign that the car has been thrashed.

Black smoke – Usually occurs when the engine is running too rich (burning too much fuel). The first things you should check is the air-filter and other intake components.

Overheating and Blown Head Gaskets

If you are driving an EK9 Type R and it overheats or begins to overheat, you should look elsewhere. Overheating can be a massive issue and can lead to enormous expense down the line. We have listed some signs of a blown head gasket below, if you think that is the problem:


The EK9 Civic Type R encourages you to drive fast, so the 5-speed manual transmission on these cars can take a bit of a beating. Check the service records to make sure the gearbox oil has been changed at least every 78,000 km (48,000 miles). Some owners like to change it even more frequently, which is not a bad thing. The EK9’s transmission takes around 2.2 liters of Honda MTF (you should see it flowing out when the transmission is full).

While test driving an EK9 Type R, shift through all the gears at both low and high engine speeds, listening out for any strange noises such as grinding or whining – there should be none. Whining or howling noises may be a sign that the incorrect transmission oil has been used or the bearings are damaged from continuous high rpm shifting.

The transmission may be a bit tight when cold, but should loosen up as it warms up. Synchro wear can be a problem, especially on third gear. If the car does have synchro wear, it is a good indication that the vehicle has been thrashed.

Wheels and Tyres

Check the wheels to see if they are curbed or damaged, and if they are aftermarket ones check with the owner to see if they still have the originals. Additionally, take a good look at the tyres and check for the following:

EK9 Type Rs were fitted with 195/55/R15 tyres.

Interior and Electronics

Take a good look at the seats and interior trim pieces on an EK9 Type R. Look out for any rips, stains or material fade. Additionally, check to see if the seats slide on the runners correctly and make sure they don’t move under braking or during acceleration.

Remember to check the steering wheel, gear shifter, pedal and carpets/mats for wear as they can indicate how far an EK9 has travelled. If they look overly worn for the miles the car has done, the vehicle’s odometer may have been wound back.

During a test drive and inspection of an EK9 Type R, make sure all the buttons, switches and toggles work correctly. Check the dashboard for any warning lights. If there are none during start up the car may have an issue, or the owner may have disconnected them to hide an issue.

Aftermarket components need to be inspected closely to make sure they work and are installed correctly. Poor workmanship here can be a sign of a careless owner.


Check the clutch to make sure it works correctly. We have outlined the processes below:

Clutch Engagement – Put the EK9 into gear on a level surface and slowly let the clutch out. It should engage around 7 to 10 cm (2.5 to 4 inches) from the floor. If it engages immediately or near the end of the pedal’s travel, there is a problem.

Clutch Slippage – Shift into a gear that is too high for the speed you are going and then plant your foot on the throttle. If the engine speed jumps but there is no acceleration the clutch is slipping. Clutch slippage can be caused by the following:

Clutch Drag – Put the EK9 on a level surface with the clutch pedal pressed to the floor (when you are stationary) and rev the car hard. If the vehicle moves then the clutch is not disengaging when you shift and parts will wear prematurely.

Juddering or a stiff pedal can also be a sign that the clutch needs replacing. The life of a clutch will depend on how it has been treated and how the car has been driven. They can last a long time or wear quickly if the vehicle is thrashed a lot.

Body and Exterior

The body and exterior of an EK9 is probably going to be the biggest cause for concern. There are two main things to watch out for.


Rust can be a major problem, especially on EK9’s that have been stored outside, have lived by the sea or live in countries that salt their roads. If you find significant amounts of rust you should move onto another EK9. The most common places to find rust are as follows:

Remember to check for any signs that rust has been repaired in the past. Look for any inconsistencies in the paint or areas where the car may have been resprayed. Check the service history and any other paperwork to see if rust has been repaired. Ask the owner about rust, but remember they may try to hide problems from you!

Destroy/Accident or Damage on EK9 Civic Type Rs

A good number of EK9s have been in accidents, so check to make sure the car you are inspecting is straight. Owners/sellers may lie about the severity of an accident, so don’t always trust their word.

Below we have listed some signs of accident damage:

Other Bodywork Issues

Most EK9 Type Rs have travelled far and will probably have the odd scratch or dent, so watch out for those. Also watch out for any paint fade or lacquer peel as these problems can be expensive to fix.

Leaks may be an issue on cars that have been stored outside for a long time as the rubber seals can perish due to the elements.

Suspension and Steering System

Take a good look at all the suspension and steering components of the EK9 you are inspecting – do they look in good condition, or are they worn, damaged or corroded? Damaged suspension and steering components can be expensive to repair/replace, so make sure they are in good condition!

Additionally, if the EK9 features aftermarket suspension components make sure they have been installed correctly and see if the owner still has the originals. Aftermarket suspension components can also ruin the handling characteristics of an EK9 Type R, so it is important to check this during a test drive. If the aftermarket parts are from a poor brand, move onto another EK9.

Worn suspension components will ruin the handling of an EK9 Type R. Below we have listed some things to check or keep an eye out for when inspecting a vehicle’s suspension.

If the EK9 Type R you are looking at does not drive straight without you correcting the wheel, the wheel alignment is probably out, or it may have been in an accident. Check with owner/seller to see when the wheel alignment was last done.

Remember to check the CV joints. Physically inspect the boots to see if they are torn and check the joints for any leaks. While test driving an EK9, drive in a figure of 8 and listen for any strange knocking or clicking sounds coming from the CV joints.


While you are inspecting the bodywork and suspension component, take a good look at the brakes – do the pads still have life left in them? Are the discs pitted/scored or do they have any grooves in them? Are the brakes corroded at all?

We also recommend checking the brake lines for any leaks. If it is possible, get a helper to press on the brake pedal while you inspect the brake lines.

During a Test Drive

While test driving an EK9 Type R, make sure you test the brakes both under hard and light braking situations. If the car pulls to one side or you hear any strange noises, there is a problem. Additionally, if the pedal feels bad or the car does not stop properly, the brakes will need some attention.

A car that pulls to one side during braking could have a sticking/seized caliper or several other issues. Seized brakes can occur when a vehicle has been left standing for a period of time. If a brake caliper has seized, you may notice a load thud when you pull away for the first time.

A judder through the steering wheel under braking may be an indication that the discs are warped and need replacing. This will probably first become apparent under high speed braking.

Aftermarket brakes

You may come across an EK9 Type R with aftermarket brakes. This is perfectly fine, just make sure they are from a good brand such as Brembo. For everyday use, the OEM brakes are more than good enough.

General Car Purchasing Advice for the EK9 Honda Civic Type R

How to Get Yourself the Best Deal On an EK9

This information applies to both dealers and private sealers. Knowledge is power and it can save you a lot of money when purchasing a vehicle.

  1. Do your research. Before you start your search for a Type R make sure you know what model and condition you are happy with. Are you okay with a highly modified EK9 or do you want something that is completely stock? Do you want a low mileage example or are you happy with a car that has travelled far?
  2. Shop around. Don’t limit yourself to just one dealer, seller or location. Check out various different dealers and sellers to find the best car and get the right price. Limiting yourself to just one area will make it more difficult to find your dream Civic Type R EK9.
  3. Test drive multiple cars. Don’t just take one Type R out for a test drive and then buy it. Drive as many EK9s as you can get your hands on. This will give you a good idea of what makes a good and what makes a bad Type R EK9.
  4. Adjust your attitude. Don’t rush into purchasing any old EK9. If you are desperate to buy a car you are more likely to get ripped off. Take your time looking through all the different vehicles available and then go inspect the ones you think look promising.
  5. Use any issues with the car to your advantage. Take a mental note of any issues you find with the vehicle. When it comes to discussing the price, use these problems to try and drive down the price. For example, if the car needs new tyres or brake pads make a point of it and try to get the seller to reduce the price.
  6. Don’t trust the owner. While some owners/sellers are honest about their cars, many will lie to get a quick sale. Take in what the owner has to say, but check out the vehicle thoroughly and inspect all the car’s documentation.
  7. Bounce between sellers/dealers. If you are looking at multiple Type Rs, let the owner/seller know. This way they will know that you have other options and they may try to undercut the price.
  8. Be prepared to walk away. If you are not happy with the deal, simply walk away. You may miss out on the car or the seller may get back to you with a better offer.

Mileage vs Condition

Mileage vs condition is always a big debate, but we recommend that you should always buy on condition and then on the mileage. There are lots of Honda Civic Type R EK9s out there with low mileage but in poor condition, while some high mileage examples may be perfectly fine.

Lots of owners make the mistake of believing that they are preserving their car by not driving it. In reality, this is completely false and not driving a vehicle can actually do more damage than good. Short distance trips are not kind to a Type R’s B16B engine as they do not have enough time to warm up and get lubricated properly.

Rubber seals and plastic parts will fail regardless of mileage and can even deteriorate quicker on cars that don’t get used often. Letting a car sit will not prevent rust or stop the electronics from failing.

Mileage will never decrease with age, so go out and drive your car!

Service History & Other Documentation

It is incredibly important to check any vehicle’s service history and any additional paperwork that goes along with it. The service history will give you a good idea of how the EK9 you are looking at has been maintained. In addition to this, receipts and paperwork for modifications can help you determine whether they have been done by an experienced tuner or a bad one.

If the owner can’t or won’t let you see the service history, you should probably pass on the vehicle. A complete service history will only add value to any Type R and will make it easier to sell the vehicle in the future.

Additionally, you can check websites such as CarFax (USA) and CarJam (NZ) for more information about the car you are thinking of purchasing. These sort of websites can be incredibly useful, but there is usually a cost associated with them.

Questions That You Should Ask the Seller/Owner 

There are loads more questions you can ask the seller, but we feel these are some of the most important.

Things Would Make Us Walk Away from a Type R EK9

Sometimes, the best option is to simply walk away from a vehicle. While you may be happy with a vehicle with these problems, we are not.

Notes on the Owner 

The owner is one of the most important things to think about when viewing any vehicle. You need to ask them plenty of questions when inspecting an EK9, but don’t trust their answers completely. Remember, it is your problem if you wind up buying a lemon. Below we have listed some things to consider about the owner.

If you get a bad feeling about the owner, you are better off moving onto another Civic Type R. There are plenty out there and you don’t want to wind up with a dog of a car.

Where to Find a Honda Civic Type R EK9 for Sale? 

Auction/Classifieds Websites

Websites such as Craigslist, Kijiji, TradeMe, Piston Heads and GumTree are excellent places to start your hunt for a EK9 Type R. You will find a range of Type Rs for sale at different prices and in different conditions. You can easily compare the price, specs and condition of different EK9s and you will be able to select the ones that look promising.

Dealers and Importers

Most dealers and importers will have an online presence, so make sure you check out their website for any Civic Type R EK9s for sale. Dealers tend to be a bit more expensive than private sellers, but sometimes you can get some extras thrown in or better protection.

Social Media

Websites such as Reddit, Facebook and even Instagram can be excellent places to find Civic Type Rs for sale. Check out some of the many enthusiast groups or subreddits and let other users know you are interested in buying a Honda Civic Type R EK9. Additionally, social media groups are often great places to find spare parts or get advice from other owners.

Owners’ Clubs

This sort of ties in with the above, but many owners’ clubs have their own website or they may not even have a website at all. Look to see if there are any EK9 or Civic Type R clubs in your area as these are often great places to find cars for sale or ask for advice.

Importing a Honda Civic Type R EK9 from Japan

If you are struggling to find a suitable Type R in your country, you may want to look at importing one from Japan. The Type R EK9 was originally only sold in Japan and there are still plenty of them available in the country.

Exporting vehicles from Japan is a big business as it keeps the country’s motor industry moving and older vehicles become more expensive to run. Below we have outlined everything you need to know about importing a Honda Civic Type R EK9 from Japan.

How to Import a Civic Type R EK9 from Japan 

While importing a Type R from Japan may seem a bit daunting, it is actually quite easy. The first thing we recommend you do is to Google search “import Civic Type R” or “Import EK9 Type R”. You will be greeted with loads of different websites to choose from. These websites will let you search for Type Rs based on their age, generation, condition, price and more.

Most of the websites/companies you encounter should be based in Japan, but you may find some other ones that are located in different parts of the world.

Make sure you check reviews/feedback of any website or auction house you want to use. While you are unlikely to get scammed, it can happen, so be prepared. We have listed a few examples of Japanese importers/exporters below:

Goo net Exchange – Is one of the biggest vehicle exporters in Japan and they have head offices in Tokyo and Nagoya. They have quite a good selection of Type Rs ready for export.

JDM Expo – Is an independent subsidiary of Nikko Auto Co., which is recognized as on the most reliable exporters of Japanese cars in the country.

Car From Japan – is another large portal for connecting overseas buyers with Japanese second hand cars. They have a number of Civics available for export.

Japan Partner – Is one of the fastest growing exporters of used Japanese vehicles and they have a range of Honda Civic Type Rs available for export.

Always read up on any website or auction house you are thinking of using. Look for reviews and feedback from people who have used to service before. While you are unlikely to get scammed, it can happen. Here are some examples of Japanese importers/exporters.

How Does the Japanese Car Grading System Work? 

The auction houses and car exporters in Japan all get their vehicles in roughly the same way. The difference between them is how much support they are willing to provide, how honest they are, and how they grade their vehicles

They will provide what is known as an ‘auction check sheet’ – a document that contains most of what you need to know about the vehicle. As you can’t see the vehicle personally, you will have to rely on the check sheet and other information on the listing to make a decision. If the seller/website is not willing to provide you with an auction check sheet or additional information on the car, don’t proceed any further.

Before you make a purchase you need to learn how to read an auction check sheet. The sheet contains information on the make, model, condition, specifications and any other notes. There will be a grade on the sheet that denotes the overall grade of the vehicle.

While the grade on a check sheet is important, you should not rely on it to make a final decision. Different companies have different methods for grading their vehicles, so a grade 4 for one company may be a grade 3.5 for another.

Some websites may use a different grading system and if you can’t view the auction check sheet, you should contact the seller/exporter.

Use the grade to whittle down the number of EK9s you are looking at and then use the check sheet and additionally information to make a decision. We also recommend you pay a third party to check out the car for you.

The Auction Check Sheet 

Below you can see an example of an auction check sheet. The grade is located in the top right corner of the check sheet. You will notice that there is both a letter and a number grade. The number indicates the overall condition of the vehicle, while the letter shows you the interior grade. At the bottom right of the check sheet is the ‘car map’. The car map tells you information about the exterior of the Evo and where any problems are located.

Additionally, the sheet contains information about the specs of the vehicle and any modifications (major or minor). The inspector may also write some additional notes about the car.

What Does the Number Grade Mean? 
The Letter Grade

As we wrote earlier, the number grade is usually accompanied by a letter that indicates the interior grade. An ‘A’ indicates that the interior is in exceptional or good condition. A ‘B’ indicates that the car is in average condition, while a ‘C’ displays that it is in poor condition. Grades below C show that the car’s interior is in very poor condition.

The check sheet will also contain what is called a “car map”, which tells you all the information you need to know about the exterior condition of the car. It will show the location of any problems or damage to the vehicle. Any problems are indicated by a letter and a number. The letter tells you what the issue is and the number indicates the severity.

Our Guidelines for Importing a Type R EK9 from Japan 

Know Your Country’s Importation Laws 

Always make sure you check your country’s importation laws as you may find you can’t bring the vehicle you want in. For example, some countries have certain restrictions on importing cars under a certain age.

Summary of this Honda Civic Type R Buyer’s Guide 

This guide should cover most of what you need to know about buying a Honda Civic Type R EK9. The EK9 is fast becoming a classic, but they can still be found for reasonable prices. Follow the advice in this Type R EK9 buyer’s guide and you should wind up with your dream Type R.

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