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Increasing suspension travel and/or lifting (was: Model 3 Offroaders!)

87201 Views 529 Replies 54 Participants Last post by  Atraf
I have my Model 3 on order and I am super stoked about my new EV.
That said, I am concerned about the low suspension, especially in the snow (high centering is a pain).
Because of the air suspension on the Model S, I don't believe there has been any discussion about traditional coil suspension lift kits.

Does anybody have any thoughts about the possibility of a custom suspension lift on a Model 3?
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Here is @MountainPass lift kit in action, combined with tall Toyo tires... on a Model Y
I'm playing with the idea of doing something similar to the Model 3. Would like to get @MountainPass lift kit and would like to use an A/T tire (26" A/T tires are hard to come by probably for good reason).

Anyone successfully attempt this? @Mad Hungarian

BF Goodrich KO2 A/T was what I was hoping would fit but the smallest is a 255/55R18 which is a 29" diameter tire...
- I think the wheel well would fit a 29" tire but I'm not sure about tire clearance when turning front tires
- Also steering knuckle/ upper control arm would definitely hit (unless a 15-25mm spacer would give clearance needed).

Option #2 is the same tire i1 Tesla used the Toyo Open Country A/T III which is offered in a 225/55R18 which is a 27.7" diameter tire.
-i1 Tesla used a 255/55R19 which is a 30" tire on Model Y which I'm assuming has larger wheel wells)
- The 225/55 (8.9") is also a narrower tire than the 235/45 (9.3") that come stock on Tesla 18's so maybe that would clear knuckle/control arm?

Currently have Michelin Primacy MXM4 all seasons for the summer and Michelin Latitude X-ice XI2 for the winter.

Thoughts? RIP range
You and me both, while I'm not a big fan of dodging the front upper knuckle with spacers (hate them, plus that would probably cause rubbing against wheel well) nor by narrow tire (on slick dry roads car already lacks grip with stock 235 tires in my experience). If you figure out anyway to get i1's model Y's setup on your Model 3... please do share! I'd love to be able to go on trails similar to the one shown in that video but with our ground clearance its not really feasible :(

Is this a 17" wheel with 215/55R17 tire??

Specs please!
Tire/rim make, model, size (stock studs?)
Any aftermarket parts other than MPP's lift kit?
Any further modification? sanded front upper knuckle?

What is your driving experience like? grip/comfort? (in any tested condition, ex: dry asphalt/dirt roads/gravel/wet asphalt/mud/snow roads/sand etc)
before/after clearance? (center wheel>body, floor > lowest point in car's body?)

Summer 280Wh/mi
Winter 318Wh/mi

Disgusting power consumption? Yep.

Regrets? None. Would recommend a Model Y though now that it is for sale.
Summer range: 267.8miles
Winter range: 235.8 miles

I wouldn't call it disgusting, its a tradeoff, which can definitely make sense depending on situation.
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Oh man I was pretty close, you might be the only person in the world with 17" wheel on Model 3, thank you for the specs! I love your build!
Both 215 tire and 7 width wheel is crazy narrow, I find stock 235 on 8.5 borderline insufficient in terms of traction, I suppose the trade is simple, you either go narrow and dodge the upper knuckle or you get as close to it from below (from what I gather 255/45R18 on 9 width would do that, with MPP lift and rear camber arms). Your approach probably gives superior mud/snow traction, thus you might actually have the most capable off-road Model 3.
Hey if you ever feel like filming your car passing through mud and/or snow .. I'd definitely watch!

There's an update to that i1 Model Y build, posted by MPP:
Loving it and super jelly we can't pull the same build on our Model 3.
I believe he went for 255/60R19 (31" diameter), which has 6" sidewall, in theory he could have went with 255/65R18 for 6.5" sidewall or 255/70R17 for 7" sidewall, but I'm unsure if Model Y's brakes are the same as Model 3 so maybe 17" is impossible, I have seen a video by Unplugged performance where they put the Model 3 aero 18" on a Model Y.
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I have to say, personally I want a Model Y lowered to make it more of a sporty hatchback...

But seeing i1Tesla's perfectly raised Y with high profile wheels made me realize it looks so much better and more naturally like an SUV with a bit more height!

In other words, Tesla picked something in the middle which when they should have offered both. Loving that @MountainPass offers both options, and I hope they see a big payoff for that!
Like this? :)
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Got a 35mm kit TÜV approved togheter with German company Delta 4x4, this is the result :) The rims are drilled with a -7,5mm et, just enough to fit 245/50r18 tires. Follow the car on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/technobingo/
Looks great and very well put together!

Would love to hear more about your setup (ex, are the light bars an off the shelf product or did you make it yourself? what's the width of your wheels? and why not mountain bikes =p?)
Got a 35mm kit TÜV approved togheter with German company Delta 4x4, this is the result :) The rims are drilled with a -7,5mm et, just enough to fit 245/50r18 tires. Follow the car on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/technobingo/
Looks great and very well put together!

Would love to hear more about your setup (ex, are the light bars an off the shelf product or did you make it yourself? what's the width of your wheels? and why not mountain bikes =p?)
To answer some of my own questions:

The tires are actually 235/50R18 not 245/50R18, putting them 0.3" larger diameter than what I assumed was the biggest that could fit (255/45R18) (instead of 0.6" bigger) that is ... assuming the offset doesn't push them to the side of the front upper knuckle (which I don't believe they do... but I'm not sure):
Tire Wheel Automotive tire Tread Synthetic rubber

The exact tire is: Falken WILDPEAK A/T TRAIL TIRE
Tire Automotive tire Tread Synthetic rubber Wheel
Rectangle Font Screenshot Parallel Number

Since this tire only fits rims that are 6.5-8.5 and since the wheels (Delta4x4 Klassik_B Black) only come in either 8.5" or 9" we can safely assume that the above is using 8.5" which is the OEM width.
Wheel Tire Automotive tire Locking hubs Tread

The bicycles aren't typical (at all) nor made for road, they are for gravel routes (looks fitting for the landscape too), they are pricey but look to be of real good quality: Cannondale TopStone Carbon Lefty 1

Only remaining questions are:
1. Is the offset/ET really 7.5mm or is it stock-7.5mm (so 40-7.5 = 32.5mm)?
2. If the above answer is 7.5mm, do the tires stick out of the car front/rear?
3. What is the car's range with this setup?
4. Lightbar, DIY? what parts you bought? off shelf item? link?
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Got a 35mm kit TÜV approved togheter with German company Delta 4x4, this is the result :) The rims are drilled with a -7,5mm et, just enough to fit 245/50r18 tires. Follow the car on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/technobingo/
Even more answers:
Lightbar is by https://www.rigidindustries.com/ found out via https://www.bilkomponenter.no/products/rigid-sr2-20-led-e-merket that was mentioned on his instagram comments here: instagram[]com/p/CERU08PF3BU/ the same Norwegian store sells a relay (https://www.bilkomponenter.no/products/styrestrom-alc-ekstralys-tesla-model-3) that makes so the light bar turns on whenever you turn on the car's normal high beam which is handy.

He also has mini lightbar in the front air intake grill:

and his bike rack is by Thul: https://www.bilkomponenter.no/products/thule-raceway-2--sykkelstativ-for-bakluke --> https://www.thule.com/en-us/bike-rack/trunk-bike-racks/thule-raceway-pro-2-_-1685473

still confused about offset of his wheels ... maybe he actually meant negative 7.5mm as in -7.5mm to the point wheels and tires stick out and also entire wheel seats next to knuckle rather than under?

Also found another guy with Model Y that has same tires (same Falken model just different size):
Overall they are loud but not as loud as extreme winter tires ..

He mentioned that partially due to driving fast ... range is down 30%, this is inline with what we saw with i1 tesla's model y build .. really puts a damper on this setup ... not only is 200 mile range bad, you need to be able to get to your destination, stay there, and then go back, but the charging station is not at trail head so you then need to also make it to the super charger ... now add cold or hot weather and maybe your total range drops to 50%? what if you tow anything? 30%

This is cool concept and has very limited scope of viability but unless if you use a range extending trailer (connected via regain lines) ... with 2020 battery tech this is just not very practical.

If the car had 600 mile range than losing 100 miles for tires and another 200 miles for weather + towing would still give you ~150 miles to destination and 150 miles back ...

Cybertruck having 500 miles range despite weighing much more sort of gives me the impression that its based on tesla's next gen batteries already, it probably also has more of them ... perhaps if the Model 3 had them we could see similar range gains
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Got a 35mm kit TÜV approved togheter with German company Delta 4x4, this is the result :) The rims are drilled with a -7,5mm et, just enough to fit 245/50r18 tires. Follow the car on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/technobingo/
Wheel Tire Vehicle Sky Automotive tire
Wheel Sky Cloud Tire Car

The guys delivers some good content, really loving this setup.

My remaining question is regarding fitment, it really does look like his offset is negative, at -7.5mm like he said. This should be far enough so that the front wheel will entirely dodge the front upper knuckle.
Which can be done but combined with all terrain tires and you are easily looking at 25% range lost. I wonder if the tires could still fit under the front upper knuckle, without the crazy offset (maybe going as much as ET30mm or ET25mm). Which will hopefully have much smaller range impact?

I suspect that its possible because the 255/45R18 are only shorter than this 235/50R18 by 0.15".... which is not a lot.

I suppose I should go check the gap between my tire and the knuckle then run diff on the tire sizes and see if the match checks out.
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Found another one, pictures are of pretty poor quality but this are for sure the same 235/50R18 Falken all terrain tires.
I am trying to work out which offset does this wheels have, it looks far less extreme than the other setup, the other setup is negative ET-7.5mm which plays a major part in range loss.

Can anyone take a look at this picture and give a good guess to which offset this is?

Bonus video:
Pretttyyyy sure that this is Franz Simon (Germany based TV show host) I just have no idea what show or what episode this is from, would have loved to see the full segment
Wheel Sky Tire Car Vehicle

CCing @Mad Hungarian

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They posted 3 more photos of the build:

Wheel Tire Vehicle Car Volkswagen scirocco
Automotive tire Synthetic rubber Stairs Automotive design Rim

Got to say, brushed stainless steel wrap does look nice
Tire Wheel Automotive tire Motor vehicle Bicycle tire

I'm still looking into it ... will post an update if I find out more
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@Atraf when it rains that car ain't going anywhere! I'd say those tires are gonna be stuck AF in the mud. Stick to the gravel roads if you get that package.
I suppose it highly depends on the consistency of the mud, black glue mud? yeah its going to not move at all, mostly watery mud that provide some buoyancy? not an issue:

Water over mud:
Muddy water over gravel parking lot:

Deep water on paved roads:

Mid wheel water over concrete:

(Bonus, Y pulling a boat out of water:"

And X going through a flooded street on live TV:

And all of the above are supposedly with at best all season tires, not lift or all terrain tires.

That said, I plan to stick to pretty much dry dirt and gravel roads, no water or mud :)
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Okay, the 235/50R18 Falken
Different car. Stock configuration Model Y is pretty competent IMO at least as much as any similar size Subaru. It's exactly the difference in ride height and wheelbase between a vehicle stuck-in and one that makes it through... from experience with Subaru's and a Model 3 anyhow. Open invitation anyone with a stock suspension/wheels Model Y (maybe some different tires if you want) wants to go mudding around I'll bring the orekart and we can compare :)
The first four videos are Model 3? only the last two are different cars.

It's starting to look like the all terrain tires might not work out after all, despite some (at least 2 as far as I was able to find out) people doing it: 27.3" diameter seems to be just a little to much for the front, might clear cold but not when its hot :\ (+centrifugal at high speed will definitely push it over the threshold) updates to follow.
Someone actually did it, someone built a Safari edition of the Model 3 (based on AWD LR variant):

Tires used are (probably, not sure at this time):
Cooper Tire DISCOVERER AT3 4S 265/60R18
... or 235/60R17

Looks stunning, wish they shared more info on what they done.
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Hmmm, if those are 235/50R18's on a non-Performance car, then my guess is the offset is somewhere around +30.
You are correct @Mad Hungarian I just got confirmation, 18x8.5 ET+30mm.

I also reached out to Falken, Continental and Michelin regarding how much can we expect their tires to expend during usage (~100mph, ambient 90f etc). Falken and Michelin did not respond, Continental forward the question to their engineering team and their answer was this:
Human body Rectangle Font Magenta Circle

As far as I know 693.166mm is the point of contact of front upper knuckle, thus, even though 255/45R18 fits without rubbing on 18x9" ET+30mm, it will rub on high speed, and the same goes for 235/50R18 on 18x8.5" ET+30mm.
Sadly it looks like 245/45R18 is probably the largest you can go without rubbing, the alternative is crazy offset/spacers and/or super thing (215) tires in order to "dodge" the upper knuckle ... but this is terrible for traction.

Tesla cars are so strong you might not even notice the "breaking" (pretty sure that there was a story posted here long time ago on some Model X that had brakes that were always engaged ... people still drove them just fine unaware ..) but one thing you will notice is range. easily 30%+ range loss for knuckle rubbing.

This might need to find its way into tire guides.... tires expand due to heat and centrifugal forces.

Wish Tesla made one (and raced it / competed with it), would surly drive innovation (and would be hella cool to watch).
Sort of what I was aiming for but ... a more down to earth / less extreme version :), definitely nice to see that someone pretty much done it.
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Got a response from Michelin and an update from Continental:
Continental: the wider the rim is (ex 9.0J instead of 8.5J) the lesser the effect would be,
My take: Since they only test some tire sizes on some rim sizes I don't have data for 18x9J so its entirely possible that 255/45R18 works on 18" x 9J with ET+30mm but it is also possible that it doesn't, on 8.5J the expansion takes you from 27" to 27.4.4" and my measurement shows that you would be rubbing beyond 27.3" (and since 235/50R18 starts at 27" cold AND using 8.5J [max supported size according to Falken's datasheet] it is DEFINITELY not a good fit and probably why owner sees 30% range loss).

Michelin: We do not provide this data to the public, it is confidential.
My take: what a load of crap, what a primary school level of excuse, and its not even a good one, look, they might not have it as they probably don't test every single supported rim size for every tire that they make (probably...), but to say its confidential while anyone with access to dyno can easily test it (or ... with a sheet of white paper and some tape ... or a well positioned camera ... or just feel..... if you went and you bought what you thought worked and then you tracked it and felt rubbing then well now you know... so since people will find out anyways, why hide it?
Their logic is to just follow what the car manufacturer recommends and not to ask too many questions ...
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You know you might still be able to get away with the 255/45R18 at +30 because the bulk of the expansion is going to happen at the center of the tire, not the shoulder where we're concerned about knuckle interference. I also think that max service diameter number is likely achieved at the tire's top rated speed, which you realistically aren't going to be reaching too often unless you're planning to track the car (or risk some big tickets :)). I'm going to the office this aft and I'll grab one of the ETRTO manuals and see if I can get any more details for you on that.
But I think it might work, especially if you use the 9.0" width to better stabilize carcass.
That does sound plausible, 9.0" reduces the effect, effect is most pronounced in center, max reported value is definitely at max supported speed & max heat - which I'm not realistically like to drive at, all true, would love to know what would you find in the ETRTO manuals, thank you so much @Mad Hungarian !
It's not even dirty yet... and where's the larger-than-life giant spoiler wing? No fake frunk clips?

You might even be able to go full lock on the steering without interference... unacceptable!

We're close, but not there yet. Try harder. We've got some catching up (with the Subaru WRX modders and pickup truck weenies) to do.
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There you go, now all that we miss is a video of it eating dunes, I wonder how quickly you can run out the batteries, on track I herd you can get the 2,000 Wh/mi that sort of runs you out after 37 miles assuming you are not overheated ... but I wonder ... if you are not trying to floor it and are just cruising on sand ... would you make it 100 miles? how about 150? too bad this guy isn't on this forums
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@c2c asked me to chime in here on the tire width reduction part of the discussion, happy to oblige.
Although the ETRTO (European Tire and Rim Technical Organization) does list an interesting number of narrower 18" tires that would fit, the narrowest suitable sizes that are commonly available in North America would be 215/50R18 or 215/55R18.
Both have load indexes that fall within the OE range for Model 3, so that's not a concern.
The 215/50R18 is 0.2" taller than OE and the 215/55R18 is a full inch taller than OE, so these would increase ride height 0.1" and 0.5" respectively.
Of course you won't get the same handling or ultimate grip that the OE 235/45R18 offers, but I don't think it would be dangerously worse. Probably somewhere in the range of a really soft 235/45R18 winter tire on dry asphalt as far as transient capabilities are concerned, so still plenty safe and likely won't drive the ESC crazy.
Note that the use of either of these sizes would require going to narrower wheels, they both have a rated rim width range of 6.0" to 7.5". I'd also recommend that the new narrower wheels have an offset of around +30, this will position the outer shoulder of the narrower tire similarly to that of the OE 235/45R18 on the OE +40 wheel and help ensure airflow around the wheel opening is disturbed as little as possible.
Oh hey, I found your older post that covers this, I assume nothing have changed :sweatsmile:

I tried Discount Tires and although they were bound by corporate policy to require XL load rated tires for mounting on Tesla Model 3 applications (yeah they have some bull**** computer data nothing to be done about it) - the technician graciously offered to program and install the Schrader 33500 TPMS modules I'd provided to the wheels; at his insistence that the Schrader 34000 clamp in kits were all defective for not having a threaded inset (!?) I figured let it go as he's offered to program TPMS sensors for no cost, works for me, so they were installed as pull-through style. True to the exacting corporate policy he had me sign for a zero dollar receipt of the TPMS programming work performed. Moving on...

I tried a few other shops to finally get an alignment done since I'd not yet done that after installing the MPP Lift Kit. What a bunch of nonsensical horse**** I heard from the corporate owned franchise shops that offered alignment services (Les Schwab Tires among others). Frustrating as hell. Everything from "fire hazard it will burn down our shop" to "too expensive to have in our shop" and "we don't work on modified suspensions" (while I'm looking right at a few extreme lift non-stock pickup trucks in the bays) It's just a car with normal suspension components but none of the big shops within a reasonable distance of home would take the risk to work on it.

Found a local wheel and tire shop in the industrial part of town with some down-to-earth technicians, and they took the car for alignment and all went super smoothly. What exactly is the malfunction for the big fancy pants corporate franchises? I am amazed.

More detail about how I got the alignment done in my post on the MPP Lift Kit Thread

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While the car was on the rack we mounted the 215/60R17 Yokohama A/T G015 tires on the new BRAID 17x7+25 wheels and installed.

So... this is the first Tesla in the world on 17's and All-Terrain tires?

Clearance details:
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Rear wheel fore suspension link bolt head

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Stock Aero 18x8.5's have this milled out bit between the lug positions, while aftermarket wheels do not.

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When installing aftermarket wheels you will need to unbolt the smaller locating bolt (one per rotor at one of the holes between lug stud locations) which are a holdover from the manufacturing process.

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View 1-of-3 from inside the rear wheel outward looking at the rear calipers and brake line banjo bolt.

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View 2-of-3 from inside the rear wheel outward looking at the rear calipers and brake line banjo bolt.

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View 3-of-3 from inside the rear wheel outward looking at the rear calipers and brake line banjo bolt.

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The stick-on wheel weights for tire balancing would rub on the rear brake line banjo bolt. The weights would certainly not fit in line with the rear brake calipers so to clear those obstacles they need to be inline with the landing between the banjo bolt and where the brake calipers become largest in profile. The shop technician's comment was that there is no lip on the BRAID wheel to mount an alternative clip-on wheel weight.

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Front wheel clearance to steering knuckle view 1-of-2

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Front wheel clearance to steering knuckle view 2-of-2

I'm curious to learn if a 225/60R17 tire could be crammed on there but I don't think I'll be trying any time soon. As-is now with 215/60R17 that is as close to the steering knuckle as I care to get on a big flexible tire.

Driving differences are it feels fine in dry paved road, the road noise is noticeably increased over stock Aero 18's, nothing feels dangerously bad from the first impression on surface streets, 70mph highway pavement, gravel roads, and dirt roads. On level pavement the clearance is sitting at about 18cm (7in) ground to skateboard with the weight of a set of Aero 18's wheels and tires loaded in the vehicle. I liked the feel over rough gravel and dry dirt better than stock, it seems to smooth out those conditions especially with respect to the stiffer feeling suspension after having installed the MPP Lift Kit.

Mud and snow testing will have to wait.
Did you ever find out if 225/60R17 works?

And ... I feel like the next logical step after bigger tire (be it 255/45R18 or 215/60R17 ...), and @MountainPass Lift Kit ... is portal axles:
Wheel Tire Motor vehicle Automotive lighting Automotive tire
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If I got my math right... that would add an additional 4" of clearance on 18" wheel (not 6" as it in itself takes space)

And then probably skid plates... bonus points if they all come in @MountainPass signature blue color
CCing @Sasha Anis @Sasha Anis
Maybe rally coilovers that instead of lowering the car would add +1" ?

So that's +0.35" from tires, +1.75" from lift kit, +1" from coilovers and +4" from portal axles, total of 7"
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Portal axles.

On a 3??

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It's either portal axles or aftermarket front upper knuckle that retains same wheel geometry and same strength as OEM part but otherwise is shaped differently to allow more clearance.
If only @MountainPass or @unpluggedperformance (or well, any other reputable company) would have made such a part ... we could fit those Falken A/T tires...

OK, back to being (or attempting to be) helpful...

Here are the relevant pages from the ETRTO Engineering Design manual that cover the dimensional parameters and their associated formulas.
The entries you're concerned with are number 9 on the 2nd page and number 11 on the 3rd page.
As you'll see, the Maximum Overall Diameter in Service would basically appear to be some 4% larger than the Maximum Design Overall Diameter. Now that's the max, the actual growth in service can be (and in most cases almost certainly is) less, however unless the manufacturer is willing to share their test data for the exact SKU in question we're still left to assume it falls somewhere between 0% and 4% growth.

Again, because your potential interference point is really only at the shoulder where I expect growth to be minimal, I don't think this will be an issue.

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Thank you!
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