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Best Torque Wrench for the Money - Top Picks by Application

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Updated: 17-September-2023

Premium brands like Matco and Snap-on make the best torque wrench with respect to accuracy and reliability, however, they are the most expensive torque wrenches in the market. If you are here reading this post, you are looking for a cost effective alternative to these premium tools.

We have conducted a thorough market survey to find the best torque wrench for each of the most common applications including general automotive repair work of motorcycles, cars and jeeps; tightening of lug nuts; automotive engine overhauling and rebuilding; overhauling of small to medium size generators and repair of electrical equipment, HVAC equipment and general home appliances.

Torque wrenches have two basic parameters of selection i.e. drive size and torque range. Combinations of these parameters decides the fitness of a torque wrench for a particular application, therefore, we have categorized our recommendations accordingly.

Don’t forget to read a short discussion on why torque and torque wrenches matter at the end of the rankings. We are sure you’d find it insightful.

Our Top Picks at a Glance

Drive Size 1/4"

These are small torque wrenches used for small fasteners such as oil pump cover screws, oil cooler bolts and bracket bolts of motorcycle's power unit.

Drive Size 3/8"

These torque wrenches will cover majority of small to medium size screws and bolts in automotive assemblies such as muffler bolts, spark plugs, engine generator rotor bolts and engine oil drain bolts.

Drive Size 1/2"

These torque wrenches will cover comparatively larger screws and bolts such as lug nuts, driveshaft castle nuts and strut assembly mounting bolts.

Best 1/4" Torque Wrench for the Money - Top 3 Picks

The 1/4" drive size is used for small fasteners such as oil pump cover screws, oil cooler bolts, generator cover bolts, clutch spring and cover bolts, coolant drain bolts and bracket bolts of motorcycle power units. These torque wrenches come in in-lb scale because of the smaller range of torque values they have to handle. We found the following three torque wrenches to be good value for money in the 1/4" drive size,

1. CDI Click Type Torque Wrench Model 1501MRMH (20-150 in-lb.)

Our Rating: 8.8 / 10

CDI is subsidiary of Snap-on and provides high quality tools at comparatively lower prices than Snap-on tools. This 1/4" CDI torque wrench features a beam length of around 10" that is a good combination of compactness for fitting in tight places and leverage for ease in tightening screws. Torque is adjusted in 1 in-lb increments.

To give some examples of its use, this torque wrench will install new clutch and brakes as well as torque the valve cover on your 2000 Honda Prelude. It will safely torque the aluminum fasteners on your car that are easy to damage by over-torquing so you can use it for assembling automobile engine's M6 screws into aluminum threaded holes without a worry.


It will also take care of your motorcycle maintenance, dirt bike maintenance or repairing your carbon fiber bicycle. Some people have given positive feedback of its use even in maintenance of private aircraft. In short, it is a great choice for any professional or home mechanic looking for torquing light duty fasteners.

It complies to ASME B107 standard for performance and safety requirement of torque wrenches and comes with a dated calibration certificate, however, the calibration certificate tests it in 30-150 in-lb range.

Lifetime warranty provided by CDI is the best warranty in competition making it our top pick as the best torque wrench for the money based on its accuracy, certification and compliance to standards.

Pros

Features dual scale in both ft-lb and Nm so you don't have to use conversion charts.

Measures torque in both clockwise and anti-clockwise directions - a feature that puts it ahead of competition.

Torque adjustment scales are etched on the metal surface so they don't fade away over time.

Torque adjustment mechanism comprises a pull down lock ring that snaps back in place after torque is adjusted. It prevents torque setting from getting disturbed during use better than a conventional locking knob does.

Socket removal button allows very easy replacement of socket - a feature not common in competition.

Comes with a calibration certificate to serve as an authentic reference of its last calibration date and accuracy percentages.

Compliant to ASME B107 standard on performance and safety requirement of torque wrenches vs. no such compliance traceable in competition.

CDI tools are warranted by Snap-on to be free from defects and poor workmanship issues over useable life of the product. It constitutes the best warranty terms in competition.

Comes with a case for storage.

Shortcomings

The torque adjustment scales are not painted that can sometimes cause difficulty in reading etched markings over shiny metal finish.

Tidbit

We used the term ASME above. ASME stands for American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Headquartered in New York City, ASME is a not-for-profit organization that publishes standards and guidance documents in the area of mechanical engineering. Compliance to their standards is not mandatory by law but voluntary. However, compliance to ASME standards expresses proactive approach of the manufacturer towards high quality standards for its products.

2. GEARWRENCH Click Type Torque Wrench Model 85060 (30-200 in-lb.)

Our Rating: 8.4 / 10

GEARWRENCH has made a good reputation in the industry for providing quality tools at a reasonable price. This 1/4" drive torque wrench works in 30-200 in-lb. range with a beam length of 12" and torque adjustment increments of 1 in-lb.

It features a reversible ratchet, however, measures torque in clockwise direction only.

It is a great choice for working on European made bikes, transmission rebuilds and for working on aircrafts (due to its small profile allowing it to work in confined spaces).

Like CDI, GEARWRENCH also meets or exceeds ISO 6789 and ASME B107.300-2010 standards and specifications on performance and safety requirement of torque wrenches.

Overall it is a good tool with reliable accuracy for working in general mechanical, electrical and automotive applications.

No. of ratcheting teeth could not be traced for this tool, however, its swing per click is slightly larger than desired for working in restricted spaces.

Pros

Features dual scale in both ft-lb and Nm so you don't have to use conversion charts.

Torque adjustment scales are etched on the metal surface so they don't fade away over time.

Torque adjustment mechanism comprises a pull down lock collar that snaps back in place after torque is adjusted. It prevents torque setting from getting disturbed during use better than a conventional locking knob does.

Comes with a calibration certificate to serve as an authentic reference of its last calibration date and accuracy percentages.

Meets or exceeds ISO 6789 and ASME B107.300-2010 standards and specifications on performance and safety requirement of torque wrenches.

1 year warranty against defects and calibration accuracy warrantied for 90 days.

Comes with a case for storage.

Shortcomings

The torque adjustment scales are not painted that can sometimes cause difficulty in reading etched markings over shiny metal finish.

No socket removal button.

3. TEKTON Click Type Torque Wrench Model TRQ21101 (10-150 in-lb.)

Our Rating: 8.4 / 10

TEKTON ties with GEARWRENCH in our rating with its 8.8" beam length, 1 in-lb torque adjustment increments and the ability to measure torque in both clockwise and anti-clockwise direction.

TEKTON gives the best support with its lifetime warranty without receipt of purchase and it would've received a higher rating in our list if conformance to ISO/ASME standards was traceable and if a calibration certificate was provided with the tool.

It will come in handy for tightening plastic parts and small screws in your quad bike maintenance or for your mountain bike repairs. It will install fuel injectors, spark plugs and transmission pan for mechanics or rebuilding the old turbo. It will be useful for maintenance of lawn equipment by homeowners and will also serve gunsmiths for repairing firearms.

Apart from some complaints about its 'click' being too subtle, it is the best torque wrench for the money for motorcycles, bikes and cars. Combining this torque wrench with another of 3/8" drive size, the set will take care of majority of everyday applications in a workshop.

Pros

Features dual scale in both ft-lb and Nm so you don't have to use conversion charts.

Torque adjustment scales are etched on the metal surface then filled with paint so they neither fade away over time nor cause any difficulty in reading over glossy metal finish.

Torque adjustment mechanism comprises a pull down lock ring that snaps back in place after torque is adjusted. It prevents torque setting from getting disturbed during use better than a conventional locking knob does.

Measures torque in both clockwise and anti-clockwise directions - a feature that puts it ahead of competition.

Socket removal button allows very easy replacement of socket - a feature not common in competition.

Lifetime warranty and support by TEKTON is the best warranty in competition.

Comes with a zipper case for storage.

72 ratcheting teeth reduce swing per click to make it very useful in tight spots where you can't make a large arc to torque the screw.

Shortcomings

Does not come with calibration certificate.

Compliance to ASME/ISO standards not traceable.

Best 3/8" Torque Wrench for the Money - Top 3 Picks

The 3/8" drive size is used for small to medium size fasteners on electrical, mechanical and automotive equipment for example brake caliper screws, engine connecting rod screws, cylinder head bolts, oil pump screws, flywheel and clutch pressure plate bolts.

These torque wrenches generally come in ft-lb scale. We found the following three torque wrenches to be good value for money in the 3/8" drive size,

1. CDI Click Type Torque Wrench Model 1002MFRMH (10-100 ft-lb.)

Our Rating: 9.0 / 10

As stated earlier, CDI is subsidiary of Snap-on and provides high quality tools at comparatively lower prices than Snap-on tools. This 3/4" CDI torque wrench features a beam length of around 16" that provides adequate leverage to the user. Torque is adjusted in 1 in-lb increments and it measures torque in both clockwise and anti-clockwise direction.

It complies to ASME B107 standard for performance and safety requirement of torque wrenches and comes with a dated calibration certificate, however, the calibration certificate tests it in 20-100 ft-lb range.

In this regard, some complaints about accuracy have been observed in the lower torque range but as long as you follow the famous 20-80% rule of torque wrenches, it is accurate.

From tightening lug nuts and motor work for home mechanics to car rebuilding for hot rodding, this tool has got you covered.

Lifetime warranty provided by CDI is the best warranty in competition making it our top pick as the best 3/8" torque wrench for the money based on its accuracy, certification and compliance to standards.

Pros

Features dual scale in both ft-lb and Nm so you don't have to use conversion charts.

Measures torque in both clockwise and anti-clockwise directions - a feature that puts it ahead of competition.

Torque adjustment scales are etched on the metal surface so they don't fade away over time.

Torque adjustment mechanism comprises a pull down lock ring that snaps back in place after torque is adjusted. It prevents torque setting from getting disturbed during use better than a conventional locking knob does.

Socket removal button allows very easy replacement of socket - a feature not common in competition.

Comes with a calibration certificate to serve as an authentic reference of its last calibration date and accuracy percentages.

Compliant to ASME B107 standard on performance and safety requirement of torque wrenches vs. no such compliance traceable in competition.

CDI tools are warranted by Snap-on to be free from defects and poor workmanship issues over useable life of the product. It constitutes the best warranty terms in competition.

Comes with a case for storage.

Shortcomings

The torque adjustment scales are not painted that can sometimes cause difficulty in reading etched markings over shiny metal finish.

2. Precision Instruments Split Beam Click Type Torque Wrench Model PREC2FR100F w/Flex Head (20-100 ft-lb.)

Our Rating: 8.0 / 10

The split beam type torque wrench by Precision Instruments features a tool length of around 17" for good leverage but in 2 ft-lb torque adjustment increments.

This tool has two specialties that makes it standout above competition. First is that its adjustment knob features a dial like design with no spring tension to fight against and no worries about the adjustment getting disturbed because of your grip on the handle during work - a typical problem with micrometer type torque wrenches.


Secondly, this tool does not have to be 'turned down' after use to preserve its calibration - another convenience not available with micrometer type torque wrenches.

To give an idea of its use, it will torque brake caliper pins, suspension parts, lug nuts and help any mechanic or DIYer in engine and suspension reassembly (like torquing the engine head bolts). It will also be useful for bike maintenance like torquing Harley ironhead bolts.

Backed by 1 Year warranty, it is a great value addition to automotive and general mechanical toolkit.

Pros

Flex head design gives additional flexibility to torque a hard to reach screws.

Tool doesn't need to be turned down to lowest torque setting after use - a convenience not available in conventional micrometer torque wrenches.

Torque adjustment mechanism comprises a dial like design that makes torque adjustment more convenient as you don't have to fight against spring tension. Moreover, it prevents torque setting from getting disturbed during use better than a conventional locking knob does.

Comes with a calibration certificate to serve as an authentic reference of its last calibration date and accuracy percentages.

1 Year warranty against defects.

Comes with a case for storage.

Shortcomings

With around 32 ratcheting teeth, its swing per click is slightly larger.

Only features ft-lb scale and not Nm scale. You will have to use conversion chart.

No socket removal button.

Compliance to ASME/ISO torque wrench standards not traceable.

Tidbit

We referred to 'turning down’ a torque wrench above. Since micrometer torque wrenches have a spring mechanism inside, it is recommended that when not in use, it should be turned down to its lowest setting to preserve its accuracy. It is important because keeping its spring loaded for prolonged periods of time can cause it to loose its calibration quickly.

3. LEXIVON Click Type Torque Wrench Model LX-182 (10-80 ft-lb.)

Our Rating: 7.5 / 10

The LEXIVON LX-182 comes with a beam length of over 24" that gives great leverage for easy tightening of bolts, it measures torque in clockwise direction only.


Its torque adjustment increments are a little coarse at 2.5 ft-lb, however, its range of 10-80 ft-llb covers a wide variety of bolts and screws. With both ft-lb and Nm scales available on the tool, you won't require a conversion table.

It is a great tool for any home bicycle workshop, weekend mechanics and home owners. From tightening the brake calipers and spark plugs to water pump replacement and working on outboard motor head, this tool is a great choice. It will also help a hobbyist build that racing go kart motor.


There is some negative customer feedback about its click being too subtle, however, if you are not a professional and don't use torque wrench on a regular basis, this is a great tool at a very low price.

Pros

Features dual scale in both ft-lb and Nm so you don't have to use conversion charts.

1 Year warranty extendable to 2 years on product registration.

Comes with a calibration certificate to serve as an authentic reference of its last calibration date and accuracy percentages.

Comes with case for storage.

Shortcomings

Torque adjustment scale is painted and not etched on surface that carries a risk of markings fading away over time.

Compliance to ASME/ISO standards not traceable.

No socket removal button.

With around 24 ratcheting teeth, its swing per click is slightly larger.

Best 1/2" Torque Wrench for the Money - Top 5 Picks

The 1/2" drive size is used for comparatively larger fasteners on electrical, mechanical and automotive equipment for example lug nuts, driveshaft castle nuts, strut assembly and brake caliper housing bolts of off-road vehicles. We found the following five torque wrenches to be good value for money in the 1/2" drive size,

1. CDI Click Type Torque Wrench Model 2503MFRMH (30-250 ft-lb.)

Our Rating: 9.1 / 10

CDI comes up again at top with its 1/2" torque wrench that features a beam length of around 24" that provides good leverage to reduce user effort. Torque is adjusted in 1 ft-lb increments and it measures torque in both clockwise and anti-clockwise direction.

It complies to ASME B107 standard for performance and safety requirement of torque wrenches and comes with a dated calibration certificate.

This torque wrench will not just tighten the lug nuts of your car but of your truck, travel trailer and tractor also. Whether you are looking to install rear axle nut back on your Ducati Monster 1200 or installing disc brake frame on your Chevy truck, this tool has got you covered.


In fact, it will do much more than just installing disc brake on your truck. It will work for draglinks, tie rod ends, ARP studs and kingpins as well.

Lifetime warranty provided by Snap-on for its subsidiary's tool combined with its accuracy and reliability makes it our top recommendation as the best 1/2" torque wrench.

Pros

Features dual scale in both ft-lb and Nm so you don't have to use conversion charts.

Measures torque in both clockwise and anti-clockwise directions - a feature that puts it ahead of competition.

Torque adjustment scales are etched on the metal surface so they don't fade away over time.

Torque adjustment mechanism comprises a pull down lock ring that snaps back in place after torque is adjusted. It prevents torque setting from getting disturbed during use better than a conventional locking knob does.

Socket removal button allows very easy replacement of socket - a feature not common in competition.

Comes with a calibration certificate to serve as an authentic reference of its last calibration date and accuracy percentages.

Compliant to ASME B107 standard on performance and safety requirement of torque wrenches vs. no such compliance traceable in competition.

CDI tools are warranted by Snap-on to be free from defects and poor workmanship issues over useable life of the product. It constitutes the best warranty terms in competition.

Comes with a case for storage.

Shortcomings

The torque adjustment scales are not painted that can sometimes cause difficulty in reading etched markings over shiny metal finish.

Tidbit

We used the term ARP Studs above. ARP refers to Automotive Racing Products. It is the name of a manufacturer based in United States that specializes in making engine bolts for automotive racing applications. They have developed a good reputation for making reliable fasteners used in automobiles.

2. Precision Instruments Split Beam Click Type Torque Wrench Model PREC3FR250F w/Flex Head (50-250 ft-lb.)

Our Rating: 8.4 / 10

This split beam type torque wrench by Precision Instruments features a tool length of around 22" for good leverage but the increments are a little coarse at 5 ft-lb.

Like its 3/8" model, this tool also has two specialties that makes it standout above competition. First is that its adjustment knob features a dial like design with no spring tension to fight against and no worries about the adjustment getting disturbed because of your grip on the handle during work - a typical problem with micrometer type torque wrenches.


Secondly, this tool does not have to be 'turned down' after use to preserve its calibration - another convenience not available with micrometer type torque wrenches.

From weekend mechanics working on their RVs and trucks to professional automotive mechanics, this tool will take care of heavy duty jobs. From doing lug nuts to torquing the balancer bolt during procharger installation, this tool will get the job done.

Overall, it is a very good torque wrench for automotive workshops and mechanics.

Pros

Flex head design gives additional flexibility to torque a hard to reach screws.

Tool doesn't need to be turned down to lowest torque setting after use - a convenience not available in conventional micrometer torque wrenches.

Torque adjustment mechanism comprises a dial like design that makes torque adjustment more convenient as you don't have to fight against spring tension. Moreover, it prevents torque setting from getting disturbed during use better than a conventional locking knob does.

Comes with a calibration certificate to serve as an authentic reference of its last calibration date and accuracy percentages.

1 Year warranty against defects.

Comes with a case for storage.

Shortcomings

With around 32 ratcheting teeth, its swing per click is slightly larger.

Only features ft-lb scale and not Nm scale. You will have to use conversion chart.

No socket removal button.

Compliance to ASME/ISO torque wrench standards not traceable.

3. GEARWRENCH Click Type Torque Wrench Model 85066 (30-250 ft-lb.)

Our Rating: 8.2 / 10

Another GEARWRENCH model appears on our list with good performance at a reasonable price. This 1/2" drive torque wrench works in 30-250 ft-lb. range with a beam length of around 24" and torque adjustment increments of 2 ft-lb that is a little coarse.

It features a reversible ratchet, however, measures torque in clockwise direction only. GEARWRENCH meets or exceeds ISO 6789 and ASME B107.300-2010 standards and specifications on performance and safety requirement of torque wrenches.

From automotive car, truck and trailer work to mechanical joint fittings and industrial compressor repairs, this torque wrench fits variety of uses. Whether you have a Ducati or a Tacoma, this torque wrench will be a valuable addition to your toolbox.


Overall it is a good tool with reliable accuracy for working in general mechanical, electrical and automotive applications.

No. of ratcheting teeth could not be traced for this tool, however, its swing per click is slightly larger than desired for working in restricted spaces.

Pros

Features dual scale in both ft-lb and Nm so you don't have to use conversion charts.

Torque adjustment scales are etched on the metal surface so they don't fade away over time.

Torque adjustment mechanism comprises a pull down lock collar that snaps back in place after torque is adjusted. It prevents torque setting from getting disturbed during use better than a conventional locking knob does.

Comes with a calibration certificate to serve as an authentic reference of its last calibration date and accuracy percentages.

Meets or exceeds ISO 6789 and ASME B107.300-2010 standards and specifications on performance and safety requirement of torque wrenches.

1 year warranty against defects and calibration accuracy warrantied for 90 days.

Comes with a case for storage.

Shortcomings

The torque adjustment scales are not painted that can sometimes cause difficulty in reading etched markings over shiny metal finish.

No socket removal button.

4. TEKTON Click Type Torque Wrench Model 24340 (25-250 ft-lb.)

Our Rating: 7.9 / 10

TEKTON 24340 features 18.5" beam length for good leverage; 1 ft-lb torque adjustment increments with provision of measuring torque in both clockwise and anti-clockwise direction.

With its lifetime warranty without receipt of purchase, TEKTON gives the best support and it would've been a plus if conformance to ISO/ASME standards was traceable and if a calibration certificate was provided with the tool.

From the occasional axle nut and brake calipers of your truck to the torquing of your trailer's lug nuts before and after each trip, this torque wrench has got you covered. It will work on suspensions, cylinder heads, fuel injectors and any other heavy duty bolts worked by mechanics.

As far as customer feedback is concerned, there have been some complaints about its click being too subtle, however, there have been lots of positive feedback for using this tool on cars, jeeps and tightening lug nuts that makes it the best torque wrench for the money for tightening lug nuts and general car repairs.

Pros

Features dual scale in both ft-lb and Nm so you don't have to use conversion charts.

Torque adjustment scales are etched on the metal surface then filled with paint so they neither fade away over time nor cause any difficulty in reading over glossy metal finish.

Torque adjustment mechanism comprises a pull down lock ring that snaps back in place after torque is adjusted. It prevents torque setting from getting disturbed during use better than a conventional locking knob does.

Measures torque in both clockwise and anti-clockwise directions - a feature that puts it ahead of competition.

Lifetime warranty and support by TEKTON is the best warranty in competition.

Comes with a case for storage.

Shortcomings

Does not come with calibration certificate.

Compliance to ASME/ISO standards not traceable.

No socket removal button.

With 24 ratcheting teeth, its swing per click is slightly larger.

5. LEXIVON Click Type Torque Wrench Model LX-184 (25-250 ft-lb.)

Our Rating: 7.5 / 10

The LEXIVON LX-184 comes with a beam length of over 24" that gives great leverage for easy tightening of bolts, it measures torque in clockwise direction only.


Its torque adjustment increments are a little coarse at 2.5 ft-lb. With both ft-lb and Nm scales available on the tool, conversion table will not be needed.

It will replace the rotors and brake pads whether it is your 2007 Tahoe or the latest Tacoma. It will torque axle nuts, strut mounts, CV joint nuts, wheel hub bearing nuts, RV hitch nuts and weight distribution hitch bolts, U-bolts, engine head bolts and suspension bolts without any complaint.


Its accuracy of clicks and overall reliability may not be good enough for everyday professional use, however, it is very good option at a cheap price for occasional use.

Pros

Features dual scale in both ft-lb and Nm so you don't have to use conversion charts.

1 Year warranty extendable to 2 years on product registration.

Comes with a calibration certificate to serve as an authentic reference of its last calibration date and accuracy percentages.

Comes with case for storage.

Shortcomings

Torque adjustment scale is painted and not etched on surface that carries a risk of markings fading away over time.

Compliance to ASME/ISO standards not traceable.

No socket removal button.

With around 24 ratcheting teeth, its swing per click is slightly larger.

Best Digital Torque Wrench for the Money

Digital torque wrenches have made their way in the market. The main appeal of digital torque wrenches lies in their ease of use, however, there is skepticism in the industry about their accuracy and long term reliability. They are also mote delicate and sensitive to environment than mechanical torque wrenches.

Nonetheless, the convenience digital torque wrenches provide can outweigh their cons in a lot of applications and if your application is of such nature, you might have already checked the most expensive electronic torque wrenches made by premium brands in the industry. Just like we made recommendations for cost effective mechanical torque wrenches, we hereby present our recommendation on best digital torque wrench for the money.

GEARWRENCH Electronic Torque Wrench

Our Rating: 8.6 / 10

GEARWRENCH electronic torque wrench models 85076 (3/8" drive) & 85077 (1/2" drive) feature 25" beam length for ensuring good leverage for the user. It measures torque in both clockwise and anti-clockwise direction with electronic torque adjustment increments of 0.1 ft-lb - finer than majority mechanical torque wrenches.

It provides torque measurements in 5 units including ft-lb, in-lb, Nm, kg-m and kg-cm vs. a maximum of two scales provided in mechanical counterparts.

Noticeable complaints include startup problem at subzero temperatures and that the tool powers off if not used after a set period of time that might create hindrance in work where you use torque wrench intermittently.

Pros

5 Measurement units including ft-lb, in-lb, Nm, kg-m and kg-cm.

Measures torque in both clockwise and anti-clockwise directions.

Electronic torque adjustment eliminates risk of disturbing the torque setting during work due to grip on handle.

Comes with a calibration certificate to serve as an authentic reference of its last calibration date and accuracy percentages.

Compliant to ASME B107 standard on performance and safety requirement of torque wrenches vs. no such compliance traceable in competition.

1 Year warranty against defects and 90 days warranty for calibration accuracy.

Comes with a case for storage.

72 teeth ratcheting head gives a very fine rotation and low swing per click making it suitable for tight spaces.

Shortcomings

Battery not included in package.

No socket removal button.

Why Torque & Torque Wrench Matters? – A Layman Peek into the Physics of Nuts & Bolts

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