A heavy duty good for 3/4 ton capacity as opposed to the 1/2 ton of the F-150. The Super Duty doesn't get the 2004 redesign until later. The ride is stiff and bouncy. The new 6.0-liter Diesel packs some real punch and is fairly quiet and free of vibration. Stepping into the cabin is more difficult because of the high floor.
Alerts
There are 12 recalls on this vehicle. Learn More.

Road Test Results

Performance
Acceleration Acceleration Acceleration tests are conducted on a smooth, flat pavement straightaway at the track. Time, speed, and distance measurements are taken with a precise GPS-based device that’s hooked to a data-logging computer.
NA
0 to 60 mph 0 to 60 mph (sec.) The time in seconds that a vehicle takes to reach 60 mph from a standstill with the engine idling.
Transmission Transmission Transmission performance is determined by shifting smoothness, response, shifter action, and clutch actuation for manual transmissions.
NA
Fuel Economy Fuel Economy We perform our own fuel-economy tests, independent of the government's often-quoted EPA figures and the manufacturers' claims. Using a precise fuel-flow measuring device spliced into the fuel line, we run two separate circuits to represent city and highway consumption.
NA
CR's Overall Mileage CR's Overall Mileage CR's overall mileage is a composite of measured fuel usage on a prescribed city course and highway cruising; and CR's 150-mile test trip of mixed driving, if tested. In recent road tests, we've discontinued the 150-mile trip test.
CR's City Mileage CR's City Mileage Measured fuel usage on a prescribed city course.
CR's Highway Mileage CR's Highway Mileage Measured fuel usage on a prescribed highway cruising.
Annual Fuel Cost Annual Fuel Cost The cost and amount of fuel used in 12,000 miles and is calculated from CR's overall mileage.
Braking Braking The braking rating is a composite of wet and dry stopping distances and pedal feel. Braking distance is from 60 mph, with no wheels locked.
NA
Emergency Handling Emergency Handling Several factors go into the rating, including the avoidance maneuver speed and confidence, as well as how the vehicle behaves when pushed to its limit,
NA
Comfort / Convenience
Ride Ride Our expert judgment of how well the suspension isolates and absorbs road imperfections and how steady it keeps the body on various road surfaces.
NA
Noise Noise Our expert judgment of the vehicle's interior noise level in everyday driving.
NA
Front Seat Comfort Front Seat Comfort Our judgment of how comfortable the front seat is for drivers of various heights.
NA
Rear Seat Comfort Rear Seat Comfort Our judgment of how comfortable the rear seat is for two passengers to sit across.
NA
Interior Fit and Finish Interior Fit and Finish An expert evaluation of the interior quality and craftsmanship.
NA
Trunk/Cargo Area Trunk/Cargo Area Our rating is based on the amount of luggage or cargo space that a vehicle has in the trunk or cargo area.
NA

Owner Reports

Worse Better
Reliability History Reliability History The reliability charts are based on responses on hundreds of thousands of vehicles from our latest Annual Auto Survey. Consumer Reports subscribers reported on any serious problems they had with their vehicles during the past 12 months that they considered serious because of cost, failure, safety, or downtime, in any of the trouble spots included in the table below. The results are presented relative to the average model that year. Extra weight is given to the more serious areas such as major engine or transmission problems. Based on this data and further analysis, we predict reliability for the latest year. N/A indicates that we did not receive a large enough sample size to provide data for a specific year. An X indicates that the vehicle was not manufactured for a specific year.
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
NA
2008
2009
NA
2010
NA
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
2018
2019
Reliability Trouble Spots
Engine Major Engine Major Engine rebuild or replacement, cylinder head, head gasket, turbo or supercharger, timing chain or timing belt.
NA
Engine Minor Engine Minor Accessory belts and pulleys, engine computer, engine mounts, engine knock or ping, oil leaks.
NA
Engine Cooling Engine Cooling Radiator, cooling fan, antifreeze leaks, water pump, thermostat, overheating.
NA
Transmission Major Transmission Major Transmission rebuild or replacement, torque converter, clutch replacement.
NA
Owner Satisfaction Owner Satisfaction To learn about satisfaction, CR has collected survey data from our annual survey on more than half a million vehicles. Our subscribers provide great insights into their satisfaction by answering one simple question: If they had it to do all over again, would they definitely buy or lease the same model? In addition, respondents also rate their cars in six categories: driving experience, comfort, value, styling, audio, and climate systems. N/A indicates that we did not receive a large enough sample size to provide data for a specific year. An X indicates that the vehicle was not manufactured for a specific year.
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
NA
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
2018
2019
Driving Experience Driving Experience Includes acceleration and handling
Comfort Comfort Includes seats, climate control, noise, and ride
Value Value Did you get what you wanted relative to the price you paid?
Styling Styling How it looks inside and out
Safety Equipment
ABS available, standard from 2001. ESC not available, standard from 2011.
Model Summary
A heavy duty good for 3/4 ton capacity as opposed to the 1/2 ton of the F-150. The Super Duty doesn't get the 2004 redesign until later. The ride is stiff and bouncy. The new 6.0-liter Diesel packs some real punch and is fairly quiet and free of vibration. Stepping into the cabin is more difficult because of the high floor.
Seating
3 front, 3 rear
Drive Wheels
4WD , Rear
Warranty

In most cases, automotive warranties are based on the vehicle identification number (VIN), and the warranty will be valid regardless of ownership. The dealership can tell you exactly how much warranty is left.

Read more about extended warranties
Body Styles
extended cab
regular cab
crew cab
Transmissions Available
  • 5-speed Automatic
  • 4-speed Automatic
  • 6-speed Manual
Engines Available
  • 5.4-liter V8 (260 hp)
  • 6-liter V8 turbodiesel (325 hp)
  • 6.8-liter V10 (310 hp)
  • 7.3-liter V8 turbodiesel (250 hp)

Owner Reported Trouble Spots

The Reliability score is based on our latest subscriber survey of 2003 Ford F-250 owners. The owner comments describe problems respondents experienced with this vehicle.

Paint/Trim

Paint (fading, chalking, cracking, or peeling), loose interior and exterior trim or moldings, rust.

What Owners Say

Paint (fading, chalking, cracking, or peeling)

"Paint has been fading and oxidized for last three years"

William M., TX (2003 Ford F-250 XLT 7.3-L V8 diesel)

"fading and chalking of roof. Also somewhat on the hood. Otherwise paint looks great for a 14 year old"

Anonymous, FL (2003 Ford F-250 Lariat 7.3-L V8 diesel)

"After buying the truck used in 2006, and after more years in the Texas sun, I noticed the clear coat peeling on the the roof. Over time the clear coating film was bubbling on not only the roof but now on all the tops of all four doors down to the base of all the windows. On the bottom half of the truck and the hood, paint and clear coat are fine. Go figure. The paint is not peeling. Under the clear coat film, the paint is dull, but not peeling"

Stephan S., TX (2003 Ford F-250 XLT 7.3-L V8 diesel)

"Clear coat pealing"

John F., AZ (2003 Ford F-250 XLT 5.4-L V8)

"Goes along with answer about the rust"

Leslie P., WI (2003 Ford F-250 7.3-L V8 diesel)

"The undercoat is doing its job to prevent rust; but the paint is separating around the windshield! May be from windshield replacements!"

Anonymous, AB (2003 Ford F-250 XLT 6.0-L V8 diesel)
Rust

"Bottom of doors, rocker panels, and bed supports starting to show major deterioration due to rust"

Perry S., OH (2003 Ford F-250 XL 7.3-L V8 diesel)

"Rust holes in truck bed"

James M., MI (2003 Ford F-250 Lariat 7.3-L V8 diesel)

"Bed rusted from underside side step ups bolts pulled through edge of wheel wells rusted through"

Robert L., MI (2003 Ford F-250 XLT 5.4-L V8)

"starting to show some bubbling and rust around the wheel wells"

Anonymous, WI (2003 Ford F-250 XLT 6.0-L V8 diesel)

"The rust is bad in the fender wells and under the doors. It is put in a shed every night"

Anonymous, IL (2003 Ford F-250 XLT 7.3-L V8 diesel)

"This vehicle is a maintenance nightmare-starter failure, transmisson pan rusted and leaking, brakelines rusted and leaking causing brake failure, radiator replace because of leaking, brake shoes and rotors replaced-rusted, and this vehicle is garaged"

Rich C., OH (2003 Ford F-250 XLT 5.4-L V8)

"This was purchased in New England area. I was aware of some rust, but it seems extensive"

Anonymous, NC (2003 Ford F-250 XLT 5.4-L V8)

"My 2002 VW has NO rust. The Ford is one year newer and it has terrible rust around the real wheels, bottom of the doors, and on the oil pan. My husband will probably sell this car due too the rust when it should last 200,000 longer. It has the best"

Leslie P., WI (2003 Ford F-250 7.3-L V8 diesel)

"Fender wheel wells, and bottom of both front doors, and gas tank straps, and brake lines, and emergency brake cables and fittings have prolific rust and failures"

Curtis I., ME (2003 Ford F-250 XLT 5.4-L V8)

"the crossmember for the bed was rooted so I replaced it with a new bed"

Anonymous, NH (2003 Ford F-250 XL 5.4-L V8)

"The rust that has been showing up around the fenders may be from sub par accident repairs!"

Anonymous, AB (2003 Ford F-250 XLT 6.0-L V8 diesel)

"Rust at rear wheel arches"

Anonymous, NH (2003 Ford F-250 XL 5.4-L V8)

Fuel System

Check engine light, sensors (includes O2 or oxygen sensor), emission control devices (includes EGR), engine computer, engine computer, fuel cap, fuel gauge/sender, fuel injection system, fuel pump, fuel leaks, stalling or hesitation.

What Owners Say

Fuel gauge/sender

"Intermittent fuel gauge then total failure. Then the fuel pump failed"

Anonymous, WA (2003 Ford F-250 XL 5.4-L V8)
Fuel injection system

"Injectors were at the end of service life"

Anonymous, TX (2003 Ford F-250 Lariat 6.0-L V8 diesel)

"Fuel injectors went bad. There were 8 of them. Expensive to fix"

Susann B., NV (2003 Ford F-250 Lariat 7.3-L V8 diesel)

"This is the 2nd time that I've had to replace injectors"

Marvin P., NM (2003 Ford F-250 Lariat 6.0-L V8 diesel)

"No start...caused by a failed fuel injection control modual"

Howard P., NC (2003 Ford F-250 Lariat 6.0-L V8 diesel)

"Injection system clogs easily, needs constant injector cleaner use. Injector pump has weakened, activates check engine light"

Linda P., AZ (2003 Ford F-250 XLT 6.0-L V8 diesel)

"replace fuel injector sensor. caused hard starting cold and poor performance"

Donald E., TX (2003 Ford F-250 6.0-L V8 diesel)
Fuel pump

"Fuel pump failed engine would not start"

Jack S., AZ (2003 Ford F-250 XL 6.8-L V10)

"Fuel pump was intermittent then failed"

Anonymous, WA (2003 Ford F-250 XL 5.4-L V8)

"EGR valve total failure. Replaced entire unit"

Anonymous, NC (2003 Ford F-250 XLT 6.0-L V8 diesel)

"the computer that controls the injectors is prone to go out and it did"

Kevin G., CA (2003 Ford F-250 Lariat 6.0-L V8 diesel)

"the ficm"

Howard P., NC (2003 Ford F-250 Lariat 6.0-L V8 diesel)

Brakes

Antilock system (ABS), parking brake, master cylinder, calipers, rotors, pulsation or vibration, squeaking, brake failure or wear.

What Owners Say

"A simple replacement of the wheel sensor. One wheel only"

John J., MO (2003 Ford F-250 XLT 6.8-L V10)

"We have had recurring issues that an idenpendent repair shop and a Ford dealer have not been able to resolve"

Anonymous, ID (2003 Ford F-250 Lariat 6.8-L V10)
Calipers

"Calipers in front frozen. One side didn't move at all rear calipers rusted"

Robert L., MI (2003 Ford F-250 XLT 5.4-L V8)

"Would not release after breaking"

John J., MO (2003 Ford F-250 XLT 6.8-L V10)

"Brake pad came off and destroyed caliper and rotor"

Anonymous, TN (2003 Ford F-250 XLT 5.4-L V8)
Premature brake wear

"Used for towing heavy 5th wheel it has had all brake pads replaced 3 times in 5 years and rotors once. Trailer has had dealer replace trailer brakes once"

Richard M., AZ (2003 Ford F-250 XL 6.8-L V10)

"Ford dealer replaced brakes and the new ones did not last as long as original"

Anonymous, VA (2003 Ford F-250 XLT 5.4-L V8)
Normal routine brake wear

"had 116000 miles on factory breaks. It was time for them to get warn down and the back breaks are about one half gone and also at times pull a 34' rv"

Anonymous, TX (2003 Ford F-250 XLT 7.3-L V8 diesel)
Parking brake

"Emergency brake assembly mounting corroded apart. Needed to pull rear axle for repair. Year before emergency brake brake shoes were replaced"

Anonymous, PA (2003 Ford F-250 XLT 6.8-L V10)

"Wouldn't hold truck, repaired with replaced parts, brake works fine now"

Anonymous, KY (2003 Ford F-250 XL 5.4-L V8)

Engine Major

Engine rebuild or replacement, cylinder head, head gasket, turbo or supercharger, timing chain or timing belt.

What Owners Say

Cylinder head

"I had two cracked heads which blew the head gaskets and ruined the turbo. I also had to replace the computer. Cost $7000"

Steven S., FL (2003 Ford F-250 XLT 6.0-L V8 diesel)
Engine rebuild or replacement

"The engine was in essence rebuilt when the heads cracked"

Steven S., FL (2003 Ford F-250 XLT 6.0-L V8 diesel)

"engine dropped a piston and had to be replaced"

Anonymous, WI (2003 Ford F-250 XLT 7.3-L V8 diesel)

"Had to replace engine at a cost of over 15K!!!!"

Robert C., CO (2003 Ford F-250 XL 6.0-L V8 diesel)

"ford used inferior materials/manufacturing on the lifters and associated parts. When one goes bad they know they all go bad and they damage the cam shaft so the whole engine (short block has to be changed out with 3 year unlimited mileage warranty"

Kevin G., CA (2003 Ford F-250 Lariat 6.0-L V8 diesel)

"lost antifreeze into cylinder. replaced engine"

Anonymous, CA (2003 Ford F-250 Lariat 7.3-L V8 diesel)

"Had to replace turbocharger"

Mark C., WA (2003 Ford F-250 XLT 6.0-L V8 diesel)

"Turbo was replaced three times. On the third time, the entire valley was replaced"

Anonymous, WA (2003 Ford F-250 XL 6.0-L V8 diesel)

"Turbo had to be disassembled and cleaned,had to have new oil cooler,erg valve,injector and glow plug"

Anonymous, CA (2003 Ford F-250 Lariat 6.0-L V8 diesel)

Suspension

Shocks or struts, ball joints, tie rods, wheel bearings, alignment, steering linkage (includes rack and pinion), power steering (pumps and hoses, leaks), wheel balance, springs or torsion bars, bushings, electronic or air suspension.

What Owners Say

Alignment

"realignment necessary more than expected"

Anonymous, TX (2003 Ford F-250 Lariat 7.3-L V8 diesel)
Ball joints

"Wearing out. Replaced"

Vernon P., OR (2003 Ford F-250 Lariat 6.0-L V8 diesel)

"Right Ball Joint Wore Out"

Anonymous, MO (2003 Ford F-250 XLT 7.3-L V8 diesel)

"had to replace 3 times"

Anonymous, WV (2003 Ford F-250 XLT 5.4-L V8)
Power steering leaks

"Leak in power strewing gear"

Anonymous, MI (2003 Ford F-250 XL 5.4-L V8)

"This truck has had repeated power steering leaks, and the hoses have had to be replaced repeatedly. It is probably due to the cold winters in North Pole, AK, but was also a problem with a previous Ford pickup, and should be fixed"

Anonymous, AK (2003 Ford F-250 XL 6.8-L V10)
Steering linkage (includes rack and pinion)

"Steering gear began to fail, causing erratic steering response"

Anonymous, TX (2003 Ford F-250 Lariat 7.3-L V8 diesel)
Tie rods

"End joints worn"

Vernon P., OR (2003 Ford F-250 Lariat 6.0-L V8 diesel)

Exhaust

Muffler, pipes, catalytic converter, exhaust manifold, leaks.

What Owners Say

Exhaust leaks

"Cross exhaust line to the Turbo charger is probably cracked, allowing diesel exhaust odors to be noticed at the front doors of the cab. Had happened before during warrenty period when mechanic found that as part of another turbo charger problem"

Jack W., CA (2003 Ford F-250 XL 6.0-L V8 diesel)

"Exhaust is leaking somewhere in the engine area. No one can seem to find it"

Marvin P., NM (2003 Ford F-250 Lariat 6.0-L V8 diesel)

"replace the up pipe to from the exhaust to the turbo charger. caused poor performance and exhaust in the cab"

Donald E., TX (2003 Ford F-250 6.0-L V8 diesel)
Catalytic converter

"replaced"

Anonymous, VA (2003 Ford F-250 XLT 5.4-L V8)
Exhaust manifold

"For the second time the exhaust manifold warped and had to be replaced"

Anonymous, PA (2003 Ford F-250 XLT 6.8-L V10)

"Exhaust manifold leaking- required removal and resurface. Total miles 32500 on it now, and it has been kept in a garage. I understand this is a recurring problem on this model. Ford dependability is terrible"

Rich C., OH (2003 Ford F-250 XLT 5.4-L V8)

"Ford problem with 5.4 engine. Manifolds have to be re-bolted ( original bolts inferior. ) Cost for repair is determined by the number of bolts that have to be extracted after snapping the heads off"

Anonymous, CT (2003 Ford F-250 XLT 5.4-L V8)

"Rust hole in exhaust manifold"

Anonymous, NH (2003 Ford F-250 XL 5.4-L V8)

Body Integrity

Squeaks, rattles, wind noises, loose or cracked seals and/or weather-stripping, air and water leaks.

What Owners Say

Squeaks or rattles

"Wear and tear"

Butch F., TX (2003 Ford F-250 Lariat 7.3-L V8 diesel)

"normal driving it is a 2003 used to pull a camper w/ over 100000 miles"

Anonymous, TX (2003 Ford F-250 Lariat 7.3-L V8 diesel)

"The driver's door has rattled since purchased. It sounds like something inside the door is loose"

Anonymous, TX (2003 Ford F-250)

"clunking noise under floor board"

Anonymous, NM (2003 Ford F-250 XLT 7.3-L V8 diesel)

"One of the wheels on the passenger side squeaks. Mechanics have been unable to find it"

Anonymous, IL (2003 Ford F-250 XLT 6.0-L V8 diesel)
Wind noise

"Excessive wind noise as Truck has gotten older. Also noise level from engine has gone up. Diesel engine 7.3 liter"

Butch F., TX (2003 Ford F-250 Lariat 7.3-L V8 diesel)

"when driving down hyw"

Anonymous, TX (2003 Ford F-250 Lariat 7.3-L V8 diesel)

In-car Electronics

CD or DVD players, radio, speakers, GPS, communication system (e.g., OnStar), display screen freezes or goes blank, phone pairing (e.g. Bluetooth), voice control commands, steering wheel controls, portable music device interface (e.g., iPod/MP3 player), backup or other camera/sensors.

What Owners Say

Radio

"Radio/CD player stopped working. Tried another radio to isolate speaker system and all worked ok. Radio had to be replaced"

Jack W., CA (2003 Ford F-250 XL 6.0-L V8 diesel)

"Radio has developed problem where the sounf suddenly rises greatly. Have to turn off radio for awhile to get it to stop"

David A., TX (2003 Ford F-250 Lariat 6.0-L V8 diesel)
CD player

"CD player will not load. Totally disfunctional"

David A., TX (2003 Ford F-250 Lariat 6.0-L V8 diesel)

"it ate my CD will not play at all also my compass does not work to tell me in which direction I am driving"

Anonymous, FL (2003 Ford F-250 XLT 5.4-L V8)
Display screen goes blank

"DS for overhead information module failed. Shows temp, direction, mpg, distance to empty. Cost $600.00 to replace"

G B., CA (2003 Ford F-250 Lariat 6.0-L V8 diesel)

Power Equipment

Cruise control, clock, warning lights, body control module, keyless entry, wiper motor or washer, tire pressure monitor, interior or exterior lights, horn, gauges, 12V power plug, remote engine start, alarm or security system

What Owners Say

Alternator

"Alternator failed and required replacement"

Craig B., SC (2003 Ford F-250 Lariat 6.0-L V8 diesel)

"It also was about 116000 when it when out . It was time"

Anonymous, TX (2003 Ford F-250 XLT 7.3-L V8 diesel)

"Alternator failure"

Anonymous, OH (2003 Ford F-250 Lariat 6.0-L V8 diesel)
Spark plugs or wires failure

"Had to replace glow plugs and glow plug relay"

Larry W., AL (2003 Ford F-250 Lariat 7.3-L V8 diesel)
Coil

"coil on one of the cylinders failed causing an engine miss until it could be replaced"

D T., AB (2003 Ford F-250 XL 5.4-L V8)

Engine Minor

Accessory belts and pulleys, engine computer, engine mounts, engine knock or ping, oil leaks.

What Owners Say

Engine knock or ping

"6.0 diesel has skip during hard acceleration"

Craig B., SC (2003 Ford F-250 Lariat 6.0-L V8 diesel)
Fuel leaks

"Fuel filter leaked fuel, ultimately causing fuel pump replacement"

Anonymous, MO (2003 Ford F-250 XLT 7.3-L V8 diesel)
Oil leaks

"O-ring on sensor had to be replaced"

Anonymous, WA (2003 Ford F-250 Lariat 7.3-L V8 diesel)

"sensor tree at rear of engine developed a major oil leak"

James C., CA (2003 Ford F-250 XL 6.0-L V8 diesel)

"Chip failed, engine would not start"

Wesley C., CA (2003 Ford F-250 XL 6.0-L V8 diesel)

Drive System

Driveshaft or axle, CV joint, differential, transfer case, 4WD/AWD components, driveline vibration, traction control, electronic stability control (ESC), electrical failure.

What Owners Say

Driveshaft or axle

"same"

Anonymous, WA (2003 Ford F-250 XLT 5.4-L V8)
Driveline vibration

"Carrier bearing went out. Front automatic hubs were in locked position. Rear Drive shaft had to be rebuilt and rear axle was out of sync"

Anonymous, WA (2003 Ford F-250 XLT 5.4-L V8)

"Driveshaft makes noise"

Robert C., CO (2003 Ford F-250 XL 6.0-L V8 diesel)

Electric System

Alternator, starter, hybrid battery and related systems, regular battery, battery cables, engine harness, coil, ignition switch, electronic ignition, distributor or rotor failure, spark plugs and wires failure.

What Owners Say

Gauges

"Fuel gauge, power windows, and radio cut out & later come back on"

Anonymous, TX (2003 Ford F-250 XL 7.3-L V8 diesel)
Wiper motor or washer

"washer pump quit working"

Anonymous, NM (2003 Ford F-250 XLT 7.3-L V8 diesel)

Climate System

Blower (fan) motor, A/C compressor, condenser, evaporator, heater system, automatic climate control, refrigerant leakage, electrical failure.

What Owners Say

"Compressor had to be replaced"

Kerry H., AZ (2003 Ford F-250 7.3-L V8 diesel)

"Compressor sized, did not rotate"

Steven M., NC (2003 Ford F-250 Lariat 6.0-L V8 diesel)

Transmission Major

Transmission rebuild or replacement, torque converter, clutch replacement.

What Owners Say

Clutch replacement

"Clutch replacement due to slippage. I have pulled a 5th wheel camper approx 10000 miles throughout the life of the truck"

Perry S., OH (2003 Ford F-250 XL 7.3-L V8 diesel)
Transmission rebuild or replacement

"shifting gears irregularly"

Anonymous, TX (2003 Ford F-250 Lariat 7.3-L V8 diesel)

Body Hardware

Power or manual windows, locks and latches, tailgate, hatch or trunk, doors or sliding doors, mirrors, seat controls, safety belts, sunroof, convertible top.

What Owners Say

Mirrors

"Arms from door frame to mirror rusting badly. Will need to replace. No other rust anywhere else on truck"

Anonymous, FL (2003 Ford F-250 Lariat 7.3-L V8 diesel)

Engine Cooling

Radiator, cooling fan, antifreeze leaks, water pump, thermostat, overheating.

Transmission Minor

Gear selector or linkage, leaks, transmission computer, transmission sensor or solenoid, clutch adjustment, rough shifting, slipping transmission.

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