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Go Back   Bimmerfest - BMW Forums > BMW Model Discussions > 5 Series > E39 (1997 - 2003)

E39 (1997 - 2003)
The BMW 5-Series (E39 chassis) was introduced in the United States as a 1997 model year car and lasted until the 2004 when the E60 chassis was released. The United States saw several variations including the 525i, 528i, 530i and 540i. -- View the E39 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 08-20-2010, 06:07 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Cheapest CAN OBDII scanner on the net that reads DTCs, pending codes, & clears codes

To help others, here is what we've found seems to be the least expensive CAN OBDII scanner on the net that reads DTCs, pending codes, & clears codes and works on our E39s.
- Amazon.com $30, no tax, no shipping charges "Autel MaxiScan MS300 CAN OBD-II Scan Tool"

It only displays the Diagnostic Trouble Code (DTC), so you'll need the net to look them up:
1. Fundamental BMW OBDII code data (thanks to QSilver7)
2. BMW-specific DTCs & what users did when they got them
3. Generic OBDII DTCs explained

In theory, the scanner comes with a CDROM explaining the codes (but it's no better and sometimes a lot worse than the lists above on the net); and in theory, you can log into the scanner manufacturer's web site and get "expert help", again, which in practice, is not nearly as useful as looking up a specific code on the net and/or asking about it in the forum here. Almost all (if not all) the diagnostic trouble codes you will get have already been discussed in these forums so what you need is the five-digit code itself.

Another option on the cheap is OBDII freeware (requires a PC or touchpad or other mobile computing device)
- OBDII diagnostic freeware software
But even freeware needs cabling which would still cost something

Other options (progressively more expensive) of course, are listed in these threads:
- Recommended OBDII scanners (cn90) (fudman) (blackbmws), specifically the BMW-specific Peake & Carsoft.
- Bluetooth is cable free but the bluetooth transmitter that plugs into your OBDII port is decidedly not free.

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  #2  
Old 08-21-2010, 12:23 PM
AlohaMark AlohaMark is offline
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So will the DTC narrow the problem down far enough to know what part to change?
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MODS: MTech LED Angel Eyes, 30% Ceramic Tint, Child Seat



2002 525i sold
2007 328i Coupe-Leased, turned in
2005 Boxster S, sold
2001 M3, European Delivery, sold
1999 323Ci, sold
1984 323i, UK spec, sold
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  #3  
Old 08-21-2010, 02:08 PM
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QSilver7 QSilver7 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlohaMark View Post
So will the DTC narrow the problem down far enough to know what part to change?
Not sure if you clicked on the link that Bluebee put in the first part of the thread about the breakdown of what a DTC (diagnostic trouble code) is...so here it is for those who don't click on links:


When you get a CEL or SES light...it means that something in the emissions systems has registered a fault code. Looking at the DTC illustration above...should reveal that there are MULTIPLE emissions areas...not just one area.

When you hook up a scanner and retrieve the code and you find the sensor that registered it...YES...you must still use your mind and reasons of deduction and try to determine WHY the sensor registered the code. The reason California and some other states put their foot down on giving out code readers all willy-nilly is due to people reading codes and assuming that the sensor that registered the fault was the culprit.

Once you find out what sensor (and part of the emissions system) registered the fault...you need to ask/search out WHY it did. Is it the sensor itself or is there something happening upstream/downstream etc. that is causing the sensor to react.
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2006 E53 X5 4.4i (Sterling Gray) 12/05 mfg date <<~>> 97 740iL (Arctic Silver) 3/97 mfg date
(SOLD)
99 540iT (Orient Blue) <<~>> 95 525IT (Alpine White)
91 735iL (Schwarz Black) <<~>> 85 325e (Bronzit)

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  #4  
Old 08-21-2010, 07:48 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by QSilver7 View Post
it means that something in the emissions systems has registered a fault code
What QSilver7 said.

In practice, you're never the first person on the planet with that particular code on that particular make and model ... so you already have a full debugging procedure at your (search) beck and call (once you have the DTC in hand).

Good luck. Getting the code is only the first step (harder in California where I am & Hawaii where you are); once you have the code, you then search for all you can find about it on the net.

Last edited by bluebee; 08-22-2010 at 10:22 AM.
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  #5  
Old 08-21-2010, 11:27 PM
AlohaMark AlohaMark is offline
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I clicked on the link and examined the table, saved it in iPhoto and categorized the picture under my "BMW" folder, but noticed it did not lead to changing a specific part, hence my question. The short answer, after reading the responses, would appear to be "no".

Hopefully I can download a code when I receive the scanner and it leads me to many more questions and helpful answers.
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2006 550i/A, Alpine White, Black Leather, Sport Package, Logic 7 Sound, Comfort Access, BMW Star Spoke 124s Staggered
MODS: MTech LED Angel Eyes, 30% Ceramic Tint, Child Seat



2002 525i sold
2007 328i Coupe-Leased, turned in
2005 Boxster S, sold
2001 M3, European Delivery, sold
1999 323Ci, sold
1984 323i, UK spec, sold
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  #6  
Old 08-22-2010, 08:37 AM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlohaMark View Post
it did not lead to changing a specific part, hence my question. The short answer, after reading the responses, would appear to be "no".
Hi Mark,
It's my fault. I didn't provide enough links in the original post (OP) to get you what you need.

My initial response above to you assumed you knew how to look for the codes once you had it in hand; but that was an error on my part. I apologize. I understand it's because you don't have the code yet. In actuality, what WOULD have happened, if you already had the scanner in your hands, is you would have a code (or a bunch of codes); and THEN you'd put those codes in your google search. Up would come those zillions of links of how to handle them. QSilver7 and I have already done that many times so we simply overlooked that this was your issue (I understand ... it's my fault for not being clearer).

Since there are zillions of potential look-up tables for how to handle DTCs, I just now put the best three I could find into the OP as an after-the-fact edit.

Please take a look now at the (now improved) OP, the links added are reproduced below. Let me know if that helps somewhat. (You really can't go further than the tables yet because you don't have a specific code in your hand.)

1. Fundamental BMW OBDII code data (thanks to QSilver7)
2. BMW-specific DTCs & what users did when they got them
3. Generic OBDII DTCs explained

(Note to others ... if you have BETTER DTC lookup tables, please add them to this thread for newbies to benefit.)

Last edited by bluebee; 08-22-2010 at 08:46 AM.
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  #7  
Old 08-22-2010, 10:09 AM
poolman poolman is offline
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Q-silver hit the nail on the head again. Can't stand it sometimes when reading how many people have replaced good 02 sensors when all they had was a vacuum leak somewhere--they figured that the code they read was referring to a bad sensor instead of what the real problem was.
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  #8  
Old 08-22-2010, 10:46 AM
AlohaMark AlohaMark is offline
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bluebee-

Thanks for the additional links. Once I receive the scanner and (hopefully) download a code they will be very useful in troubleshooting my "service engine soon" light. As a side note, this is the first light I've gotten in any car I have ever owned so this is new to me. However, as an aircraft mechanic, I do have some experience in troubleshooting malfunctions. The problem with cars is that the industry has gone out of their way to make it difficult for the DIYer to resolve their own problems(cryptic error messages, special tools, etc.). In my line of work, I'm considered the "authorized mechanic" so I have dozens of specific fault isolation manuals to aid in troubleshooting. However, with my BMW, I have a secret weapon, known as Bimmerfest!

BTW I'm probably one of the few who read through your entire DIY brake change post.

Thanks again and aloha-
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2006 550i/A, Alpine White, Black Leather, Sport Package, Logic 7 Sound, Comfort Access, BMW Star Spoke 124s Staggered
MODS: MTech LED Angel Eyes, 30% Ceramic Tint, Child Seat



2002 525i sold
2007 328i Coupe-Leased, turned in
2005 Boxster S, sold
2001 M3, European Delivery, sold
1999 323Ci, sold
1984 323i, UK spec, sold
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  #9  
Old 08-23-2010, 11:35 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlohaMark View Post
As a side note, this is the first light I've gotten in any car I have ever owned
Me too!

In the end, you'll use this scanner on the bimmer more than any other car. It's just what it is.

BTW, I seem to get codes, and then clear them ... and guess what. They NEVER come back (yet).

Yup. I just cleared three codes that came when I replaced my alternator and the SES light went on ... so far, even after about 500 miles, they didn't come back.

So, you might get lucky. Make sure you write down the codes before you clear them though as the scanner we bought doesn't remember things.

Good luck and let us know how you make out once you receive your new toy!
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  #10  
Old 08-24-2010, 11:24 AM
AlohaMark AlohaMark is offline
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Bought the scanner off Amazon that blubee linked to and it worked perfect. Communicated with the car easily. I had 2 faults, P0491 and P0492. Wrote them down then did a brief check this morning and it sounded like my secondary air pump came on during cold start for about a minute (75 degrees outside air temp). I cleared the faults easily and the service engine soon light did not stay illuminated when I started the car this morning. Hopefully it doesn't come back-I think my fuel filler cap may have been slightly loose. I did refuel the day before I got the SES light.

I agree a scanner is a "must-have" if you own an E39.
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2006 550i/A, Alpine White, Black Leather, Sport Package, Logic 7 Sound, Comfort Access, BMW Star Spoke 124s Staggered
MODS: MTech LED Angel Eyes, 30% Ceramic Tint, Child Seat



2002 525i sold
2007 328i Coupe-Leased, turned in
2005 Boxster S, sold
2001 M3, European Delivery, sold
1999 323Ci, sold
1984 323i, UK spec, sold
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  #11  
Old 08-24-2010, 11:46 AM
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Josh P. Josh P. is offline
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Yes, I'd second that, I just had a exhaust CPS code read and cleared, and after doing exactly nothing it has not returned in two weeks. Upon examination I did find a cracked boot covering the CPS wiring harness, which I simply fixed with electrical tape. But that was after the code went away.

So, really, who knows . . . it may be that the ECU needs to have a code thrown x number of times before it reports it. Or some codes appear only under certain conditions...mine came up after a 4 hour drive in hot weather.

These cars are a mystery sometimes.
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  #12  
Old 10-02-2010, 11:20 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlohaMark View Post
Bought the scanner off Amazon that blubee linked to and it worked perfect. P0491 and P0492. I cleared the faults
Calling Hawaii ... calling Hawaii ... come in please. you're overdue for a long term trip report ... over.

Last edited by bluebee; 10-03-2010 at 03:22 PM.
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  #13  
Old 10-03-2010, 08:35 AM
BMR01530 BMR01530 is offline
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What ever happened to the REV to iphone/ipod product.. real time results in graphs is pretty enticing...
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  #14  
Old 10-11-2010, 10:56 AM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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For the record, newbies often ask WHERE the OBDII connector goes.

This picture (in response to just that question), shows it quite nicely for our E39s, with wonderfully contrasting colors to show the connection.

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  #15  
Old 12-16-2010, 06:50 PM
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Wow. QSilver7 found the OBDII scanner on Amazon for $22 + shipping ('cuz it's below the $25 free shipping limit). You should just tell 'em you want it for $25 instead!

Now there's no excuse for not having your own scanner in your toolbox!

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  #16  
Old 12-16-2010, 07:24 PM
98540iA 98540iA is offline
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Wow, that is cheap.... I gotta get me one and save that trip to O'Reilley next time the wife brings my car to me with the CEL on.

Question: What is or is there a difference between diagnostic trouble codes and "pending" codes. For example, if my CEL comes on and I plug in diagnostic scanner and it says 1/1 and the code is PO430, I know this means catalyst below efficiency bank 2. Is this the dtc and pending code or are pending codes something entirely different? If pending codes are different, how are they found using a scanner?

Sorry if this is a dumb question.

Update: Ok, I looked around and please confirm if I am right as I'm unclear still. I think I understand that the pending code is an error detected that has not yet cycled enough to set off CEL. So even with no CEL, if I scan the car and a code is read (i.e. PO430), that code was pending but not yet a DTC. That would make sense. Now, if I get a CEL and scan and find 3 codes, how do I know (or does it even matter) which code is a DTC (set off CEL) and which are pending?

Thanks in advance! This is great stuff to learn more about. Thanks for this thread!

Last edited by 98540iA; 12-16-2010 at 07:43 PM.
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  #17  
Old 12-16-2010, 07:48 PM
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QSilver7 QSilver7 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 98540iA View Post
Wow, that is cheap.... I gotta get me one and save that trip to O'Reilley next time the wife brings my car to me with the CEL on.

Question: What is or is there a difference between diagnostic trouble codes and "pending" codes. For example, if my CEL comes on and I plug in diagnostic scanner and it says 1/1 and the code is PO430, I know this means catalyst below efficiency bank 2. Is this the dtc and pending code or are pending codes something entirely different? If pending codes are different, how are they found using a scanner?

Sorry if this is a dumb question.

Thanks in advance!
The major difference between a DTC & Pending code is that the DTC code is a fault code that has been registered 2 times.

A pending code is sort of a "pre" DTC code. The OBD II system will not illuminate the CEL/SES light immediately. If a sensor registers a fault...it is a "pending code". If upon the next start up the sensor registers the same fault again, then the OBD II system will register it as a DTC code and illuminate the warning light (CEL/SES).

So if you have a reader/scanner that reveals pending codes...its only a heads up that a sensor registered that code once. If it occurs again, then you will be notified that a DTC fault code has occured by the warning light coming on.


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Q {BMW CCA Member #191509}
2006 E53 X5 4.4i (Sterling Gray) 12/05 mfg date <<~>> 97 740iL (Arctic Silver) 3/97 mfg date
(SOLD)
99 540iT (Orient Blue) <<~>> 95 525IT (Alpine White)
91 735iL (Schwarz Black) <<~>> 85 325e (Bronzit)

http://imageshack.com/scaled/grid240/822/e38e532ndsigpic.jpg

Last edited by QSilver7; 12-16-2010 at 07:54 PM.
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  #18  
Old 12-16-2010, 08:14 PM
98540iA 98540iA is offline
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Thanks for clearing that up Q!

Now, before spending almost nothing on a cheap scanner like the above $22 example, I would love to know what the cheapest scanner is that does the basics as well as provides freeze frame .... how about live data?

I really would like these features and if there are tools for around $100 out there that provide live data (or even freeze frame) I would absolutely forgo the cheap basic tool and immediately purchase this more comprehensive tool. Anyone know what the cheapest handheld scanner that provides this stuff is?

Last edited by 98540iA; 12-16-2010 at 08:25 PM.
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  #19  
Old 12-16-2010, 08:32 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 98540iA View Post
I would love to know what the cheapest scanner is that does the basics as well as provides freeze frame .... how about live data?
This thread is about the cheapest scanner, period.

For more powerful scanners, there are already threads for that.

For example, from the bestlinks thread:
- OBDII scanners (cn90) (fudman) & fundamental OBDII code data (QSilver7)

Plus, some of the PC freeware is powerful (but you still need cabling):
- OBDII diagnostic freeware software
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  #20  
Old 12-16-2010, 09:00 PM
98540iA 98540iA is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
This thread is about the cheapest scanner, period.
Didn't mean to hijack, good thread.

I'll start a new thread regarding the cheapest "holiday" priced handhelds with more features. I've read through a lot of those diagnostic threads and it just gets overwhelming.
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  #21  
Old 12-16-2010, 09:39 PM
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LaCrosse540i6 LaCrosse540i6 is offline
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Toptak makes an OBDII scanner that reads live data.

This would make diagnosing lean/rich codes a lot easier, if you know what to look for.

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ws/eB...=STRK:MEDWX:IT

The extra 20-30 dollars is worth it if you ask me.
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  #22  
Old 12-16-2010, 09:54 PM
98540iA 98540iA is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LaCrosse540i6 View Post
Toptak makes an OBDII scanner that reads live data.

This would make diagnosing lean/rich codes a lot easier, if you know what to look for.

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ws/eB...=STRK:MEDWX:IT

The extra 20-30 dollars is worth it if you ask me.
Dude, this is AWESOME..... I just started a new thread "Holiday Priced Diagnostic Scanners with features" because I agree with you regarding fuel trim data and more for a few more bucks is totally worth it.
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  #23  
Old 12-16-2010, 10:11 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 98540iA View Post
I just started a new thread "Holiday Priced Diagnostic Scanners with features"
Just so people can easily (one click) get to that excellent thread on the next-range scanners, here's the link:
- Holiday priced Diagnostic scanners with features, by 98540iA

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  #24  
Old 12-17-2010, 11:54 AM
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540 M-Sport 540 M-Sport is offline
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Even cheaper, ELM 327 scanner

Assuming you own a laptop, the absolutely cheapest thing out there is an ELM327 scanner purchased off Ebay. I have recently seen them selling for $21 delivered, and they even include the freeware/software on a cd rom. I have been using one for a over two years now and it works great. http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/New-E...item1e5f088bb8 They make a cordless bluetooth version that sells for $36.

Three advantages to it:

1) It reads out sensor data too. So you can read O2 sensor voltages, to verify operation. It also reads out intake air temp, coolant temp, engine rpm, etc.

2) You have the option of purchasing even more sophisticated software to perform even more detailed readouts, graphing, etc.

3) Larger display

Not a bad investment for less than $25.

For ultimate simplicity, I would go with Bluebee's suggestion...simply and easy to use.
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Last edited by 540 M-Sport; 12-17-2010 at 11:58 AM.
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  #25  
Old 12-17-2010, 01:48 PM
filon102 filon102 is offline
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Bought this one for 65 w/ shipping... will report back with results



Link on ebay:

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ws/eB...K%3AMEWNX%3AIT
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