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Anonymous Poster

Do Ford Mustangs Drain Batteries?

02/02/2010 5:13 PM

Just ran into a friend of mine who says he's had to replace the battery in his 2008 Ford Mustang twice in the last year. Most recently, the vehicle sat for two months with a battery bought in April 09. Then it died. Not a bad battery brand either (Interstate).

Is there something about this vintage of Mustangs - or about any type of car in general - that makes it "notorious for draining car batteries"? That was the phrase that the guys in the auto parts used about my buddy's car. They probably see a lot of this, of course, but I'd like to know more

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#1

Re: Do Ford Mustangs Drain Batteries?

02/02/2010 6:03 PM

Every car that has a computer system or some form of electronics that requires a keep alive power source for it memory drains the battery down. basicaly anything built since around the mid to late 1970's.

Most take about 2 -3 months for them to deplete the factory battery if they are not regularly ran at least once a month for an hour or so. If the car is going to sit un used for extended times either unhooking the one line off the battery or adding a small trickle charger that can automatically keep the battery charged up is a wise idea.

A new battery should be able to sit unconnected for around a year without self discharging to the point of damage. However its still wise to either charge it every few months or run the vehicle every few weeks anyway.

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#14
In reply to #1

Re: Do Ford Mustangs Drain Batteries?

02/04/2010 8:03 AM

GA for a good answer.

A good charger should cut off at say 13.2 volts and recharge at 12.6 volts for a typical car battery that is not being used much.

Its not needed to have a high current either, for most 1-2 amps will be more than enough...

That way the battery is contantly charging or discharging (flexing its muscles), but no over or under charging as car batteries that stay long under 12.6 volts are sulfating. Over 13.2 starts gassing, but the battery will only be charged to about 70% full, depending upon the type/manufacturer....

For cars seldom used, a much larger leisure battery may be a good idea.....larger is needed because the "cranking amps" of a leisure battery are far less than a normal car battery........personally never tried it out as all my cars "work"!

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#2

Re: Do Ford Mustangs Drain Batteries?

02/02/2010 7:09 PM

man thats not just for mustangs it goes for any car. the only way i see the draining of the battery to happen is maybe the person had some music or some type of extra electrical system hooked up to the car therefore causing the alternator to fry faster than just having the car hooked up normal, finally resulting in the alternator soaking up the juice from the battery pushing it through, and draing the car completly...

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#3

Re: Do Ford Mustangs Drain Batteries?

02/03/2010 10:30 PM

My brother bought a solar charger that plugs into the cigarette lighter of his truck to solve this problem.

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#10
In reply to #3

Re: Do Ford Mustangs Drain Batteries?

02/04/2010 1:51 AM

the solar charger sounds like a great idea!

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#4

Re: Do Ford Mustangs Drain Batteries?

02/03/2010 10:34 PM

If the car has a boot (trunk) light, try checking that the switch is operating correctly and not staying on all the time.

If not, then do a diagnostics on the electrical system to see if there is a fault elswhere.

If that shows nothing then I would go with the "disconnect the battery" advise, simple and effective.

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#5

Re: Do Ford Mustangs Drain Batteries?

02/03/2010 10:59 PM

This is not a normal situation. Get that car to the dealer (or the shop of your liking) and get it checked.

There is normal "drainage" but these are typically very small amounts. Letting a car sit for two months, however, is not a good idea. If your friend has had to replace the battery that often, something's wrong in the electrical system.

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#11
In reply to #5

Re: Do Ford Mustangs Drain Batteries?

02/04/2010 1:51 AM

Although this is true for the factory standard model, if the owner added an after market product involving a remote control, the parasitic drain could drain a battery. For instance an after market remote engine start or a burglar alarm or a GPS lojack protection gadget would have much greater drain current than the highly engineered products offered by Ford themselves. Bringing down the standby current to micro-amps is not always a priority for manufacturers selling consumer products at the lowest possible dollar.

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#22
In reply to #11

Re: Do Ford Mustangs Drain Batteries?

02/04/2010 12:53 PM

I worked as an engineer for a major auto manufacturer...this is in fact a major issue for auto manufacturers.

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#6

Re: Do Ford Mustangs Drain Batteries?

02/03/2010 11:53 PM

Lead acid batteries sulfate if left sitting.

Either put a trickle charger on them, a solar unit is great since it does not require connection to a house line, or charge the battery and then dump the acid saving it to refill the battery when you want to put it back in service.

And yes most cars these days put small continuous loads on the battery, clocks, etc., which matters not if you run them at least every couple of days or have the aforementioned trickle charger on them.

j.

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#15
In reply to #6

Re: Do Ford Mustangs Drain Batteries?

02/04/2010 8:05 AM

GA from me.

There are a lot of other VERY suspect answers on this blog.....yours was not one of them!!!

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#21
In reply to #15

Re: Do Ford Mustangs Drain Batteries?

02/04/2010 12:53 PM

DITTO! #6 is right on!!

ANY lead-acid battery that is left to fully drain is trash thereafter, and MUST be replaced. The brand of the battery or the car, or the service do not matter. The trick to longevity of lead-acid batteries to assure their are kept in a fully charged condition.

Of course, the opposite is true for Ni-Cad batteries. If you keep a Ni-Cad battery fully charged, you will fairly quickly need to replace it. The trick for a Ni-Cad battery is to force it to zero charge before recharging. Doing so will increase its life SIGNIFICANTLY.

Now, in the particular situation of the original question, it does sound like there is some extraneous current drain somewhere that should be checked out. Also, when running the car, if some (or all instruments or guages), or brake lights or turn signals do not work exactly correctly, there is a disconnected ground somewhere. The most likely culprit here would be the guy who did the last electrical maintenance on the vehicle (prior to all the battery replacement drama).

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#7

Re: Do Ford Mustangs Drain Batteries?

02/04/2010 12:04 AM

It sounds like there might be a bad diode in the alternator, for the battery to be dead in 2 month period. Have your friend remove one battery cable from the battery and connect a test light between the battery terminal and the battery post. If the light glows, then there's enough of a current draw to drain the battery. I'd start by isolating the alternator (disconnecting the wires going to the alternator). If the light goes out, then the problem is with the alternator. If the light still glows, then start by removing fuses, one circuit at a time until the light goes out. When the goes out, that would be the problem circuit, faulty switch or what ever that's causing the circuit to be completed. The only other cause I can think of, would be someone connected the stereo or amp. directly to a continuous hot wire that's not on a switch.

Good Luck and let us know what your friend finds out. dj

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#13
In reply to #7

Re: Do Ford Mustangs Drain Batteries?

02/04/2010 6:12 AM

While I use a DVOM on amp setting for newer cars. I've used a test light for years.

Remember to wait until the under dash lights and any thing else shuts off before starting to look for problems.

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#20
In reply to #7

Re: Do Ford Mustangs Drain Batteries?

02/04/2010 12:45 PM

good answer

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#8

Re: Do Ford Mustangs Drain Batteries?

02/04/2010 1:18 AM

with the engine off and all acc. check to see the amp draw on the battery...it should be very little " clock" if major drain is occuring ether short in elect. system or alto.

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Anonymous Poster
#9

Re: Do Ford Mustangs Drain Batteries?

02/04/2010 1:50 AM

To me it sounds like an earth fault on your car.

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#12
In reply to #9

Re: Do Ford Mustangs Drain Batteries?

02/04/2010 4:11 AM

simple check.

put ampclamp meter on posative battery lead to see if there is any drain, after turning off.

onboard computers will power down after about 10 mins from turn off. after this time there should be minimal discharge.

if there is a discharge, as some one wrote check interior lights boot etc.

then if not succesful try unpluging alternator if you can, to narrow down the search un plug each part in turn until drain is found

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#18
In reply to #9

Re: Do Ford Mustangs Drain Batteries?

02/04/2010 9:59 AM

That's what I'm thinking too. I own a 2008 Mustang GT that sits in my garage for weeks at a time without getting started and I've had no problems. The car is still under warranty so I'd say "let the dealer do the work and quit guessing".

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#16

Re: Do Ford Mustangs Drain Batteries?

02/04/2010 8:20 AM

I have a 2004 Mitsubishi Endeavour, I had to change the battery after one year. The dealer said they see that in cars that may sit for a week or more between uses. I installed wires and a Morning Star, Sunguard-4 controller directly to my battery and a plug under the dash. I keep the 10w crystal type solar panel (from Northern Hydrualic) in the mesh container on the back of the passenger seat. When I leave for business trips I put the solar panel on the dash and plug it in. I also added a "snake-oil" product called VX-6 to the new battery as per instructions. That was in the summer of 2005 and the same Sears battery is still in it.

I think a small pulsating type trickle charger would be good if your car lives in a garage.

I have a boat that gets the same treatment and the batteries are allways fully charged.

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#23
In reply to #16

Re: Do Ford Mustangs Drain Batteries?

02/04/2010 12:59 PM

Any dealer (or anyone else) who says that letting a car sit for a week will kill a battery in a year is trying to sell someone a line of B.S. While batteries will "go bad" in certain circumstances when allowed to sit excessively, allowing it to sit a week between operation will generally not kill the battery. Not an iron-clad rule, but is applicable in most instances. Again, it's not the best idea to let a car sit unused, but it won't automatically kill the battery in many circumstances.

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#17

Re: Do Ford Mustangs Drain Batteries?

02/04/2010 8:43 AM

Could it have aftermarket audio or underdrive pulleys? - An aftermarket amp that isn't switching off when the car is turned off could cause this. - Underdrive pulleys free up horsepower my turning things like the alternator or AC slower. If the engine dosen't see extended rev's ever (like highway driving) the battery can die. Maybe the alternator is on it's way out? Also, for my summer only cars, bikes, and boats, I pull the batteries and keep them in a well ventilated area of my basement on a trickle charger. In the spring they are good as new.

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#19

Re: Do Ford Mustangs Drain Batteries?

02/04/2010 11:09 AM

Tell your friend to buy a Camaro next time. That way he can just call OnStar and they can tell him that the battery is dead.

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#24

Re: Do Ford Mustangs Drain Batteries?

02/04/2010 1:42 PM

1. Bought date and age date differ. They call it shelf life. It's actually "shelf death". Check for freshness before purchasing. Same with tires. Each have mfg date stamps. Batteries and tires age (deteriorate) with time, even when not used. 2. Connect an ammeter between the battery and the car. If you see numbers, find out why. 3. A drained battery doesn't always have to be pronounced dead. Check mfg for recovery charging techniques. 4. Do a battery search online, next time. You'll find that ingenuity has come with much bettery, battery reliability than you can find at your local "Happy Car Owner" stores.

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#25

Re: Do Ford Mustangs Drain Batteries?

02/05/2010 12:44 PM

As stated in previous replys, There are many parasitic loads taking current from the battery. Some of which are , alternator ,clock, computer memory etc,. Something to consider, I believe when someone has attempted to jump start the vehicle and had the cables crossed it does some damage to the computer electronics and results in a constant unwanted drain. Just thought i would offer some additional light on your car's problem. Hank

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#26
In reply to #25

Re: Do Ford Mustangs Drain Batteries?

02/05/2010 12:48 PM

i think what everyone is saying the fault could be anything, the vehicle needs checking out.

batteries should not go flat in a few months, unless its very cold, batteries do not like very cold.

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#27

Re: Do Ford Mustangs Drain Batteries?

02/05/2010 5:09 PM

I am personally not surprised that a modern car's battery goes flat in the colder months within 2 months.....that is simply too long a time without recharging.

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#28

Re: Do Ford Mustangs Drain Batteries?

02/07/2010 12:48 AM

If I were you I would focus my attention on a short in the wiring. Sometimes when things are going together wires get pinched and cause a short, which can cause a drain on your battery. One way to find the circuit the drain is on is to hook a simple test light from the ground post of the battery to the ground wire after disconnecting them, with the key off. If you have a short, the test will light up. Then all you need to do is pull fuses until the light goes off. That will give a starting point for tracing the short. Hope this helps.

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#29
In reply to #28

Re: Do Ford Mustangs Drain Batteries?

02/07/2010 2:19 AM

i dont think it would be a short.

shorts norm cause massive drops generate heat and smoke, Not easy to miss.

i would say as he didnt mention smell or smoke the cause of discharge is more subtle.

more likely an alternator, computer, or interior light fault

but all ideas need checking

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#30

Re: Do Ford Mustangs Drain Batteries?

02/07/2010 5:00 AM

Sorry folks but I have never seen so many divergent and unfounded ideas about simple battery issues.

If there is any suspicion (Which I don't have) that a continuous load is pulling that battery down it is real easy to check.

Disconnect all the wires on the positive battery post. Make sure, if there is more than one that as a group they are all clipped together and connected to the ammeter terminal of a VOM (Most meters today will stand a couple of amps) and the other meter lead to the positive battery post. That will give you a reading of any continuous load (Providing the key is off and the doors closed so you don't read interior lighting load - don't do that with the key on), probably just the clock at well under an amp. If you seriously suspect a larger load get a serious ammeter although interior meter fusing will protect the meter.

But the o.p. that started this thread seemed to be saying that the car periodically sat dead for a couple of months. He has not since said otherwise.

Every time that battery sat dead for two months the result was serious sulfation. Doesn't take too much of that to kill a battery. Indeed he has not told us if the car would start without a boost after two months. Want to bet? Virtually every battery with few exceptions, not just lead acid, is subject to self discharge.

My bet is that if in fact the problem is not long sitting without use or charge (Which it almost certainly is) then it is simply a matter of proper battery installation and care.

I have watched all too many mechanics, battery salepersons, or other such, drop a new battery in a car and then just clamp the terminals to it. I have watched them do it on my own cars.

Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!

I let them do that to me because it provides a teaching moment.

I make them disconnect from the new battery. I then make them get a battery cleaning tool (Wire brush type) and clean the battery posts and the cable lugs until they are shiny bright and then connect cables to posts. That usually takes place when putting a new battery in a car I have just acquired.

But then I take it home and do it right.

Again, brush the posts until shiny metallic bright.

Next, coat the posts with NoLox or similar anti-oxidant coating of the sort used by electricians on aluminum service entrance cable.

Then, if you look at the lugs on the cable ends on used cars like I buy, you will usually see a green coating on the copper wire. That is an oxide caused by acid vapor creeping into the crimp connection, the vapor coming from the battery.

Cut those lousy crimp connected lugs off and toss them away. Strip back the insulation enough to fit into a crimp type eyelet lug that will fit over a 1/4 inch screw. Clean the bare copper with a wire brush. Before putting the stripped and cleaned end into the lug put a light coating of rosin soldering flux on it. Then using one of those mini pencil torches fill the lug with rosin core solder. If you heat from the eyelet end of the lug you can stop just as the solder melts and fills to just before the insulation. Do not use plumbers acid core solder.

Finally, take a pair of brass marine terminal battery lugs, clean them with the wire brush, coat them with No-Lox, and using either a socket or box wrench (Pliers or adjustables slip and screw up the hex nuts or screw heads) clamp the marine terminal lugs to the battery posts. The rest, again coating with NoLox, is obvious.

That usually fixes things providing you have a fully charged battery. The secret is bright shiny metal and especially the anti-oxide coating so you will have no problems until the battery once again needs replacement due to old age.

There is only one way to check a battery, i.e., under load. I have a 50 amp load tester I bought for about twelve bucks from Harbor Freight. If you look around here on the web you will find voltage charts of batteries under specific loads but the load tester takes care of all that on the meter face.

Most times that little routine takes care of it (A properly set up engine should take off on the first or second rotation) and if you install a solar trickle charger it won't matter how long you let the car sit.

If you have done all that and if you have a fully charged battery and still have a problem (That is a problem spinning the engine, not starting although spinning and not starting is another and different problem) the next thing to check is the negative cable connection to the engine block although usually the problem is at the battery because of the battery acid vapor. Just follow the same routine with the negative ground end of the cable; clean and coat with NoLox and bolt to the engine block. There should also be a short piece of braided cable between the engine block and the frame.

As far as starters, if you don't keep cranking them for more than five seconds they don't fail electrically. Check battery and connections.

When they do fail it is usually mechanical and you can hear it. If the Bendix does not engage the flywheel ring gear properly and smartly you will hear it clash. If it engages and starts the engine but does not disengage you will hear it spinning. If, when you turn the key you hear nothing and you have made sure of the battery and connections it could be a starter relay which usually can be heard. But if you hear nothing then you may have a bad starter; a rare thing if you have not abused it by endlessly grinding a motor that won't start because of other problems.

Alternators do fail. The easiest way to check is to put a voltmeter across the battery and then gas the engine. The voltmeter should climb, as the engine spins up, from twelve to better than thirteen or more volts.

If it don't, don't bother with all that stuff of checking diodes, etc., etc. Auto Zone will check on or off the vehicle for nothing. At any rate most of them can be had for 25 bucks.

As for other electrical problems? If you don't have a basic understanding of direct current circuits leave it to an expert, admittedly someone hard to find among all the "experts."

But, anybody that seriously wants to learn this stuff, instruction in electrical theory is all over the net; from simple D.C. circuits to multi-phase alternating current theory and circuits.

Go for it!

One other thing. The parts houses sell repair manuals for the various cars for a few dollars. Most of those manuals have the car circuits in the back usually spread over three or four pages which makes them hard to follow. What I do is take them to the copy shop and print those pages out at whatever size will please me. Then I simply fit the circuit edges together with tape holding them on the back. Then I make a clean copy on those long roll copiers Kinko's and folks like that have and fold them down to tuck in the repair manual.

Hope all this helps and those of you talking that are not really sure about what you are talking about.....

I'm sure you get the idea. You know who you are.

j.

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#35
In reply to #30

Re: Do Ford Mustangs Drain Batteries?

10/24/2012 4:41 AM

For all you people poor like me! Testers and mechanics are just way to much money even if they like twenty bucks. Another way to check any alternator without a meter is simple (on most cars anyway) is simply started the engine and simply remover ur hot cable from the battery. Granted i have a car with more electronics than a space shuttle! Turn off all unnecisary stuff like amps, dvds, ect. With the car just running what its designed to run stock the alternator should run ur car without any battery hooked up ate all! ........please....please.....please dont try this on some eletric smart car obviosly they require a good battery and alyernator to function properly! Hope this helped someone low on funds plz dont run the car like that! Yes its designed to do so but the battery reserves any extra volts so ur alyenator isnt always running! Goodluck hope id saved someone a little cash cash. Trust me if u can do this liked explained above its will be alott more reliable this is just a side of the road no tools/cash cituation good lucknow i have lottttttss of these tricks just ask. Just be aware if ur in a 2012 Benze dont be a fool if u can buy a car like that call a mechanic plz

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#31

Re: Do Ford Mustangs Drain Batteries?

02/07/2010 1:13 PM

For you guys who like numbers here is what I have found to be a normal average standby current draws of unmodified bone stock vehicles I have worked on over the years and how it relates to battery standby time.

Most cars have small battery's now that are in the several tens of amp hours capacities at best. They have high cranking amp numbers but thats not representative of a battery's actual energy storage capacity. Only the amp hour number is.

Every vehicle I have ever tested that had any computer control or digital anything typically has around 10 - 20 ma of stand by drain for memory retention systems. Add in some aftermarket stuff and that number can double or triple. And yes some of you may have different models with less standby draw as well but still I doubt anyone has anything modern that goes to zero when the key is off.

If your battery has a 35 AH (fairly common number) of usable capacity a 10 ma draw(.01 amps) will take approximately 3500 hours to drain it. However most car batteries will lose enough cranking capacity after being drawn down to under 1/3 of their total power that they wont start the engine. That gives you about 2400 hours standby or roughly just over three months in good climate conditions.

Double the standby draw (.02 amps) and you get half that standby time or roughly 6 weeks. Add in cold climate conditions and that gets cut by half again or now 3- 4 weeks at best.

Add on all of your aftermarket remote starters, security systems, cell phone chargers that never get unplugged, and misc other toys and now some of you can have 2-3 weeks at best before the car just wont quite crank over. Its not totally dead but its not starting either.

Those of you with larger vehicles probably don't notice the battery being drained simply because your vehicle has a bigger battery which is giving it a longer standby time.

Put a ma meter in line with one of your battery cables ans watch it for a day. I bet most will see that 10 -20 ma steady drain that will never go away unless you disconnect the ECM and other memory keep alive fuses.

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#32
In reply to #31

Re: Do Ford Mustangs Drain Batteries?

02/07/2010 2:25 PM

Some real common sense at last. Many thanks.

GA.

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#33
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Re: Do Ford Mustangs Drain Batteries?

02/07/2010 6:22 PM

intelligence lives.

with some of us any way.

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#34
In reply to #33

Re: Do Ford Mustangs Drain Batteries?

02/07/2010 7:24 PM

The GA is for that very quixotic line "I couldn't fix your brakes so I made your horn louder."

Strangely enough, which is probably why you append it, some folks actually think that way and often don't realize it.

I just wonder if anybody here recognize themselves in that bon mot.

j.

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#36

Re: Do Ford Mustangs Drain Batteries?

10/24/2012 2:13 PM

This is OT comment and marked as such. After looking back on this thread that's almost 2 years old, I'm sad to see that the immaturity level is increasing on CR4. Don't know who has a grudge against people using CR4 or who has hurt feelings because they didn't receive a "GA" and feel the need to rate other comments as OT when the comment is relevant, and they know who they are. If your immaturity level is this high, then maybe you should find another forum to subscribe to. Take care and have a good day. DJ

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