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Old 12-09-2012, 09:04 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default First-time Insight buyer

Found a used '01 Insight here in Florida, and will check it out probably tomorrow or Tuesday. Before I do, I wanted to get some feedback as to just what to look for that might set off some bells and whistles. Never owned an Insight, but have been interested in them for some time. Now, I plan to do some driving, so a high MPG 1st gen makes sense. When I plant my seat inside and turn the key, what are some no-no's or eyebrow-raisers to look for on the dash? Will a blinking red indicator on the dash say something like "Hey, Stupid! The IMA is fried and the engine is toast!"

The car looks decent in the pics, but, obviously is 12 years old, with 150k. Obviously I am not looking for a ding-free car, or even one without a couple cigarette burn marks on the driver seat. These are to be expected, and are almost givens.

Besides the obvious, is there anything else I should be checking for in a 1st gen that the first-timer 1st gen wouldn't necessarily know to check for?

I searched through the threads, but didn't find too much. Perhaps there is an earlier post that I missed that covered some of the basics that I'm seeking in mine.

Any input would be appreciated. Thanks a bunch!
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Old 12-10-2012, 04:43 AM   #2 (permalink)
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There's a bunch of little things that typically go wrong with the Insight, but that's more about what to do after you buy one. The two biggest things, off the top of my head, are HV battery and tires, and CVT if it's a CVT. CVTs are hard to fix and expensive to replace. HV battery - unless the owner has proof of a battery replacement within the last year or so, I'd assume the HV battery is on its way out, and factor the replacement cost into the value/purchase price (bumblebee battery =~$2100 + install cost if you don't do it yourself). Tires are expensive, too, so if they're worn, factor that $400-500 into the value/purchase price... But I guess that goes for any car... Personally, I'd ding the value if the car doesn't have Bridgestone RE92s, the stock low rolling resistance tires.

Note that the state of charge gauge in the dash, for the HV battery, tells you little to nothing about the condition of the battery. I've seen a lot of owners advertise that the 'state of charge gauge always shows full, battery just like new' in for sale ads. Means nothing. If you test drive for a long time, are able to use electric assist seemingly without trouble, and the state of charge dash gauge slowly depletes when you use assist repeatedly in absence of regen charge, and the soc gauge can drop down far, like below ten bars, the battery is probably pretty good... But really, very few test drives (usually too short) would give you the opportunity to gauge the battery condition, at least for a total newbie...

The odometer/ fuel consumption display (FCD) shows a lifetime fuel economy figure. Take some time to figure out how to display the odometer figure (total miles) if it's not already displayed, and take note of the lifetime average fuel economy. This can be reset, but odds are it hasn't been. Higher lifetime mpg suggests easier driven cars. Reading around here seems like just above 50 mpg is typical, and good; 58 would be great; 65 would be really great. These figures are for a manual transmission car...

There's like a list of things that would probably cost something like $500 to repair, things that the typical used Insight will need to have done. For example, the rear motor mount (torque mount) is often cracked, worn, torn (the rubber insert). That's like $90. Look underneath the front of the car, then the whole underneath, make sure all the 'aero panels' are in place; adjust value accordingly. Rear shocks will likely need to be replaced if they haven't been; new stock are something like $300 a pair. Spark plugs - like $60 for 3 stock indexed iridiums; if haven't been replaced they will need to be...

-trip meter button can fail
-rear hatch mechanism tends to fail, electrical, 2 likely sources of problem (water on wire connector by A pillar, and broken mechanism at rear)
-diagnostic trouble codes, panel warning lights, can trigger in response to IMA-related issues
-front wheel wells, behind wheels, fill up with crud
-roof can leak in a couple of spots, by the seat belt/s, where it hangs down, and below the rear quarter windows (roof rain gutter cracks)...
-'herky jerky' behavior - often a problem with the exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) valve/valve wiring and the EGR tract (plugged up)...
-downshifts into 2nd gear grind, clocking tab worn, not fatal, but to get rid of the grind you'd need to take apart the transmission...

Basically, a car with all the typical problems, needing the full maintenance regime, HV battery work, and needing new tires, would be worth maybe - I'd say $4000, around 150k miles. A really good car, under perhaps 100k miles, would be something like $7000, though I'd never pay that much...

Anyway, hope this helps. Good luck.
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Last edited by eq1; 12-10-2012 at 04:51 AM.
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Old 12-10-2012, 01:09 PM   #3 (permalink)
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If it helps these are the things I found on my car after I bought it, and had I known I would have asked her for about $500 off:

Front main seal leak
Serp belt destroyed
Autolite spark plugs
All the aero on the right side gone ($160)
Air filter box clips all gone
WSS - wet seatbelt syndrome

My advice, bring a flashlight and a small jack so you can really get under it. Check the axles, spin all four wheels off the ground, shake them too (ball joints, tie rods), and don't be afraid to flog it a bit on the test drive.
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Old 12-10-2012, 02:29 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Thanks a bunch for the heads-up! Much appreciated!
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Old 12-11-2012, 01:51 AM   #5 (permalink)
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There's alot of folks here with 'expert expertise' and it appears eq1 gave you lots of that. Some other experts: Willie, Eli, Retepsnikrep, Mike D, Jeff652 just to name a few. Some of the guys are in the Insight repair and modification business too, marketing some outstanding accessories and replacements.

I got lucky with mine I guess, very few problems. 145k miles at purchase last May. I carfaxed it after looking at it top, bottom, and inside, and called the maintenance facilities listed on the carfax to confirm what had been done, primarily the hv battery replacement in '07 (the replacement battery had 45k on it at my purchase).

My '01 has exceeded all my expectations, but I'm making a 'notebook' of items to fix (and who to network with) that will surely crop up. The $$ savings in fuel economy is paying for the car and the expected maintenance. (Used to spend $350 a month on gas for work, now spend 1/4 of that, have saved $1900 in fuel economy so far.)

Lovin my Insight!

..Bob
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'01 Red CVT , US cvt #218, 176k miles, 64.6 lmpg
Best commutes: 84.8 mpg / 50 miles; 75.3 mpg / 100 miles. My commute: http://veloroutes.org/r/91468
Genesis One Pack Harness & Discharger, Modified Grid Charger: Mike Dabrowski 2000
Lower grill block: msantos cleanmpg.com, OBDIIC&C: Peter & Eli
Variable Warm Air Inlet, Variable Radiator Block, RE92's aired to 65 psi

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