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Old 01-31-2019, 06:09 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Insight in the Polar Vortex

Bought my Insight at the beginning of January, little knowing I would soon drive it through the coldest winter weather I've ever experienced. The morning temperatures in La Crosse, Wisconsin Monday-Thursday have been -12 to -31F ... BEFORE windchills, which have reached 64 below. Some days the thermometer hasn't even topped zero. Yikes!

Thought it might be interesting to share my experiences with extreme winter driving and see what other folks have found.

My car is a bone-stock '02 with the 5-speed, about 248,000 miles, and a tired but functional IMA battery. It has Dunlop Enasave 01 A/S tires with about 40% tread left.

The car has started every time within a second or two. Not as quick as it does in warmer temps, but there's nothing like having a monster battery pack and electric motor to roll the engine over in the cold. Many other folks are having to jump start their cars in our area.

It takes a loonnggg time for the engine to warm up - typically 3-4 miles and about 8 minutes of city driving before the gauge even comes off the bottom segment of the temperature scale. Once the engine heats up though, the heater and defroster have done a great job clearing the ice and keeping me cozy. The rear defroster, on the other hand, hasn't even started to thaw the ice on some of the coldest days!

The Insight seems to handle the icy roads like any other small, light front-wheel drive car I've owned. It slips a little, but nothing that can't be handled with careful driving. Actually, good winter driving practices are pretty similar to good mpg driving... start slow, accelerate slow, coast and carry momentum, brake slow and sparingly. So in some ways, winter has slowed other cars down to my preferred driving style!

I haven't tried driving it through snow or slush more than an inch or two deep. I doubt it would do well in deeper snow because of the low ground clearance and under-body panels. I haven't had problems with snow building up behind the rear wheel skirts and interfering with operation.

The IMA has continued to provide boost and charge in my in-town driving through the coldest weather. I haven't really discerned much difference, although I don't ever push it. Overall mileage is down to about 43mpg in town. The Insight clearly struggles with both mpg and power until it warms up, and since my commute is only nine miles it is spending about half its time at less than its best. I typically try to keep the mpg slider at or above 50mpg when at cruising speed, and that's difficult when the systems are cold - I have especially noticed that it won't hold 55mph in 5th gear unless I'm more aggressive with the throttle pedal.

The ABS seems better than systems in some other cars I've driven, doing a better job bringing the car to a stop and under control when needed.

So - it's doing fine as a winter driver. What are your experiences? Any tips?

- Park
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Old 01-31-2019, 06:19 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I haven't driven mine in the winter yet, but try blocking off your grille. With temps that low you can easily get away with a full grille block. Improves aerodynamics and reduces the cold air entering the engine, which makes the car warm up much faster. The tiny, efficient 1.0L doesn't burn enough gas to warm up fast. For the ambitious, a warm air intake and block heater work wonders.

Back home in Michigan with similar weather my mom is barely getting over 40 MPG in her Prius -- cold weather really does kill fuel economy. But you're still getting much better fuel economy than any car out there!
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Old 01-31-2019, 06:38 PM   #3 (permalink)
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One quirk I forgot to mention: at the coldest, my clutch seems to lag the pedal slightly on release. Not sure if this is cold hydraulics, or the clutch itself reluctantly sliding. I have to be extra-deliberate about double-clutching down into second. No biggie.

- Park
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Old 01-31-2019, 09:29 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Are you a man of faith. Doing the lords work. Well enjoy the insight ,check your clutch fluid .
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Old 01-31-2019, 09:46 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I was out yesterday -8 f. Cold enough that it started with the 12 volt. Kept it a gear lower to run the engine a bit higher in the rpms for the first few miles. Warms up faster that way. I don’t run any grill block. I tried it the first year but never noticed that much of a difference.

Put the heat on Econ and 69 degrees, give it a little bit, and it’s as warm as toast.

I’ve unplugged the upper rear window defroster. There are only a couple wires at the very bottom that function and I’ve always been fearful of a window break in very cold temps due to stress caused by uneven heating.

You’ll likely feel, in snow, the back end of the car “wriggle” as the narrower-set rear tires slide from one front rut to the other. It’s a little disconcerting and, if not paid attention to, can cause a loss of control at higher speeds.
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: New Battery (mfg ?) @ 125k + 2 years of sitting : 64.8 lifetime (resets ?)
I'd own a Karmann Ghia, but prefer to not freeze in the winter!

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Old 01-31-2019, 11:55 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Thats why some of us use 1" wheel spacers, about $28 on ebay
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Old 02-01-2019, 12:58 AM   #7 (permalink)
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If you keep a night light own anyway outside. Why not leave it off. put extension cord inside car for nightlight. It will heat your car a little. I put my light under the battery box inside of car just have to remember to take it out in the morning.
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Old 02-01-2019, 09:15 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Rear defrosters rarely work in these cars, at least the whole thing. They corrode over time, break the lines, and the lines no longer heat up due to an incomplete circuit. No easy fix, other than laying an aftermarket defroster over your existing one, which I opted not to do. You can try the silver based repair paint technique but it doesn't last long enough to be worth the time, at least with my attempt.
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Old 02-01-2019, 12:15 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by striider View Post
Rear defrosters rarely work in these cars, at least the whole thing. They corrode over time, break the lines, and the lines no longer heat up due to an incomplete circuit. No easy fix, other than laying an aftermarket defroster over your existing one, which I opted not to do. You can try the silver based repair paint technique but it doesn't last long enough to be worth the time, at least with my attempt.
I tried the repair route with a couple of different products and then muttered some obscene variation of "the heck with this" and abandoned ship.

I Rain-X my rear window because I think the ice comes off 'way easier with it on there. If it doesn't, and you have proof, I don't care. Please don't ruin my thinks with facts! ;]
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"LittleCar" : OH via NJ via VA : 3rd Owner : Silverstone 2002 MT : Nearing 150k miles
: No leaks : No Grind : No Mods (well.. ok... added cruise, window tint, new speakers, and clutch switch)
: New Battery (mfg ?) @ 125k + 2 years of sitting : 64.8 lifetime (resets ?)
I'd own a Karmann Ghia, but prefer to not freeze in the winter!
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Old 02-01-2019, 12:22 PM   #10 (permalink)
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What works for me in Tennessee probably would not help you guys in the far frozen north. But the extension cord light works for me on the rare event of ice .
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