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Old 04-14-2019, 03:22 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default And so the Odyssey begins . . .

"Odyssey" because it's a 2001.

Hi everyone. A few weeks ago I bought my first Insight, a red 2001 MT advertised on Craigslist a few towns south of me in Colorado.

But the story begins long before that. I've always been attracted to the offbeat, and I've always been intrigued by efficiency. The first car I ever bought was a '78 VW Rabbit, followed not long after by a '77 Corolla Liftback SR5 with the 1.6 liter engine. I also had a '73 VW bus -- that thing was a time-consuming hobby to keep running. But ever since our first kid we've been almost entirely a Volvo family. 27 years after that first Volvo, my current car is a 2010 Volvo C30 R-Design, a little 2-door hatchback with a 6-speed manual transmission. I took off the stock 18" wheels and replaced them with 16s (they do clear the brakes) and tall skinny tires (comparatively).

Being an aficionado of efficiency in general, and solar energy and other related causes, I had followed the introduction of the Insight and other hybrids, the HomePower magazine electric conversions, etc, all from safely inside my Volvos. I was always impressed with the Insight's ingenious design and efficiency, and still consider it the first true no-holds, mass-produced, in-your-face efficiency/technology champion. My son was also always intrigued by them. He went away to college to study Aerospace Engineering (driving a Volvo S40 sedan). He has become much more knowledgeable about them than I am. Now in his final year, I helped him buy a 2000 MT in a very outrageous green metallic (which I now know is stock "Citrus") with a bad battery, from a very nice lady/environmental activist/university professor in Boulder. He had a Bumblebee battery shipped to the house here in Colorado, and installed it over the Christmas break. No help from me; I was at work when he did the switch. My assignment has been to drive it about once a week until he graduates in May, then he will come retrieve it and move to Salem, Oregon with it in late June.

He and I had spent about a year looking for that car, investigating numerous others during the search. And even after he got it, I still had the idle habit of checking Craigslist from time to time. Sure enough, a red one with a little under 94k miles showed up not far from here, and I went to check it out one night. The owner was something of a car nut. He had a massive pickup truck with gigantic wheels and tires in the driveway, a striking contrast to the forlorn Insight relegated to the adjacent gravel. His conversation was a constant stream of automotive engineering jargon. His garage was totally filled with car stuff, engine lifts, tool chests, etc, and an old Civic he was getting ready to put a 500hp methanol-powered engine in. He wouldn't sell the Insight to me at night; he insisted I come back and look at the faded paint by daylight before committing. I ended up paying his asking price of $2800 on my return visit.

OK, the car: Shiny red, but much less shiny on the roof and hood. Kind of the opposite of me: I'm a little more shiny on top these days. Also the black paint on the windowsills is no longer black, and mostly no longer there. It had fancy aftermarket wheels and high performance tires when I test drove it, but when I went to pick it up he was reinstalling the stock wheels and de rigueur Bridgestone RE92s. He told me it had a jack but no spare. It has headlights converted to LEDs with some kind of cooling fans (not sure why; LEDs emit less heat than comparable-brightness halogens). I haven't looked at the installation very closely, but they are a ghastly blue tint. I think he did it himself, as his truck is a showcase of absurd aftermarket LEDs. The battery seemed OK-ish, and was said to have been installed in 2015. Otherwise, it starts right up, drives just fine, grey fabric interior is in good shape. The gauges have a glowing "bleed" that partially obscures the readings for fuel, battery level, charge/discharge, but is tolerable I guess. And it does have a spare; you just have to look under the storage bin. And it has a jack, but no lug wrench.

I drive a lot in my new job, so I'm looking forward to this car becoming a rolling test bed for various choices believed to have an effect on gas mileage. But first, a bigger problem: Before the first full tank of gas, the battery charge indication became flaky, and now indicates zero charge, and does not boost or regenerate. The IMA light and engine light are on, so I guess a few more thousand-dollar bills will flow before I get to base-case condition. Meanwhile, it's parked, and I'm driving the Volvo.

Last edited by Steve B.; 04-14-2019 at 04:21 PM. Reason: Additional detail, and spelling/grammar
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Old 04-14-2019, 03:36 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Your “new” 2001.

Well, you won’t be disappointed with the gas mileage. I wouldn’t give up on the hybrid battery. May just need some conditioning. You can disconnect / reconnect the 12 volt and try letting the car charge the battery back up, but it probably needs to be rebalanced. Don’t assume it’s bad. Good luck and consider driving out to InsghtFest in September!! ����
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Old 04-14-2019, 03:59 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Steve B.

Congrats on your Odyssey, and to your son on his Citrus which is a rare color in the US being sold only in 2000.

I have no info on the dash display "smear" other than to suggest a chat with IC member Mario, IIRC he has seen this before.

As for your pack troubles, you'll need to flash out the code(s) to determine if a little more life can had with that pack. Mike Dabrowski shows how on his 99mpg website here. He also lists some codes.

AbCaRed00 (Bill) maintains a spreadsheet that lists almost every code an Insight might set. The sheet also many valuable links for other great info.

I don't get on here as often, but others will chime in when you post the trouble code your pack has set. You may have a few options available before spending a large sum.

btw: there are several members in your area who meet up for car maintenance and sharing experience. Keep an eye on the "hybrid social" section of the forum.

Good luck and happy insighting.

..Bob
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Old 04-14-2019, 04:22 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Hi Steve, and welcome, fellow Volvo owner (S70). Looks like you found the perfect car for you.

Let us know how your mileage is. If not want you were hoping for, you might want to focus on fixing one thing at a time, then driving it a while to see how the change fared. One of the easiest and cheapest tune-up items is to adjust the valve lash. Mine were several thousandths too tight and setting them to spec bought me about 5 MPG.

Let us know when you are ready to paint (or PM me) because you actually can do a pretty good job with Rustoleum Sunrise Red 7762, available in Walmart for about $4 a can. It is very sensitive to humidity. I can't stress that enough. I did this for my car and can tell you all the ways to screw up the paint, or at least all the ones I found.
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Old 04-14-2019, 07:03 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Hello fellow volvo owner! My Insight had the IMA/CEL on when I bought it, turned out it needed a grid charge and that fixed my problem! I bought a Maxx volts grid charger for $150 on eBay and it worked great, 6 months and I still don’t need another grid charge even on a 345k mile pack!


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Old 04-16-2019, 10:01 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Wow, thanks everyone -- I have a LOT to read on this site!
I have a long road trip coming up at the end of May, but I probably won't trust the Insight thousands of miles from home by that time. Perhaps by Insight Fest.

Meanwhile, my next move will be to build a grid charger and see where that gets me. And I've got my eye out for a set of Civic VX 13" wheels. Plenty of adventures ahead, I think.

Stomish, that looks like an '04 ~ '07 V70R. I had an '04 in grey once upon a time; we called it The Shark.
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Old 04-17-2019, 02:49 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post
Wow, thanks everyone -- I have a LOT to read on this site!
I have a long road trip coming up at the end of May, but I probably won't trust the Insight thousands of miles from home by that time. Perhaps by Insight Fest.

Meanwhile, my next move will be to build a grid charger and see where that gets me. And I've got my eye out for a set of Civic VX 13" wheels. Plenty of adventures ahead, I think.

Stomish, that looks like an '04 ~ '07 V70R. I had an '04 in grey once upon a time; we called it The Shark.
I can't speak for the integrity of your G1. But I have had no qualms driving mine long distances. Once out to the East Coast and back from Oregon and then, recently, to Santa Barbara and back. Not a hint of a problem. The car runs like a top. I did have Scott go over it in SoCal before I turned left and drove to the East Coast, though. The car and I felt better after receiving his blessing, and new rear springs and shocks, belly pan, and some other work. I'd hop in it tomorrow and drive anywhere that has paved access without thinking twice.
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Old 04-18-2019, 07:33 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post
Wow, thanks everyone -- I have a LOT to read on this site!
I have a long road trip coming up at the end of May, but I probably won't trust the Insight thousands of miles from home by that time. Perhaps by Insight Fest.

Meanwhile, my next move will be to build a grid charger and see where that gets me. And I've got my eye out for a set of Civic VX 13" wheels. Plenty of adventures ahead, I think.

Stomish, that looks like an '04 ~ '07 V70R. I had an '04 in grey once upon a time; we called it The Shark.
If you need help pulling codes or want to check out the grid charger i use I am pretty close to you in Loveland.
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Old 04-28-2019, 09:11 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Turbogizzmo, that's a very nice offer, and I'm likely to take you up on it. I've got a road trip to Arizona coming up, should be back in town around the second week of May. I'll send you a PM when I'm back in civilization.
Thanks!
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