Re. 2000 manual Insight, with (failing) a/c, 260,000 miles, 40-months on replacement battery pack, and B-stamp plugs.
"Call me Ishmial..."
This summer I had the car parked for about 10 days while I was helping my mom with a move.
It was during a blistering heat wave in Rhode Island in July, and it was raining like it was Florida everyday. One day I noticed I had the passenger window rolled down, after it rained and it probably got damp inside.
(Symptoms referenced with numerals.)
(1) I started my car and got an engine light. I drove it a few miles to a car parts store and they took a code reading and said that my thermostat housing sensor had failed. That was weird, because I had replaced one less than two years earlier when my head gasket failed.
I ordered the part, and because I did not have the right wrench size to install it and did not want to pay a bunch of money to buy a wrench I would probably never use again, I had a local mechanic that my mom liked install it. He had taught auto mechanic repairs at New England Tech for many years, so I trust that he knew what he was doing, and it is a simple job.
Several days after the repair (2) my engine light came on and my IMA light (3) came on on a long trip in the rain, about 80 miles along. I turned around and went back home and cancelled my business trip. I had the code red at my parts store, and I was given that same error code again for a thermostat housing sensor.
By this time, (4) I also noticed that the car was hard to start and the ignition would click but it would eventually start.
This would get worse over time, then after many attempts to resolve it, less worse and intermittent.
After doing some reading, I suspected my car battery was failing and it was throwing my electronics out. I already knew that it was on its way out the winter before, so I bought a new battery.
The guy who sold me the battery insisted on installing it even though that is a simple job to do. And yet when I went to start it, the clicking happened again, right at the store. So at that point, I am suspecting that my terminal leads and the grounds are bad. Got home, and it started fine for several days, then it returned and was so bad that the car could not start.
Those wires did look bad. I bought replacements, and when I went to install them I noticed that the guy who installed my car battery did not have the treminals tight. No, they were just hanging on their, untightened. (Idiot!) . (5) So my car had been driving around for several hundred miles with very loose terminals on the starter battery. That made me wonder what might be going on with the electronics because of that.
I installed the new terminals and the new grounds, except for the one ground I kept that was very long. I cut down shorter to the clean copper and reinstalled it. These were all new grounds for the second time in the life of the car at 260,000 miles.
The car seemed to start better. But then again, the clicking ignition problem returned. And sometimes I just could not start it, period. (6) A jump would help start it. (7) Or disconnecting and reconnecting the battery would help.
Struggling to start it this way, I noticed that if I put the car in first gear when I parked it, it was less likely to want to start the next time.(
And I also noticed that if I worked the clutch back and forth (it is a manual), the car would more likely start. (9) At its worst, when it just seemed it would not start, I noticed that if I turned the ignition while I lifted the clutch pedal, the car would finally start. (10) Otherwise it might just chug a little bit and click but not start. And it was more likely to want to start again if some time had passed. (Yes, I have tested the new 12v battery... twice.)
I asked my knowledgeable parts guy if it might be the starter-inhibitor switch on the clutch pedal, (11) and he agreed. So I bought one, installed it this eeek, and at first, it seemed to fix it. But then the clicking returned once at the end of a day of stopping and restarting. Then it worked well again since.
Meanwhile, the IMA light (12) went off a few days after it came on. Then it intermittently came on and off, and the charge would jump up to the top, then quickly discharge. At times, I disconnected and reconnected my 12v battery to reset the IMA, and it would work.
Pumping and eorkibg the clutch pedal has always worked to start the car, though with more or less difgiculty at times. On one occassion, I heard gears grinding while trying that. I had to wait several minutes, try again, and the car started.
Most of these past few months, the IMA works. Sometimes, it flares up, especially on 80+ mile trips, like this week. The light came on, but everything seemed to work perfectly. Then after a 200 miles or so, the IMA would neither assist nor regen. The charge was just stuck.(13). The next day, the light was on, but it otherwise worked fine, and that is where I am today with it.
Also meanwhile, the engine light has gone on and off over the past several months. (14) The thermostat housing sensor error is long gone. Replacing it is the upstream 02 sensor code. On. Off. On. Off. This week, on again, and the IMA on again, I pulled codes again. Both 02 sensors, but nothing showed for the IMA. (15) No error code has ever shown for the IMA.
All along, I have been wondering if I have been getting phantom error codes. I am wondering if the parts store guy not properly securing the 12v terminals, then my driving a few hundred miles, damaged my electrical system, like the ECM.
My upstream sensor is about 11 years old, but the downstream is only three years old, and both are Honda. The full exhaust/cat is also 3 years old.
Last symptom, (16) the problems seem to flare up worst when it rains. It started after monsoon rains. The IMA first lit in heavy rain. And the engine and IMA lights last returned in heavy rains.
I do believe the replacement battery pack is on its way out, because it was only charging about 40% on the guage before this all started. Now it will go to 100%, but it does not always work.
Thanks for reading.