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Hello Insight owners. I'm still enjoying my 2002 Insight; thrilled with it actually. It's got 129,000 miles and has had three battery changes. The first was a replacement by Honda while the car was still under warranty. That battery was replaced by two from Bumble Bee ... and it appears the third replacement might be going. I'm in discussions with Bumble Bee about its performance, which seems suddenly erratic. The light isn't coming on, though.

Anyway, my real question is about how the car might perform up in the mountains of San Bernardino CA, where I'm considering spending my retirement. There are some quasi-steep grades going up the mountain, but I think the car can handle them. Most of the climb is a gradual grade. Big trucks make the 1-hour drive to the peak every day.

My main concern is engine performance on a daily basis at such high altitude.

Any thoughts? Suggestions? Thanks.

- Steve
 

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I drove mine extensively in the mountains even without a battery, and it did fine. These are stout little engines.

Is yours a 5MT or auto? I'd be more concerned about CVT wear than anything with the engine, and even that might not be warranted.
 

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My Insight has a hot air intake and I had to drive up the I-40 when I was driving CA to Maryland. I think I saw 6-7k feet (took the 10 till Phoenix so I missed the highest point). First couple of times up the steeper grades at that elevation freaked me out, and I could definitely notice a bit of a power loss but the car held together well, and if you stay in a lower gear above that 2800rpm deadspot it still has some power. So you should be fine with a normal insight. Id do the clutch mod though if you havn't already, because the IMA likes to wack the pack pretty hard with assist at the wrong times.

I learned to spend most of my time in 3rd at 4k ish rpm and that was enough to get me over everything. If you get slowed down though, it's pretty miserable trying to go from 2nd to 3rd while on the steeper grades. I wouldn't want to go much faster than like 48 in 2nd, and it's about 52 in 3rd to be able to maintain on a high grade unless you wanna be waging a constant war with the IMA.

Economy wise I wasn't seeing much better than 20-25 miles per gallon on those stretches. I think my tank average was about 58 from Cali to Arizona.
 

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What's going on with your battery? Recals? PM me some details, I'll look into it.

I used to live in Santa Fe, at 7,000'. I could definitely tell the difference when coming down to the lowlands, but like everything else, it just becomes relative if you have no perspective. I could get just as good of fuel economy overall, but it probably took just that much more effort.

129,000 miles? Awww.. It's just a baby!

As stated, the Insight's engine is extremely stout. Very. We've seen Insights with over 700,000 miles on them; one of mine is almost at 500k. With proper maintenance, I'll dare to say that they're good for a million miles. But like any engine, they have their weak spots. Oil leaks combined with a much smaller sump than most all other cars allows people to run them dry much too often, which will snap the cam, etc.
 

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Its funny that you mention the San Bernardino mountains. I killed my original battery on a hot summer day going up to Big Bear via hwy 330. The car lost power half way up and the a/c turned off making the day frustratingly hot. After replacing that battery with a Bumblebee I've made the trek up to Big Bear several times without any issues. I drive it more on the SR-2/CA-2 from Pasadena to Wrightwood.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
What's going on with your battery? Recals? PM me some details, I'll look into it.

I used to live in Santa Fe, at 7,000'. I could definitely tell the difference when coming down to the lowlands, but like everything else, it just becomes relative if you have no perspective. I could get just as good of fuel economy overall, but it probably took just that much more effort.

129,000 miles? Awww.. It's just a baby!

As stated, the Insight's engine is extremely stout. Very. We've seen Insights with over 700,000 miles on them; one of mine is almost at 500k. With proper maintenance, I'll dare to say that they're good for a million miles. But like any engine, they have their weak spots. Oil leaks combined with a much smaller sump than most all other cars allows people to run them dry much too often, which will snap the cam, etc.
Thanks Eli. Just sent you an email.
 

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No problem. I live at 5,200 ft and go up from there. I don't see any point in depleting and recharging the IMA just to go up a hill. I just turn it off with the Calpod switch, downshift, and turn it back on going down.

Sam
 

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Its funny that you mention the San Bernardino mountains. I killed my original battery on a hot summer day going up to Big Bear via hwy 330. The car lost power half way up and the a/c turned off making the day frustratingly hot. After replacing that battery with a Bumblebee I've made the trek up to Big Bear several times without any issues. I drive it more on the SR-2/CA-2 from Pasadena to Wrightwood.
Big Bear Lake is where I'm considering. I've been there many, many times over the years. Long time ago I took a sabbatical from work and lived there for a year. One of the best things I've ever done. Great year. Thanks for posting.
 

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Big Bear is definatley a nice place to retire. I've even thought about getting a cheap house up there as a vacation house. My parents had a cabin up there in the 80's when I was a kid. A lot has changed since then. You will need a second AWD or 4WD vehicle for the icy roads in the winter. I like to take my Escape AWD hybrid on the back roads. House prices are still pretty reasonable for up the hill.
 

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Only had my insight a month but it seems to do just fine in the mountains. Had it up to 7500ft so far and wouldn’t hesitate to drive higher passes once the snow is gone. I’ll probably install the clutch switch mod. I love the assist merging on the highway going uphill, but it behaves pretty erratically on long highway speed climbs. Ymmv with a new battery, mine is history unknown but likely old.

As others have mentioned it’s a scrappy little engine and happy as a clam pushing nearly 4000 rpm for extended stretches in 2nd and 3rd gear.

Check your brakes. On long downhills the car will decide the battery is topped up and disable regen eventually.
 

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No problem. I live at 5,200 ft and go up from there. I don't see any point in depleting and recharging the IMA just to go up a hill. I just turn it off with the Calpod switch, downshift, and turn it back on going down.

Sam
What's a "Calpod" switch? Does that have to do with the trans? Mine's Auto. And what's this about "depleting and recharging the IMA" just to go up a hill? Don't understand. Thanks.
 

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What's a "Calpod" switch? Does that have to do with the trans? Mine's Auto. And what's this about "depleting and recharging the IMA" just to go up a hill? Don't understand. Thanks.
There's no such thing for an automatic, unfortunately. In a manual, you can put a toggle switch that closes the circuit that's normally closed when pressing the clutch. This results in disabling assist and regen, so you can, just as an example, prevent the car from using up all of the battery charge in the first 5 minutes of climbing a mountain, and then having forced regen the rest of the drive. Basically it allows more manual control over when the car assists and regens.

I'm unaware of a way to do this in an automatic, but it might be possible.
 

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Just got back from a week in Colorado, ranging from 5k-8k feet. 2000 5MT worked great - had to drop an extra gear for hills, and I did run out of battery (beemax) quite a few times, but managed to average 52mpg for the trip, compared to my usual Austin, TX 50.

That said, there are two major gotchas:

1) If the battery drops too low during acceleration/going uphill, the assist will drop out abruptly. Be in the right gear at all times and ignore the shift notice
2) If the battery fully charges during braking/going downhill, the regen will cut out abruptly. Be in the right gear at all times and be ready to tag the brake.

And of course, keep in mind this thing has TINY brakes. It's all too easy to cook em, so use engine braking and regen where you can.
 

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What's a "Calpod" switch? Does that have to do with the trans? Mine's Auto. And what's this about "depleting and recharging the IMA" just to go up a hill? Don't understand. Thanks.
On some hills the car just WANTS to use the IMA. Then it has to recharge it. I just don't see the point if I see it coming, so I turn off the IMA, downshift, and avoid the issue. The CVT downshifts itself, so you can shift into "S" and get even more RPMs. If you keep your foot out of the gas you can save some of the battery. Or do like my wife in her CVT and let the car do whatever it wants. It works for her, and she never has a problem.

Sam
 

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Please go ahead and either email via the website, or PM me here. My [email protected] email address hasn't been working since a recent host switch, and I haven't been able to get it resolved.

I tried to edit my signature to note this, but my sig is wayyy over the character limit with the new forum software, so I'd have to delete like 3/4 of it just to add that edit.. lol
 

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Please go ahead and either email via the website, or PM me here. My [email protected] email address hasn't been working since a recent host switch, and I haven't been able to get it resolved.
Hello Eli. Here's the text of the email I sent to you yesterday (didn't see a way here to send a PM):

"I talked with Haley at Bumble Bee about my battery situation about 3 weeks ago. The battery was installed by Bumble Bee about September 2018. It replaced a previously installed Bumble Bee battery.

Anyway, I initially called Haley when I saw that my battery capacity was down to 3 bars and didn't appear to be holding a charge. Since the light hasn't come on, Haley suggested I drive it around town at high revs (about 3500) until it charges up ... or perhaps I should say to see IF it charges.

I drove around for at least 1 half hour before the bar indicator went up. It started to climb, but slowly. I finally managed to get it up short of two bars or so after driving for more than an hour. The charge didn't last very long. As soon as I sat in stand-still traffic, the bars began to drop, going down lower than before, to 2 bars. I once again drove it around at high revs and got it up to half charge, which is where it is now.

I haven't talked with Haley since that initial call. I'm going to call her tomorrow. My battery is under warranty til March. I'm in the Seattle WA area. Haley tells me there's a trained hybrid shop in Seattle that I can go to if the battery needs to be replaced. The fact that the trouble light hasn't come on gives me hope that the problem isn't necessarily with the battery.

Any help you can provide is much appreciated."
 

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Hmm. Sorry for the misunderstanding regarding rev-charging. You're not supposed to drive around, she is confused why you would have thought that. The standard schpiel regarding rev-charging is to rev the engine to 3500RPM for 5 bars or 5 minutes, whichever comes first.

To PM with the new forum software, mouse over someone's name and then go down to Message in the lower right corner.

The problems you're experiencing are due to an out of balance battery. If you had other IMA problems, you would have codes stating such.

Does the car sit unused a lot? Let me rephrase.. How many miles per year do you typically put on her?
 

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I live at 6300 feet without any problems. When driving in hills, the IMA wants to help, but it can't tell whether it is a small hill or a really long hill, so it can run the battery down. With the MT, that can mostly be avoided by shifting into a lower gear and running the engine faster. With the CVT, you could try the S or L positions to minimize IMA use.
 

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Here's a link to a thread with discussion of altitude's impact on performance: Altitude impact on IMA performance / behavior

I think there was at least one other, in either this or the other I think we came to some conclusions. There is a barometric pressure sensor in the car, so the car uses that somehow. Also, the impact of altitude on I think manifold absolute pressure readings and subsequently throttle position and the car's load calculation can make assist work/feel differently, such as less assist at the usual throttle positions -- "usual" meaning at around sea level.
 
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