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I'll go ahead and post the information here since it will help others.

So after some discussion with Steve, we've determined that the most likely cause for his battery issues are non-use, with "low" annual mileage, sitting for "days at a time" in the garage. As many of us here know, this is one of the biggest battery killers.

My recommendation was a grid charger, to which is his reply was, "What's a grid charger?" :) My apologies! I shouldn't assume that others are familiar with this stuff.

A grid charger is a device that plugs into the wall(the "grid") that can charge the IMA battery independent of the car. Trickle charging helps to balance the battery by allowing full cells to burn the input off as heat, while lower charged ones catch up.

Since you said you park in a garage, this will be an extra ideal solution for you. While most people buy a grid charger when their IMA light starts coming on, the real idea behind a grid charger is preventative maintenance. So in the case of non-use, you would want to grid charge every so often to help keep the battery healthy. How often is the toughest thing to pin down.....

I generally recommend Jeff's stuff. If you're handy, you can DIY too.

 

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Discussion Starter #22
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?
Eli: don't see
I'll go ahead and post the information here since it will help others.

So after some discussion with Steve, we've determined that the most likely cause for his battery issues are non-use, with "low" annual mileage, sitting for "days at a time" in the garage. As many of us here know, this is one of the biggest battery killers.

My recommendation was a grid charger, to which is his reply was, "What's a grid charger?" :) My apologies! I shouldn't assume that others are familiar with this stuff.

A grid charger is a device that plugs into the wall(the "grid") that can charge the IMA battery independent of the car. Trickle charging helps to balance the battery by allowing full cells to burn the input off as heat, while lower charged ones catch up.

Since you said you park in a garage, this will be an extra ideal solution for you. While most people buy a grid charger when their IMA light starts coming on, the real idea behind a grid charger is preventative maintenance. So in the case of non-use, you would want to grid charge every so often to help keep the battery healthy. How often is the toughest thing to pin down.....

I generally recommend Jeff's stuff. If you're handy, you can DIY too.

ELI: once again, thanks very much for your help. I did a little research and now have a handle on grid charging and other interesting bits and pieces of info. There's a place near me in Seattle that does reconditioning, balancing, etc. Their name is Theo Hybrid Repair. Web site is www.ethiohybrid.com. Seems to me that, rather than jump right in and get a complete grid discharging/charging system (about $730 from Hybrid Auto), at this point I'm best off having a shop do the work. I'm not ready to DIY the system. Got too much on my plate. Everything else about my car is in great shape. The engine is strong, strong, strong. The car always feel like a 2-seater sports car once I get it going. Body and overall mechanics are great. I'm going to contact Thio tomorrow and will post how things are going with them once I know more. Thanks again.

- Steve
 

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I didn't realize you were in Seattle. Hmm. Can you make it down to PDX for a day? I'll give you a charge for free.

I wasn't sure if they would be able to help you at first, but I see now that they are on Jeff's site as an installer. So how it works is they will install the grid charging harness for you, and then charge you money each time you need a charge. On otherwise functioning packs, I recommend once every 3-6 months to help keep things balanced. If you're experiencing recals or the car sits for more than a week at a time, it should probably be more like every 1-3 months. Depending on how much they charge for each session, it could become more economical to purchase your own unit rather quickly.
 

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Discussion Starter #24
I didn't realize you were in Seattle. Hmm. Can you make it down to PDX for a day? I'll give you a charge for free.

I wasn't sure if they would be able to help you at first, but I see now that they are on Jeff's site as an installer. So how it works is they will install the grid charging harness for you, and then charge you money each time you need a charge. On otherwise functioning packs, I recommend once every 3-6 months to help keep things balanced. If you're experiencing recals or the car sits for more than a week at a time, it should probably be more like every 1-3 months. Depending on how much they charge for each session, it could become more economical to purchase your own unit rather quickly.
Yes, I saw that they were listed as an installer for Hybrid Automotive. That's the main reason I contacted them ... their being only a short drive from me is a nice bonus. So where and what is "PDX?" A free charge is a great offer. Thanks.
 

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Ack! Sorry.. lol. PDX is Portland's airport code, often used as short-hand for the city. We're located just outside of Portland. So, not quite as much of a short drive... :)
 

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Steve -
Another Steve here. Congratulations on your "new" Insight... I'm rocking a 2001 CVT but with over 200K miles and drive it through high-desert/mountains all the time... my lowest altitude most of the time is 5000 ft and top out at 10,000 often. I don't have an MT to compare it with, but it's performance compares well to the 85 CRX HF that I I replaced with it... I'm not a hot-shot driver so I never lament not being able to lay rubber off the line or pass in a no-passing zone. But my experience is that it performs just fine at altitude. Modern electronic fuel and ignition systems seem very able to compensate for altitude well, at least up to my ceiling of 10k.

I have extensive experience with the NiMH batteries from the Insight and agree with those who recommend grid-charging. It isn't as good of a solution as balancing stick by stick (especially with the option of replacing weak sticks) but I believe it can improve both performance and life. I have a spare pack and have rebalanced/swapped out bad sticks once... and am overdue for doing it again. If I hadn't upgraded to an 11 Volt, I'd definitely be adding a grid-charger. As it is I'll leave that to the next owner if I can find one... it does my heart good to hear a new enthusiast "join the club" as well as do your tiny but meaningful part in reducing fossil-fuel/energy consumption.

- Steve
 

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I am near Steve in northern NM and rainsux in central NM, living at 6600 feet and commuting to 7400 feet regularly and up and down many mountains, many times, including 11,000 foot passes in Colorado several times. I have also done several roadtrips to places at or near sea level and do notice some minor changes in performance at sea level versus 7000 feet.

My Insights are all MTs, with IMA batteries of various states of health and similar to what rainsux does, I use the gears instead of the high voltage battery for climbing, although I do not (yet) have a Calpod switch in my older Insight (this switch, to my knowledge, does not work in the 2005-2006 Insights). The transmissions and engines of these cars are fairly sturdy, if not grossly abused. That said, I had a HCH (Honda Civic Hybrid) 5 speed transmission swapped into one of my cars last summer and that has made a significant improvement in driveability and hill climbing.
 

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Wait... HCH transmissions will fit the Insight?
 

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Yes. A few people (SigmaProjects, tryingbe, Bull Dog, me, perhaps others) on the forum have done (or paid to have done) the swap. A few of these swaps also incorporate a mix of Insight, HCH and Fit parts.
 

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It's quite possible to prevent assist and/or regen when ascending or descending long grades with CVT's or late manual cars using IMA boost (cheap) or IMAC&C P&P (More expensive) etc :)
 

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Yes. A few people (SigmaProjects, tryingbe, Bull Dog, me, perhaps others) on the forum have done (or paid to have done) the swap. A few of these swaps also incorporate a mix of Insight, HCH and Fit parts.
I'm actually considering an Insight 5th gear for my Fit, and possibly even an HCH final drive. They're all very interchangeable.
 

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Well, so I knew that a lot of the transmission guts were swappable, but davenm's comment made it sound like you can just straight up bolt an HCH transmission to an Insight. That's not the case, right? Sanity check? Have I really missed that much? lol
 

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Yes, you can (almost) straight up bolt an HCH transmission to an Insight. There are a few minor modifications that need to be done, and are written up in a few threads including Bull Dog's HCH Transmission Swap Anthology
 

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It looks like I've got some reading to do! :oops:
 
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