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Discussion Starter #1
I bought a 2011 base Insight at around 84k miles and have put 300 miles on it.

One problem I noticed is when accelerating from a stop, I will put my foot down on the throttle and between 5-20 mph it will lurch for a good number of seconds (3-4) while gaining speed. It feels as if I'm applying the throttle on-off-on-off-on-off many times for the entire 3-4 seconds.

Can anyone guess the problem? Is it the engine, or the IMA motor, or the transmission?

I occasionally feel that same lurching when braking down to that speed, though it is much less obvious to me.
 

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If its anything like me, you'll need a new CVT gearbox!

... read my thread.

It could also be one of the coil packs on the rear bank of spark plugs, the plugs themselves, or the EGR valve or the ECU.

That's my advice where to look first.... especially if there is no MIL light on the dash.

I now know a CVT failure doesnt always show a MIL, neither will an EGR or coil pack on your 2011.

Hope its not the CVT. I'd say its highly likely not the IMA system.

Lastly, it could be none of those, and be a failing 12V battery or bad fuel.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
If its anything like me, you'll need a new CVT gearbox!

... read my thread.

It could also be one of the coil packs on the rear bank of spark plugs, the plugs themselves, or the EGR valve or the ECU.

That's my advice where to look first.... especially if there is no MIL light on the dash.

I now know a CVT failure doesnt always show a MIL, neither will an EGR or coil pack on your 2011.

Hope its not the CVT. I'd say its highly likely not the IMA system.

Lastly, it could be none of those, and be a failing 12V battery or bad fuel.
Yeah, I saw your thread and thought your condition sounded similar, though mine luckily only has that bucking while accelerating at very low speeds.

I have a coupon for a free complete vehicle inspection at a local shop, so maybe they have a clue. If not, I'm ready to drain and refill the CVT fluid (the last owner seemed like someone who didn't care about his car much, but I got the Insight at a good price).
 

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"A local shop" is not going to know anything about an Insight. I would change the fluid first. I bet it makes a big difference. Hopefully the previous owner's neglect has not done long term damage to that trans. The other thing is just getting used to the quirks of a hybrid. From autostop it sometimes jerks off the line. For me, going back and forth from a regular 5speed automatic to the CVT, the CVT seems like a rubber band. It just feels weird. You might try driving it with the eco button off. I usually go between S in traffic to D once on the freeway. Driving in S in stop & go traffic keeps the engine (and the A/C) running when stopped. I like saving fuel and everything, but I am only willing to suffer so much.
 

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I want to post that my Insight does this right after starting the car, like in the first 10 seconds, but it isn't like terrible, and it goes away after that. Is there any reason for me to be concerned? If I start the car and immediately reverse it doesn't seem to ever do it, only if I start and go forward and am applying the gas and it's the first 10 seconds of operation.
 

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The bucking could be the clutch not operating in sync with the system, like slipping too much?

Happens when you have the wrong kind of oil in the CVT.
Tranny oil often has a dope to cover surfaces with a super slick layer, but that should only be used if there is no clutch in the system as it would make it slip.
Eventually the clutch bites through the layer and the bucking ends.

Many motorbikes cannot use car oil for that reason; oiled clutch versus dry plates.
 

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As I warm my car up from cold, I put it in drive with the brake held to "warm up" the CVT. Seems to help with initial stuttering.

As egads says, I shift to "S" at a stop light or in stop and go traffic.
 

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Funny, I found that all the faults with my transmission were more noticeable once at full operating temperature, and also worse in the summer, and worse with ECO on.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
The "local shop" that did an inspection for me found nothing wrong except they put a stethoscope up to the transmission and heard a sound and recommended a transmission rebuild. I'm not about to drop $2k for no reason, so next step will be CVT fluid replacement.

The shop wanted $300. I called three Honda dealerships and they quoted everywhere from $108 to $169 for CVT fluid replace.

I want to post that my Insight does this right after starting the car, like in the first 10 seconds, but it isn't like terrible, and it goes away after that. Is there any reason for me to be concerned? If I start the car and immediately reverse it doesn't seem to ever do it, only if I start and go forward and am applying the gas and it's the first 10 seconds of operation.
Mine happens almost exclusively in the first 50 seconds, I'd say. After that, I don't recall ever having any jerking.

To be honest, it barely affects my driving experience, but I suspected it might get worse if I don't address it.
 

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Get the fluid changed as soon as you can afford to. Try to use a dealer (as you have found, sometimes dealers are actually cheaper!) When you take it in, explain that you do not think the previous owner ever brought it into a dealer and have them run the VIN for recalls. There are ones for the airbags. But in addition ask them to please connect your car to the Honda computer in the service area and if any software updates show up, please install them all. Just tell them you realize that hybrid software updates were a land mine for them once on the Civics, but you know that the ones available for the Insight are all good and you really want them. Only one of the four updates will show up on the service writers computer. You must have the Insight actually plugged in!
 

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If you bought this car from a dealer, return it.
 

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Don't know about California - but in the UK a dealer is responsible for defects identified shortly after purchase. Under our Sale of Goods Act, defects found on a used car are assumed to have been present at sale for the first 6 months unless proven otherwise - and therefore the dealer's responsibility to rectify. The buyer has the right to reject the car unless the issue is resolved to their satisfaction in a reasonable timescale. There's a bit of common sense applied though - a court is never going to order a dealer to carry out several grand's worth of work on a £300 car.

If it's a private sale we're kind of on our own unless the seller can be demonstrated to have lied about a known defect.

How are the California 'lemon laws'?

I'm not sure a local garage listening to a CVT transmission with a stethoscope would give me a great deal of confidence in their diagnosis, unless they are CVT or Honda specialists.
 

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Don't know about California - but in the UK a dealer is responsible for defects identified shortly after purchase. Under our Sale of Goods Act, defects found on a used car are assumed to have been present at sale for the first 6 months unless proven otherwise - and therefore the dealer's responsibility to rectify. The buyer has the right to reject the car unless the issue is resolved to their satisfaction in a reasonable timescale. There's a bit of common sense applied though - a court is never going to order a dealer to carry out several grand's worth of work on a £300 car.

If it's a private sale we're kind of on our own unless the seller can be demonstrated to have lied about a known defect.

How are the California 'lemon laws'?

I'm not sure a local garage listening to a CVT transmission with a stethoscope would give me a great deal of confidence in their diagnosis, unless they are CVT or Honda specialists.

I've noticed that there are Insight flywheels for sale on eBay - e.g:

HONDA INSIGHT 1.3 ES-CVT 2010 FLYWHEEL PY 130 268 | eBay

Looks like a DMF and that may often be overlooked. Whereas my car wants for a new gearbox, the mind does wonder if some of the forum symptoms are DMF related. I had to replace the DMF on a 2.8 Z3 I had for a short and painful amount of time - so I wonder if thats also a consideration.

From what I recall symptoms of DMF failure are a knocking and jerking too, but thats normally manual, and its normally there to protect against gearbox warranty claims from my own research - you change gear badly, and the slack is taken up by the DMF. I had a knock on depression of the clutch, and another knock on uptake of the next gear - torque correlated, so 1-2 was the worst. essentially the transverse springs between the outer and inner plates were knackered - but actually the job on a RWD manual wasn't too bad with all the space there.

Now, I haven't done any research here at all, nor could I understand why a car with a CVT transmission or a hybris at all would have a DMF (waste of energy), but you never know in this day and age.

Unless that part is a regular flywheel, then ignore what I've just said, but looks like a twin plate.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I bought the Insight from a private seller and didn't do too much due diligence because my friend who works on cars said everything seemed fine.

It's actually worrying me now that I know the (occasional) vibration sound I get while driving is not from a brake or wheel bearing but the transmission. I've rented a car to drive until I can get the Insight's CVT fluid changed (tomorrow). Let's hope it resolves the issue.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
FWIW, the "local shop" that checked out my Insight recommended a transmission rebuild but said it's a 50/50 chance that a CVT fluid change might solve the problem, so... crossing my fingers
 

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I think I'd get the transmission fluid changed (making sure it's the right Honda stuff). Do a CVT clutch re-learn (from over 35mph allow the car to slow to a crawl without touching the pedals).

CVT transmission failure on these cars is still mercifully rare - although not unheard of
 

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Can you be clearer on what the "bucking" is? Is it similar to how a manual transmission car would "wobble" speed-wise when accelerating from a stop or at low speed when the driver hasn't synched the RPMs of the engine to the speed of the car? I mean, after the clutch is engaged, sometimes the car would just take several wobbles to get the engine RPM smoothed out to match the wheels. I am not taking abrupt jerking as when the engine is about to stall, just the temporary not smooth acceleration.

And does it happen every time and are there any unusual noises you hear when it does happen?

The Insight tends to do that wobbly acceleration occasionally, not because of a failing CVT, just it acts like a manual transmission without slippage that regular automatics have.

The transmission fluid is easier to drain and refill than the engine oil and the transmission fluid itself is only less than $10 more than engine oil per change. If you could do it yourself it would be much better - you will see the condition of the oil, make sure a new washer is installed, and the tranny won't be overfilled or under filled.

I got 70k miles on my '11 Insight and have changed the transmission oil 2x so far. I think even more often would be good. After a drain and refill last month I can tell a subtle difference - the tranny feels tighter (in a good way), seems to have a more connected and direct feel to it. I probably had 40k miles on that oil and it looked darker than I'd like it to. I've also had towed fairly heavy trailers a few times during that period, so that might have contributed to the poorer than expected condition of the oil. There were not too many deposits, so still decent oil condition, but I can imagine what 80k miles without oil change would do to it...
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I think I'd get the transmission fluid changed (making sure it's the right Honda stuff). Do a CVT clutch re-learn (from over 35mph allow the car to slow to a crawl without touching the pedals).

CVT transmission failure on these cars is still mercifully rare - although not unheard of
Got it changed today! Will do that clutch re-learn and report back

Can you be clearer on what the "bucking" is? Is it similar to how a manual transmission car would "wobble" speed-wise when accelerating from a stop or at low speed when the driver hasn't synched the RPMs of the engine to the speed of the car? I mean, after the clutch is engaged, sometimes the car would just take several wobbles to get the engine RPM smoothed out to match the wheels. I am not taking abrupt jerking as when the engine is about to stall, just the temporary not smooth acceleration.

And does it happen every time and are there any unusual noises you hear when it does happen?

The Insight tends to do that wobbly acceleration occasionally, not because of a failing CVT, just it acts like a manual transmission without slippage that regular automatics have.

The transmission fluid is easier to drain and refill than the engine oil and the transmission fluid itself is only less than $10 more than engine oil per change. If you could do it yourself it would be much better - you will see the condition of the oil, make sure a new washer is installed, and the tranny won't be overfilled or under filled.
  • That's reassuring. Do other people agree that there's just some bucking when accelerating in the I2?
  • Yes, the bucking feels like a manual transmission car driven with less-than-smooth shifting, except it's bucking three or four times in quick succession at a certain point while accelerating instead of just once.
  • No weird noises except at higher speeds, when occasionally there's this weird and subtle rubbing/vibrating feel that seems to match the rotation of the wheels (or transmission, I suppose...). Local shop's diagnosis made me think this is the transmission, which is why I freaked out and scheduled a CVT fluid change right away.
  • So to report back... I got the CVT fluid changed today at a Honda dealership. Afterwards, it immediately felt smoother. I still get that bucking, just lighter than before. I have suspicion the CVT fluid was never changed before or changed only once.
  • The Honda dealer service experience was awesome. They performed a free 48-point inspection, and they found absolutely nothing wrong and no updates. I'm due for B1 service (oil change and tire rotation) but I already scheduled that at the other local shop.

  • I gotta say, the driving experience of the Insight is noticeably more buckly and buzzier than the Jeep Compass I'd rented over the weekend. I personally don't mind as long as it doesn't point to something that's mechanically wrong because it sure handles a lot better than the Jeep Compass and most non-Hondas I've driven.
 

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One problem I noticed is when accelerating from a stop, I will put my foot down on the throttle and between 5-20 mph it will lurch for a good number of seconds (3-4) while gaining speed. It feels as if I'm applying the throttle on-off-on-off-on-off many times for the entire 3-4 seconds.
Can anyone guess the problem? Is it the engine, or the IMA motor, or the transmission?
Like the egg-shaped wheel.:) A standard problem.
If you removed the 12V battery, then do the calibration of the IMA rotor (dealer knows) and calibration of the CVT.
So, I also recommend update the firmware of the car (ECU).
 
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