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Hey everyone!
I'm the owner of a 2012 Insight and I really have enjoyed driving this car. I bought it for two reasons . . . . .ok three. 1) It's a Honda. Enough said. 2) I wanted something that got better than 35mpg and I was consistently averaging 49-51 when hypermiling. 3) No way in hell was I gonna be a prius owner lol.

History: Bought car with around 155k miles on it. It was towed behind an RV most it's life and it was in immaculate condition with very minor wear. Bought it for around $9,500 in March of this year. Not long after I bought, I noticed little puffs of smoke after I was coasting down a hill, came to a stop, and then gave it throttle to accelerate. Did some research and found that this motor has a ring problem allowing oil to get into the combustion chamber, hence the smoke. So Since then I've carried a funnel and a 5 quart jug of Mobil 1 0w20 (I work for ExxonMobil) in the car to top it off. Fast forward to Wednesday last week. I'm going up a hill doing 64mph when I notice that I'm all of the sudden decelerating and losing power. Pull off to side of road and the car stalls out. The dash shoots me a slew of error codes. The ones I can remember are as follows - Check emission system, check brake system, check hill climb system, check tpm system, check vsa system. Absolutely NO check IMA system. Get towed home. It was showing symptoms of a bad battery because I would try to restart it and lights were getting dim and eventually just got a "click". Got battery tested and they said it was on the last 25% of it's life and it "may or may not start your vehicle in cold or hot conditions". So I bought a battery. Installed it and car starts with the smooth idle for a second, maybe two then idles rough at about 500 rpm and I have absolutely no throttle response when pressing on the gas pedal. Called Honda and with the symptoms I described they said it sounds like my IMA system is bad and the estimate is $2,500-$3,500 too fix. Again, no error code in regards to the IMA has shown up on my dash.

So, has anyone experienced this? I'm concerned because this is my commuter car. I drive 80 miles a day minimum to and from work. I read a post just doing a google search of some guy who experienced almost identical symptoms and he said he was told that oil fouled up the spark plug and that a ring job was in order.

I'm considering two things. I'll either pay to fix it or fix it myself, but I've never worked on this new of an engine. I'm not worried to, it's just I don't know if these engines are more finicky with all the electrical technologies linked to it. I'd love to get all your guys' input. I'm a firm believer in car forums as they've helped me learn about the cars I've owned and saved me lots of money.

Thanks,
BJ
 

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Hey everyone!

Welcome to the forum.

So Since then I've carried a funnel and a 5 quart jug of Mobil 1 0w20 (I work for ExxonMobil) in the car to top it off.

Perhaps try a heavier grade oil to slow the usage down.

Fast forward to Wednesday last week. I'm going up a hill doing 64mph when I notice that I'm all of the sudden decelerating and losing power. Pull off to side of road and the car stalls out. The dash shoots me a slew of error codes. The ones I can remember are as follows - Check emission system, check brake system, check hill climb system, check tpm system, check vsa system. Absolutely NO check IMA system. Get towed home.

If it was a G1 we would say check the 12V ground cables if the dash makes like a xmass tree.

It was showing symptoms of a bad battery because I would try to restart it and lights were getting dim and eventually just got a "click". Got battery tested and they said it was on the last 25% of it's life and it "may or may not start your vehicle in cold or hot conditions". So I bought a battery. Installed it and car starts with the smooth idle for a second, maybe two then idles rough at about 500 rpm and I have absolutely no throttle response when pressing on the gas pedal.

Does the dash still go nuts after changing the 12v battery?

Called Honda and with the symptoms I described they said it sounds like my IMA system is bad and the estimate is $2,500-$3,500 too fix. Again, no error code in regards to the IMA has shown up on my dash.

Ahh yes, the ol', "You need the expensive battery changed." The dealers make a nice profit changing IMA batteries. If you don't get a specific IMA bat error code look elsewhere for the problem.

I read a post just doing a google search of some guy who experienced almost identical symptoms and he said he was told that oil fouled up the spark plug and that a ring job was in order.

That sounds more reasonable but I'd get the car to continue to run first since it idles OK.

Thanks,
BJ
Check the fuel pressure with a gage. The pressure should be around 40 to 45 psi.

When you first turn the key ON the fuel pump is supposed to run for ~2 seconds to build up fuel pressure and then it turns OFF until you actually start the engine. If it is very quiet outside you might be able to hear the pump run for those 2 seconds and then stop. That's normal.

If the fuel pump doesn't start running again when you crank the engine it will start and idle but die within 5 seconds or so (as you describe). With a fuel pressure gage on the fuel line near the injectors you will be able to see if the pressure remains normal when the engine starts.

It's possible that you have a badly clogged fuel filter but depending on where the filter is in the system in relation to where a fuel pressure gage would be attached it may not show up on the gage.

[edit] It's also possible that the pump only runs while you have the key turned to the Start position. I don't have a G2 schematic so I can't look up the wiring of the car.[/edit]

If the pressure doesn't remain around 43 psi you probably have some sort of electrical problem, a clogged fuel filter or a bad pump. So check the fuel pressure first.

Try to avoid the dealer. If you can get the car to run, some of the auto parts places will read the OBDII codes for free.
 

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Hummm, electrical motor making the gas engine smoke ...? Doesn't seem to add up to me but been wrong before. Can you turn the IMA system off like in the gen 1 and try the car out?

I'd start with a compression test. I'm kinda old school, what with being old and all. Tossing out a blind guess, timing chain jumped.

== the fuel thing sounds like a good idea ==
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thank you so much for the replies fellas.

This is my first hybrid so I'm not familiar with them very much. However, my got also tells me it's not the IMA. When I bought it from another dealer the tech said it's basically brand new because it never got used being towed behind an RV. IDK.

I've got a scan gauge but it throws a code c1555 which from what I've researched it just means the scangauge knows somethings wrong but not sophisticated enough to identify it. I'll check the spark plugs and fuel pressure later. Can you point in the direction of how to do a fuel pressure test?

BJ
 

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Even the replacement battery may be bad, he said while grinding his teeth...

Check the voltage, best of all keep a tool around to show 12V battery voltage at all times.
I set up my UltraGauge to always display battery voltage, so I know my battery is bad but not dead yet.
 

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Correct, no alternator. The IMA system has a converter that charges the starter battery.

Yes, you can buy a bad starter battery too. I use to work at Sears and ours were only charged to 80% from the factory. If you have a battery charger Id use it over nite on yours or go back to the place and have them check it. Even a good testing starter battery can cause all the idiot lights to come on like you said.

The code you gave online shows it could be a loose gas cap to a bad cat. You may need to visit an auto parts store to get them to read your code or even a Honda dealer.

http://www.insightcentral.net/forums/troubleshooting-problems/61170-c1555-code.html

Scangauge read CEL (MIL) Code C1555 [Archive] - CleanMPG Forums

We have only 1 post here if I recall correctly of a guy who had a bad IMA battery. To get an error code the usable capacity is typically below 10% of the original capacity. An aftermarket battery is like 2 grand.
 

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The 2012 insights have a known piston ring issue. Sadly, because of the high miles I doubt Honda will help you with this as they are with the owners that have reasonable miles for the age. I guess this Insight was towed four down and therefore the high miles? How many miles have you put on it? I doubt it needs any IMA work. But it does need the ring job Honda has been doing to it's siblings. I bet it would still be a fine car with that work done, but it may be hard to justify the cost considering the miles and therefore the value.


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should i bring my car to dealer?

The 2012 insights have a known piston ring issue. Sadly, because of the high miles I doubt Honda will help you with this as they are with the owners that have reasonable miles for the age. I guess this Insight was towed four down and therefore the high miles? How many miles have you put on it? I doubt it needs any IMA work. But it does need the ring job Honda has been doing to it's siblings. I bet it would still be a fine car with that work done, but it may be hard to justify the cost considering the miles and therefore the value.


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j have a 2012 insight, i have 20k miles on it, do you all think i should bring my car in the honda shop and ask them about this piston ring issue with my car? i just dont want my car to have this problem? i plan on getting all my oil changes done and any service at the dealer.
 

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j have a 2012 insight, i have 20k miles on it, do you all think i should bring my car in the honda shop and ask them about this piston ring issue with my car? i just dont want my car to have this problem? i plan on getting all my oil changes done and any service at the dealer.
Just keep an eye on the oil level. If it drops there's a problem. For comparison my 2010 has never used any discernable amount of oil, now on about 62,000 mls.
 

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Hey Cobb! Is the starter battery different from the battery I just bought? I've also heard that these don't have a altnernator but instead a dc-dc converter.

BJ
The 12 volt battery under the hood is sometimes called a starter battery.

Insights don't have a separate alternator like a gas only car. The IMA electrical motor serves as the alternator to charge the IMA battery as necessary when not providing assist.

The Insight has a separate DC to DC converter to charge the normal 12 volt battery under the hood. It is powered by the IMA battery.
 

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Yes, you can buy a bad starter battery too. I use to work at Sears and ours were only charged to 80% from the factory.
I had an old Jag that used two 6 volt batteries located one behind each front "wing" [fender]. I bought two 6 volt batteries from Sears and BOTH of them were bad!

Turned out they had a bad run of batteries from the manufacturer. This was a long-long time ago so don't take this as a common occurrence today.
 

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I would take it to the dealer as it should still be under warranty. They will do an oil consumption test.

j have a 2012 insight, i have 20k miles on it, do you all think i should bring my car in the honda shop and ask them about this piston ring issue with my car?
 

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We have a 2010 with over 80k that does not use any oil either. Based on posts here, this seems to be a problem that effected Insights starting in 2012. I assume the 2010 & 2011 engines have different rings. Also, based on posts here, this problem seems to show up after about 50k. So anyone with an Insight newer than 2012 should keep an eye on oil consumption. If it is not using any yet, then it isn't yet. It either will or I guess it's possible it may never. I would spend the extra $10. Or so to have the dealer do the oil changes though. That way you have good records should the issue arise after the warranty is up.

I bet the op vehicle here racked up those miles without the engine running and it is just now showing up as an issue because it is finally at the mileage tipping point.


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Bought car with around 155k miles on it. It was towed behind an RV most it's life and it was in immaculate condition with very minor wear.
I guess this Insight was towed four down and therefore the high miles?
You guys do understand that the car won't accumulate miles on the odometer while it's being towed, don't you? It may be in immaculate condition with very minor wear, but if you were told it got most of those miles from being towed, you were fed a line by the seller. It's been DRIVEN those 155,000 miles. You might consider selling it as is, could bring more than you think.
 

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I guess it depends if it was towed with the key on to run the lamps or some brake assist towing device?

Yeah, I read on the economy forums that when you FAS if you kill the ignition the new cars with digital odo do not count those miles or distance, mpg, etc when the key is off. I think the odb2 computers are the same way.
 

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If it was towed it should have a front hitch or you should be able to see where one use to be mounted near the grill area.

I guess you can have the key in accessory with the shifter in neutral?
 
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