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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi,

I live in North Devon, in the UK, and I'm an active 70 years old. I joined a little before buying, and have enjoyed browsing the forum over the last few years, having long since known I wanted an Insight, but seen prices steadily rise as I became steadily poorer!

But yesterday I arrived home with my new-to-me 2001 manual Insight!

It was reasonably priced, at £2,000, with a mixture of strengths and weaknesses - and bright greenish yellow, which delights my friends and neighbours, but appals my two sisters who live somewhat further away.

It had been owned by the same person since she bought it as a demonstrator at 9,000 miles. It had done barely 75,000 miles. It has its original battery. There was a worry of its clutch slave cylinder being faulty (but apparently it could just about be driven. I grew up with pre-synchro gearboxes, and am fairly cheerful about doing without the clutch if need be).

Its 12V battery was flat and needed charging.

A little later I learned that the windows were not working, and one of the rear wheel spats was not very well secured.

When I arrived it was running, but had apparently recently stalled, and then been reluctant to restart (a bit of a worry if you've 100 miles to go with no clutch!). And the clutch was no longer pumping up...

When I opened the clutch reservoir cap it was clear that the fluid had gone below the level needed. So I got some fluid and topped it up, and bade the owner pump away and see what happened. The fluid level went down only a little, and it was quite a while before a bit of clutch appeared with the pedal near the floor. Still, it was enough to move the car around, and she took me for a short spin in first and second gear. Everything sounded ok, and the car felt quite solid, so I agreed to pay the £2,000 asking price, and we went to take lunch and to pass over the money. A very enjoyable lunch!

Before too long I was on my way, with an ex-wife in convoy.

The clutch was still jolly tricky, and the unfamiliar car accentuated this. My usual full throttle in high gear technique didn't work well, and I was sometimes trailing, then suddenly catching up.

Compounding the difficulty with the clutch was the incredible silence of the engine. In fact road noise was almost all I heard. The driver's window worked immediately - I guessed that it had simply been the lack of charge in the battery which prevented it earlier - but it was not until today that I discovered about the master switch for the passenger door window (after looking it up on the forum!) It moved a bit sluggishly, suggesting that it had not been working for a while.

As we got near home the road crosses an old WW2 aerodrome, and with plenty of room I decided to overtake - partly so that my colleague could have a look to see that the car was running true etc. I zoomed past in second gear, and then just as I went to change into third the engine cut.

At first I thought it must have been a cut-out - I'd exceeded whatever the rev limit was. But as the engine caught again the instrument panel had a lot of new information. A yellow engine icon, a red battery icon, an IMA warning, a suddenly vanished main battery, and no recharging going on on over-run.

The battery, although original, seemed to have been showing all the signs of robust health up to then. Not long after setting off it was showing 19 bars, and a prolonged accelerate would only pull it down a bar or two. And it had stayed up, mostly on 18 bars, occasionally on 19 or on 17. But now, nothing.

It was raining, so I had headlights on and was intermittently using the wipers. I turned the lights down to side only, but I still thought the wipers were going slow. So I minimised their use as well as I could, and hurried on, hoping to make it home before it all went dark. I'd no idea what the yellow engine icon meant, but there were no horrible noises coming from the engine, the temperature was still normal and nothing seemed to suggest oil pressure trouble, so I thought on balance it was a fair gamble to try and make it.

Well, I made it. Some friends were there, and as I stepped out and admired my new car the general feeling seemed to be that this was a thoroughly suitable car for me!

It was by then evening, so time to eat, but not much good for doing anything - and I needed to think first, anyway...

The clutch had lost no more fluid, so I reckoned that bleeding it would probably get it going to the point where I could take it for an MoT, though probably a new cylinder, at £50 or so was going to be needed soon.

As to the electrical problems, I guessed that there must have been some kind of short, which cut the engine by dropping the voltage to the ignition before blowing a fuse, and stopping the battery from charging.

So first thing this morning I detached the negative terminal from the battery (for fear that connecting a charger might otherwise do something dangerous) and set it to charge. Then, after a spell of cleaning and rubbish-collecting, and hunting in vain for the promised handbook, and eventually finding the (unused) tools and jack, I had a look at the fuses. The 50 amp fuse looked as though it might have blown, so I took it out and put a meter across it. Nothing wrong with it, so it went back in.

By now the battery was up and I thought I might as well start the engine. In with the key, but nothing. So I reconnected the battery negative lead!

Started up cheerfully enough. No yellow engine icon, no red battery icon, no IMA light. But no main battery, either. But after a minute or two charge appeared. This progressed up to four bars, but then the charging stopped. I've a bit of an idea that it wasn't until I was out on the road that the main battery got fully charged yesterday, but I'm not sure. Whatever, nothing I did got me green charging bars or any extra charge displayed.

So, off around the car to look at some other things which might be a concern for the MoT. Pretty soon noticed a subtle bulge in one of the front tyre sidewalls. Not a welcome sight, but then I found that what looked like the best-value tyres at the moment, the Goodyears, could be had for £45 or so. The rears are Pirelli 3000's, and they look ok. The Goodyears were rated same as the Pirellis for rolling resistance, but the Pirellis were a little noisier, and somewhat costlier.

Also the flaky attachment of the wheel spat proved to be that both spats were secured by cable ties, but the bad one sat a bit low, so its tongues weren't all secure in their slots. Further, the spat had come off at some point recently, and it had become a good deal disimproved. Part of the black section at the bottom had broken off, and the top edge looked as though it had been dragged along the road, so it was rounded, and a bit short of full size at one end.

I gather these are not available new, so I may have to figure a way to repair it..?

I checked out the unused spare, and marvelled at the dry and pristine boot - I hadn't realised there was an invisible luggage compartment! The aluminium floor and sides have seam sealer over the lines where they meet, but the sealer has no paint over it. I suddenly realised that the metal had been treated as aircraft parts are in preparation for epoxy-bonding. Is this how the Insight was assembled?

Also, the inner wing on one side looked to be a bit shortened, as though it had been struck from behind, but the seam-sealer and the greeny-grey coating was intact, so I guess this was just a sign of hand-made assembly.

Very useful to be able to download a handbook, although not as handy on the screen as in book form.

As to the workshop manual, this is helpful, of course, but hard to use, being made up of lots of small files, with no indexing and no page numbers for me to know how to assemble it together as a single file (as I have, under a different hat, for all the classic Citroën manuals, Parts lists etc.)

But a good start, I think!

Any suggestions as to what I should be looking for in the light of events?

Best regards, Tony J.
 

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Southern California
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Wow, quite a first post! Welcome to the forums, and welcome to Insight ownership. Sounds like it'll be a great car for you. Congrats on getting one in the citrus color, most agree that's one of the best colors it came in.

The clutch is definitely the first order of business. But after that, you're going to need a new IMA battery, or you can buy a grid charger and attempt to revive your stock one.

So here's what happened with you tried to overtake near the aerodrome - your stock battery is in very poor condition and won't work for very long. But since the 12V battery was dead, the car forgot the state of the IMA battery. So once you charged the 12V and started driving, the car charged the IMA battery and started using it. At some point (sounds like it when you tried to pass), the car realized that the battery was in bad shape and stopped using it. This lights the CEL and IMA lights and disables assist, regen, and the battery gauge.

Are you sure the engine actually cut out then? It might have just felt like it because the car suddenly stopped giving you electric motor assist.

In any case, you're definitely going to need to do something about your battery. Disconnecting the 12V resets the car and lets you use the battery for a little while more, but it eventually stops working again and it only makes the condition worse. You can buy a new battery (about $2200 USD), refurbish your current one, or modify the car to run on the gas engine only.

As for your rear wheel skirt, you can't really get new ones, but sometimes there will be ones for sale in your color. I'd at least try to repair the one you have first, though.

Definitely read the topics on the encyclopedia page we have here, there's tons of great information on the construction and engineering of the 1st gen Insight:
InsightCentral.net - Interactive Encyclopedia

You should make a list of specific questions you have - it's a little hard to pick them out from that giant post. :)

Add your location in your user profile before Willie comes and tells you to!
 

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Check 12 volt battery now

Some of the weird behavior you describe could be due to a dodgy 12 volt battery. Check fluid levels in the battery now. Your 12 volt battery may not be able to accept or hold enough of a charge for satisfactory operation. Get it load tested if possible. You car will not run without a fully functional 12 volt battery.

Do not panic about the IMA battery until you have done the grid charge/ balance routine which you should do as soon as possible since it is unlikely it was ever done. Get up with Peter Perkins and he will steer you in the correct direction.
 

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Are you sure the engine actually cut out then? It might have just felt like it because the car suddenly stopped giving you electric motor assist.
Driving my newest of my Space Fleet back from San Fransisco with the IMA unhooked I had the car cut out a few times after unconsciously going above 4k RPM's, normally it would just turn on the battery light but quite a few times it cut out.
As far as fuel economy went I averaged 69.7 MPG for 2300 miles without the benefit of the IMA and using the Cruise Control quite a bit.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I don't know how I missed that before - it is a brilliant account of the car. Only skimmed it so far, but e.g. looking at the gearing I now realise that top speed is available in third - which explains the somewhat mixed effects my inexperienced driving was having!

You should make a list of specific questions you have - it's a little hard to pick them out from that giant post. :)

I'll try an make an account of the things I've discovered in my first day or so here. Somebody tell me if I should chop it up and look for pre-existing threads on the various topics, or start new ones - or if making a narrative here is ok?

I took some pictures yesterday evening, including some of the wrinkle in the well around the luggage compartment. See what you think?

(Not sure whether the picture will be visible - it doesn't appear in the preview. In case not, try
https://www.dropbox.com/s/9xwqwmzhoqvjrli/IMG_0014_2.jpg?dl=0
Hard to believe it was made like that, but no obvious sign of consequences. Perhaps I should remove the rear bumper..?

I made a start today (away for much of the day) on getting at the clutch slave cylinder. Not exactly staring me in the eye. I set about removing the air cleaner, with its umpteen M6 bolts, most scarily tight, and some not too easy to access. Also the various air hoses. I removed the engine cover, with its once-cute little dome nuts, and I finally removed the throttle-quadrant cover, and there it was. I'll try bleeding it in the morning.

I've ordered some M6 dome nuts to replace the rusty ones on the engine cover, and some Dzus fasteners to hold the rear wheel spats on, and hopefully better aligned than is possibel with the existing cable ties.

The air cleaner is secured at the back by clips like an old-fashioned distributo cap, and they are fine. At the front, however, there are spring-wire clips, which flop around unconvincingly. From the parts list it looks as though there is a part which goes between these clips and the shaped part of the plastic lid of the air-cleaner. This part costs £6.32 a pair. It seems an extravagant price for what cannot be more than a small scrap of steel, which I could probably make myself if I knew what it looks like!

Best regards, T.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Some of the weird behavior you describe could be due to a dodgy 12 volt battery. Check fluid levels in the battery now. Your 12 volt battery may not be able to accept or hold enough of a charge for satisfactory operation. Get it load tested if possible. You car will not run without a fully functional 12 volt battery.
The engine starts cheerfully with a flat !MA battery, which suggests that the 12V is ok, no?

Do not panic about the IMA battery until you have done the grid charge/ balance routine which you should do as soon as possible since it is unlikely it was ever done. Get up with Peter Perkins and he will steer you in the correct direction.
I've been wrestling with my conscience about whether to buy a Reaktor setup or to make one. Is the one shown here: grid-charger-discharger a better idea than the £45 Reaktor one shown here: Turnigy Reaktor 300W 20A 6S Balance Charger (UK Warehouse) ?

And how do I contact Peter Perkins?

Best, Tony
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Hi Foos,

Driving my newest of my Space Fleet back from San Fransisco with the IMA unhooked I had the car cut out a few times after unconsciously going above 4k RPM's, normally it would just turn on the battery light but quite a few times it cut out.
What do you believe caused this?

As far as fuel economy went I averaged 69.7 MPG for 2300 miles without the benefit of the IMA and using the Cruise Control quite a bit.
That is pretty impressive - how fast were you going!

Best, T.
 

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Hi Foos,



What do you believe caused this?



That is pretty impressive - how fast were you going!

Best, T.
Strange things happen at 4k RPM if the IMA is unhooked, normally it's just the battery light coming on which means the DC/DC converter is not charging the battery anymore (that clears up in about a minute) but the cutout was just like all spark was gone momentarily too.

I was traveling about the speed limit, usually from 55 mph to 70 mph
(88 Kph to 112 Kph)

I was averaging 73 MPG until I hit the mountains.
 

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Hi Tony, welcome to the Forum and to the Insight! I live near Holsworthy and I have had Insights on and off since 2004. Happy to meet up and talk you through all the Insight foibles. Perhaps next weekend? Regards, Christian
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Hi Christian,

...I live near Holsworthy and I have had Insights on and off since 2004. Happy to meet up and talk you through all the Insight foibles. Perhaps next weekend? Regards, Christian
Gosh, I'd *really* like that! I'll try and get mine MoT'd during the week and bring it over.

Best regards, T (I'm near Torrington)
 

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Great, if you get your Insight through the MoT then you are welcome to come over to mine. If no luck with the MoT, I can come over to yours. I will PM separately. Cheers, Christian
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Well, the clutch now works!

Basically it looks to me as though the fluid has never been replaced. It came out very dark-coloured, so I think I shll be shopping for new seals soon, but this will make the car a lot pleasanter to use meanwhile.

In the past seven years the car has done only two or three thousand miles per annum, and servicing has been done by an independent garage. The handbook calls for the brake (and presumably the clutch-) fluid to be replaced every three years, regardless of mileage, and this is the sort of thing which gets missed in these cercumstances.

Best, T.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Well, I thought I'd take the wheels off in readiness for new tyres tomorrow (can't drive it there, no MoT).

Started with the bulging LH front tyre. Firsst nut quite tight. Second finger-tight... Third absurdly tight, but after some jumping on the breaker bar it came off. Fourth was a thief-proof jobbie...

Do you know the rest of the story already?

End of fancy nut comes off. Prop the breaker bar on the jack (car on concrete) to balance load as I jump again. Pings of, making all the holes in the nut oval.

Take a cold chisel and try to move it round with that. But the 'nut' proves to be made of some mysterious lead-rich alloy, carves smoothly, leaving a smooth lustrous finish as slices peel off its periphery.

Next, living as I do some way from the road, I thought I'd give it a little ride round the yard, with three nuts finger-tight and the fancy one - stuck. And so it stayed.

The track down to me from the road is about 1/3 of a mile long, and bumpy enough to require care in a car like the Insight, being a prehistoric stone track, occasionally, and not very successfully 'improved' by a local contractor.

I now tried plan 'C' (or maybe 'D'). This involved finding a 12-point 1/2" drive socket of a size which has to be flogged onto the remains of the 'nut' with a lump hammer, and then turning that. I have quite a complete set of such sockets, and it turned out that a 24 mm was quite a snug fit. So I beat it on and applied the breaker bar. Off popped the socket.

In the whole range from 10 mm to 32 there is only one rare sizee I don't have... 23 mm. So, 15/16" is 23.8, so I tried that. Tightish, but same result. 29/32, alas, is no more common than 23 mm. But I have a 1/2" Whitworth socket! Took a fair bit of thumping to get it onto the remains of the nut, having taken care to set it so I'd have a good position for putting my weight on the bar.

And at last, it moved! So now I have the same thing to do the other side...

As I took the wheel off I observed that the inside centre of it had something more than a millimetre of white corrosion, tightly packed onto the surface. As I tapped it with a chisel bits sprung off. Some was also adhering to the hub.

Clearly no one had ever thought to grease this surface, just as they had left the wheel threads dry and squeaky, and the tapered seating faces of the nuts likewise. The jack and wheelbrace were still in their packing, and had clearly never been used before, so this negligence was the work of professionals, not amateurs...

Inch by inch...

Best, T.
 

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Southern California
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Wow, that's pretty bad. The Insight didn't even come with any security nuts. I don't think anybody is really itching to steal our wheels!
 

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You could try heating them up with a torch next time. And penetrating lubricant several days ahead of time. I had a lot of corrosion on the inside of my rims, so I took a screwdriver and chipped it flat, and then wire brushed them, and of course greased them up. My car was super dry like that with a fair bit of corrosion. I would check those ground wires that go between the transmission and fender in the engine bay, also the negative cable from battery to chassis.
 

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Last time I dealt with this I used a dremel to cut a slot through about 2/3 if the nut on both sides (as much as you can get without cutting the threads of the stud or the wheel) then just basically used a big-old flathead screwdriver and a hammer in the slots and the thing broke in half and fell off pretty easily.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Hi dulle

You could try heating them up with a torch next time. And penetrating lubricant several days ahead of time.
I did spay some penetrant on the visible threads and at the nut seat, and heat would have been my next stop. I think part of the trouble is that the build-up of oxide between wheel and brake disc pushes the wheel outwards and tightens the bolts. Not a problem with the regular hex-nuts, but the 'thief-proof' nuts permit much less force to be used in undoing them.

I had a lot of corrosion on the inside of my rims, so I took a screwdriver and chipped it flat, and then wire brushed them, and of course greased them up. My car was super dry like that with a fair bit of corrosion. I would check those ground wires that go between the transmission and fender in the engine bay, also the negative cable from battery to chassis.
Just what I did! I always put grease, or copperslip on wheel studs when I take on a new-to-me-car. I've not previously seen such a build-up of corrosion between wheel and disc,, so that was a surprise. And the earth wires - I have sprayed them with spray-grease, and wondering whether I should undo them and check that there is no corrosion hiding under them! I'll do that today!

Best, T.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Last time I dealt with this I used a dremel to cut a slot through about 2/3 if the nut on both sides (as much as you can get without cutting the threads of the stud or the wheel) then just basically used a big-old flathead screwdriver and a hammer in the slots and the thing broke in half and fell off pretty easily.
I've never owned a Dremel - though I do have a sharp cold-chisel. Your method does sound quicker than mine was! It was quite fun driving up my bumpy track with a purpose, though, and as always, pleasing when one succeeds with something which has put up a good fight!

But I think a Dremel should probably go on my Christmas list...

Best, T.
 
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