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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi all,

Yesterday I took my first highway trip in a recently purchased 2001 Insight. The mileage I posted was surprisingly low and I can't figure it out. I've scanned the MPG posts on this forum and I don't see that I have done terribly different than others.

Hoping you guys can point me in the right direction.

The data:

(A) Yesterday's trip was a ~380 mile round trip, 90% interstate. Mileage shows 48.1 MPG over that distance.

(B) When I bought the car last month the dash showed 62.5 MPG over its 60,000 life

(C) Fearing the OEM tires are not going to keep me safe this winter (Chicago winter), I put some new tires on the car 2 weeks ago. 175/65-14 all-season tires with great winter feedback. Tire diameter is 1/2 an inch larger and should be resulting in a 2% decrease in the car's CALCULATED mileage.

(D) Tires inflated to 48psi.

(E) Environmental controls set on ECON with A/C off

(F) I traveled at an indicated 65-70 MPH


Other observations:

- When I picked up the car from it's previous owner the battery gauge was full. Since then I have never (literally) had a full battery gauge, including yesterday's trip.

- I have never seen more than 53 MPG (new tires or OEM) on any given day of my 60 mile round-trip commute.

- I put a new stereo head unit and speakers (front and rear) in the car. No subs or external amplifiers.

- After about 80 miles of yesterday's trip I tried traveling at 55 MPH for 10 miles to see if the MPG would improve. I was able to improve the overall mileage by only 0.3 MPG.

- My other car is the polar opposite of the Insight so my point of reference is warped...but...the Insight felt like it was dragging a parachute yesterday. I understand that it's lack of mass could be causing this feeling at higher speeds. Thought it was worth mentioning.

- The car's previous owner had all the maintenance records and I had my local Honda dealer inspect the car before I bought it. All indications are that the car is in great shape with no mechanical/electrical abnormalities.

- I should also mention that this car is a 5 speed, not the CVT.


I expected I was going to see a number close to 70 MPG on this trip. I can understand that the tires could be accounting for some of the difference and my driving style accounting for some as well. However, I can't account for 23% less than the car's lifetime average, or 33% less than the "normal" numbers most everyone else posts for highway MPG.

Any comments and advice are appreciated.
 

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Maybe there was a headwind? Was it a windy day? I know, my insight feels like its struggling to maintain speed also on days when there is 10-15mph or more headwind.

but if you arent seeing good mpg on regular communtes, something could be wrong..

dragging brakes maybe.
 

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When I picked up my 2000 MT Insight, the drive consisted of going from Detroit to Madison.

The majority of the drive was highway, and I tried to follow any semi's traveling about 63 mph on the way home and kept a 3 second distance.

The average MPG was 67, so I was surprised and impressed, since I really thought 55 mpg would be good.

With that in mind, your mpg does seem very low. As mentioned, wind does play a significant factor, but that still seems low.

Have you noticed if the IMA stays almost in the same position when you drive? Do you have much assist and regen available? It could be that the state of the battery pack is limited in range, and this in turn can cause a constant background charge, which will really hurt your mileage. About the same as a very windy day.

If your battery pack needs balancing, and you get it done, your mileage *should* go up quite a bit.

When I bought mine, I also adjusted the valves and checked the spark plugs, and about one month later, did the EGR clean along with the EGR pathway to the intake.

Jim.
 

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Are you driving so as to stay in lean burn? The Insight-I has a very sensitive throttle which takes getting used to. To stay in lean burn, try to keep the iMPG bar at the bottom of the display above 75mpg, preferably above 100mpg. If you are constantly randomly speeding up and slowing down it can hurt your mpg. OTOH non-random intentional speed changes (coasting downhills, letting the speed droop a bit on uphills) can help mpg.

Two other likely factors are tires (your winter tires are probably heavier than OEM and higher rolling resistance) and speed (50-55mph gives better results). Keep in mind that the larger winter tires will understate your speed, so your 65-70mph indicated means a somewhat higher actual speed.

As stated, headwinds (and rain) cause a big hit on the Insight-I's mpg, but apparently you are getting low mpg under all conditions.

Maybe you could get an experienced Insight-I driver from your area to test drive the car and see what s/he gets.

If you want to see the effect of trying various things, you'll get a clearer answer by using the iFCD or resetting one of the tripmeters rather than checking the effect on the overall average. The effect of slowing down for the last 10 miles of 90 miles would be easier to see this way.
 

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I'm all with red1dr on this. It is very hard to keep lean burn at those speeds. If you drove by your FCD instead of the speedo, you would see a huge jump. Try to keep that foot as steady as possible as one little flinch can take it out of lean burn. If it does come out, a quick 1/2" lift and reaplication of the gas puts it right back in lean burn.

Basically this all boils down to one thing. Practice. This car takes alot of work and skill to drive at high mpgs. Give it some time and put some miles on her. Pay real close attention to the FCD instead of your speed. Give a serious following distance so you aren't constantly slowing and accelerating. You'll get the hang of it!

Three rules I have learned with this car: Keep your speed down, your foot steady, and stay off the brakes
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks to those of you who replied with advice.

I can confirm that the FCD is generally jumping back and forth like a pendulum when I'm driving this car. However, during this recent trip the FCD showed less than 50MPG while I was traveling at (indicated) 65-70 MPG, even when the display was steady. I don't recall what the FCD showed when I slowed to 55 though my mileage number only improved by a few tenths after 10 miles at that speed.

On this trip, the assist/charge meter was typically showing no bars on either side. Even when the battery gauge is at 1/2 full or less. As I stated earlier, the gauge has never shown FULL battery since I picked it up from the previous owner. Does anyone know under what conditions it should be trickle charging (3-4 bars)? If there is something wrong with the car I'd sure like to get it taken care of before she hits 10 years.

I'll give your tips a shot. I didn't realize that lean burn was only occurring under specific conditions. Guess I need to dust off my chess skills to get the best from this car, huh?
 

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I can confirm that the FCD is generally jumping back and forth like a pendulum when I'm driving this car. However, during this recent trip the FCD showed less than 50MPG while I was traveling at (indicated) 65-70 MPG, even when the display was steady. I don't recall what the FCD showed when I slowed to 55 though my mileage number only improved by a few tenths after 10 miles at that speed.
You may be mixed up here. The bar at the bottom is the instantaneous mpg (fuel economy at that particular instant), not the FCD. Try to smooth out its movements as much as you can.

The idea is to run an average mpg over some distance, trying to work the instantaneous mpg to increase that average as much as possible.

You have three resettable averages to work with:
(1) The FCD button to the left of the display. When pushed it will start a new average that shows up on the dash display. I don't use it, so you should use your owner's manual to find out how to work it. It could be handy for seeing how you are doing over various short segments.
(2) Trip A and Trip B. Pushing the button on the right lower part of the dash cycles the display between Trip A, Trip B (each with its own distance and average mpg), and Lifetime MPG/Total Miles. Holding this button in for several seconds on Trip A or B will zero that tripmeter. I use Trip A for each run I do (each day's commute or excursions) and Trip B for the current tank's mpg.

On this trip, the assist/charge meter was typically showing no bars on either side. Even when the battery gauge is at 1/2 full or less. As I stated earlier, the gauge has never shown FULL battery since I picked it up from the previous owner. Does anyone know under what conditions it should be trickle charging (3-4 bars)?
It depends on specific conditions, but mine generally tries to add regen when the battery is less than 2/3 charged. Regen goes away as you add in gas, and as you go further assist kicks in. The lower the SOC (state of charge) the more aggressively it tries to regen.
I have read here that the charge meter lies: the number of amps per bar may vary under different conditions.
My car may run along quite happily with the SOC in the middle with only moderate regen, but this does not help mpg. The constant drag of regen pulls mpg down, so ideally keep the battery nearly fully charged and, if you have MIMA or the Calpod mod, shut off assist as much as possible.

I didn't realize that lean burn was only occurring under specific conditions. Guess I need to dust off my chess skills to get the best from this car, huh?
Lean burn works when the iMPG bar is >75mpg. If you are at >75mpg and gradually mash down on the gas pedal, you should feel a slight surge of power as lean burn disengages around 75mpg. You will be in normal burn below this, and should feel a second surge as assist kicks in around 50mpg.
 

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I've had my 2000 insight, manual transmission for five days now, and I must say the low mpg will almost definitely be entirely because of technique. I can see just how much driving styles affect the mpg with my limited time period as an owner based off of my own experience. The first time I drove the car, I went from Wellesley College, to Maine and averaged 64 mpg, after I hit Maine, I realized with my current technique I wouldn't be home for approximately 4.5 hours and I hit 80 or so for an average speed most of the way home. The average dropped from the 64 mpgs, to 53mpg after 167 miles at the 80mph average speed. Even at 80, I would let off a considerable amount up hills, and accelerate gently down them. (I would say I was between 75 and 85 miles per hour in this rushed section of the trip.) So, I mean, take the numbers or leave them, I'm not experienced with the car by any means, but I notice what I notice. Just figured I would offer a little of my own insight! (haha I love those puns)
 

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Yeah I used to drive 80-85mph all the time in my Subaru. After nearly getting a major (30mph-over) speeding ticket, I finally realized how much stress there was in looking for cops everywhere, fighting my way through traffic, etc. It took a while to slow down. Cruise control helped. But now I find that driving for mpg in a relaxed way (not begrudging every drop of gas) is so much better: less tiring, more interesting, never boring.

As for the additional time, it's a common misconception that one will save time in proportion to the speed one drives on the highway. Unfortunately, slowing for traffic and possible cops means that one does not average the speed one thinks one is going. Plus rest stops and the slower local road segments at both ends drop the average even further.

When I drove 80-85mph, trips from here to Boston took me about 2.5 hours. Driving 50mph now takes me 3.0 hours almost on the dot every time. Thirty minutes more is worth it to me in sanity, reduced risk of tickets (plus cost, hassle, and delay if I get one), and arriving less tired. Not to mention the fun of pulling 95-107mpg averages in the summer!! Getting four digits on the display is something special when it happens.
 
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