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Blown Motor

5397 Views 24 Replies 15 Participants Last post by  KTscharae
At 170,000 miles, our car appears to have either spun a bearing or broken a rod. The block seems to be OK (still has oil and coolant in appropriate places). We are still troubleshooting and are looking at options, but suspect that if the above is true, we are looking at a motor replacement. Has anyone else had a motor replaced? New or used? All info welcomed.

We've been too happy with this car to give up on the breed now.
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This is far beyond "engine rattle". We did experience that around 125K when we had the valve lash adjusted, which solved the problem other than a slight tick for the first few moments on startup. It is not running at all now. Jer was driving home and was coasting on a downslope when a loud "bang" occurred followed by an abrupt slowdown and loss of power. When he depressed the clutch, the autostop engaged (at a much higher than normal speed). He rolled it back in gear a bit to unload the engine, and we towed it home. It hasn't run since. When the key is turned, it attempts a normal start cycle, but only a harsh rattling noise results. The sound is coming from within the engine. This was determined both by ear and by stethescope. It is at the dealer now and we have given them the go-ahead to open it up. (and yes, they are saving everything they take off for us)
An update: we have a preliminary diagnosis of a timing chain failure. The sound we were hearing was the pistons hitting the valves. The chain is still in place, but appears somewhat loose, as if it jumped out of position, then fell back. More as we know it...
I was not there when the failure occurred, but my husband says that the only warning was a split-second "squeee" sound right before the "bang" (which he now describes as more of a "clang").

We have not noticed any other performance changes or noises other than a slight decline in mileage over the last year or so. We attribute this primarily to drag: The car is sporting two extra antennas (XM radio and CB), a broken spoiler (now held on by gaffer's tape - it's a hard car to get a grip on to push in the snow - I broke one side off with my head), a missing underbody panel (an icy snowdrift), and a broken passenger side front-wheel spoiler (more gaffer's tape; a curb, I presume). We are now averaging 62-63MPG instead of the upper-60s and above that we frequently achieved in the first couple of years. My husband is a big guy, so we often operate over gross. Our best one-way trip was 92MPG and our LMPG is 59.7.

Oil change intervals have ranged from 3000-5000 miles over the life of the car, which we bought new. It has been run on Mobil-1 0W-20 synthetic since the first oil change, and we have used either Honda or Fram filters, depending on availability. The only exception was one dealer service, done at 120K, when we had the valve lash adjusted.

We live in the country on a dirt road and have a quarter mile of steep, rutted gravel driveway. It has been driven across the pasture on occasion when the driveway flooded and froze. Most of the car's miles are freeway driving to work (often 500-700 miles/week) and it has been on quite a few long road trips. It's on its third set of tires. We ran the first set WAY too long and narrowly missed a blow-out. Just try to buy tires for an Insight on a holiday-weekend Sunday. We got just under 70K out of the second set.

We have not had any other issues with it except an IMA control module failure early on, before the recall was issued. The dealer handled that very graciously, providing us with a rental car and a gas allowance to make up for the difference in mileage. Even without the IMA, the Insight got better mileage than anything else they had! When the part proved hard to acquire, they removed a module from a new car on their lot so that we would not have to wait or come back.
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Another update:

Definitely a timing chain failure. All of the valves are bent, one severely, the pistons are all damaged, and all three cylinders show minor scoring. Estimated cost to replace engine with a used motor with a lifetime parts and labor warranty: $4145.00. Decision to be made over turkey and stuffing...
The latest news:

I don't know if the warranty can handle turbo-charging, but I know our insurance can't. We weren't expecting much by way of performance beyong good mileage when we bought the Insight, and Jer promptly got his first speeding ticket in 17 years.

We have decided to go ahead with the lifetime warranty engine replacement. We could get the work done for quite a bit less with no warranty (read: 30 days), but after this experience, we aren't so confident about getting 300K between major overhauls out of a Honda engine.

The specific terms of the warranty are lifetime parts (or engine) replacement for any mechanical failure and labor for one complete overhaul or replacement. Since the warranty cost is less than the cost of a used engine, we think a "perpetual motor" is a good investment. We have always planned to drive this car until nobody but the recyclers will want it.

I sincerely hope that our experience proves to be an isolated incident. The Insight is unique among production vehicles, and I would hate to see a critical flaw derail a great car.
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A sad finish to our story...

Our car was in the dealer's posession for over a month. We instructed them to go ahead with the engine replacement as well as asking that two recall items be done and the underbody covers be replaced (both were damaged and had been removed). We also asked that all parts be returned to us, especially the oil and filter, which we wanted to examine.

When we finally got it back, it was running, but the oil and filter had mysteriously disappeared, the recall work was not done, the underbody panels had not been replaced, the heater was working intermittantly, it was leaking coolant, one of the other underbody panels in the front had not been re-attached and was subsequently destroyed when it dragged and was folded back, and one of the doors had a large, new crease in it.

After a month and a half of phone arguments, they have done the recall work and fixed the coolant leak, but are refusing to do anything else. We are now in contact with the family attorney. We are moving to a very remote area where we will need a four-wheel-drive vehicle and plan to sell the car as soon as possible. There will not be another Honda in our future.

I have to say that I am sorry that we fixed it at all, and especially sorry that we spent the extra money to get the warranty that they obviously do not intend to honor. The Insight is a wonderful car, but without dealer support, has little future. Better luck to the rest of you.
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