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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Greetings, this is my first post. I'm considering buying an '01 Insight 5-speed with 66k miles. I've been reading all I can about these cars on this site and elsewhere, and so far I'm hooked.

Anyway, first a comment: It would be nice if there was a "sticky" on this forum that contained advice for buyers of used Insights. The car is so different from anything else, and there's lots on the used market, so it would be great to have a permanent "buyer's guide" somewhere.

Now, with the miles on the car I'm looking at, is there a way to know much life is left in the battery pack? I've tried to find the answer to this in the forum archives without success. It also sounds like Honda is replacing dead packs for free even after warranty. True? (I saw no sign this one is dying, but then I'm not really sure what to look for.)

The owner of this car is asking $9,900. That seems like a pretty good deal considering the demand for these cars at the moment. (I live in sort of a backwater where the car isn't getting a lot of interest so far.) Thoughts?

This is a one-owner car and seems in good shape. I did notice the hood seems out of alignment. I asked, and the seller said he had to replace the RF headlight due to a minor collision, but that's all. I noticed later the hood seems bent slightly across the width of the hood about where it curves down toward the bumper. Is there anything sensitive under there that could have been damaged by an accident that I should know about?

I can't expect any local independent mechanics to know anything about this car. So can I expect my local Honda dealer to do a decent job on a prepurchase inspection?

Finally -- and thanks for your patience :roll: -- I've read that Insights don't like hot climates. If this car has lived its full life in a hot climate, what effect will this have on the car's health and longevity?

Thanks again! :D
 

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The "sticky" is a good idea but I don't think moderators have the ability to implement them. I will discuss this with the site admin. In the meantime, be sure to check out the Knowledge Base and the Encyclopedia on the main site. It will have the answers to many of your questions buried in it.

Now, to the car you're looking at. See if you can get more detail about the collision, or maybe some post-accident photos. I would be very concerned about ductile failures in the car body.

I know of no way to determine the "wear and tear" on the IMA battery. I have not heard of any out-of-warranty battery replacements that were done for free by Honda.
 

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I've been pretty busy lately with school umong other things. I know several are looking for buying advice right now. I haven't been able to locate my old posts about telling whether or not a particular vehicle has been crashed. Bug me about it, and when I find some time I will do a write up and see if Benjamin will stickey it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thx for the feedback!

xcel: I had already seen the thread you mentioned. Frankly, I was hoping for something more concrete and comprehensive. That topic seeking hints from from stereo systems and lmpg. Interesting, but doesn't exactly tell me how to evaluate wear on such a unique car.

For a newbie, driving an Insight is such an absorbing experience that I wasn't even paying attention to the stuff I'd normally watch for on a "regular" car, and I had no idea what kind of clues to draw from the Insight's unique gauges. But I may go back and try again.

Right now I'm still trying to convince myself (and my wife) to buy this car. We really don't need a second car, but the idea of the Insight is really tugging at me hard!
 

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Followup- "bogturtlewoman" reported getting 50% coverage from Honda on an out-of-warranty IMA battery replacement. Total cost was about $2000 and she paid about $1000. (link to thread)

LMPG ... the theory is that an Insight driven to maximize MPG is also one driven in a manner that minimizes wear and tear.
 

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Bear with me for another day or two, I did an initial write up on what to look for, it's 3 pages long. I sent it to xcel to see if he had anything to add then I'll post it.
 

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And here it is, the last time I'm going to write this, lol (ok I'll just post the link to this thread in the future if asked).

Finding a good used Insight
By Rick

Determining if the vehicle has been involved in a crash.

1. Don’t be cheap do a Carfax, it will let you know about anything that’s been reported. And sign up for the $5,000 guarantee they offer too, this is not automatic you have to sign up for it. I’ve already had one instance where I wish I had taken those extra few minutes to do so.

VIN tags

2. The easiest way to check for replaced body panels is to look for VIN tags. These are small decals placed on all panels on the vehicle for matching panels to vehicles during vehicle assembly and apparently also to reduce parts theft. There are many of these on an Insight. If a panel has been replaced instead of a VIN tag there will be a larger decal with a Honda logo on it. The vehicle’s VIN number should be on a VIN tag, so take note of the last few digits.

Get on your hands and knees in front of the car.
• On the top underside of the opening in the bumper containing the plastic grille.

Open the Hood, there should be three VIN tags.
• Front underside of the hood with the rest of the decals that should be there.
• One on each fender top.
• Also, there are several decals under the hood.

Open each door.
• Below the latch mechanism on the door.
• There is also one in the door sill itself right by the metal latch that the door holds itself to.
• There will also be an identification sticker with bar code on the driver’s side door sill along with a decal about heated paint curing booths and the battery pack.

Pop the rear hatch.
• At the top of the bumper.
• On the underside of the rear hatch.


Other Clues

3. There are other clues to any potential wreck. Usually dealerships do these collision repairs and usually they are sloppy and won’t order everything. For the front end if the hood has been replaced they generally do not order the hood H emblem. Also, the plastic grille in the front bumper is usually special order so often times its not included, same thing with things like the rubber weather seals on the head lights where the bulbs go in inside the engine compartment.

For the rear of the vehicle there should be 3 decals on the lower rear window, Hybrid Gasoline Electric, H, and Insight. This is something that could be overlooked if the rear glass is replaced.

Please also keep in mind that a few Insighter’s have actually done removal of such items for a clean look. The VIN tags will tell the most, but these above mentioned articles are indicators of things to look for initially.

4. How’s that oil level? The sad truth is a lot of dealerships have mechanics who are allowed to work on Insight’s that don’t know what they’re doing. Oil overfills are an all too common problem. It’s a good idea to check the oil level of any vehicle for that matter, but if it’s too high and the vehicle has always been dealer serviced you might be weary about this. Too much oil is a bad thing along with too little oil.

IMA

5. A huge concern to potential Insight buyers is the mysterious IMA system. Do remember that all Insight’s come with an 8 year/80,000 mile IMA warranty. Things to check that are pretty basic. What’s the SOC (state of charge) meter at? Under normal driving the IMA battery gage remains at 18 or 19 of 20 bars. The top bar is rarely if ever reached and is usually only after a long hill descent. If the gage is much lower than that it is a possible indication of IMA problems.

Unfortunately there is not much else that could be done without one of Honda’s expensive hybrid diagnostic laptops.

LMPG (lifetime miles per gallon)

6. There is a nice little tattle tale feature built in to Insight’s. They keep track of the mileage achieved over the life of the vehicle. A higher LMPG will most likely indicate a car driven a lot of freeway miles. While 70LMPG is pretty difficult to achieve, it is possible. Realistically a 5-speed vehicle that has a LMPG in the upper 50’s or 60’s is a vehicle that hasn’t been rode too hard. For a CVT, I’ve seen around 45 is the usual for a vehicle that is driven nicely. I’ve seen some as low at 30.. 28 LMPG. Also, if the tires have been changed to a non OEM tire the LMPG will be lower anywhere from 5 to 10 mpg so keep this in mind. (OEM tires are Bridgestone Potenza RE92 165/65/14).

And also on the LMPG note Climate also has a big role in this. In areas with extreme cold auto stop will not work during the winter months. This constant running of the engine (for emissions purposes) will eat a significant chunk of fuel and adversely affect the LMPG. Also, lean burn will not work in extreme cold (again for emissions purposes), plus the IMA will force charge until the pack warms up, so all of this is going to lower mpg. On the other hand, extremely warm climates will have a lowered mpg effect also due to heavy air conditioning demand. Your normal person is going to run the AC in Auto mode where it will put comfort at priority and run the engine full time to run the AC compressor. Even if the AC is ran in economy mode which allows auto stop it still takes a lot more fuel to run the compressor. I personally see 10 to 15mpg less during the summer when I’m running my AC. I will also note my personal LMPG over 30,000 miles is 63.4mpg and I’m in Arizona so I feel my LMPG is very respectable for the climate. AC use in these hot climates is crucial for the batteries, so there are several variables to consider in this equation.

Caveat Emptor. THE LMPG CAN BE RESET! There are instructions in the owner’s manual on how to reset the lifetime mileage display. All of the mileage calculations update every minute so watch the LMPG while driving and make sure it isn’t changing. A LMPG that hasn’t been reset and has accumulated over thousands of miles will not change unless several thousand miles of a high or low mpg are driven.

Other Stuff

7. How’s it run and drive? The engine should be nice and smooth and very quiet with the hood closed. I’ve heard Insight’s with tired engines that need work. As with any vehicle, following the maintenance schedules will go a long way to prolonging the life of any engine. A well maintained Insight will shift buttery smooth (ok 1st to 2nd is a little much of a gear change). Transmission fluid changes at the appropriate intervals help significantly, and on the CVT they really need to be done every 30,000 miles of they will slip.

8. On the interior see that floor mats were used. They don’t have to be the Honda ones, but the carpet that’s there is so thin after about a year of regular use with no floor mats it will be worn through. There is also a cabin air filter that should be changed from time to time which is always nice to see has been done. They will eventually get so clogged they restrict air flow.

9. Has it been curbed? The Insight sits so low that if driven until the tires hit a parking curb usually damage will result. Check the underside of the front bumper and see if it’s scraped up. There should be a black plastic piece in front of each wheel that directs air downwards around the tire, if curbed repeatedly these can be ripped off. Also look at the wheels, when they’re curbed on the side the lip sticks out farther than the tire and it will be ground off. If this will bother you Insight wheels aren’t all that cheap.


Other Tips
By Xcel

Inspect it carefully: Inspect the Insight in the daylight and a walk around examining the paint. Any panel that has a slightly different shade has probably been replaced. Are the seams and gaps in body panels parallel? If not, collision damage repair may have been performed.

Open the hood: The paint on the firewall should match the exterior. Over spray into the door frames may be a telling sign of past body repair … If the engine is too clean and shiny, it was probably steam cleaned. Cleaning will remove any evidence of oil leaks. Some of the cleaning solutions used today might even portray hoses and other rubber componentry as being new when we know they are not.

Inside: Lift the mats including the hatch. Rick has already spoken of wear to the thin underlayment and it is a quick check as to possible damage. Check the spare as well as to verify the lug wrench is present and accounted for. While you are there, you may as well press up the tire for the former owner because you know it is going to be low ;)

General: Ask the owner for all keys. Check to see that they will open both doors, hatch, glove box as well as start the Insight. Make sure the owner’s manual comes with the Insight and hopefully, a list of maintenance records. Climb behind the wheel. How does the upholstery and dash appear? How does the seat feel? Check the power locks and power window controls to verify operability.

*Side note by Rick: There are three keys, two black keys and a grey valet key. There should also be two remotes. The two black keys will operate everything. The grey key however will not. The grey key will unlock the door and start the car. It cannot open the rear hatch or the glove box.

___Check the odometer and compare with wear and tear you have seen on the vehicle. In the case of the Insight, the lmpg vs. a trip A, B, or segment meters may or may not be close but they should be within ten or so miles/gallon of one another if this is a private party purchase with just a few test drives. Does the wear of the rubber on the clutch, brake, and accelerator pedals appear to coincide with the odometer readout?

___Check the car out with a local mechanic or service not associated with the owner. He/she will probably check out the dash before start up looking for odd lights as well as connect an OBD-II scan tool up and look for codes or anomalies while the ICE is running. Unfortunately in the case of the Insight, a std. mechanic will not have a clue as to some of what he is looking at in the dash of an Insight :( He/she will check fluid levels as well as belts and hoses including clamps. Hopefully he will pressurize the coolant system and check for leaks. He/she might even pull a plug for an examination and do a compression test. The computer compression test will suffice however. He/she will put it up on the lift to check for odd wear of the tires leading one to deduce possible alignment problems. He/she will also look for odd leaks, broken, or sagging HW in the suspension and steering components. The boots, exhaust, and any under body damage should be well apparent to the trained tech. After all of this, he/she should take it for a ride. General noises, function of A/C, heater, blower, and smoothness of the drive train will be readily diagnosed from a tech given the amount of cars he or she has driven.
 

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Bump because of many recent buying advice questions.
 
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