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Recently I purchased a used 2005 Silver Insight with around 36,000 miles on it. I had a dealer inspect it before purchase and for the first four months everything was excellent. Really fun and smooth ride. Playing the high score game with the milage was interesting and I was impressed with the numbers I was able to do around town and on the highway. By using the 'coast and encourage momentum' method, 55-68 mpg was normal.

Then...

After an oil change at the dealer nearer my location I experienced the milage go down about -15 mpg for each similar route. Being new to this game I didn't want to jump to conclusions, I started doing some research on this site and found something about firmware, ... hmm, anyway.

After driving it kinda sluggish for two weeks or so a huge spike to the temp gauge occurred on the highway. Usually it sits around 1/4, maybe 1/3, up the display. This time time it quickly rose to 1/2, then 3/4 and then red for less than a minute. Each time it rose I cut the gas applied the clutch and coasted, trying to avoid traffic, the meter would respond and dip back down below 1/2 and act normal. I got home.

I took the car back to the dealer and asked them to look at it. They could find no leaks, flushed the coolant and said they could not repeat the overheat.

After driving for another two weeks or so the car started exhibiting the same spiking temp gauge. Before it hit the red again I called the dealer and was told that their hunch was a blown head gasket and they needed a part to test it.

After waiting another two weeks, the part came in, the test was done and they are taking the car apart on monday.

Anybody got a similar story, a different hunch, ... shoulder to cry on?
Could too much/wrong type oil cause such a thing?
Could the head gasket leak be a result of the overheat and fixing it will not actually solve the problem?
Why do bad things happen to seemingly good vehicles?

Thank you for your time and this forum.
 

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Headgaskets are quite a rare failure ASFAIK.

Perhaps coolant was low in first place causing car to overheat and blow gasket.

The temp gauge is very inacurate, if it goes into red or rises much above the normal 5-6 bars it indicates something is clearly wrong. Get a scangauge and monitor temp.

Thermostat perhaps stuck shut causing car to overheat get them to test it.

Check radiator is not damaged obstructed etc.

Fingers crossed the gasket change will do it.
 

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Never heard of a Honda engine give up the ghost under 40K!
Headgasket failure is extremely uncommon for an Insight.
My money is on overfilling caused the oil to break down (overheating due to foaming) on the highway. But I've been wrong before.
Still, I'd get an oil sample from my engine before they start the work and send it to Blackstone Labs for analysis. (Around $20) That may reveal some helpful info. (Get a sterile urine sample cup from a pharmacy while you wait for the Balckstone Lab sample jar.) Maybe dealer did use wrong oil - but doubt that it would have such catastrophic effect.

Q: Do you have extended warranty? Is Honda USA covering the repair? If not, you may have a case, because of the preinspection and the dealer service, right before the problem.

Best of luck! Keep us posted.
 

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Oil Change

An Oil change should not cause the problem you describe, it fits the description of an Airlock in the Coolant system.

Insight manual contains a detailed set of instructions for Coolant refill which aims to purge all trapped air from cooling system, e,g bleeding the cylinder head, filling by gravity, coolant is fed from a container high above the car via a sealed tube.


One further point, I think the Car has an Heat exchanger which dumps Oil heat into the Engine Coolant, I think the heat exchanger is mounted between the Oil filter cartridge and the engine block, perhaps this unit has failed
 

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I feel your pain and understand your concerns, Nsight. I bought an '02 CVT with a bad HG. I don't think the HD damage was a very severe since I had no oil-coolant cross contamination, no rough idle or rough running. THe spark plugs looked even clean and normal when I swapped them out. In the first week or so of owning it I noticed the coolant reservoir was acting strange.

After driving maybe 9-10 miles I noticed that sometimes coolant would be pushed out of the reservoir cap, then I noticed tiny air bubbles streaming to the surface in the reservoir. The temp guage for the most part stayed at 6 bars, but I did noticed a couple of times that it jumped maybe to 7 or 8 bars, but at the time I didn't know what was going on.

PO swapped new HG and milled the head (though he said it was within specs but had it milled anyway).

Check your coolant reservoir after a drive and see if it bubbles or if it drops in level drastically.

I monitor my coolant level via the reservor and see that it has dropped a tad over 1/4" in 4 months/2k miles. I feel I'm not out of the woods yet. This loss in coolant bothers me. If this amount was, say, maybe after a year or 10k miles of driving, then no--but only after 2k miles?
 

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I don't see where anybody changed the thermostat. I'd start there, unless they're fixing this under warrenty. Even so, I'd prefer the engine not be taken apart if it doesn't need it. What about the temp sensor? This could also be bad.

Sam
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Here is the time line for my 2005 Honda Insight, apologies for repeat info:

8/10 - 33,800 Pre-Purchase Inspection = A+ Dealer #1
10/10 - 35,250 Oil Change - Dealer #2
12/9/10 - 36,775 Overheat #1 - spiking temp gauge, red for less than a minute. tech notes: coolant slightly low, topped off. pressure check - no leaks. bled cooling system. checked fans. head gasket suspected, could not test because of part for equipment on order.
12/24/10 - 37,000 Overheat #2 - parked for holidays.
1/8/11 - Overheat #3, on the way to dealer for repair.
1/14/11 - Found excessive gas pressure in cooling system. Removed cylinder head for inspection + repair. Changed oil + filter, fan switch. Replaced thermostat + thermostat switch.
Reassemble and recheck. OK.
1/15/11 - Driver noticed "auto-stop" function not working properly. Appointment for repair on 1/18/11.

Thank you for getting this far through my story.
Here are the wordy details:

I bought a used Insight with less than 34k miles on it from a private seller.
For the first 2 months everything was fine. Felt like a brand new car. Had no problems but needed to do some minor things at the dealer; wipers and key remote, and decided to get an oil change a bit early on the 37.5k maintenance.

Immediately after the oil change I noticed my MPG drop significantly. I am new to this car ownership thing and was trying to see if it was me by driving differently and researching what might have happened. It got worse.
Before too long the first overheat happened.

The dealer could not test everything the first time and after swapping the coolant they could not repeat the problem.
I could about a week later.

My questions are:

1. could the oil change have been the cause of the overheat?
the correct type of oil was used, not sure if they might have over filled it, as this car only takes 2.5qt., could .5qt have really caused such an event?
2. if the overheat was caused by the oil, or some other problem, the blown head gasket may be a result of the overheat. is it true repairing it does not necessarily fix the problem? although, it seems by changing the therm, switch, oil, filters & coolant they are hedging all bets...
3. now that it is back together it seems to run a bit better. the MPG is still a bit lower than my first experiences, but much better than after the oil change. however, the auto-stop function does not work consistently. how far am I to go with this?

I feel they botched the oil change causing the first overheat and I have already spent $2k fixing their mistake. They, of course, don't want to hear any of that. How wrong am I?

Thank you for your time and kind responses.
 

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My questions are:

1. could the oil change have been the cause of the overheat?
the correct type of oil was used, not sure if they might have over filled it, as this car only takes 2.5qt., could .5qt have really caused such an event?
2. if the overheat was caused by the oil, or some other problem, the blown head gasket may be a result of the overheat. is it true repairing it does not necessarily fix the problem? although, it seems by changing the therm, switch, oil, filters & coolant they are hedging all bets...
3. now that it is back together it seems to run a bit better. the MPG is still a bit lower than my first experiences, but much better than after the oil change. however, the auto-stop function does not work consistently. how far am I to go with this?

I feel they botched the oil change causing the first overheat and I have already spent $2k fixing their mistake. They, of course, don't want to hear any of that. How wrong am I?

Thank you for your time and kind responses.
It took nearly 2 months and 2,000 miles for the engine to overheat after the oil change. It is hard to link those events. Auto stop only works with it is above 42F if the heater is on. Severe overheat can cause the blown head gasket but what caused the overheat? Again, I can't link that to the oil change.

It would be helpful to know details about the overheating, stop and go, highway, climbing a hill, outside temperatures? Were all overheating events in similar conditions? Is the radiator plugged? Did the heater pump out heat during the overheat conditions?
 

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I don't think that the oil change is correlated to the blown HG, it's more like a correlation of the car being at your dealer and a blown HG if you say the mpg immediately dropped after their work.
 

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sometimes during oil change they top off the liquids,i had similar case where they flushed the coolant but air remained in the system and caused a spyke in temperature, i went again they topped off the coolant and all was ok...
 

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Topping it off is not a real solution, get all air out of the system is the better one.
 

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Head Gasket leaking oil?

Here is the time line for my 2005 Honda Insight, apologies for repeat info:

I feel they botched the oil change causing the first overheat and I have already spent $2k fixing their mistake. They, of course, don't want to hear any of that. How wrong am I?

Thank you for your time and kind responses.
Did the additional work and money fix the problem? Of course I got here by Google search. "oil leak head gasket Honda Insight".

I am in disbelief a wrong oil (viscosity?) could fail a heard gasket.
This car isn't dainty.

I suppose an extreme temperature spike could.

My situation (found elsewhere on this InsightCentral set of forums) was a stripped oil drain plug. Gory details aside, the dealer shop and I came to an equitable agreement to replace the whole oil pan. 2 months ago. Everything was fine or not apparent until around a month ago when I saw oil pooling on the right plastic shield under the pan. WTF? Never ever in the 135,000 miles on this 2000 Insight have I seen even a drop of oil loss. I could not tell where it was coming from yet the bottom of the pan had oil dripping. I'd wipe and clean and still could not tell precisely (I still cannot) where it was coming from. Conclusion was, the sealing of the new pan was inadequate.

Dropped by the dealer and they looked at it. Said it was the head gasket. $1250. Lovely. I see a small seepage on the right rear corner where the gray gasket sealant is but am having a hard time believing this miniscule bit of wetness is supplying the puddle collecting on the shield. I am going to get the engine hot then try and see if I can spot a flow with it running before I commit to the expensive job.

The oil pan R&R has nothing to do with the head gasket. I don't believe they overfilled it, having looked then at the dipstick. Most definitely it has lost a pint or so. No mixing of oil and coolant. Car runs fine. No overheating.

Any suggestions and theories? Or is this just bad timing and expected in the life of a car? I don't not drive vigorously either.

Thanks
Pennsylvania
 

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Oops, I should have read this post first. That's the trouble with "double posting". Sorry about that.

Willie
 
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