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Hello, this is my first post so I apologize for the lengthy story but here goes. Any help is well appreciated. I LOVE my car!

I have a 2000 Honda Insight with 130,000 miles on it. No problems before January 2010...

A belt in the car (fan belt?) broke and the engine overheated. I couldn't afford repairs at the dealership so I went to a muffler shop locally. They replaced the belt.

They said the car was fine, that the engine was fine, and that it was okay to drive. About three days after I got it from the muffler shop it would drive but it hesitated sometimes (power loss, felt like it was running out of gas). I took it back and they said it was fine.

Then I took it to a better repair shop close to my home and they said I had melted ignition coils and frayed ground cable (probably for smaller battery but not sure). It needed a new radiator (there was a leak in it). Total repairs $2500 US.

Since I couldn't afford this level of repair right away the car sat in my driveway from January to first week in April. The better repair shop in Boston took a week to repair it. The mechanics said that everything was fine and that the head gasket was okay.

I drove the car until June, and then it started overheating again (temperature bars on display went up and check engine light came on). I didn't inspect the engine during the overheat. I did notice a week before some smoke in the air vents in the passenger compartment.

Boston repair shop replaced the coolant switch and they noticed air in the coolant system, so they drained it. The car ran fine for three days until 90 degree weather. The car temperature bars now run up to 6 to 10 - used to run at four bars. In the cool weather things are okay. Check engine light is fickle but not continuous. The air conditioning is sometimes warm sometimes cold, sometimes air blows sometimes not.

I see my options as the following, so what do you think about these?

1) I have concern about the major battery being unused in the car for such a long period while I had the car off the road. Should I get the battery checked? How would dealer do this? What would it cost to determine if it is damaged?

2) Is the head gasket faulty now? Can this be repaired and what would be an estimate for that?

3) Is there air in the coolant system still?

4) Is there a problem with the fan switch not recognizing the temperature of the coolant due to some air still in there due to faulty replacement and would this contribute to the overheating?

5) What about the air conditioning? How is that effected?

6) Should I get a ScanGauge (what is that) to determine the real temperature of the engine and/or a coolant alarm system?

Thanks so much. Hoping my insight lasts until I can get the red Honda fit hybrid. Til then....

-BOSinsightuser
 

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1) I have concern about the major battery being unused in the car for such a long period while I had the car off the road. Should I get the battery checked? How would dealer do this? What would it cost to determine if it is damaged?

2) Is the head gasket faulty now? Can this be repaired and what would be an estimate for that?

3) Is there air in the coolant system still?

4) Is there a problem with the fan switch not recognizing the temperature of the coolant due to some air still in there due to faulty replacement and would this contribute to the overheating?

5) What about the air conditioning? How is that effected?

6) Should I get a ScanGauge (what is that) to determine the real temperature of the engine and/or a coolant alarm system?
1. The dealer doesn't really know how to do anything other than wait for a check engine light, then replace the battery for three times the fair price. We can do better. I would get a grid charger. Actually, because I'm pedantic, I'd throw the battery switch to OFF until my grid charger arrived.

2. Test for exhaust gas in the coolant to find out. Replacing a head gasket and inspecting the head and block for flatness is pretty involved and expensive.

3. When in doubt, drain it out. Then refill using the procedure in the service manual, as detailed elsewhere on the forum.

4. AFAIK, the fan turns on and off based on coolant temperature as reported by the same sensor that runs your gauge.

5. Don't use A/C until your cooling system is sorted out, because it places a great load on the engine and therefore the cooling system. In fact, if it's going to overheat, roll down the windows and turn the heater on full blast. Sorry.

6. A ScanGauge is indespensible to modders and DIY repair guys. It reads check engine lights, and it displays many of your car's sensors in real time. It also does an okay job as an mpg meter for non lean burn cars that weren't equipped with one from the factory. You might not benefit much from the ScanGauge.

You should find out what the Check Engine Light codes are. A retail auto parts store like AutoZone or Advance can read them for free.

Cooling system problems do not get better on their own; they get much worse. If it's air in the coolant, burp it before it becomes a head gasket. If it's a head gasket, replace it before you have a warped head or block.

Engine grounds: they all rust out. You can replace them yourself for $4. Look for the frayed and broken copper wires with the blue-green patina.

Fan belt: the car doesn't have one, but it has a water pump belt. Without it, you'll overheat badly in no time flat.

Ignition coils: if you scorched the boots, yikes, it must have overheated pretty good. But if they don't misfire, leave well enough alone.

Good luck, and if you'd like some elaboration on anything, feel free to ask.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks, results of check engine show misfires

RobertSmalls, Thank you SO much for a thorough and great answer!

The car went into the red bars and check engine light came on while driving.

So my focus is to get the coolant drained and replaced properly to get the air out ASAP.

Also, for a few years there has been a problem with the passenger compartment ventilation - sometimes air doesn't blow at all - then I hit a bump and it's fixed. Could this be a loose wire somewhere?...I'm just concerned that I won't be able to "crank the heat up and blast it" in the compartment if the engine overheats.

Can anyone shed light on the following check engine codes given this car's history (see thread)?

PO302 cylinder 2 misfire
PO303 cylinder 3 misfire
PO134 O2 circuit no activity oxygen BANK 1 sensor 1
PO300 random misfire detected

Thanks!

-BOSinsightuser
 

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Can anyone shed light on the following check engine codes given this car's history (see thread)?

PO302 cylinder 2 misfire
PO303 cylinder 3 misfire
PO134 O2 circuit no activity oxygen BANK 1 sensor 1
PO300 random misfire detected

Thanks!

-BOSinsightuser
Assuming these codes were not present before the thrown belt, they are pretty sefl explanatory:
Cylinder misfires because of a bad coil or intermittant signal. Reset codes and see if they come back.
The O2 sensor code indicates it is not being "seen" by the car computer. It could also be an old code, so clear that.

Check the O2 sensor connection also, make sure you didn't burn through a wire. I would expect fuel mileage to be off if the O2 sensor doesn't work.

Invest $150 or so in the Scangauge II. It is a very useful tool. It will tell you if the O2 sensor is online (open loop vs. closed loop) and have a ton of information since it simply plugs into the OBD II port (in different places different years, my 04 has it right above my right knee).

If no hot air, determine if it is simply the blower motor fan not working all the time (most likely). If you are moving on the highway, and you switch to "hot", you should still get some warm air pushed through the vents from the airflow at speed (say 40-50 mph). If no heat, then it is not a fan issue per se.

Get the cooling sorted first, (with car cold, check radiator fluid level) then the AC. And as noted above, leave the AC off for now.

Regards,
Jerry
 

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A lot here to process:

How do you know the belt failed? Were you told or did you see it for yourself? If it did fail then your water pump didn't turn.

How long did the car run "in the red" before you shut it down? If it was for more than even a couple minutes it is likely that you caused massive damage to the car, damage that even if you were to have the head gasket replaced you'd still find yourself with a car that will never be the same (even with the heads and block resurface). Estimate on a head gasket would be between $1000 -2000.

You tried to save money by taking your car to a muffler shop to have work done that is not muffler related and you are confused as to why this didn't fix your issues?

Will you have problems with the battery with the car sitting for months ? Probably

Is the head gasket faulty now? If it in fact over heated then most likely. You can try a couple things like looking at the exhaust to see if any white smoke comes out. you can also have a compression check done to see if it is leaking, you can also open the hood to visually see if there is any coolant escaping near the head. You can also check the coolant level to see if it is down much.

Air in the coolant - start the car with the radiator cap removed. Let it get to operating temp and watch the coolant in the radiator. If, when it reaches operating temp you can see the water flowing through then your water pump should be fine and there isn't an issue with air in the system... if it doesn't move then either your water pump is bad, the belt is slipping, or there is air in the line.

Fan switch - try the above first

AC - there should be no correlation between overheating and your AC, but as said do not run the AC while the car might be overheating as this causes an undo burden on the engine.

Scangauge - no need to buy one. Have your codes checked at an Autozone then erase them and hand it back to them.
 

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RobertSmalls, Thank you SO much for a thorough and great answer!

The car went into the red bars and check engine light came on while driving.

So my focus is to get the coolant drained and replaced properly to get the air out ASAP.

Also, for a few years there has been a problem with the passenger compartment ventilation - sometimes air doesn't blow at all - then I hit a bump and it's fixed. Could this be a loose wire somewhere?...I'm just concerned that I won't be able to "crank the heat up and blast it" in the compartment if the engine overheats.

Can anyone shed light on the following check engine codes given this car's history (see thread)?

PO302 cylinder 2 misfire
PO303 cylinder 3 misfire
PO134 O2 circuit no activity oxygen BANK 1 sensor 1
PO300 random misfire detected

Thanks!

-BOSinsightuser
When the car overheated, the high temperature would have caused a great deal of preignition / detonation. The knock sensor would have picked this up and set the P0300 codes. For the P0134 O2 code, I'm a little confused, since 2000 Insights do not use it. You might want to rescan it to make sure that is the correct code.
 

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Why dont you get a second opinion? look for Boston auto repair shops with the right tools to have it scanned. Trying to isolate the problem just by observing will take a lot of time, you need tools to help you out. Just be sure to go the the right car shop.
 

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Overheating

The Manual goes to great lengths for the procedure to Flush the Coolant System.

You can download the Manual.

If you have an airlock in the system Collant flow will stall and overheating will follow.

Perhaps you could have found a used Radiator from a Breakers Yard.
 
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