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I have a 2005 Insight, silver, manual. I bought the car Honda Certified pre-owned at the very beginning of 2010 from Honda of Danbury, which is 65 miles from me. The car had just under 65,000 miles when I bought it. It is my understanding that the IMA warranty that applies to my car is 80,000 miles; I know that the IMA warranty varies depending upon what year. If it is of any relevance, the car was sold in Connecticut (both times) and I am a New Yorker.

By the Fall I noticed that the IMA was behaving differently. There were times its behavior did not match the SOC. That had never previously been the case. There were times it would accept a charge, but was accepting less than I knew it should e.g. we have a steep downhill with a turn near the bottom -- if I hit that hill at say 35 MPH, coast into the 40's, then put her into 2nd gear-- that would put the regen into full green, without touching the brakes. At some point last Fall I noticed that that same exact maneuver would produce regen about 2/3's. Sometimes the SOC would make huge instant drops, from two thirds full to one third just a second later, maybe a brief acceleration from a stop light and a sudden drop. It did not do that my first 8 or 9 months owning the car! Sometimes a sudden jump up on the SOC, but more often down.

Sometimes the IMA would behave just as it should. The frequency of the misbehavior was increasing. At 78,000 miles I brought it to PS Honda on Long Island. I did not purchase this car from them and I have only brought my car to them for warranty items so I don't think they are in love with me (my air conditioner compressor and right window motor were replaced during the 12,000 miles when I had bumper-to-bumper coverage).

I had a Service Required light on but had decided at this time anyway that I wanted to bring the car in about my IMA issue. I told them about the light and described to them my various IMA symptoms and how it was behaving differently and that I had to much more aggressively "manage the battery" and that its misbehavior had been increasing in frequency.

They told me that the Service light was a reminder to get a 15,000 mile service (it did not come on at 75,000 miles, but more like 77,000). I got the 15,000 mile service from them and they reset the display light. They said that I should drive the car around a bit more and see if the IMA misbehavior continued and/or the light came back on.

The IMA misbehavior continued to worsen in behavior and frequency, but the display did not come back on. I brought the car back to PS Honda at 79,500 miles and told them that my IMA was worse than it was at 78,000 miles, described its behavior and its symptoms and my view that the battery was in the process of failure.

I don't think that they did any more examination than ask me if any dashboard light was on display! I was told that my battery was fine and sent home.

Last week while on business to Pennsylvania was my last with IMA. It behaved the worst ever. At each and every second for over an hour of driving, it behaved as though it were totally empty or totally full. It would force regen until it could take no more charge. Then it would aggressively use electric assist but take no charge, until it was empty, and begin the cycle again. At all times, the SOC lagged behind whatever was actually the state of the battery, more than ever.

About an hour or so into my day's driving, the IMA gave out altogether, at 80,289 on my odometer. IMA lit up to the right, and a little engine icon lit up to the left. A credit to the car's engineering: you could almost see the computer take cognizance of the situation, and feel it disengage the IMA from the rest of the propulsion. I was able to continue driving the car.

Now if I had a Toyota hybrid...I'm calling AAA, and my trip is toast! I briefly thought of turning around and getting the car to the dealer ASAP but it was an important meeting that had been delayed 3 times by mid-week snow storms; I really needed to get to Reading and conduct my business!

I returned the next morning and presented my car to PS Honda with 80,600 on my odometer, just over 300 miles after the IMA completely failed.

I was called later. They told me that a Honda rep just happened to be there that afternoon and they apprised him of my situation and so decided to look into my car that day (I had been told they wouldn't get to it until Monday). They actually examined the car this time. I was told that the NiMH battery had indeed suffered a complete failure and that my control module was fine; the whole situation was the NiMH battery.

They told me that the Honda rep authorized them to do me the following "favor": charge me 25% of what Honda charges to put a replacement NiMH battery into an Insight-I. I was told that Honda charges $3,000 that I should agree to pay $750. The $3,000 ($750 to me) gets you a Honda refurbished battery pack that is guaranteed for 36 months/36,000 miles. I should add that he first told me that I was getting a "new" battery and I told him to please check on that and also would I be getting 80,000 miles on this next battery?, and that's when he got back to me and said that the battery was not new and that the warranty was not the same length as for the original battery.

I was told that this was a good deal for me because 1) I was not the original owner and; 2) the failure occurred outside the warranty.

I responded that not only had I in fact purchased this car Honda certified but that the NiMH warranty in any case applied to any owner for the mileage and age limits and that I would have the same rights under that battery's warranty if I was the sixth owner and had bought it from an individual. "Oh yeah, I suppose that's true," I was told!

I also responded that I took issue with their contention that this matter was not really under warranty. I also mentioned there is a gentleman on Staten Island who does a very good job with this and does so for $1,200 and so in my eyes, $750 represents about 2/3's of the cost of a replacement, not one-fourth!

Anyway, I wanted them to order the part and get the process in motion so I gave a verbal OK to their deal. I am thinking of presenting these facts to Honda of Danbury and to Honda USA in an attempt to get Honda to do the right thing and perform this repair as completely under warranty.

I'm also reserving to myself the option of paying them the $750 to get the car back, and then suing PS Honda and Honda USA in my county's Small Claims Court to get the full amount back.

Now, as to the rest of my business trip: I am AMAZED at how well this amazing car did with zero use of its electric motor for the 300+ miles that I drove it that way!!!

First I reset the MPG computer right after the IMA failure occurred; I was near Newark Airport where I-78 begins and I, as above, HAD to get to Reading, Pa. and so decided to press on! My dashboard display is always conservative by 2-4 miles per gallon and when I got home at the end of my 311 miles or so of driving the car on the ICE only -- display reads 64.1 MPG, could that actually be correct??? I did not manually check this trip by the tankful but only have the trip display to go by but I have checked up on the dashboard periodically in the past and as above, have found it to be conservative.

I use all of those questions marks because I would have expected that MPG, or less, for this trip, taken mostly highway driving but Winter gasoline. I was stunned by the MPGs that this little champ delivered as a conventional gasoline car, if in fact that is what she achieved. Is there anything about the disengagement of the IMA that could cause the display computer to go from, more or less accurate, to inaccurate? If not, then this car achieved 65 or 66 MPG for the portion of this trip without the IMA.

I-78 in New Jersey, there is slight mountainous terrain in the western part of the state approaching the Pennsylvania border. Say an increase in elevation from 300 feet to 800 feet in maybe a couple of minutes; minor stuff compared to what REAL mountains present. Anyway, this minor mountain terrain did prove to be very difficult for the ICE only Insight to handle and there were a couple of times that I was unable to maintain 50 MPH and people were swinging left to zip around me.

Also, in local driving, any start from a stop with any level of uphill proved to be very difficult too. Even a slight uphill from a stop had her behaving like a golf cart. Pretty much anything uphill, or any need for real acceleration, had her behaving like a golf cart.

Nevertheless, I achieved...or seem to have achieved...this incredible 65 MPG figure and might I add that I was often driving 60-63 MPH when on the Interstate; this was not a Wayne Gerdes special, I drove the car as "real" as I could.

My conclusion, or take on this: the IMA does not achieve the Insight-I's incredible MPGs, the ICE does that all by itself. The IMA simply enables the car to be a "real" car that people can actually live with or even enjoy (I think that the Insight I is actually every bit as sporty and "fun" as the CRZ except the CRZ gets relatively unimpressive mileage, but I digress!) Without the IMA, almost anyone would find the Insight-I to be a very difficult car to like and enjoy and rely on to accelerate into traffic and onto highways. But again, my take is that the IMA does not contribute to this car's MPGs but simply enables the ICE capable of producing these MPGs to get an extra boost when under load.

I would appreciate comments on my warranty issue, and comments on the MPGs that I SEEM to have achieved without the IMA.
 
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