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I'm a 17 year old female and my 2001 Honda Insight manual transmission is my first car, although I have had my license and I've been driving cars for 2 years. I purchased this vehicle less than 2 months ago after driving my father's Honda odyssey for a year and loving everything about it besides the gas mileage it got and the size. After only having it for less than 2 months I'm starting to have some issues that seems pretty serious. First thing I noticed, after a week of driving the check engine light came on then went off about a day later and it's been doing that almost every week since I got the car and I don't know what this means.. Next I am only getting 42 MPG and other people seem to get MUCH better. I am missing both rear fender skirts, and I suspect that the loss of aerodynamics is the cause? I do not think it is my driving, although I have only been driving manual for less than 2 months, because I shift at 2500 RPMs and I'm very cautious and careful with driving. The first big issue I've face has been that I tried to drive to work and the clutch felt like it began to engage less than an inch from being pushed in all the way which was very unusual as it usually engages when it is halfway compressed. After driving for about 30 minutes I lost second gear completely then first and barely made it to my destination. I contacted the man I bought the car from and he told me to buy hydraulics fluid for the clutch and try that and I put it in and then pumped the clutch for a bit then had it bled and the clutch went back to normal and the car began to drive perfect again EXCEPT a harsh grinding sound whenever I shift into second gear unless I am at a COMPLETE stop. I've been to a few mechanics to see what they think and I've been given an estimate for $900 and told I need a new clutch and then an estimate of $1800 and told I need a new clutch and an entire new transmission.. The people who have given me these estimates are not very trustworthy mechanics. I have read people on here saying it is a synchro issue? I am not sure what the problem is but can anyone help me out? I do not know too much about cars as I am a 17 year old girl.. but I cannot afford an $1800 fix but I do a lot of driving and made an investment in this new car I was very excited about and I want it to be running correctly as I am not an extremely experienced driver and I don't want to be in danger.
 

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Please help me out guys :(

In need of people who know a lot more than I do to help out. My parents don't really know much about cars. I don't want to spend money on something I can't afford when it is not necessary.
 

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I'm no transmission expert and I've never taken the Insight transmission apart. But based on what I've read here and there around IC, it sounds like you might have the common 'synchro' and/or clocking tab issue - sounds like you've read a bit about that. Search for '2nd gear grind' and 'synchro' and get up to speed on what those are all about. As far as I know, the transmission will have to be pulled out...

KLYR4CYL (something like that) at IC - I think he owns 'Jue Motors' on the west coast - rebuilds Insight transmissions and sells them for I think $800. If you can swap the transmissions or find someone to do it for you that might be one option, though still probably a lot more $ than you have to spare. But if you had to spend about that much anyway, it'd probably be best to spend it somewhere that can be trusted, has a good reputation around here, etc.

Other than that, pulling the transmission, taking some of it apart, finding the clocking tab and grinding it down, and maybe replacing a syncro or something, doesn't seem like the lightest job for an inexperienced mechanic... Not to say it couldn't be done though...

Hopefully others with more experience will chime-in...
 

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Sounds like a leaking clutch master or slave cylinder caused you to be shifting without the clutch fully disengaged.

This ate up synchros/exacerbated the clocking tab issues in the tranny. Unfortunate but fixable. You don't need a new clutch, but you do probably need a master cylinder and a rebuilt tranny from Scott KLR3CYL. Give him a call and see what he can do for you.

If you shop around, you can get a transmission RnR on this car for $250-275.
 

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The 2nd gear problem can probably be ignored for a long time. You MAY need to replace the master and/or the slave cylinder.

You need to get the code read to determine the CEL problem. Go to Autozone, or another parts place, have it read, and report back here.

Don't worry about the gas mileage for now. Much of this depends on how and where you drive.

You really need another Insighter to drive your car. Who's in Atlanta? I know it's a big place, but I bet she would be willing to come to where you are.

Sam
 

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If the former owner advised to buy and use more hydraulic fluid, then he seems to know what the problems is. I strongly suspect that you have a failure in the clutch hydraulic system. You are losing the clutch hydraulic fluid from a leak somewhere. There are 3 potential sources of the leak:
1. The clutch master cylinder is attached to the clutch pedal by a short rod and can leak. If it leaks, most times it will leak the fluid down the firewall where the back part of the cylinder comes through the firewall. You can see the leaking fluid on the carpet, foam padding, or metal firewall. It will have to be replaced if leaking.
2. The clutch slave cylinder is attached to the transmission at the engine end(fat end) on the front. It too can leak with obvious fluid spillage spread around. It will have to be replaced if leaking.
3. A third source of leaking is the short rubber hose at the transmission. This is not quite as likely as the other two.

Adding fluid, and bleeding the system, is a very temporary fix for this type problem, but it can keep you going for a day or two. Pumping the pedal also helps - sometimes. If it is bad enough, then nothing really helps but repair. The quicker you can repair it, the better.

Though there is a 2nd gear synchronizer weakness with these cars, most of the transmission issues you discuss are PROBABLY caused by the clutch problems. Fix the clutch first.

Paying Honda to work on these cars is a very expensive way to maintain them. Most folks here call the dealers "stealers" for good reason. Most folks here try to make their own repairs for this reason. You can get repair directions, as well as some very helpful illustrations of the clutch system, by downloading pages 13-3 through 13-7 of the Service manual from this site in the stickies section.

Good luck and let us know what you see.
-------------------
Later:

This link is helpful in reading trouble codes and finding applicable threads:
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1bLUyuFXWywH0PIzTXYtT6UprBNkOtjnWh5PFKjDFylA/pubhtml

Can someone post a working link to the Service Manual? The link I have bookmarked doesn't seem to work any more.

BTW, these parts can be ordered from rockauto.com at much lower prices than original Honda OEM parts ;-)
 

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Missing rear fender skirts would increase aerodynamic drag, but the effect wouldn't be noticeable in urban driving. Your car might also be missing the plastic covers under the engine (fairly common) which would increase drag. But even at highway speeds, the increased drag wouldn't result in your fuel efficiency being so low.

Incorrect tires would increase rolling resistance which would reduce fuel efficiency at all speeds. The original tires, 165/65R14 Bridgestone Potenza RE92, are the most fuel-efficient available. The wrong tires could easily result in a loss of 5 mpg. When you need to replace your tires, consider buying the original tires for best fuel efficiency.

Low tire inflation pressure can also reduce fuel efficiency, so check that your tires are inflated to at least the recommended inflation pressure. Many Insight owners increase the inflation pressure to reduce rolling resistance which increases fuel efficiency. Higher inflation pressures will result in a rougher ride, so if your roads aren't very smooth, you might not want to increase your inflation pressure too much. I run 44 psi in the front (the maximum inflation pressures printed on the sidewall of a RE92) and 41 in the rear.

Running the A/C will reduce fuel efficiency considerably.

Your engine should turn off (autostop) when you are stopped at a stop light which Honda estimates could increase fuel efficiency by as much as 15% in urban driving. But for this to occur, you must not shift into 1st gear until you are ready to proceed. If the A/C is on, it must be in the "ECON" mode for autostop to occur.

Your check engine light could mean that something is wrong with the engine that could cause it to run less efficiently. So definitely have the diagnostic trouble code (DTC) read and report the DTC to this forum for suggestions.
 

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k: welcome to the forum. Sorry to hear of your troubles. Good advice is given above.

Consider talking to Scott Kulbeck, he's the #1 mechanic and at Jue Motors in Covina, CA. He goes by KLR3CYL here on IC. He is likely the best Insight transmission guy in the country. Very nice, professional, and honest man. Many of us have met him and all can speak for his abilities. He can confirm what others above have said, and maybe provide some advice over the phone (he wears an earpiece while at his job).

If you can't get through to him right away, be patient and try again, he works 10-12 hours a day while also taking phone calls. Pm'd his phone number.
edit: it would very beneficial to have any codes the car has set before calling Scott, as Sam (rainsux) mentioned above.

Then perhaps an Insighter in your area (there are some) can assist in some manner.

Good luck and keep us posted, we all learn from each others' experiences.
 

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Fix the clutch hydraulic problems first! You can then do a more accurate transmission assessment. Clutch repairs are rather inexpensive compared to transmission repairs. I certainly agree that Scott is the best in the country on transmissions, but you may not need him yet.

How many miles on the car?

Someone in Atlanta please help this young lady diagnose her problems first hand:)
 

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My 2nd gear synchro grinds, but only when downshifting for some reason. I am able to avoid the grinding altogether if, when I downshift, keeping the clutch fulling pressed, I push the shift towards 1st gear before putting it into second. This may not help you if yours is also grinding when shifting up from 1st to 2nd. It seems that these synchro problems are common in the Insight.
 

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Thank you for the nice referrals.

It does sound like a hydraulic issue, very common to be the clutch master cylinder. We did 10 of them last year. Check inside the car to see if the fluid is leaking down the inside of the firewall.

In that part of the country isn't "TopFuelTim" from GA? Try looking him up in the member profiles, IIRC he has Aprox 7 Insights and maybe able to assist.

I'm also easy to reach by phone, 909-605-3810.

Scott
 

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My 2nd gear synchro grinds, but only when downshifting for some reason. I am able to avoid the grinding altogether if, when I downshift, keeping the clutch fulling pressed, I push the shift towards 1st gear before putting it into second. This may not help you if yours is also grinding when shifting up from 1st to 2nd. It seems that these synchro problems are common in the Insight.
In manual transmissions, downshifts have always been more stressful than upshifts. This is because the closure rate between the synchronizer hub and the target gear decreases as input shaft speeds drop. The opposite is true for downshifts. This is the primary reason that reason that the technique of double clutching works so effectively.

Having sports car racing experience, I always double clutch the Insight into 2nd gear because I think it helps save the fragile 2nd gear synchro. It becomes second nature if practiced.

I "think" that your technique of pushing the lever against 1st gear before engaging second relies on spinning up the common 1st/2nd synchro hub. If I am correct, then you are putting a lot of stress on the 1st gear synchro cones and that will also wear quickly. Better to double clutch on downshifts. Perhaps Scott will speak to this.
 

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what does double clutching mean?
Old truck driver method for tranny's with no synchros. Helps match speeds of input shaft and the gear being selected.

On upshifts: (not needed for the Insight 3rd to 2nd and 2nd to 1st grind)

- clutch in, shift to neutral, clutch out. Allow engine rpm (and tranny input shaft) to fall down to required rpm for next higher gear. Clutch in, shift to next higher gear.

On downshifts: (this is the one that helps us with the grind)

- clutch in, shift to neutral, clutch out. Bump fuel a bit to bump engine rpm up to required rpm for next LOWER gear. DONT bump fuel and rpm too much, a few hundred rpm does the job. Clutch in, shift to next lower gear.

It's all about timing and rythym (sp ?). If you've seen the tv show the Addams family, their intro jingle music had the family snapping their fingers, that's about the pace for each clutch depression.
 

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Did you do a simple look for leaks in the locations I outlined. No expertise required to do that - only a flashlight;)
 

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Discussion Starter #18
The inside of the doors are blue. The guy I purchased it from said the blue paint was rusting so he painted it all black. Poor paint job if you saw it in real life, but I don't really care at all I love the car.
 

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Well I'm no longer in search of advice or help diagnosing the problems. Tonight I was driving home from my job at Domino's pizza and I was on a small road and the person in front of me came to a stop to turn left so I also came to a stop and the person behind me wasn't paying attention and smashed into the back of me going about 45 mph and I believe my 2001 insight MT is a goner :( I only had it for 2 months and I loved the car.
 

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Oh wow... so sorry to hear that! Hopefully you are unscathed and healthy! I can't believe how many people I know that have been rear ended in the same manner. Big cars, little cars, it just doesn't seem to matter when the person behind you is in a hurry or is texting or fiddling with the radio. My friend just bought a white car in hopes of not being hit from behind.
Again, hoping you are doing well!
 
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