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http://www.chicagotribune.com/classifie ... 9446.story

The original hybrid gas-electric car, the Honda Insight, is about to have a senior moment that could show us what the future holds for the gas/electrics that followed the revolutionary car onto the road.

When the Insight went on sale eight years ago as a 2000 model, Honda said the expensive and complicated battery pack and electric motor would last for the life of the car.

Pinned down about what that meant, company's engineers said eight to 10 years.

The window for costly repair and replacement just opened. The view looks OK, despite some battery problems that bear watching as the years and miles add up.

The Insight remains a favorite with its owners. Honda's sporty two-seat hatchback amazed people when it debuted in 1999 with claims of 61 m.p.g. in the city and 70 m.p.g. on the highway. The Insight's star faded when Toyota rolled out the more practical four-door Prius a year later.

Honda won't say how many batteries it has replaced in the 13,886 Insights it sold but calls it a small number. Honda paid for the replacements through warranties, spokesman Chuck Schifsky said.

A replacement battery pack would cost about $3,000. Honda won't say when it stopped building the Insight, but it sold the last new one -- a 2006 -- in April.

Older Insights and Priuses get raves from Consumer Reports readers, said David Champion, the magazine's director of automotive testing.

"The Insight has always been above average to excellent," Champion said. "The first-year Prius gets five-star ratings for excellent reliability."

The fuel economy for the 2000 Insight that Consumer Reports tracks has fallen off somewhat.

"It could be the battery has weakened. It could be the novelty has worn off and it's driven normally," Champion said.

The most common problems have been with mufflers and exhaust systems, engine computers and instrument panels, said Joe Ivers, J.D. Power's executive director of quality and customer satisfaction.

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Copyright © 2007, Chicago Tribune
 

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Fuel economy from a engineering perspective

I'd like to add that the Honda Insight is engineered very precisely and as a system. Even having different tyres put on, or under-inflated ones will significantly alter the performance of the car, IMA coming on more, battery dropping faster.

One other problem, and a problem on many honda Insights: the emissions systems. The EGR valve, the catalytic converter system all tie into the gas mileage. With cheaper grades of gas in the states, these parts wear out quicker; when they do, gas mileage and performance suffer greatly. Also, strange weather patterns, very hot to very cold suddenly do impact the computer memory-as it takes an average of conditions.

Replacing the low resistance stock wheels with non-OEM's will hurt economy. The valves on the engine should also be examined and checked as well as using the correct spark plugs (letter A-D) listed on the engine with correct torque. Only honda motor oil and spark plugs should be used period.

Doing these things to the letter, I'm confident that most Insights can regain the original mileage specs with one caveat, batteries will wear over time and this can diminish economy.
 

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Re: Fuel economy from a engineering perspective

jl47 said:
Only honda motor oil and spark plugs should be used period.

.[/quote


What is so special about Honda motor oil and plugs? A full synthetic 0W-20 will perform as good if not better than Honda OEM non-synthetic 0W-20.
 

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Re: Fuel economy from a engineering perspective

jl47 said:
Only honda motor oil and spark plugs should be used period.
I agree that only Honda spark plugs should be used because they are "indexed" and you can buy four different patterns based upon the stamped letters on your cylinder head. Installing the proper spark plug will insure correct alignment of the electrode for optimal performance. I don't know of any other spark plugs that you can purchase elsewhere that would install and align correctly (without using washers to change the alignment).

As for the motor oil from Honda, I agree with Scott that a full synthetic 0W-20 will perform as good if not better than Honda OEM non-synthetic 0W-20.

JoeCVT - Just your average CVT owner
 
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