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Discussion Starter #1
I bought a 2001 Insight back in April, before gas prices started to spike. Up until last Friday, I felt it to be a shrewd purchase, since it was saving me about $45 for every 600 miles traveled.
Last Thursday I rotated the tires, making sure that all four skirt anchor screws were tight. Friday afternoon, the passenger side wheel skirt flew off on the freeway. Fortunately, the airborne skirt did not strike another vehicle, but it was completely destroyed. I lost both anchor screws, and the rear attachment flange was bent outwards. The cost of replacing the skirt and screws and repairing the body is well over $300. That's all the money I've saved on gasoline since I bought the car.
While it's not as scary as a chunk of foam insulation falling off a Shuttle fuel tank, a flying wheel skirt has the potential to cause significant harm beyond the staggering cost of replacing the parts. I've been researching this problem and have learned enough to lead me to believe that it's a serious problem that Honda is probably aware of, but not willing to acknowledge or to compensate owners for their losses.
A couple of bits of information stand out: In Edmund's lengthy review of the 2000 Honda Insight after a 15,000 mile test, the team noted the loss of a wheel skirt. This problem goes back to the introduction of the vehicle and is documented.
Also, I was surprised that my dealer was able to get the replacement skirt ($225) and screws ($15 each) in less than a day from the local warehouse. By comparison, when I special-ordered a cabin air filter (supposedly a routine maintenance item) it took almost a week.
How is it that a wheel skirt on such a low-volume production vehicle is so readily available? Has the replacement of lost and damaged wheel skirts become a profit center for Honda?
I welcome any Insight owner who has lost a wheel skirt to respond with comments. I'd like to know how common this problem is, and perhaps form of group of concerned owners to help focus Honda's attention on solving it. :!:
 

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spats and spat fasteners

Hi TXHondaFan,

if the Dzus fasteners that came with the car are properly reinstalled, you shouldn't have a problem. Although some people have had trouble with them, I've removed the spats every time I wash the car, and have never had so much as a fastener come loose.

At the price you paid for that spat, I'm not surprised it was in stock! There's probably a much better mark up on the spat than there is on a cabin air filter (which you can also get at an auto parts store).

BTW, there's not much point in rotating the tires on this car. Just let the fronts wear out and replace them as needed. The rear tires should last a long, long time. All the rears do back there is hold up the back end of the car, and a little braking (more or less)....
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the reply, but I'm looking for something more substantial. It doesn't make sense to stock an expensive body part unless there's a demand for it. How many silver Insights might there be in the DFW Metro area? I understand Honda makes maybe 60 to 90 per month, dispersed across the entire US. I'm a car watcher, and I drive about 250 miles per week on major freeways. In the past six months, I've seen just three other silver Insights. One of them was missing a wheel skirt.

Poor guy. He probably couldn't afford to replace it.
 

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Me too, almost.

Tis a common thing amonst us.
Didn't have mine for a whole hour before the driver's side tried to get away. Lucky me, my daughter was following me and radioed an alert that 'something's flapping' on the car. The used car lot detailer kid seems to loose those screws regularly. The skirt was 'attached' with a piece of wire and one loose Dzus screw. I bought spares from the dealer at the usual ripoff steep prices and put 'star washer' lock washers under all four. No more loose screws.
'Cept fur th' one behinden da wheel! :wink:
 

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Lost Skirts, Don't trust tire shop weenies, Worn rear tires

Hi TXHondaFan,

With 140k wicked miles on my insight I have had three skirt problems.

One was when I was four-wheeling on some rocky/dirt roads and
ran over a sage brush. I herd something wrong right away and pulled over
and found one of the skirts, partially off, scraping the ground. I guess
I was lucky that the rear screw came out. All was saved with a new screw
from Honda. (that is one expensive screw!)

The other two times were when bozo tire shop weenies didn't latch
the screw correctly. I asked both of them if they knew what they
were doing, and all they did was stick it in and didn't rotate it
correctly. Both of these times I double checked the skirts at the
next stoplight, after the tire shops, and found the skirts loose but
not detached.

To Jim,
We have a lot of curvy roads in SoCal and I have worn out the rear tires at about
half the rate of the fronts.

Regards,
Thomas
 

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I actually autox (race) my Insight, and I have been asked by the SCCA safety steward to remove the wheel skirts as they pose a threat of detaching from the car at high speeds or while cornering hard. They also make you take the center caps or hub caps off the wheels for safety. I don't believe that the wheels skirts would ever come off, if attached correctly, but it makes it much easier to get to the valve stems to check the tire pressure in between runs.

Now I can take this thread to the next event and show the people that always say I'm cheating when I remove the wheel skirts.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks for the replies and input. I hope to hear from more Insight owners with flying wheel skirts and depleted wallets.

Call me obsessive, but tomorrow I'm calling my dealer to find out just how many wheel skirts are in stock at the local parts warehouse. Then I'm going to see if I can figure out how many Honda Insights are on the road in the metro area. The ratio will be part of the answer to my question, because it will give me some idea of what Honda anticipates the rate of loss (or sales) will be. I have to assume that Honda is at least as savvy as Wal-Mart in determining what parts inventories should be.
 

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Sorry to read about your skirt problem and the sticker shock that went with it. Just don't forget to check stock of all the other colors too :p ;)

Seriously, as others have replied with just a bit of care the factory fasteners don't fail. Its just that without the care the results are expensive.

There are some stainless fasteners that are available in bulk in the after market. Those switching praise their merits of a more obvious locking "feel". Maybe its time to try another group buy :?:

http://www.insightcentral.net/forum/vie ... php?t=1559

HTH! :)
 

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Ready availability does not necessarily suggest that the loss of wheel skirts is frequent. It could indicate just the opposite - that they have a small quantity of them but rarely (if ever) "run out" as a result of extremely low demand. Cabin air filters are probrably replaced a hundred times as frequently as wheel skirts, so it only stands to reason that they are far more likely to be out of stock on those.

I've heard of a couple of people having the wheel skirts come off one time during their ownership of the car, but your post marks the first time I've heard of a wheel skirt coming off in such a catastrophic fashion that there was any damage to it aside from the loss of a screw.

Usually when the skirt comes off, it remains vertical and the bottom plastic drags on the ground. This is because it's attached in two places and the remaining screw holds it to the car and upright if the other comes loose. Losing both screws simultaneously, as would have been the case in your instance, seems like a very uncommon occurance.
 

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i hold my wheel skirts on with large black ty-wraps. i keep a pair of cutters in my small tool kit in the car, and some spare ty-wraps. no way those things are coming off without a lot of help.

andy g.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Again, thanks for the comments. It does sound to me like the threat of losing a wheel skirt is a problem that owners have encountered and learned to deal with. I would hope that more owners who visit the forum will chime in with their experiences.

I know my view may sound a bit jaundiced, but if every owner eventually loses a wheel skirt, then it would make sense for Honda to stock an extra wheel skirt or two for every vehicle shipped. And which makes more economic sense? Stage a recall and rework the anchor system, or continue selling $225 skirts and $15 bolts?

Based on what I'm hearing and reading, it's almost an inevitable occurrence, because new owners aren't warned about the possibilities up front. Mechanics may not be familiar with the lock screws, which also sets owners for losing one.

I do most of my own routine maintenance. I've changed oil and filters on the four to five Hondas we have owned over the past decade, plus a Nissan van, and I've never failed to tighten an oil filter or an oil plug. I know that all four of those anchor screws were tight when my Insight rolled out, so I feel somewhat the victim of a questionable design.

On the other hand, with gasoline marching toward $3 per gallon and this car averaging about 52 mpg (automatic with air conditioning on most of the time) I will be eternally grateful to Honda for producing it, and I appreciate the fact that the the company absorbs a loss on every unit it sells. I suppose I really can't complain too much!
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Question for Wayne M

I picked up four star washers as insurance against losing another spat. But I can't see how I can snap them on, as the end of the screw is latched and inaccessible. Any tips?
 

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lost BOTH of mine on my first freeway trip. well...didn't actually "lose" them since neither of the screws actually came off, but both came all the way unsnapped at some point on the trip. In 130 miles: drivers side came off completely (just hanging on by the screws, which I don't think are factory) THREE times, and the passenger side, twice. now, i'm not sure what i did right the third and second time, respectively, that i put them back on, but, <shrugs> they're holding.
 

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NEVER let anyone else remove or install your skirts. When I had the tires replaced, the tech straightened out one of the aluminum tabs on the car and the skirt was loose. I will remove them myself.
 

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Heck, when i got my tires replaced I not only took the skirts off but also removed the lug nut covers.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Replacement spats

As I suspected, the Insight's wheel spats have presented owners with some unwelcome and expensive surprises. I appreciate all the informative postings.

I called my parts guy at the local Honda dealership and asked him to check on the availability of replacement wheel spats. Nationwide, he was able to locate two passenger's side silver spats, one driver's side silver spat, and NONE of any other color.

Other colors are on back order with a considerable wait.

I don't know if this means Honda can't keep up with demand, or if there is no real demand, and therefore, no need to stock them.

For what it's worth, I put the replacement spat on, taking great care to be sure all the tabs engaged and the screws were tight. So far, it seems to be holding fine. Call it a lesson learned...the hard way.
 

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If anyone needs a drivers side red one I have a spare.
 

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Do you still have the red spare wheel cover?

If anyone needs a drivers side red one I have a spare.
Unfortunately, I lost a red one last night. I am looking for a used and wondered if anyone reading the forum might have one that they would like to sell?
 
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