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Hypermiler
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
This is not an original work; it is a compilation of ideas and comments. With the addition of further comments this can become the reference we can link for the potential 'new' buyer.

" Buying a used 2000-2006 Honda Insight: What problems to watch for."

Frequently asked and often replied to, much valuable information is provided throughout the forum. A summary and list posted by Darin Cosgrove, MetroMPG on EcoModder.com, is often referred to in part or whole, and has been noted as one of the more thorough. Darin's list is provided below, and with the blessings of many, comments and links have been added.

Recognizing the vast numbers of suggestions made by many G1 owners, it is not possible to credit every idea and author. No offense is intended by the omission of any person or their suggestion.

***Print this out and take it with you when you check out your 'new' G1.***

A good place to start is the Interactive Encyclopedia on the InsightCentral (IC) homepage to become familiar with Insight terminology such as: SOC, regen/assist, IMA, lean burn, CVT and more.

Bear in mind these are a 'tinkerers' car that require a little bit of know-how and a lot of willingness.

Many G1 issues can be reasonably resolved, and can be negotiation factors on price. In this "sticky" are Common Topics & FAQ's with more information addressing many of those issues.

Model year 2000 was available with manual transmission only. The CVT model was introduced in the US in 2001. Unless modified, US CVT models do not have lean burn capability.

MetroMPG's original post

MetroMPG's 'summary' and list, plus added comments in ..... italic, and links:

Summary:

IMA hybrid battery pack condition
Catalytic converter
Driveability issues in lean burn from clogged EGR
Corroded drivetrain-to-chassis ground straps
Weak 12 volt battery problems
Manual transmission problems
CVT judder
Missing original equipment (tires/aero panels)
Other corrosion points (fuel/brake lines)
Cracked engine mount
Rear shock absorbers
Misc

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..... Initial key on (don't start car yet), verify trouble lights work, especially check engine light on left and IMA light on the right of the dash cluster.
..... Car should start straight from the ima battery smooth and quiet, almost instantly, not from the 12v starter like a non-hybrid that cranks over a few times, except when very cold.
..... Any trouble lights remaining lit, should have codes read. This spread sheet put up by AbCaRed00 (Bill) contains almost every trouble code related to an Insight. There are dozens of other links as well.


1) IMA hybrid battery pack condition

Expect it to die at about the ~10 year mark, if it hasn't been replaced yet.

..... At this writing, '05 and '06 model may have warranty yet in effect dependent on original sale location of car. Be wary of Honda name brand refurbished packs, they typically last only 1-3 years, some have limited warranty.

It will last that longer if used every day. It will die a lot sooner if the car sits unused for an extended period.

If it is dead or ailing, there are several options that shouldn't scare the ecomodding type away (if the price is right, of course): You can refurbish one yourself; have it rebuilt; buy & install a used one; or buy new.

..... see bumblebeebatteries (Eli), evpowers.com (Eric), hybridrevolt.com (Matt), solarvan.co.uk (Peter). These IC member/vendors produce replacement units that are superior to the original manufacturer, as many owners will attest to.

Consider buying a grid charger to extend high voltage battery life, see HyrbridAutomotive (Jeff), or HybridReVolt (Matt).

..... also see bumblebeebatteries, evpowers, solarvan.co.uk. Easy diy install. If electrically skilled, build your own. Member olrowdy01 has a list of materials for his diy version. Grid chargers are a good 'pack maintenance tool' for the G1, more so when combined with discharge capability.

Or you can just drive the car with a dead pack (with IMA disabled), as I have been doing. You can still get phenomenal fuel economy, with some operational oddities. See hybridautomotive bypass procedure. I have a thread about my cars' performance with this bypass.

..... Test drive. As Willie says: "drive it like you stole it". Find a good incline if possible or a nice long stretch that allows a lengthy and hard acceleration, work the IMA hard. Try the 'Sport' mode (S) on cvt model. Use lots of assist, see if the SOC drops like a rock, or steps down incrementally as it should. The opposite with regen on the decent and slow downs. A weak pack will show itself with heavy exercise.

..... If it codes, (IMA light comes on), get the code read. If it's a P1447, or P1449 (subcode 78 ) battery module deterioration, (out of balance pack), grid charging often rejuvenates the pack. This can become a negotiated factor on the price. Grid charger contacts and code spreadsheet mentioned above.

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2) Catalytic converter

If the cat code is lit, it could be an $1,200 (US) problem (new), or ~800 used depending on availability of used parts. Can be rebuilt for ~$300-400.

..... lack of power with heavy throttle and assist is an indicator of potential cat clogging. Some cat codes are erroneous and were corrected with an ECM upgrade, or installation of an anti-fouler plug.

Heat shields rust and rattle on both cats... use stainless hose clamps.

..... 'Cat to cat rattle' Donut gasket under the 1st Cat commonly dries and falls out resulting in rattle. Easily heard at low speeds. Rusty bolts sometimes difficult to remove.

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..... O2 sensor: primary sensor is pricey (around $130), easy diy install. A faulty primary sensor sometimes causes lean burn issues, can cause cat issues with improper air/fuel ratio. CEL will be lit, and will flash associated code.

3) Driveability issues in lean burn from clogged EGR

A jerky low-load engine hesitation seems somewhat common on older, high km/miles cars. The EGR valve & manifold can clog, and results in engine bucking when transitioning into lean burn, or when throttle position is changed while already in lean burn.

Many owners have resolved this simply by disassembling & cleaning the EGR system (manifold and/or valve).

..... or replacing the egr valve, easy diy.

If you've never driven a lean burn Honda engine before, you may find the lean burn transitions a little unsettling until you get used to it.

..... car will go into lean burn after warmed up and above 2nd gear. While cruising, gently ease up throttle slightly, mpg scale should increase 20-40 mpg. A sensation of some power loss will be noticed, this is normal while in lean burn. Car will periodically drop out of lean burn to "purge" the cat converter, then go back into lean burn on its own. A sensation of power surge will be noticed during purge, this is normal. The mpg scale will drop some during purge.

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4) Corroded drivetrain-to-chassis ground straps/cables

This can prevent the car's "back up" 12 volt engine starter from working, and other IMA issues & random dashboard lights to pop up.

Most of the time, the ICE is started via the hybrid motor/generator. But the 12v starter is occasionally summoned by the car's computer, depending on ambient temperature, or if the hybrid functions are manually disabled (via the IMA - Integrated Motor Assist - ON/OFF switch). (bypass procedure above.)

The cables/straps corrode internally. There are 3 to replace: two cables under the air filter, plus the battery ground cable.

..... ground strap pics

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5) Weak 12 volt battery

Make sure the 12v battery is in good shape; the car really does not exercise it very well. An ailing 12v battery will cause issues similar to the ground strap problems.

A dying 12v will not necessarily be obvious, since the engine is normally started using the IMA motor & high voltage battery.

..... As Wille suggests, get an inexpensive 12v battery meter (plugs into in cabin power outlet) from Walmart or such to bring with you. Autozone and the such will often 'load test' a 12v battery for no charge.
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Hypermiler
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3,650 Posts
Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
6) Manual transmission problems

Synchros: Second gear synchro is a weak point. You'll know if these are worn if the car won't shift smoothly, and/or "grinds" when shifting (especially when shifting quickly, and/or when the transmission is cold).

..... 3rd to 2nd, 2nd to 1st 'grind'. Common issue on the mt. Double clutching will allow continued use without further damage.

Input shaft bearing: symptom is a low growling sound in first or reverse gears under power. Noise goes away in higher gears or if you turn up the radio.

..... several diy'ers have repaired their own mts. Member KLR3CYL Scott, and others repair mt's when time allows, the repair includes a mod to the synchros which prevents recurrence.

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7) CVT (continuously variable transmission) judder

CVT tranny has "judder" issues caused by dirty fluid, if you are lucky. CVT fluid is pricy and requires a lot for a flush. CVT clutch pack is a less likely the issue, but more easily fixed.

..... Use of Honda name brand CVT fluid is crucial. Pricy, but needed. Check fluid level and color, should be 'yellowish-brown' NOT red like automatic transmission fluid. Red ATF is detrimental to the G1 CVT.

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8] Missing original equipment (tires/aero panels)

LRR tires: Does it have Bridgestone Potenza RE92's, in size 165/65/r14, with good tread? Insight owners swear by the fuel economy benefits of these Insight-specific low rolling resistance tires. You will want them on your car.

.... The tire for mpg. Pricy, but fuel savings recoups cost. A loss of 10 mpg is not uncommon with other tires.

Aerodynamic underbody panels: Is the full suit of panels there? Maybe not - some may have been torn off, or not replaced after being removed for service. But a coroplast DIY set is at least as good -- if not better -- than original equipment.

..... aero-panels, 5 of them, 3 up front including a narrow aluminum one, 2 along the sides. Significant impact to mpg if missing. Panel photos . KLR3CYL (Scott) makes a single panel that replaces the front 3, many owners have it on their G1 aluminum belly panel

.....look for the strakes, aerodynamic rubber 'wedges' forward of each front tire. Impact to mpg.


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9) Other corrosion points (fuel/brake lines) ..... cars in/from 'salt belt' regions are susceptible.

The unibody and some suspension components may be made from corrosion-resistant aluminum, but there is steel used in various places that will rust and cause problems.

The fuel line on the pasenger side firewall has a rust problem at the anchor point. (The smell of gas when running the fan is a tip off.)
..... can be viewed under the hood.

Brake lines also need to be watched in rusty climes, and fluid should be changed ~ 3yrs.

..... if you can get the car on a lift, look along the right side aero-panel near the rear wheel for a circular opening about 2" dia, brake and fuel lines are visible with flashlight. See 14 year old insights and rusted brake and gas lines by Mike Dabrowski. Near the fire wall at rear of engine, brakes lines rust through here also.
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10) Cracked engine mount

Bottom center motor mount will be cracked with age. Replacement is ~$75.

..... Rear mount, immediately noticeable when backing the mt (less so on the cvt) with 'chatter and jerking'. See olrowdy01's website at project.com for diy repair and another list of particulars for the G1.

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11) Rear shock absorbers

Rear shocks are big$$$, can be replaced with Monroes and and little engineering.

..... more aftermarket equipment is available now, see rear springs by KLR3CYL (Scott), or GAZ rear shocks by rwaddington (Ryan).

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12) Misc

Driver's "auto down" power window switch is fragile, handle with care. ..... should operate with a distinct click. if it's loose/flimsy, it's broken.

..... rear hatch latch should operate with the hand button, if it makes a 'whirring sound' and won't open (but does with the key), a small plastic part in latch mechanism is broken. See 3D printed whirring trunk latch by mudder, or trunk not opening by wxmn, page 8 post 75 by prototypist.


Oil pan (magnesium) drain threads are FRAGILE. Instal Fumoto F106N quick drain. Use torque wrench.
OEM Seat covers are crap. Go aftermarket, Wetoakies, COSTCO, etc.
Lube window channels every fall with Shin Etsu or equal.

Wet seat belts: Leaks in the A to B pillar trim over both doors will cause mold & musty smell - wet seatbelt/floor.
..... KLR3CYL (Scott) made an excellent video on how to remove the trim and fix the leaks. Windshield pillar removal and replacement.

Engine coolant fill is another thing that must be done correctly, or no cabin heat.

..... observe coolant level in the bottle. Don't open the rad cap, you'll let air in system. AbCaRed00 (Bill) has posted a 'how to' video on coolant change and air purging. It is found on his DTC spreadsheet mentioned above. Look near the top right of the page for a small picture of a red plastic funnel. (near the warm air intake)

Dash trip buttons / switches: eventually they wear out and stop working. KLR3CYL (Scott) offers an "exchange" for replacement switches. His thread and video explain how to fix the problem. The trip button must be working to cancel the 'maintenance required' reminder light.

..... A/C operation.

..... Paper work/records. Clean title ? or salvage ? Salvage titles can be a difficult administrative issue which varies by state.

..... Maintenance history available? CarFax ? Not necessary, but good indicator of whether proper care was given.

..... Evidence of unreported accident damage, including underneath ?

..... Search function. As many will say: "search is your friend", "persistence pays."

..... And as Willie says: "Much to read grasshopper " ;)

Additional information is available at: Hybridautomotive, bumblebeebatteries, EV Powers, HybridReVolt, projekt.com , solarvan.co.uk, 99mpg.com.

Best of luck and happy shopping.
 

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Premium Member
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Has my Gen1 been in an accident?

Many accidents especially on older cars are not reported on a Carfax or other similar history reports. This is because people often take any insurance money they receive and have a friend's shop repair it and this often goes unreported. There are two simple ways to tell if a car has been wrecked:
1) touch all edges of hood, doors, trunk and see if the "edge" is smooth like the paint. If there is a dirty, rough feel to it that is most often overspray from previous paint work that has been done on that panel. Sometimes every edge is rough which means the entire car has been painted. Once a panel has been discovered as painted look further around the panel and into the car itself to see if
2)any bolts have been removed. You will see a circle of scratched paint around the bolt head showing a socket has been on that bolt. No one uses body filler anymore as it is just less expensive for a body shop to toss the old panel in the trash and replace it with a new/used one. Look for the original vin tag(white paper sticker on panel edge) This is why the bolts will have marks on them. Note: There is vin sticker on the upper edge of the rear bumper cover also.

Two smaller details,,,look for the honda logo in the corner of the windshield. If not there the windshield has been replaced. Ask why? And look into the spare tire area not necessarily for the spare but for the possible pushed in metal rear panel that may happen in a bad rear end collision. The bumper cover is easy to replace but the crushed metal wall behind it will often make it so the spare will fit tight, sideways or not at all.

These tips do not indicate a "bad Gen 1" they just give you talking points and negotiating options on price. Just because a fender has been painted or replaced does not mean run, just means simply a fender has been replaced.
 
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