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Hard braking question...Is this normal?

3625 Views 10 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  Tim Maddux
I've only driven my CVT Insight for a couple of weeks now. Most of the time I am able to brake slowly and smoothly.

But I started noticing that if I had to press hard at the last , I'd feel some strange jerking in the pedal. The harder and more suddenly I do this, the worse it feels. I don't really want to slam on the brakes to test it as I'm only at 1,000 miles.

Is this the antilock brakes engaging? I've had them in other cars, but when engaged the jerking was steadier and smoother. It almost feels like grinding on the Insight.

Or is this something to do with regenerative braking?

Is it a problem?

Thanks for any help!
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· Registered
281 Posts
My experience of the brakes is much different than much of what is described up to this point. Basically, any time I brake hard or on poor surfaces, there's a loud rattle and a VERY noticable vibration in the brake pedal. This is the antiskid brake kicking in. It's quite distictive.

The cool part is that in icy conditions, I really can steer the car while braking. It doesn't brake in a shorter distance than regular brakes, but it does give me total control over steering in conditions where I would normally have no control over steering.

Also, in an all-out panic stop, here's the contrast between my 1992 Civic hatchback and my 2000 Insight:

Civic: The wheels lock. The car holds straight, regardless of where I steer it. This is called "understeering". I much prefer it to "oversteering", but once the brakes lock, the car floats on liquid rubber. It makes a god-awful noise and a huge cloud of blue smoke builds up behind the car. When it stops, the car is engulfed in blue smoke. The stink of brake pads and burned rubber is quite unpleasant, and my adrenalin level is pumped because I've just been riding in a car for a goodly chunk of 10 seconds with very little control over where the car went.

I can compensate for this by pumping the brakes. Once the car starts to skid, I release the brakes, regain steering and the car hops upwards. I then slam the brakes and it squats and repeats the skidding, smoking, god-awful noise, etc. This gives me little bursts of steering and stops me in less distance than just locking up the brakes.

Insight: The car stops really fast and never squeals the brakes or makes any smoke or other evidence that I'm braking hard except that the G-forces push the breath out of me against the seat belt. The brake pedal tickles my foot like some sort of vibrator from Sharper Image, but I never lose any steering control throughout the entire stopping process.

It sort of takes the thrill out of a panic stop. This, I like. Thrill in a panic stop is not a good thing. I much prefer having my foot tickled and having the car simply stop real fast.

It kicks in when braking on mud or leaves or ice or sand or gravel, etc. during normal braking, or on any surface when pushing on the brake pedal really hard with both feet, while pulling back hard on the steering wheel.

Anti-skid brakes are my friends.

· Registered
281 Posts
I usually avoid all the low-speed braking problems described above by releasing the clutch when the green charging light goes out. It's an easy reflex to build, just like you would press the clutch in a normal manual transmission car to stop the engine from stalling.

As I understand it, if you turn a generator too slowly, it can't generate electricity. The regenerative braking only works while you are generating electricity, so it is only natural that this should kick out at lower speeds.

My guess is that the brake behavior is that the mechanical brakes work just like normal mechanical brakes and the regenerative braking kicks in before then mechanical brakes normally would. It's like an added level of braking at the top of the brake pedal movement.

Meanwhile, the anti-skid braking system REALLY makes the brake pedal vibrate, and it can kick in at unexpected times while braking on even minor bad traction conditions (loose gravel scattered on pavement, or a few leaves on the road) or while braking while turning (when one wheel is turning faster than the other, so the car thinks it is skidding). As unpleasant as some people find this feeling, it doesn't bother me at all, since it means that I can stop and steer at the same time without ever skidding.
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