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Well, the 2000 5sp is back on the road. In April, (right after replacing the battery on my own dime - ouch!) discovered the head gasket was blown. Fortunately, the utterly fabulous boyfriend was willing to tackle this. For other people doing this themselves, here's the costs:

Head set: a bit over $200. The head gasket alone is $87, and because NAPA and other after-market places don't carry much Insight stuff, you're stuck with the dealer. Wait time was 1 - 3 days. (We bought the gaskets separately, on advice of the Honda parts guy, and it ended up being a good bit more.) With miscellaneous bolts & stuff, figure about 250 - 300 in parts, depending on your particular situation.
Found a good local engine shop - they do mostly hot rods and such, but testing and resurfacing a head is pretty standard. Total cost for pulling apart the cams and rocker arms, hot tank, pressure test, and resurfacing was $203.

Problem source - compression test showed cylinder 3 weak (145psi) compared to 1 & 2 at 165.
The head bolts by the exhaust between cylinder 2 & 3 were releasing at 20 lbs, instead of 40 pounds, so these may have been weakened. (They are stretch bolts.) The actual leak was in that area, between 2 & 3. It was visible on the gasket - the black coating was off there and there was some exhaust crust. In our case, the leak was blowing into the coolant.

Comments from bf: timing chain is a pain to get back on. Set the main crank pulley at top dead center, and when you're ready to set the timing chain onto the cam shaft pulley, give the cam shaft about a 60o turn to get the #1 cylinder to line up. (When the cylinder head comes back from the shop, typically all the valves are flat in this position, the next rotation should set the #1 cylinder top dead center.) The timing chain tends to drop down and you may need to hand-crank the main pulley and pull up on the chain so all the cogs reset.

Also - tensioning mechanism for the timing chain won't release unless the chain is fully pulled up (so it gets caught). Because of this, it is tricky to reset the head back into place.

It's really helpful to use grease pencils or other marking devices as you're taking things apart.

The top filler & bleeder connection for coolant is important - air pockets do form. The heater is working again (losing it was probably because of the pressure going into the coolant, causing a big air pocket in the heater line.)

Also - at one point we called the largest local Honda dealer to see if the techs there could give any tips on doing this. The technician there who does their hybrids told us he had never actually gone that deep into an Insight engine.

Anyway, it is running well now, much smoother than before, due to adjusting the valves. Temp is holding steady. Mpg is up a bit, averaging in the high 60s right now.
 

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Thanks LJF for the closure :!: Seems so few members go to the extra effort. :|

LJF's original thread is here:

http://www.insightcentral.net/forum/vie ... ght=#56050

Got badly hijacked (sorry LJF) so a new thread on closure is the lesser of the two evils. ;)

Just keep you eyes on the engine oil level over the next few weeks. "Damage" to the cylinders / piston / rings from the blown headgasket _may_ cause oil consumption to skyrocket, or not (depends on the degree of "damage" if any).

HTH! :)
 
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