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2002 Honda Insight [manual]
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Discussion Starter #1
Hello; I am in the market for a newer car to replace my hot garbage Saturn sedan. My friend is willing to sell me his 2002 Insight since he has been collecting cars and honestly doesn't need to keep multiple cars sitting around now that he has been driving his most recent purchase all the time and is willing to help me out for $2k. He taught me manual in it recently and despite me having a prosthetic leg and no ankle movement as my left foot, it was simpler than I thought and much more engaging than simple automatic.

On to the car:
As you guessed it's a 2002 Honda Insight (Gen 1) manual variant. It's silver, still has both rear wheel covers, gets 60mpg, and seems to drive fine. It has about 250k miles and although I'm sure that's not a ton for these cars, it's almost twice that of my current car and I have concerns over future maintenance; but not necessarily of the battery; I'll get to that more in a second. Anything to look out for or ask about?

Battery: I will ask about this more from the owner. My thinking is once it's on it's way out I would replace it with a lithium-ion pack of my choice. I have some experience with Lithium battery packs because of my background building electric skateboards. Usually around the 50 volt, 50-200 amp packs. Obviously I'd have a lot of learning to do creating a 144 volt insight pack but it can be done.

So is there anything you would recommend asking about or something I should know more of before I buy? I pulled a Carfax report and it looks ok but I honestly would not know what I'd look for in it. Honestly I really liked the car when I drove it a bit and the efficiency is a strong pull since I ****ing hate carbon production. I don't drive a whole lot and when I do it's usually around town or occasional freeway trips. Thank you for your suggestions and comments!
 

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It mostly depends on how the car has been maintained prior. I'd look at the maintenance record if one exists or talk it through with the owner. You are in the mileage range where some significant repairs may await, things like rear suspension bushing, front A-arms, brake calipers, wheel bearing, the IMA battery, transmission, etc. It is not likely that you will find a strong IMA battery since new batteries are more than the market value of the cars. The basic engine is very reliable and there are some very high mileage examples - 350,000 miles and more.

IMO you should honestly evaluate your own ability to fix items like those above. Professional repairs can be very expensive, but it sounds like you have a diy mentality. If you drove the car, you probably got some impression of the condition, particularly the transmission.

If it is running and driving, the failures won't occur all at once, but will likely be frequent.

From one of the "stickies" here is a good checklist of things to check:


It sounds like you love the design and features of the car, so you seem like a good fit to own one, just go in with an honest assessment of the car and your own mechanical/electrical ability :)
 

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The Insight G1's Do Not Like to be left siting around.
They Want to be Driven.

It is better for the vehicle.
 

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Where did the car spend most of it’s time? Multiple winters in areas where roads are salted can corrode the few steel parts in the engine bay and under the car, so look for that.

Other than that, it’s a Honda. well-cared for, it’ll last a long time. I have a 2002 MT with about 150k miles on it. It seems almost new, most days and feels as if I’ll wear out first!
 

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2002 Honda Insight [manual]
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Discussion Starter #5
@Arbus This car is in Northern California. Carfax says it spent most of it's time in San Fransisco area before my friend brought it here for a year where it also doesn't snow.

@jime The DIY is strong within me but I have very limited experience with automotive machinery (gotta start somewhere). I would hate to buy this at an admittedly good price IMO and have something expensive or involved go out on me in 6 months you know.
 

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I'm gonna hit 250k in about one week. I'd have no apprehension on driving one of these cars at 250k, or 500k.
 

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90% of my 252k+ miles are highway miles. Most recent trip was to DC in January. As Willie said, they need to be driven almost daily to keep the Hybrid Battery healthy.
20200229_094106.jpg
 

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I would recommend you find another car because your friend is not doing you a favor.

Why?

I have had a 2006 for 14 years. I like it but:

This is a low, rough-riding, noisy car that’s very poorly supported by dealers and the aftermarket. It’s basically a 4-wheelHonda motorcycle.

The body is plastic and aluminum (light!) which means any body work will cost more than the car is worth.

Lots of little irksome things go wrong and some parts (wheel skirts, A-pillar covers) can fly off. Headliners come down. Alloy parts corrode. Switches crap out. Paint burns and peels off.

Worse than other cars? I would say so

The electronics are sophisticated and even if you are a rocket scientist (honestly) improving the battery pack is elusive though many have tried.

I’ve been training and writing manuals for auto technicians going on 40 years and I can say with confidence this is not a good car to start learning on, esp when it’s already got 18 years and 250,000 miles of wear.

Sorry, but it’s a much easier car to buy than to sell ( or fix ).
 

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2002 Honda Insight [manual]
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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks for your input @Insight#1Kin1Yr. Honestly this car has been a toss up between this and finding something else because of a few things. The potential wear and tear of course being the big factor but also it's low power, no pop-up headlights (big style boost in my book), and everything from safety in a crash to creature comforts like road noise and comfort but I appreciate the fuel economy and general design around efficiency the car has. It's also in the same town I live in so no driving hours to see a car I potentially wouldn't buy.

I've been browsing craigslist and such and think a used Miata is my most favorable choice because those are small, seem ok on gas, and I said it before; pop up headlights. There's also a lot of them and there's definitely a community for them which makes finding parts easier and what not.

Thank you for your comment. As it is, I'm leaning away from the Insight and seeing what else is out there.
 

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LOL! I immediately thought "\Miata" when I read your first post. Something in you screams Miata. Get it and drive that thing, now.

The Miata was ahead of the Insight on my "janky car bucket list" (cars I will biuy if one shows up on my doorstep dirt cheap) but the Insight came first.

That $2000 would buy you 4-6 fixable Insights, if you make a point of scouring the forum and Craigslist over a year or two. Most will need IMAs, though.

Wound up to 4000-6000 RPM the Insight is fast enough, if you ignore the inner voice asking, "will it blow up?" (Probably not.) But if only there were a way to make my Insight a convertible and handle like a Miata...
 

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Look into the Linsight project here on IC. I think the 02s were one of the better years. Solid built cars. I dismantled my 02 and made three times what it cost me to buy the wreck back. I could see how they went together on that Acura line and why they cost 60K in late 1990s $$ to build. Currently have 234K+ on my 05. I don't know if they're still the mpg king of hybrids but I got 99.8 mpg over 225 miles once upon a time.
 

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I'm a curmudgeon, and I'll put in my 2c worth here. These are fun cars, and like everything that's a 1.0 version, they have plenty of bugs. I've learned much on this forum as to where they are, and how to prevent or cure them.

I very much enjoy flipping the bird at high fuel prices and the "service" stations that charge for them. If you read through the forum, you'll find that the biggest pains are: 1) the flawed but fixable battery design, 2) the few really proprietary parts that like to fail and are therefore expensive aftermarket replacements and 3) the amount of time you'll surf this site, looking for answers, as the page refresh speed of this site is like 50w oil in December.

If its a Bay Area car, it's unlikely to have too much frame damage, and has already been through Round One of the maintenance cycle. That cycle includes oxygen sensors, tires (you'll need low rolling resistance tires to keep the MPGs REALLY high), and perhaps the clutch. I have a CVT and get less MPG than the 5-speed does. Brakes are somewhat proprietary but follow Honda's standard installation formula.

These are not powerful cars; they're designed to be very economical, and if your shade tree mechanic skills are ok, you'll be fine. There are small design flaws that eventually emerge, like wet seatbelts and seats because of poor gutter design (it can be remedied) and other things that just wear out.

These were an expensive design failure by Honda in some ways, but they beat Toyota to market. The car you buy needs to eventually have a grid charger (one that's plugged into a wall socket and attached to your IMA/hybrid battery pack) to maintain the battery pack, which eventually must be either refurbished or replaced. How soon is anyone's guess as they're all seemingly different A modern battery pack (2017 era+) can last for hundreds of thousands of miles, but your won't-- it's design is almost of a bygone era.

I'm still motivated to maintain mine, swear words or not. Nothing's been too huge for me to handle, and I don't have a garage. One day, these words will come back to haunt me, but it's been one of the most reliable and inexpensive cars I've owned in a very long time, and worth the value, even if the price of fuel has dropped.
 

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Wow! You think you are a curmudgeon? I thought I'd be tossed out of the site for my reply to the original poster.

It IS a fun car to drive economically OR like a maniac (my others are 2 Lotuses and 2 Citroens). Thus I know about driving like a maniac AND maintaining cars despised and abandoned by dealers and aftermarket alike.

But I don't think it's a good choice for amateurs, honestly. I think a Miata is a much better choice. There's no substitute for numbers in the marketplace to keep a car going a long time without too much angst.

I had visions of the car stopped, stuck, he has prosthetic leg, probably not going to want to hike for help ... oh wait, we all have cell phones now, don't we. But no signals in much of my county...
 

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I
Look into the Linsight project here on IC. I think the 02s were one of the better years. Solid built cars. I dismantled my 02 and made three times what it cost me to buy the wreck back. I could see how they went together on that Acura line and why they cost 60K in late 1990s $$ to build. Currently have 234K+ on my 05. I don't know if they're still the mpg king of hybrids but I got 99.8 mpg
Look into the Linsight project here on IC. I think the 02s were one of the better years. Solid built cars. I dismantled my 02 and made three times what it cost me to buy the wreck back. I could see how they went together on that Acura line and why they cost 60K in late 1990s $$ to build. Currently have 234K+ on my 05. I don't know if they're still the mpg king of hybrids but I got 99.8 mpg over 225 miles once upon a time.
I love my 2001 Gen 1! It is my third, I am lucky to get 30 mpg on my 1999 Miata - even with a flying Miata complete exhaust and fresh valve jjob. The gearing in 5th is just too high.
I get 56 mpg at 80-90 mph. But 80s at 55 mph. Never 99 on my round trip commute. Close after crossing the continental divide. I drove almost 2000 miles to get it home from Northern California . I had/have the utmost confidence in the silver bullet. Stopped at Bonneville and drove on the salt to make my fender skirts feel at home. Hit 101 mph.
Love the antique Jayhawks. I am class of 1966.
 

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....I've been browsing craigslist and such and think a used Miata is my most favorable choice because those are small, seem ok on gas, and I said it before, pop up headlights....As it is, I'm leaning away from the Insight and seeing what else is out there.
My hit is that the Insight probably isn't for you. But, unless you think ~26 MPG is "ok on gas," then the Miata might not be either. I had a Miata before the Insight and I always felt like I was burning money with that thing... Moving to the Insight was like this Holy Grail feeling, like "Hallelujah! Praise Jesus"...
 

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....If you read through the forum, you'll find that the biggest pains are: ....3) the amount of time you'll surf this site, looking for answers, as the page refresh speed of this site is like 50w oil in December.
No doubt, what's up with that?? Seems like the last week or so page refresh speed has slowed to a crawl... I think I'll go post this in the 'complaint' section...
 

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My suspicion is that IC is hosted on a shared server, doesn't cache properly, and budget limits won't cough the $$ needed to be behind CloudFlare or another cache-wall. They need revenues to support site upgrades, and like others, I block ads and scripts and other components that they make revenue on wittingly or accidentally for others. I've noticed that things are moving a little more quickly now, and the bug on the lower right of your screen lends possible credence to that idea.

As a volunteer, I maintain websites because I'm a long-in-the-tooth geek, and have seen many web designs over the years that start out wonderfully but become leaden with age. Because so much content is very difficult to migrate to a new platform, they're stuck with the old platform until the black-belts can successfully migrate the platform to a new UX/UI.

All this said, maintaining such a public service is tough to do. My hat's off to the web admins for keeping things stable. Every day, some of my test sites are hit with more than 60K nefarious logon/hack attempts. Not one is legitimate. Keeping the bad guys out is not fun, easy, and is part of the job.
 

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I would recommend you find another car because your friend is not doing you a favor.

Why?

I have had a 2006 for 14 years. I like it but:

This is a low, rough-riding, noisy car that’s very poorly supported by dealers and the aftermarket. It’s basically a 4-wheelHonda motorcycle.

The body is plastic and aluminum (light!) which means any body work will cost more than the car is worth.

Lots of little irksome things go wrong and some parts (wheel skirts, A-pillar covers) can fly off. Headliners come down. Alloy parts corrode. Switches crap out. Paint burns and peels off.

Worse than other cars? I would say so

The electronics are sophisticated and even if you are a rocket scientist (honestly) improving the battery pack is elusive though many have tried.

I’ve been training and writing manuals for auto technicians going on 40 years and I can say with confidence this is not a good car to start learning on, esp when it’s already got 18 years and 250,000 miles of wear.

Sorry, but it’s a much easier car to buy than to sell ( or fix ).
Dang. Debbie downer here. I have owned mine for a long time and it's been very reliable. Getting close to 300k, original engine, original trans, original clutch, and 2nd battery. I have not had any parts fly off from it, nor any headliner issues, nor any corrosion issues, nor any switch issues. Paint is burnt but that happened prior to my ownership. I'm not sure what is different or harder to learn on this car vs a civic, other than aftermarket support, but honestly just keeping it stock is fine. Engine is just as easy to work on. IMA system is interesting. Installing a grid charger was fun, as was doing the grid charge/deep discharge cycles. I'm going to drive mine until it blows up, and even then it might just become a K-sight.
 

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Yeah. 232k miles on mine and I drive it 100 miles a day for work. I would have no problems driving it cross country. It runs like a Honda.

My battery pack died so I took it and everything related to it out. Probably lightened things up by 75-100 pounds. I have a Meanwell power supply to charge the 12 volt battery and that keeps the 12 volt system topped up better than the stock system did.

If you are interested in a Miata, I'll say this. I put on 16x7 inch Mini Cooper rims and Federal s595 tires. This car is pretty much velcro'd to the road. Grip is unbelievable. My average MPG went from 50 to 45 ish. I don't drive for MPG though. I do 80 along the highway with all the bro-dozers.


The Insight is a very loud car on the highway. If you want fresh tunes while driving you aren't going to get it here. I will do a K swap one of these days just so I can put some sound deadening and a better system in the Insight. I should still see over 40 mpg pretty easily. But for now she is still chugging along just fine.
 

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Also, 2 grand seems a little high unless the car is in great shape.

I bought mine for 1600 and it came with an extra parts car.

I have since bought a CVT for 400 bucks which was rough, but running and driving. I used it to fix my crash damage, then parted it out and sent it to be recycled into beer cans.
 
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