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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Context:

I've had recent trouble with the IMA system and have given up trying to revive the HV battery. Driving with the IMA light on, nothing disengaged or modified since IMA was working. It seems as though as long as I give it a grid charge once in a while, the DC-DC stays engaged to charge the 12v battery which is new within the last couple years. I have a volt meter in the dash power socket so I can monitor the presence of ~14v+ on the low voltage circuits indicating the 12v battery is being charged. I think I have a code set for oxygen sensors but I haven't given that much attention.

Symptoms:
Sometimes within a week or so of having grid charged (not sure the charging is even related), the car will try to start on the 12v starter. First try, hold the key forward and let it crank for 10-15 seconds. No start. Sometimes on the second try, the rhythm of the 12v starter will change a little, sounding a little more 'labored' and (possibly placebo effect) tapping the accelerator gets it to start. Other times like today, the second try is not successful at all. To date and including today, on each third attempt it will start on the IMA motor. I'm hoping that's also true this afternoon when I leave work. All other times, it starts on the IMA immediately and flawlessly as it's supposed to.

I just read a newer thread containing a comment about injectors being disabled by a failed immobilizer, but the 12v will still crank... and it almost mirrors those conditions But it HAS started a couple times on the 12v, albeit reluctantly, so I think that's ruled out. But I will pay attention to the green key light later today and see what it does. I just don't understand what would intermittently cause the car to fail over to the 12v starter and not be able to start...and moments later, zing to life on the IMA like it's supposed to.

Guess I'm going to engage in placebo charging when I get home, any ideas what might be causing this or something I could check to provide more information?
 

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2001 Insight 5-spd
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I would take the 12-V battery to a shop and have them do a load-test. That might explain the labored starting.

The labored starting might have to do with the upstream O2 sensor. If the sensor reading is off, the computer might not add the correct ammount of fuel to the engine. This might cause difficulty starting, and an incorrect fuel-ratio might negatively effect gas mileage.

I'm not an expert on IMA batteries. But some of the Insight documentation says the Motor/Generator will start the engine "if the IMA battery pack is in good condition". It is possible that your IMA battery might be good enough for the IMA light to be out, but not good enough to reliably start the Engine. If you can afford it I'd consider getting a refurbished battery.

Good luck, Please let me know what you find out.

-Dave
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks Dave. I used the term "labored" but maybe that wasn't the best choice of words. The 12v starter actually cranks very well for these extended periods of heavy load, so I'm a little hesitant to suspect the 12v battery but testing it won't do any harm. I meant to just describe what the altered rhythm kind of sounded like when the engine was actually about to start, which was ever so slight of a change in rhythm.

I agree, I do need a new/refurbished IMA battery but that's going to have to delayed after the $6k project of replacing the battery in my Chevy Volt, unfortunately. 😩 Your quote of the documentation actually supports (somewhat) my unfounded process of grid charging once in a while. While the battery isn't in good condition, giving it a charge (after being driven for a week doing nothing but discharging) seems to keep the starting issues at bay; but I haven't been keeping data to support this idea. But, the car should still start on the 12v starter regardless of IMA status; which is the primary issue here.
 

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Thanks blackcloud,

OK. Sounds like you are probably good on the 12-V battery if you can crank for a long time.

You can temporarily switch the ima battery off with the switch. That will force the car to use the starter every-time. This will make it easier to troubleshoot.

When was the last time you cleaned your EGR valve? I had a Saturn that had some trouble starting when my EGR valve got carboned up too bad.

Good luck fixing it. Please let me know what you find out.

-Dave
 

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According to page 105 of the Honda Insight 2000 RESOURCE MANUAL.pdf "When the State of Charge (SOC) of the Battery Module is too low, when the temperature is too low or if there is a failure of the IMA system, the engine will be cranked by the 12V starter motor.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
See, that's what doesn't make sense and also why I am skeptical that my grid charging has anything to do with relieving the symptoms. If it has something to do with the state of charge of the HV battery, the SOC certainly didn't change between the first and the third attempts when it refused to start and moments later fired right up with the IMA. It has both started and refused to start with full SOC bars and currently, 1-2 bars. I actually did not end up putting it on grid charge over the weekend, and this morning it fired right up on IMA.

Here's the only things I can report that are consistent: To date is has not refused to start in the morning, for my AM commute. It has not refused to start in the afternoon for my PM commute. It seems that each time it gives me trouble, its between these two events, or if I make a multiple-stop trip on the weekend. Say if I leave work in the middle of the day, it will refuse to start when I am ready to return to work. Or I drive somewhere on the weekend, stop, and then go to a second location (same pattern)...that second location is likely where I will experience the issue and not for the rest of the day. I can't say that will continue to be consistent but thus far the symptoms have not strayed from this pattern.
 

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Hmmmm.

That's interesting that it refuses to start IMA sometimes with a full charge, with the temperature not too low and without an IMA fault light.

Have you connected an OBDII reader to your port and checked the engine temperature sensor readings, both cold and hot? It's possible that one of your temperature sensors is bad and that's confusing the computer.

Good luck.

-Dave
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
The IMA light has been on for a while now, as noted in the original post...but that's neither here nor there.

That's a good thought, to check temp sensors. Even if that's the case though, the car should still START regardless of whether it chooses the 12v starter motor or the IMA. When it decides to go to the 12v starter, something else isn't consistently kicking in, whether that's fuel, spark...something. When it starts on IMA, it does everything it should...fires right up effortlessly.

I'd be fine if it chose the 12v starter EVERY time if it would START. The problem is that it doesn't, at least not consistently and not without extended cranking and possibly encouragement from the gas pedal.
 

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How old is your starter? The IMA motor is way stronger than the starter. Perhaps the starter is wearing out and only just barely spinning the crankshaft fast enough to start.

Also, when I purchased my Insight the 12-V battery was a few years old. I did an IMA bypass and the car did struggle to start, and it felt like it cranked a little slow. We did a load-test on the 12-V battery, and the bat did have good voltage, but was only able to put out about 1/2 the amps it was rated for. Once we replaced the 12-V battery it started no-problem.

Good point about the IMA light. I forgot about that :).

Does the automated start-top system work properly?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Never replaced the 12v starter, I assume it's original. It cranks good, long and strong...no indication that it's not performing correctly. Crank, crank, crank... the engine just doesn't fire. As you would expect it to if fuel or spark were missing. My 12v battery was replaced last year when trying to diagnose an IMA issue. I know sometimes they go bad, and testing is free so that's on the list of things to do to rule it out.
 

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Very weird. Engine cranking good but no good-start unless started by the IMA. Might be worth reading the temp sensors to make sure they are all good.

Also, might be worth checking valve lash. The lash on these cars tends to get smaller over time. If the valve lash is too small, the valves can leak causing compression issues. The starter motor spins the engine slower than the IMA, so maybe there is something wrong with your engine, that's not serious enough to keep the engine from starting at higher rpms.

good luck.

-Dave
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Adding that to the list as well. The valve lash logic makes a lot more sense to me.
 

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Next time you experience the no start, try putting the accelerator to the floor when starting. If it starts with the car floored, that's potentially diagnostic of a bad engine coolant temperature sensor. If the ECT is bad and thinks it has to start a cold engine, it is going to dump in more fuel. You don't need the extra fuel for a warm engine. Result is, the engine floods and won't start. Flooring the gas pedal increases combustion air and can counteract "flooding." It sounds counterintuitive, but isn't.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Cool, thanks for the tip Joule. It did start on the 12v motor one time after tapping the accelerator, but I couldn't be sure that actually was what helped it start. I guess my response was old school, thinking the engine needed gas but knowing the throttle is decoupled from the fuel delivery...that's why I doubted it was doing anything. Allowing more fresh air in makes sense. I guess when the IMA starts the engine, that extra fuel dumped in doesn't really matter? The starting on IMA is perfect.

I assume the temp sensor is the same thing daavve was talking about but he didn't mention coolant specifically. Is there a way to test that specific sensor or like daavve suggested, read it on OBDII? If it's cheap, I'll just replace it. The water temp gauge on the dash seems to be operating normally, but I know those aren't always what they seem.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Just had another incident fitting the existing pattern. Car starts perfectly in the morning, leave for lunch, stop some place and the next start attempt, no IMA start. Floored the accelerator and let it crank for maybe 15-20 seconds, no start. Turn it off, try again...perfect IMA start. Second try instead of the third, this time.
 

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Look, all I know about electricity is that if I pay my bill on time, when I flip the wall switch, the light should come on, so take this with a grain of salt, but it sounds like an electrical issue. Bad ground? Sometimes they can look fine but be corroded internally.
 
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