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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This one is weird enough that I am seriously doubting my ability to do meaningful testing--I am not sure if I am imagining things or if they are actual differences.

I'm a brand new owner, 6 days. I felt attuned to my Insight very fast though. Yesterday I had 85.0 mpg on my way to work (27 miles) which I was very happy with.

But last night on the way home, I was tooling along the freeway at about 60, trying to maximize lean burn when I heard a ker-chunk sound that seemed to be accompanied by a short jerk feeling in the car. The sound seemed to come from the passenger side front. I checked the rearview but saw no "spare" parts flying out behind me. My MPG bar dropped momentarily, but then came back up.

Immediately I noticed that the steering then felt very "soft" (or could I be imagining it, looking for something that isn't there?). I expected at any moment to hear and feel a lot more things, like a dragging part, a wheel falling off, or loss of steering, but nothing really happened.

I drove carefully home and checked the exterior of the car, everything looks fine. I had my wife turn the wheel back and forth while I held the tires, and everything seemed normal. I looked at the steering and some of the front suspension through the hood and saw nothing strange.

Later, during my in-town driving last night I noticed something that seemed to be new--as I came to stops, the mpg bar would go to 150 (that part is normal), but it would stay up there even after auto-stop occurred, not dropping from 150 until the car actually stopped. Before it seems to me that it would fall to zero as soon as auto stop occurred. Can anyone verify or debunk my concern about this? The mpg bar seems not right or not the same to me in other subtle ways that I can't properly express (again, my observations are in doubt, since I'm still a little freaked about that sound).

This morning the steering still felt "soft" or slow to respond, so I think I will take it to the dealer to see if they can find anything (ha ha). Can anyone else tell me if the Insight's steering "feel" is indeed much softer than for instance, the VW New Beetle? It feels much softer to me, and I have a hard time holding a track--I seem to always be correcting the steering to one side, then to the other to keep it going straight, as if there is play in the steering--it's very "mushy" feeling.

Any ideas? Thanks!
 

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get thet thing to a dealer, pronto. the insight has very tight steeering. no slop, no problems keeping it straight. you might even consider having it towed :shock: . something is very wrong, IMHO.

as for the mpg bargraph, it should go to 150 if the engine is off and the car is still moving, and drop to 0 as the car comes to a stop.
 

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Not that this will help much, but our month-old '06 CVT did almost the same thing, for no reason. The L/100 km bar suddenly displayed 0. I switched to MPG, and it displayed 150. I pulled over and shut the car off, waited about 30 seconds, and turned it back on and everything was working properly.

M.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the notes, folks.

Update is that this morning I got 80mpg on the way to work and the displays seemed fine so I think that is ok.

The steering still felt a little sloppy (or is it my imagination???) but an important detail is that my freeway is under construction and they have us driving 1/2 on and 1/2 off the freeway and onto the shoulder where we all try to avoid the rumble bumps, so this may be a part of what I am feeling.

But here is the best part. I did take it to my local Honda dealer after work today, setting a new MPG trip record on the way there (90.0 mpg over 35 miles).

The coarse service guy called for their "suspension guy" who was about 22 and tattooed from head to foot--who knows, maybe he's some kind of prodigy with suspensions.

I knew I was in trouble because the service guy right away started softening me up by saying "Is this your first Insight? [I say yes] Is this the first hybrid of any kind you've driven? [I say yes] You know, they have an electronic power steering and it doesn't feel the same as a regular car." "Oh" I said while thinking, "Is it a special sloppy, loose power steering system that Honda made especially for their most technically advanced car ever?"

Then he said this gem: "You aren't going to drive it through the winter are you? Because this car is too light to drive in the winter. Also, it has a skid plate under it, where a regular car could cut through the snow, like the control arms (unintelligible), this one is more like a sled. I'm just telling it to you straight. That's why they stopped selling them in Michigan, strictly special order now."

"Actually," I said, "this is the final year for the car anywhere, and I just bought this one last week right here in Michigan from the dealer's incoming inventory, no special order. Honda has sold this car all across this great nation, Canada, Alaska, and Europe." (I forgot to say Japan, where I understand they actually have winter).

I then asked him if one could drive a CRX through the winter (since I've owned 2 and drove them in all kinds of snow), and he hemmed and hawed about the insight being much lighter.

So the kid came back from the test drive saying everything felt fine. The service guy continued to try to explain how different this car was. I explained that I'm not afraid of different, I'm concerned about unsafe or broken, but if he felt it was OK, then that was OK with me (mental note, never set foot in this place again). In parting, I asked him how many Insights the kid had driven during his career. The question was dodged.

So I'll see how things go and maybe I'll drop by a dealer in Grand Rapids or Ann Arbor some time and see what they think. Thanks all. Additional thoughts welcome.
 

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Couple of points. First, the Insight steering is normally VERY sensitive. Not sloppy, but the car will follow every hump and dip in the road. (Just wait 'till your first drive on a road that's been grooved for repaving :)) That sounds like it might be what you're feeling.

Second, the suspension guy is somewhat right about the snow. If there's more than five or six inches of unplowed snow on the road, and especially if it's heavy, wet snow, you're going to have problems. Of course, you'd have the same sort of problem with any car with low ground clearance, but since the Insight is lower and lighter than most, you feel it sooner.
 

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HafNHaf said:
as for the mpg bargraph, it should go to 150 if the engine is off and the car is still moving, and drop to 0 as the car comes to a stop.
Just in case you missed it the first time, Paul, but the mpg bar on the FCD will not fall to zero just because auto-stop occurs. It will continue to give you a reading until you are completely stopped at 0 mph. Sometimes it will stay at 150 mpg, other times it may dip a little bit low (depending on what kind of slope you are on). Either way, it will not show 0 mpg unless you are going 0 mph. :)

As for the steering, I actually think the feedback is quite good. It's not sloppy at all - but it is very responsive. Thus, you might be turning the wheel too much to compensate for little bumps and stuff in the road. Additionally, that freeway construction will make you correct the car more often. But don't mistake sloppy for responsive. That's been my experience, anyway! :)

Last but not least... I would suggest not going back to that dealership ever again. :lol:
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks James and minako-

It makes sense to me that the mpg bar would stay high while coasting in during auto stop (like about infinity mpg), but it seemed to not be doing that earlier in the week (again, could be just me--I'm assuming all is well there).

My steering concern wasn't with compensating for dips in the road and such (although that construction stretch could have been affecting my judgment). It was primarily a feeling that rubber bands were connecting the steering wheel to the wheels. Sort of a sway or delay from when I steer to when the car responds, even on smooth roads. I would not describe it as responsive currently, but I'm going to see what time tells me.

Thanks again
 

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the mpg bar would go to 150 (that part is normal), but it would stay up there even after auto-stop occurred, not dropping from 150 until the car actually stopped.
This is normal and correctly indicates the actual mileage you are achieving.

The electric steering is incremental. (Granted the increments are quite small as determined by the number of poles on the armature of the electric motor and the atio of the gearing) If by the luck of the draw straight ahead is in between two of the pole positions, the car will always want to wander either left or right but never straight ahead. A tiny adjustment of the steering linkages could "cure" this. The other reason for the sensitive steering of the Insight is that there is no toe in or toe out on the front wheels as there is on other cars. This improves the mileage and decreases tire wear, but it also makes the steering more sensitive. Finally the low rolling resistance tires and the different widths of the tire tracks on the Insight make the car more sensitive to grooves in the road. The human physique responds too slowly to be able to compensate for this real time, so the best response is to not fight it. After a while one gets used to the way the Insight handles. Some have switched to wider and stickier tires with good results for handling and suffered the mileage hit.

There are specifications for the amount of force on the steering wheel that would be in spec for the electric power steering, and there are specs for the amout of free play in the mechanical linkages of the steering. aside from that a thorough visual inspection for bent components etc. would be reasuring. One test that you could do is to pull the fuse for the electric power steering and drive the car to see how it handles. If wandering is caused by the electric motor, try the "cure" above. I have not tried this. A pothole was likely responsible for fixing mine, ;) :badgrin: or perhaps I just got used to it.

In any case, congradulations on your excellent mileage results. :D
 

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In an Insight you will notice road imperfections (rain grooves, rumble strips, etc.) more so due to the difference in the front and rear track. The front is wider at 56 1/2 " vs. the rear at 52". What this means is that a front tire may travel over an imperfection in the road while the rear may miss it completeley and vice/versa. Most other cars have equal front/rear track therefore the rear tires will follow the fronts travelling in a straight line.
Here in CT when driving on the interstates in either the center or right lanes I get pulled all over the lane due to the uneven surface created by the heavy tractor trailers. You can actually see the double wide dips in the lane where the truck tires travel. I don't notice it at all in my 4Runner. It's just something you have to get used to. I have to agree that the Insight (with OEM tires) is not good at all in snow. This has been discussed in detail elsewhere in this forum.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
b1shmu63 said:
The other reason for the sensitive steering of the Insight is that there is no toe in or toe out on the front wheels as there is on other cars.
I'm hearing two definitions of sensitive. Yours above, "sensitive steering" is not what I am experiencing. To me, sensitive steering means that the car is highly responsive to relatively small inputs to the steering wheel. This to me is desirable, but is not what I am seeing. I am feeling a "soft" or "laggy" steering where it seems like my inputs to the steering have to be larger than I would like them to be. I would like to have "crisp" or "tight" steering, but I don't think I have that currently.

The other definition is people saying that the steering is very sensitive to ruts, etc in the road. I am not concerned about that.

Kip, you mentioned the toe-in. That reminded me of another possible piece of this puzzle. My steering wheel does not return to center after a turn, avoidance maneuver, or lane change. This seems very weird to me. Is this normal?
 

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no, thats not normal. you need to find a good shop and get that steering looked at. steering and braking are two things best not left to luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
OK, dealer #1, M&M Honda in Kalamazoo, I have pretty much ruled out of all my future service needs.

So I call dealer #2, Howard Cooper Honda/VW/etc in Ann Arbor, which I have always liked from when I had some work done there on my beetle.

I explain that I'd like to schedule a check of my steering system/suspension on my new Insight. The service scheduler puts me on hold and comes back saying "My Honda service manager says that the electric steering assist feels different than a regular car" :roll:

I knew going into this that there would be challenges regarding service, but could it be this bad? Do they all just push you away or will anyone in the world actually look at this car?
 

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Go to a specialized alignment shop, specially if they do alot of work with race cars.
Sign up to the SCCA online forum so you can post (this is for people that compete in various types of grassroots motorsports around the U.S.).

http://sccaforums.com/forums/default.aspx
Scroll down to the division or regions forums most relevant to your city and ask for recommendations about finding a good performance shop that does aligments on race cars and street cars in your area.
These mechanics tend to live and breath cars and are much better problem solvers than typical dealership mechanics that do it to pay the bills at home.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Sounds good Guillermo, but currently I'm interested in taking advantage of my factory warranty on my 1 week old car if there is actually anything wrong. So if I run out of dealers to try, I might have to dip into my own pocket and try your suggestion.
 

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Warranty work.
Good idea :oops:
 

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Paul, I think the best thing to do is find someone in your area who is willing to let you take a drive in their Insight. See if it feels the same. If not, take it to the dealership in Ann Arbor.

As for Kalamazoo... doesn't the name just imply you shouldn't take it to a dealership there? Sounds like the beginning of a limerick. j/k Just trying to make light of the situation. :)
 

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Hi Paul, I drove by Kalamazoo on my way here (Minneapolis) yesterday. Any chance you will be at Hybridfest on Saturday?

Sloppy steering is definately atypical. I do think it would be helpful to compare it to another Insight. It sounds like a warranty coverage issue to me.
 

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ethicalpaul said:
But last night on the way home, I was tooling along the freeway at about 60, trying to maximize lean burn when I heard a ker-chunk sound that seemed to be accompanied by a short jerk feeling in the car.
Reads to me like some type of road hazard damage and a resulting out of alignment condition. :( If so then it won't be covered under warranty. :|

And while it would be unusual, such damage has the potential for ultimate catastrophic (loose steering control) failure. :shock:

An alighment shop would by my next stop ASAP!

HTH! :)
 
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