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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Good news/bad news:

Good: I had a silver, 2000 Insight, 5 speed, no air conditioning. I loved it.

Bad: While my wife was driving, it was hit by an SUV, doors wouldn't open, so the Jaws of Life destroyed the car.

Good: The SUV driver's Insurance paid more than I expected and new Insights cost less than expected, and I'm getting a fat tax refund because I forgot to change my withholding status last year when I got married. I ordered a new Insight. This time, red, 2003, but otherwise the same (5 speed, no air).

Bad: After ordering the car and waiting several weeks, I'm told that Honda America decided to not order any Insights without air conditioning for the entire US. They will offer no air on special order for the NEXT ordering cycle, but that adds another month to the wait. This sucks. Honda America is not my friend. Whatever bozo made this decision forgets that America includes places that don't get hot and people who don't like paying $1,200 to be artificially cooled.

Good: The local dealer agreed to eat half the $1,200 they wanted for the air conditioning, and the order goes through.

Bad: The car hasn't been built yet. It will be built in May. In Japan. It should arrive in late May or early June. Getting it without air conditioning would make that late June, early July.

I've never before ordered a car before it was built. It feels weird to order a car from Japan. Does this make any more sense to anyone else than it does to me?
 

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Accident, Special Orders

I'm no guru in car sales but it seems to me the dealer should have to remove the AC from one of their other insights in order to make the sale. After all they can easily return the AC to Honda for credit.

I'm sorry to hear about your old insight. I was curious if you wouldn't mind answering. How did the car's safety features hold up. I'm guessing you wouldn't buy another if it was a death trap.

I only ask cuz i drive one as well and commute at odd hours where people are unpredictible on the Fwy.

I don't know much about where you live but dealers in CA are happy to make deals just to insure they don't lose the sale to another dealer wether its a competitor or another Honda dealer in the area.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Re: Accident, Special Orders

joe4ska said:
I'm no guru in car sales but it seems to me the dealer should have to remove the AC from one of their other insights in order to make the sale. After all they can easily return the AC to Honda for credit.
Maybe in California they have other Insights on the lot, but here, it seems that in the last six months more people have bought Insights than in the previous three years and the dealerships, long accustomed to having these "specialty cars" stuck in their inventory, have been very slow to replace them. The few Insights available here pretty much all have automatic transmission. The dealers are also slow to realize that people who want Insights tend to prefer a manual 5-speed.

Add that back in 2000, I remember that there were two ways to get air conditioning: Shipped from Japan with air, it cost $1,200. Added by the dealer, it cost $2,000. I think the dealers saw this as a way to make money, but soon discovered that people didn't want to pay $2,000 for air conditioning, so now Honda USA doesn't want to buy Insights without factory air, so if they pull air conditioning out of one Insight, there won't be any other Insights to install that back into.

joe4ska said:
I'm sorry to hear about your old insight. I was curious if you wouldn't mind answering. How did the car's safety features hold up. I'm guessing you wouldn't buy another if it was a death trap.
To be honest, the damage from the actual crash looked largely cosmetic. The plastic front fender was a total loss. The outer half of the headlight was gone, but the inner half was fully intact. The wheel had a long, deep scratch leading to a missing chip (a 1" triangle) from the rim and the tire was flat with a 2" wide cut in line with the scratch on the wheel. The cut went through the steel belt in the tire.

The driver's side door was mashed in to about half thickness about a foot back from the hinge, but the door opened and closed normally at the junk yard. No broken glass. No obvious body damage, except for the door.

The real damage came when the gear-jockey on the rescue team took the Jaws of Life to the passenger side of the car. He destroyed the front fender and most of the rear quarter panel getting to the hinge and latch to clip them off and rip the door off.

He claimed that, "since the body is all plastic, you can't judge the impact because it would all pop back into place." So, even though it LOOKED like a minor fender bender, my wife's neck could be broken, so everybody stand back and let him rip the car apart. In his Emailed defense to me, he suggested the SUV hit the Insight at about 30mph, though all evidence is that it was doing less than 5, since the SUV driver said she stopped, making a left turn and was waved on by some other driver. That means that she went from a standing start (or nearly stopped), crossed the median and one lane of traffic before hitting the Insight. SUVs need more distance than that to get to 30mph from a stop.

He was heard to say, "Gee, I've never had a chance to work on one of these little hybrids before."

He had been reading about them and had his mind all wrapped around how to use his equipment on an "all plastic" body and on avoiding high voltage electric lines and caustic battery chemicals. He apparently intends to write an article in some rescue worker's magazine about his valuable experience ripping my car apart.

The rescue workers say that the frame was bent, so the doors wouldn't open and suggest that ripping the passenger side of the car apart caused the frame to flex far enough to free up the driver's side door. While that's possible, it is also possible that my wife was too upset to think clearly and isn't very mechanically inclined or curious, so she never learned how to unlock the doors, except with the key dongle, so that's what she kept trying to use.

They say they tried to open the trunk and that wouldn't open, either, but I don't know for sure that the doors weren't simply locked and everybody on the scene was clueless. I'll never know. Even though I was about a mile away and could have been there to help, the rescue workers refused to call me or let my wife borrow a cell phone. She pleaded and they ignored her requests.

I didn't think to look under the car or open the hood at the junk yard when I was pulling all my stuff out of the car. The junk yard staff was a bit impatient with us. I wish I'd taken pictures.

I remember a lot of details. The hood was pristine and well-aligned with the windshield. There was minor damage to the exterior plastic bumper cover, but the bumper itself (revealed by the imprint on the plastic) seemed fine. I would expect a side impact on the front wheel might bend the frame, but then again, maybe it would bend the suspension before bending the frame, and the wheel still looked like it was in a normal position and alignment with the car. I strongly suspect that the car was fine, but the rescue workers destroyed it.

joe4ska said:
I only ask cuz i drive one as well and commute at odd hours where people are unpredictible on the Fwy.
Given the relative sizes of the vehicles, even with the low impact speed, I was impressed by how little damage the car took and how safe Mary was inside of it. Basically, a vehicle more than twice the weight of the Insight hit the driver's side door and the door still worked with normal pressure to open, close and latch. At least, it did at the junk yard after the frame was magically tweaked back into perfect alignment by the Jaws of Life.

joe4ska said:
I don't know much about where you live but dealers in CA are happy to make deals just to insure they don't lose the sale to another dealer wether its a competitor or another Honda dealer in the area.
This dealer was willing to eat half the cost of the air conditioning. That's not too shabby, tossing $600 off a car they are already making a small margin from.

Still, we went online and found a 2002 silver Insight with only 13,000 miles on it for $12,599. I already put a deposit down on it, so I feel safe confessing those details. I'll run a check on the VIN and maybe leave to pick it up today. It's only about 300 miles from here...
 

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Will M said:
I've never before ordered a car before it was built. It feels weird to order a car from Japan. Does this make any more sense to anyone else than it does to me?
Well, since all Insights are built in Japan, it isn't too strange considering the scenario you described. Did you check to see if Honda has an international delivery program? BMW and Porsche offer plans that you go to your dealer in the States and option out your car, the order is placed, your car is built, and you fly to Germany to see your car roll off the production line, get a test drive at the Nurburgring, then they prepare the car for shipping, and you can either pick up the car off the boat in Charleston, SC or have it trucked to you local dealer. I doubt that Honda does offer anything like that, but if they did maybe you'd get to drive your Honda at either Twin Ring Motegi or the Suzuka GP track (both are owned by Honda). With the BMW and Porsche plans, they include the cost of the trip into the price of the car and from what I've heard it usually doesn't cost much more than just buying the car. Of course, they are both high end makes too, which probably makes a difference. Just a thought!
 

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I wish you good luck in trying to get an ordered Insight in less than 3 months after the order is placed. Red Insights with 5-speeds are non-existant here in the East. I ordered mine on January 15, it was built around Feb. 15. and I am still waiting for it!! THe dealer said it was supposed to be delivered last Monday, April 7. Hasn't come in yet, and no one knows where it is. These 5-speed vehicles are extremely difficult to get. But CVT's are a dime a dozen.
 

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Long Delay

I also wish you good luck in getting you car. I just bought a 2003 Red one. I had search all Central Florida dealers with no luck. They had everything I didn't want silver and cvt. I did find a silver 5spd with A/C but the extra 2k that the dealer added for the A/C cooled me on that one. I finally found a dealer who had just ordered one. Silver 5spd A/C. But I still thought red would be safer due to the small size of the car. I wanted it to be noticed as matter of safety. So I hit the net with determination to find "my car". Out of the many dealers I contacted, One dealer in Ohio, who had just sold a red one and had nothing on the lot, said he would do anything he could to find a car for me. We put every state in the east and a few in the west, in his computer. 2 cars (red,MT, A/C) showed up. 1 in Chicago and 1 in Wisconsin. When I called the dealer in Chicago he didn't see the car on his computer so he went out on the lot and found it. He called me with the news. Quoted me a much better price approx $1800 less than any Florida dealer. Needless to say I bought it, flew up the next weekend and drove it home. Got 72.2MPG. 1200+miles 20 Gallons of gas=$30.00 25% of what it would have cost me to drive my 97 Astro Van @16.5 MPG. That my story and I'm stickin' to it. I really like my car better than I thought I would. Very Addicting
PS: This is a fantastic site with a lot of GREAT info. I've been lurking for several weeks soaking up everything I could. So thanks Guys. If I hadn't found this site I would not have had the guts to step up to the plate.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Update:

Yesterday, I was on the road for about 10 hours for the round trip and spent $100 non-refundable to reserve a 2002 silver 5-speed w/AC with 13,000 miles for $12,599.

Unexpected stuff:

Pros: It had a cargo net. It was very clean. The exterior looked great, except that the front air dams were missing. Dealers receive Insights with the front air dams uninstalled, wrapped in plastic, in the trunk. Apparently, they would be damaged during shipping if they were installed at the factory. The lifetime average read 58mpg, suggesting that the car had been driven reasonably well, at barely over 1,000 miles/month.

Neutrals: The flat piece that belongs on top of the spare, under the "hidden trunk" well was uninstalled, laying on the rear deck with the uninstalled cargo net, the jack and the front air dams (still wrapped in plastic, never installed). The loops that the cargo net hook into at the rear of the car were folded up and hidden behind the cloth of the rear interior. I couldn't find the jack handle and tools (separate bag) until I pulled the hidden trunk well out. They were packed beside the spare.

Seeing the air dams like this was actually a bit of a negative, since it indicates that the dealer who received this car was clueless, and the person who drove it for a year was equally clueless.

Cons: There was only one key and no wireless dongle. The owner's manual had no dealer stamps for service. The dipstick oil was thick and dirty. The rear tires were pristine and the front ones had uneven wear suggesting low tire inflation, so the tires had obviously not been rotated. Almost 14,000 miles and there was no evidence of any maintenance besides filling up with gas. They'd blown off the first three required service mileage points. Likely, the warrantee might no longer be valid.

I had no reason to believe that someone stupid enough to ignore required maintenance would have a clue about running in a new engine. Likely, the oil filter was so clogged that the bypass valve had been running dirty oil through the engine for a while.

My other car is a Civic with just under 209,000 miles on it. I know how to run in an engine and keep up the maintenance. The Civic has never burned or leaked any oil. It pays to take care of a car. I don't want to pay for someone else NOT taking care of a car.

The dealership ran their operations out of a trailer. They apparently only sell cars that had been leased. They don't know a Honda Insight from a Chevvy Suburban. For them, it is "product" useful for making "money". They don't care about maintenance history so long as you take the car off their lot and pay them. One of the guys tried to counter my evidence of the clean maintenance page in the Owner's Manual by telling me that cars come in here with all kinds of mixed up stuff in them. There's no way to know that this Owner's Manual actually came with this car.

He was trying to suggest that somewhere out there is the Owner's Manual for this car, and it has dealer stamps in it proving maintenance. Like this is supposed to make me want to buy something from these people.

So, I'm back to waiting for a new car. The original deal is on and the car is still on order. The salesman apologized about the unexpected delay. Apparently, his manager had not informed him about that and he thought the car would be here sooner. I'm choosing to believe that communication on this was that bad. The salesman seems quite sincere and the story is quite believable.

He thinks that the late May/early June estimate is pessimistic and that the dealership would rather have me be pleasantly surprised if it shows up early instead of unpleasantly surprised if it shows up late. I'm choosing to believe this, too, though I don't intend to make any plans dependent upon the car until it actually shows up.

Until then, my checking account has more money in it than usual.

Will M
 

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Wow!

Mind-bogglingly scary but very thorough and descriptive used car nightmare story. Thanks Will M.
 
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