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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I thought this would be the best place to ask some questions about the real world experiences of owning and fixing these cars in 2021.

I'm going to look at a 2000 5-spd with about 180K on the clock. I've always had a thing for these cars for some reason i cant explain (probably most of the people who like these!) But I'm very wary of getting involved in something that will leave me stuck somewhere all the time or become a paperweight because I cant find parts or someone who can diagnose or repair the car if its beyond my means of skill or time. I'm a former mechanic with 5 years experience, I've worked on a few hybrids but nothing major, and nothing specific to IMA. I'm completely aware that its an older car and just like everything else they will have issues and diagnosing involved, just because of its uniqueness its a bit of a challenge to justify, but for the entry price on these cars it seems like a big possible win too.

TLDR: Is this actually worth the potential headaches? id be commuting 100 miles a day on average 5 days a week. But after my mini cooper just blew up i cant afford to make another mistake like buying a BMW product...
 

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I have heard Minis have a habit of doing that. You have a couple of important things in your favor... You are mechanical (not that the cars need much more attention than other cars). The IMA battery can be the issue. I have heard that the nickel metal hydride batteries have a somewhat high rate of self discharge. If you get a healthy battery pack and are exercising it on a regular basis, this is the best way to keep the pack healthy. If you don't have to pass s smog inspection in your area there is the option of bypassing the IMA system with the loss of 13 hp. Many have done this, and the MPG is just about the same. I think the cars are a lot of fun to drive. I really can't speak to the issue of parts unavailability, there are supply chain issues with a lot of even new cars. Others will surely add more information.
 

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I've owned my 2000 Insight for about 2 years now. The car had 175k on it when I got it. Being a 1st generation hybrid, the car is more complex than most cars on the road. That complexity, however, is more than offset by forums such as this one with so many people explaining the systems and being willing to help you with problems you are experiencing. It takes time though to read through all these resources.

While my Insight has yet to leave me stranded anywhere, I have dealt with a plethora of issues:

-P0420 code that ultimately required an O2 sensor "anti-fouling" mod.
-Herky jerky engine when lean burn kicked in which required cleaning out the EGR plate and cleaning/testing the EGR valve.
-One of my brake lines burst. All the lines looked like crap and it took me 4 days to replace them all.
-Various odd electrical issues that were caused by bad engine ground straps.
-Now my IMA system is acting up and I'm going to spend 4-5 days doing a deep discharge/recharge cycle.

Some of these issues are inherent with ANY 20+ year old car. Some of them are unique to the Insight. My hope is that resolving the problem with the IMA system is last major obstacle to several years of stress-free ownership.

In contrast, I once bought a 16 year old 1994 Honda Civic that I owned for 7 years and did almost no maintenance on (except oil changes). The only problems I had with it was a cracked radiator and one time it wouldn't start because it badly needed new spark plug wires...put the new wires on and off I went.

I do love the Insight though...the basicness of the interior, the interactivity (mine has a MIMA controller installed), the corrosion-free and light-weight aluminum chassis, the high fuel efficiency, etc. Overall I'm happy with it but if my life was any busier it would of been hard to keep up with the problems I've had the last 2 years.
 

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I've owned and taken 3 Hondas past 300k miles in my 150 mile per day commute, so I feel that experience is somewhat relevant to your question regarding your commute.

1995 Civic VX - 411K miles
2001 Civic HX - 352K miles
2000 Insight - 320K miles

I believe that based on your question, it will really come down to the vehicles condition, the price, and if you ultimately like the platform. My personal opinion is that unless the Insight you described is REALLY cheap, then it likely won't be worth it to you long term.

How I view the basic math of it:
Lets assume that you are buying the Insight for $4000.
Lets also assume that you could buy a Civic for $4000-$5000 with similar miles.
Lets also assume that neither vehicle has a catastrophic issue in 3 years of ownership.

Honda Insight - 500 miles per week / 55mpg x $3.00 a gallon gas x 52 weeks = $1418.00 per year in gas
Honda Civic - 500 miles per week / 30mpg x $3.00 a gallon gas x 52 weeks = $2600.00 per year in gas
Total Miles Driven Yearly = 26K miles
Total Miles Driven Over 3 Years = 78K miles

Yearly Gas Savings with Insight vs Civic = $1182.00
Total Savings Over 3 Years with Insight = $3546.00

Now factor in the cost of a Hybrid Pack (3 year Warranty) = $1900.00

Basic Math:
3 Years of Savings Minus Hybrid Pack Cost

$3546.00 - $1900.00 = $1646.00 Over 3 Years
$1646.00 / 3 Years = $549 a Year

If you saved $1000 on the purchase price..... Total Savings Over 3 Years = $2646.00
$882.00 a Year Savings

Having owned 3 of the most fuel efficient Hondas ever made, I've come to realize that the Insight platform is really only viable to true super commuters and for hobbyists at this point in my opinion. To me the $882 in savings per year do no justify owning an Insight for cost saving purposes. For daily commuting, Insights ride very rough relative to Civics, parts are more often more expensive and not as easy to come by if needed versus a Civic (although mine was mostly reliable), and the hybrid packs are basically 3 years and done. Can you get more than 3 years from a pack - probably - but then you're having to become a hobbyist and delve into grid charging and other small hacks that take time from your daily life. If you love doing things like that, then it might be the car for you. They aren't the most difficult to work on typically, but do have a few oddities that take time to learn. And while many on here will say that you can drive without the pack, which you can, most don't commute 100+ miles daily at 75mph in different types of terrain. I've been there and I can tell you that its truly tiresome to continue to try to milk a non-pack car on long commutes. If you commuted 20 miles to work, I'm sure its easily doable, and likely what I would recommend.

From a commuter standpoint, the 2001 Civic HX was by far the least stressful, most reliable vehicle Honda I owned. Very simple repairs that were very cheap and it had modern ride quality. You get in, you drive, you get 35mpg all day long at 75mph. Would buy another one if I could find one that wasn't beaten to death already.

While the 1995 Civic VX is a cult classic, of the three cars, it was actually my least favorite to drive due to being the oldest design. Still a very reliable and good car, but the modern ride quality is severely lacking. As a plus, likely the easiest vehicle to repair yourself I have ever seen. Very, very simple repairs. In addition, many of the specific 92-95 Civic VX parts are harder to source, discontinued, or are much more expensive than they once where. General EG parts though are still readily available for the most part.

Just my thoughts having lived your question...
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
All of these reply's are awesome thanks for taking the time out to really put thought into this response for me :) Ill keep everyone posted on how this goes! the seller was running very late so ill be looking at it this week. ive spent a lot of time on and off researching these cars so ill make sure to really read through each response.
 

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2005 G1 NFR 5spd
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Brent in Toledo has all kinds of Insight parts. He runs his Craigslist adds in most major cities.
Car Automotive parking light Land vehicle Vehicle Tire

He had shipped parts to me and I have also picked up parts at his shop. He brought parts in a Uhaul trailer to Insightfest 2019 at Columbus, OH.
Car Automotive parking light Wheel Land vehicle Tire
 
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Welcome. Get a decent starter car, go through it and get everything working/repaired, and enjoy it. I've bought 3 in the last 12 months and made them all near perfect for little money. Just make sure you are picky before purchase. I looked at about 100 of them to find 3 decent starters. Currently driving a red '03 with 203k miles and getting 74 mpg in town with no mods.

Here are two helpful videos I made from what I've learned. There are others on my channel but these are the most helpful for a new buyer:


 

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One thing to know is that your commuting conditions can make a big difference. If it is mostly freeway with only moderate traffic, or if back roads, the Insight will be great. If there is a lot of stop and go traffic, it will be the usual hassle of a manual transmission car, plus the fuel economy will suffer--a lot.

For normal traffic it has plenty of power, but you do need to be skilled at working on-ramps, especially if they are short and the traffic is heavy.

Optimum conditions are slight downhill grade, 60 MPH, 75 degrees, no wind. Best case is if you have a single fairly steep uphill grade and then all the rest gentle downhill. You might have to change your job and/or house to get those conditions. :)

I would plan to buy a new battery ($2300) as part of any Insight purchase. Not hard to replace and definitely worth it compared to an old one that is throwing codes and running down all the time.

Generally I think the lack of rust on the Gen1 Insight counterbalances some of the other difficulties. Routine maintenance is like any other older car, there are a few quirks just like anything else.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Brent in Toledo has all kinds of Insight parts. He runs his Craigslist adds in most major cities.
View attachment 92626
He had shipped parts to me and I have also picked up parts at his shop. He brought parts in a Uhaul trailer to Insightfest 2019 at Columbus, OH.
View attachment 92627
Welcome. Get a decent starter car, go through it and get everything working/repaired, and enjoy it. I've bought 3 in the last 12 months and made them all near perfect for little money. Just make sure you are picky before purchase. I looked at about 100 of them to find 3 decent starters. Currently driving a red '03 with 203k miles and getting 74 mpg in town with no mods.

Here are two helpful videos I made from what I've learned. There are others on my channel but these are the most helpful for a new buyer:


Welcome. Get a decent starter car, go through it and get everything working/repaired, and enjoy it. I've bought 3 in the last 12 months and made them all near perfect for little money. Just make sure you are picky before purchase. I looked at about 100 of them to find 3 decent starters. Currently driving a red '03 with 203k miles and getting 74 mpg in town with no mods.

Here are two helpful videos I made from what I've learned. There are others on my channel but these are the most helpful for a new buyer:


Hey thanks for the info! I actually watched your videos before I made my account here! Amazing videos very thorough and informative! I’m hoping to take a look at it this week as the buyer was running 2 hours late so I had to reschedule. I’ll post any of my findings with the car here too either to help me decide if it’s worth it or to possibly help some other potential buyers out
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
You should put your location into your profile so people will have a better understanding of your situation. :)
I’ll make sure to update my info ASAP! Seems to be hard to find in my phone for some reason vs the browser but I’m from Long Island NY so my commute is basically flat 85% highway driving
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
the car in question has 180,000 on the clock and claims it runs and drives. I plan on doing the acceleration test to monitor the assist and charging to see how it responds. I’m completely ok with replacing the battery pack myself on it I just worry about the car being immobilized or having some weird key programming issues that most shops can’t repair.
Speedometer Trip computer Odometer Vehicle Car
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Also if any of you super helpful people are in the Ny area and work on these things or know someone who is comfortable with them definitely let me know! i think it would take some of the stresses of the unknown out of the situation. I'm totally ok and understanding of owning old cars (Recently sold my 96 accord... big mistake!) and obviously I'm always ok with paying for someone's time and knowledge. The seller called me this morning so I'm planning on taking my test drive today, even if it doesn't pan out I'm so excited to finally get to sit in one of these cars lol
 

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I've owned my Insight for the past five years and I get your apprehension about owning one. What I've found in my time owning it is that it pretty much performs like any other Honda. I thought you'd need a degree in electrical engineering to figure it out but that has not been the case. I am a shade tree mechanic at best and I've managed to swap out the battery and do some basic stuff (brakes, clean the EGR, valve adjustment). My commute is similar to yours but mostly highway and I'm getting about 65mpg during the summer. No hypermile techniques. I'm also in New York and could give you a hand but I'm a couple of hours away from you. With your experience, you should be fine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Scratch that. Must be this car? 2000 Honda Insight hybrid 5 speed - cars & trucks - by owner -... If it runs as good as it looks it would be a good deal. Just make sure all the emissions monitors have completed and the seller hasn't reset the check engine or IMA lights.
Hey yeah that's the car! unfortunately it was not quite as good as it looks. Because I was under the gun to get something driving by this week, I sadly had to pass on it. But the interior overall was in good shape and seemingly everything was working that i could tell. When it was running it had no charge and had 2 stored codes: P1568: "Cruise Servo Stroke Greater Than Commanded in Cruise" and P1449: "No data" on my scan tool. I did notice that the one ground strap on the DS of the engine was broken. And the car did eventually begin to stall out. But I was planning on sharing the ad and info for anyone on here that may be interested. The guy seemed to be willing to be pretty negotiable on the price when I had pointed out the the battery pack was most likely needing replacement so if anyone on here in the NY/Long Island area is in need of a seemingly healthy project or a solid parts car id check this one out! The paint was a bit faded as well and where he has it its a bit difficult to really properly check it all over and check the trans out but if you're fairly local I'd definitely give it a look and see what he would take for it. Thanks again for all of the help with this, I'm genuinely surprised at how nice and responsive this community is and hopefully one day when i have more time and space to work on cars again i'll be scooping one up and get to be a more active part of the group!
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Hey yeah that's the car! unfortunately it was not quite as good as it looks. Because I was under the gun to get something driving by this week, I sadly had to pass on it. But the interior overall was in good shape and seemingly everything was working that i could tell. When it was running it had no charge and had 2 stored codes: P1568: "Cruise Servo Stroke Greater Than Commanded in Cruise" and P1449: "No data" on my scan tool. I did notice that the one ground strap on the DS of the engine was broken. And the car did eventually begin to stall out. But I was planning on sharing the ad and info for anyone on here that may be interested. The guy seemed to be willing to be pretty negotiable on the price when I had pointed out the the battery pack was most likely needing replacement so if anyone on here in the NY/Long Island area is in need of a seemingly healthy project or a solid parts car id check this one out! The paint was a bit faded as well and where he has it its a bit difficult to really properly check it all over and check the trans out but if you're fairly local I'd definitely give it a look and see what he would take for it. Thanks again for all of the help with this, I'm genuinely surprised at how nice and responsive this community is and hopefully one day when i have more time and space to work on cars again i'll be scooping one up and get to be a more active part of the group!
Oh and all of the monitors were clear except for the one that had the codes stored which was EVAP monitor. So I'm sure someone who really knows these cars can identify what it needs pretty quickly!
 

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I would hold off on a battery at the current time unless funds are unlimited. They're pretty far through testing on lithium and it's going to be a pretty similar price to NIMH but should last longer and have more power and less quirks.
 
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