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Discussion Starter #1
Hi Alll!

I live in Russia and I got very interested in buying Insight.
It is not sold here, so I'll have to buy used car from US.

Could you please kindly answer me some questions:

1. How much does a battery replacment cost?
2. Can I just buy 100 D Cells (100*1.2=120V) like this one http://www.batteryspace.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWPROD&ProdID=325
and replace the cells in Insight battery for only 600$? These are even 10 Ah capacity. While Honda's stock is 6Ah.
3. How does Insight behave (MPG,battery) in cold climates. We have -20C(-5F) winter and I heard it is not good for NiMh.
4. How long can I expect the battery to last?
5. Can I set the display to display kilometers instead of miles?
6. How hard is it to make service repairs for Insight? There are no Hybrid services here. And people tell me that it is not even possible to replace brake pads without hybrid service skills
7.What should I be aware when buying 50000 mile car from US (it is offered for 8000$ here. year 2000.)

thanks.
 

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Hi subsea and welcome to the forum :!: :)

To answer your questions simply: An Insight is probably not for you in your location.

Point by point answers:

1. Parts are currently $2500+- USD for the IMA battery pack alone. For some 02 models and all others older there are updated battery controllers (MCM & BCM) that are _recommended_ for replacement too. Add another $3000+- USD.

2. No. In addition to the rating each cell is spot welded into a sub pack and their discharge rates are very high. Typically expressed in "C" where 1C = the rated capacity of the cell. Any generic NiMH calls that are not industrial quality will likely fail very rapidly. The Insight commonly reaches rates of 3C. You would also need 120 of these cells to equal the IMA battery packs voltage of 144v.

Also see:

http://www.rcepi.com/battery_charging_tips.htm

3. At those temperatures fuel consumption is high (low MPG) in all internal combustion engines. And the IMA will be unavailable until the batteries are warmed by the cabin heat. In cold weather this will likely take a long time. Fuel consumption is so low at idle that in cold weather an Insight will never fully warm up.

4. Difficult question to accurately answer. In a more moderate climate and driving the Insight for maximum fuel economy (high MPG) 120,000Km miles is not unreasonable. 180,000Km miles is probably attainable.

5. Yes. There's a simple push button on the instrument cluster.

6. If your asking about doing the repairs yourself then most basic things are not different than any other car. In your situation parts will have to be imported for each job. Expect long times when your Insight will not be drivable due to lack of parts. You would also need the factory Electrical Troubleshooting Manual and the Service Manual. About another $200 USD.

With the exception of the finite service life of any rechargeable battery (NiMH in this case) the rest of the Insight's electrical hybrid system has been very reliable.

7. Impossible to accurately answer. What is an Insight worth in Russia :?: However, it is the IMA batteries that are always a main concern when buying a used hybrid. And its practically impossible to measure their remaining service life. So unless there are records of their replacement you must expect that replacement will be needed sooner rather than later.

Hope this helps :!: :)
 

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Battery replacement has generally been paid for by Honda to date.

Standard D cells can not be used as a direct replacement. Standard cells have been designed for maximum storage capacity. This is done by reducing the thickness of the plates. This increases the internal resistance of the batteries. For normal use this is acceptable but it would likely lead to overheating and shortening of cycle life in a hybrid application where currents of 50 to 100 amperes are not uncommon. A second issue is the connecting together of the cells. In the hybrid module the cells are welded together into sub packs with threaded couplers on each end. The good news is that the packs can be disassembled and tested and rebuilt using sub assemblies salvaged from packs that have been removed from scrapped Insights.

Regarding the servicing of the Insight, it is very similar to other Honda vehicles. The Honda IMA system is really quite simple physically. The computers are considered to be sealed units and are only serviceable by replacement.

I live in Ontario Canada. There are Insights in mid-western Canada and Alaska as well. I have driven my Insight at -25 degrees Celsius. I was able to start without using a block heater. At these temperatures there is a secondary 12 volt starter system that engages to prevent draining the 144 volt Nmh battery pack. It took about half an hour of driving for the inside of the car to reach comfortable room temperature. (I have owned cars that were much worse.) At these temperatures the IMA system will still try to put out full power. If you drive aggressively before it has a chance to warm up, the battery voltage will drop faster than the computer expects. This will cause the computer to recalibrate the IMA system, referred to as a "recal" on this forum. Using a synthetic oil is helpful at extreme temperatures.
 

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b1shmu63 said:
Battery replacement has generally been paid for by Honda to date..
Won't happen in Russia. Or for any import not originally sold in the country being imported to. And in most cases you forefit the warranty in the original country of _export_ too (Read: Gray market vehicles).

The "warranty" is made by the "Honda" corporation in the country of discussion that is authorized by Honda of Japan to import. All others are without warranty. And such warranty is not (as far as I know) transferrable.

Just some clairification for our international members Kip. :)

Sincerely,
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks all for good advice.
So, If I get it right, the main problem I may experience here in Russia is the battery replacement. I'll try to contact the previous owner to ask if he replaced battery.
Has anyone on this forum successfuly accomplished the DIY battery project?

In Moscow we have 4 months of winter 0-10F, then it gets warmer and even hot in summer.
By the way, Kip, how is Insight behaving in Canada? What mpg, battery life do you get?
I compared our locations on weather.com and the climates look very similar (cold winter, hot summer):
What MPG do you get in Canada at winter/summer times? Does it effect the battery life? Is there a way to disable the IMA system for winter times and to remove battery till spring? Would you overall recommend 2000 year Insight for this climate type?
 

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Yes you are correct about the weather. :D

There is no need to remove the IMA battery in the winter. There is no need to turn it off. Where I live I must drive up hill gradually for about three miles. The system recallibrated only once because I was driving too aggressively in very cold weather. My lifetime average miles per gallon is about 72 miles to the US gallon, that is about 86 miles per Canadian gallon or about 3.4 Litres per hundred kilometers. In the summer it is about 15 percent better. In winter it is about 20 percent worse. My trips are usually 25 or 50 miles one way, so the engine does warm up and I am able to travel at 50 miles per hour except for villages.

Most of the problems with IMA batteries have been people living in hot climates.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I was also wondering if breaks and other spare parts can fit from other honda cars or similar.
If I am to buy a 2000 year 50'000 mile Insight, what is the chance that I will have to replace the MCM and BCM?
 

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Front brake rotors do interchange with an eariler Civic, pads do not. Very few other parts will interchange.

The MCM & BCM are_updated_ parts to better manage the IMA batteries (144v batteries). So far it has not been absolutely confirmed that newer batteries are compatable with the older controllers. But a simple deduction says they are. However, there is a Honda factory service bulliten stating that the MCM & BCM _shall_ be replaced with a new 144v battery pack.

So while you may get satisfactory service life with a replacement 144v battery and the old controllers, but you should get even better with the newer controllers.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Overall, in terms of reliability Insight is as good as other Japan cars?
Does it have any weak points other then battery?
And if 144V battery dies will I be able to use the car whithout it and what mpg will I get?
 

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The Insight has been as reliable as other Hondas.

Complex question. In general no. See answer above.

No. The 12v system is integrated with the 144v sytem and when the IMA battery totally fails you will not be able to maintain the 12v system's charge and the car will not run. There is no direct or "easy" way around this.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
That's bad news, because I thought that 12v battery could work pretty much independently. Does it meen that if the 144v is out due to cold, then no longer it will supply power to 12v and I won't be able to start the car next day?
 

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No, the 144 volt battery will not be dead because of the cold. Chemical reactions take place more slowly as the temperature decreases. In the case of batteries this is seen as a higher internal resistance. Internal resistance decreases a battery/load systems efficiency, therefore if large demands are made on the system the voltage will drop faster than the computer expects. This has nothing to do with the actual charge in the battery which will return to normal as it warms up.

The Insight can start without a charge in the 144 volt battery.

The Insight cannot start without a charge in the 12 volt battery, however even a very weak charge in the 12 volt battery is sufficient to start the engine if the 144 volt system is charged.

The Insight has two starting systems. If the 144 volt battery is incapable of starting the car, the 12 volt starter will take over and start the engine. Normally this only happens if the weather is extremely cold or the 144 volt battery is drained.

The reason that the Insight can not be push started like a conventional car when the 12 volt system is discharged is that it has no alternator. The computers run off the 12 volt system and they are needed to down convert the voltage from the 144 volt system.

Neither of the batteries should be dead other than mechanical failure, or long term storage. Temperatures that you experience in Moscow would not be cold enough to freeze the electrolyte in charged batteries. The electrolyte in a common 12 volt lead acid battery will freeze if the battery is discharged, as it turns to water.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I almost made up my mind to buy a 50'000 mile, year 2000 Insight from Pennsylvania, US. for 8'000$
Because I fell in love with this idea, I may be unable to justify all the cons and pros, so I will appreciate your advice very much.

My final concerns are:
1. I found this message on this forum:
A note to Honda, we all know you scan this site from time to time: I am carefully documenting the details and conversations regarding this problem. This includes the discovery of five other owners of 2000 to 2002 Insights that have had recent IMA battery failures within the range of 84,000 to 86,000 miles, or ~5% over the original warranty mileage limit. And to think your battery partner, Panasonic, published service life estimates of at least 150,000 miles before failure for this pack.
What do you think chances are that in recent time I will need to replace the battery, BCM and MCM modules or anything else related to electric engine?
Battery import from Japan costs 3500$ here, BCM is 2000$, MCM is 1000$.

2. If battery fails, is there any, maybe "not easy" workaround to use the car? My friend mechanic suggests installing alternator in that case (with his help). Is it possible? What mpg should I expect?

3. What chances are that Insight enthusiasts succeed in DIY battery replacement to get a less than 1000$ battery?

4. What is the expected lifetime of the car (especially the 1.0L engine)?

5. How to check wether the car or battery has been heavily abused (some suggest LMPG value)?
 

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1) Unknown without knowing its current state. If there are NO early signs of aging or other deterioration then you _may_ be able to expect a few more years. But it is going to happen sooner rather than later. Those batteries are already 6+ years old. 10 years is a reasonable _maximum_ to expect without factoring in the additional aging issues of heat and driving style.

2) VERY not easy. When driven in the highest MPG "style" little or no MPG losses should result for long distance driving. In the city, the auto stop feature can add as much as a 5-8% increase in MPG.

3) Such appears to be VERY unlikely at this time or in the foreseeable future.

4) With care the rest of the car will last comparable to any other Honda model. How do 6 year old Civics fair in Moscow :?: The Insight's extensive aluminum construction will extend it's body's durability, But there is steel used in much of the suspension that will corrode and fail similarly to other Honda models.

5) This one is probably the most important and difficult.

A pre-purchase inspection would be money well spent. But finding someone that is trustworthy to do it over such a distance is the most difficult. As a pre-condition of a long distance sale it is not uncommon for the buyer (at his expense) to require such an inspection report. Expect to pay 50-100$ USD. And then negotiate any deficits found before final purchase. Its also not uncommon for a seller to decline such because of the extra trouble.


In my opinion:

If your a car collector and want something rare and unusual then the Insight is a good choice.

If you want a reasonable to maintain car to drive daily then for your location the Insight is a poor choice.

Sincerely,
 

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Have you checked Germany for used Insights? A member of our forum who was living in Germany recently sold his Insight. He complained that the dealers would not give him a good trade in. I conclude that a used Insight sells for less there.

Salvaged battery packs sell for about 500 dollars. If you use one to rebuild your pack and do the work completely yourself that would be the cheapest option. It would certainly be simpler and more appropriate than trying to turn the Insight into a non hybrid.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I see b1shmu63 is more optimistic about my situation, then Insightful Trekker :) That's probably because b1shmu63 lives in similar (and even a bit more extreme) climate.

That's good news about german insights. Then my first long trip would be 1200(one direction) mile trip to Germany for the new battery :) Always wanted to visit this country. Ofcourse, I'll go there after installing an alternator (it is probably possible in no AC version).

Here are my final (or prefinal) thoughts:
1. I've got a friend mechanic who will help me with Insight. He will do a prepurchase diagnostic for me. He even agress to help me install alternator if battery fails
2. All the parts for Insight are available in my place (new parts from Japan). e.g.absorbers - 130$, brakes - 35$
3. If panasonic states 150'000 miles lifetime for the battery, then I got 100'000 miles left - and that is a lot of years(I drive 10'000 miles/year)!
4. Even if battery fails earlier, I'll be able to temporarly use the car without it.
To drive an Insight without the IMA battery being used ... It is just a fuse you pull from the fuse panel... I forget off hand which one... but that is all you have to do... to disable the assist and regen... do a search and you should be able to find it.
Or I can have alternator for 12v system installed (costs 100-200$, friend says)
5. Battery can be delivered new or used from Japan or Germany or USA.

Summing it up - Insight may be a good deal for me with not too much headache and a lot of fun.

I just don't get one idea: why do BCM and MCM fail??
 

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Hi Subsea, you can call me Kip as it is way easier to type. :lol:

I'm glad you have a mechanic friend who is willing to help. Hopefully you will only get together for fun.

John is just trying to give you good advice to keep you out of trouble. Myself, I'm in love with the Insight, so I'm not thinking as clearly! :D Besides in the winter my nearest neighbour is 3,000 feet from here across a wind swept unplowed field, so I have to be a little optimistic. :roll:

The BCM and MCM should not fail. When Honda does warranty battery replacement, they keep the old parts. Naturally they want to know why the battery failed. Was it an electrical connector, a computer program, an overheating component? For this reason they replace the MCM and BCM at the same time. This is also good for public relations. They don't want a customer to have a second battery failure a short time later due to a defective computer. Some intermittent electronic problems can take a long time to find so changing the computer elements at the same time, is good business.

Only Honda have the data, but perhaps we can deduce something from the little we know.

According to the Honda IMA recall notice some part of the system allowed the batteries to overcharge under certain conditions. A software patch was developed to deal with this issue. Apparently this was primarily an issue in warm climates, so if I was to guess at the problem I would suspect that the algorithm that they used to determine the maximum voltage on the batteries did not compensate properly at extreme temperatures. There was also a mention when the new Civic design was introduced, that the new batteries were mechanically more rugged. This seems to indicate that another failure mode may have been caused by vibration or shock. Interestingly, if you read the information from Toyota carefully you will see where they state that no hybrid battery has failed due to wear. Most consumers assume this means that no Prius batteries have ever failed. This really implies that some of their batteries have failed due to other causes. Honda has always maintained that the Nmh technology when cycled correctly should theoretically last the life of the car.
 
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There is simply a button you press which changes the display from miles to kilometers.

Thoses clever Japs, they really do think of everything.
 
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