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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Greetings!

I'm an import mechanic (mostly German), do a lot of electric work but never gotten into a hybrid system. I just expanded my motley fleet...
1994 BMW 525i wagon. Two-box body, RWD, round glass headlights, pre-OBD.
1981 Toyota 4x4 truck. Two-box body, RWD (most of the time), round glass headlights, non-OBD.
1973 Ford P400. Two-box body, RWD, round glass headlights, what the heck is OBD?
...with a 2003 Honda Insight. Sorta-two-box body, FWD, irregularly-shaped plastic headlights... OBD2?! What on earth is this thing? You mean it's made in this millenium? Weird! Sure looks out of place here... At least it's a manual like the others. Black sheep? Well, it's silver, and most of the other rigs are black, so I guess it's the Silver Sheep. It's one of two OBD2 vehicles I've ever owned, and the only one whose year begins with a 2.

It doesn't run, throws cam sensor codes. Beyond that, I'm told the HV battery is kaput, and everything else should be ok.

My plans, at this time:
1. Get it sorted out and usable as a daily driver. The others in the fleet are old, rare, rust-prone, and not particularly efficient (the BMW can crack 30mpg highway, averaging ~24, but the Hilux tops out at 18-20 on a good day, and the P400... don't ask). They are also relatively large vehicles with cargo and passenger capacity that's useless dead weight 95% of the time. A sub-2000lb FWD two-seater, little more than a weatherproof motorcycle that won't tip over, is far better suited to that 95%. Also, sleek aerodynamics get the engineer in me all hot and bothered. Aluminum is a bonus, too.

2. Bypass the big battery since it doesn't work anyway.

3. Make it slightly nice. I've got a spare set of BMW E34 seats that hopefully will fit with custom brackets but no hammers. Windows tinted. Might stuff some soundproofing in a few places, and definitely want to spruce up the interior with at least some paint. I don't care for Appliance Grey; this is more my cup of tea:



4. Someday... zero-wire diesel. I've read what there is to find about the TDI Insight (project seems to have aborted halfway through?), might use that same engine but I've no interest in running the hybrid or any electronic engine management. I like my rigs reliable and easy to work on. Having to operate a cable to raise the idle when cold, and other "inconveniences", are prices well worth paying for the prevention of things like - case in point - a bad cam sensor disabling the entire car.

I'm a regular on Bimmerforums and an occasional on YotaTech, Delicaclub, 4btswaps, the Mazda Diesel board, BenzWorld, and probably some other fora I'm forgetting at the moment. I know better than to post my questions that have surely been asked and answered ad nauseum over the years, so I've got homework to do: cam sensors, junction board bypass, people's experience with soundproofing, where to get shocks, and more.
 

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Welcome aboard.

Cam sensors don’t fail on these cars. It could be mostly likely rodent damage to the harness on the left end of the cylinder head. For some reason the rodents love to nest there and then chew on the harness. Start with checking there first.

It is also possible the cam shaft has seized in the head and spun the gear on the cam.

Scott
 

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Welcome. Insight tinkering puts you right at home on InsightCentral. Since you are local to Bumblebee batteries, you might get an inexpensive rebuild hybrid battery from them. That would give you a bit of time to play with the magic of hybrid assist. I predict you would love it.
 

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Welcome Moroza. I’m in Portland too. I’ve done two soundproofings on my insights. You are welcome to my tips on that if - when you are ready. Good luck. Sounds like with your mechanical experience you will be a valuable addition to the insight community. We could use a good insight mechanic here in Portland. Scott ( KLR3CYL ) is the west coast insight whisperer but he’s a long days drive south.
 

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Good to see another PNW owner here. I'm out on the coast, Astoria. I am sure you will love your Insight as much as the rest of us do. I have had mine for two years now and enjoy it as much as the day I bought it, in PDX.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
This project paused while I deal with the rest of my fleet. Too many irons in the fire, but now one of them is cooling off and it's the Insight's turn. I'm away from it for another week.

I feel dumb asking this, having introduced myself as an electrics specialist (I meant analog electrics that you can't just plug stuff into)... does the 1g Insight have a CAN bus?

I looked into Bumblebee Batteries. Hop skip and a jump from me, and I've driven a fully operational Insight before, but I can't justify the price. I'm not invoking a simple cost-to-cost comparison (the one whereby a $200 guzzler ends up being cheaper transportation than a $10000 hybrid), because I agree that fuel economy is a benefit in its own right, but because long-term the intention is to be free of petroleum as a fuel source altogether. Hence the diesel plans, and for now, just running it as a conventional gasser.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
No compression. Cam not snapped. Only one intake valve moves, but that's how VTEC works, right? Spooned some oil into cylinder 1 and got perhaps 20psi compression. Unless there's something unusual about the ICE internals, looks like this engine is toast? With regard to pecularities of the ECA1, what are the relative merits of rebuilding vs. replacing whole? I get the sense that the hardware of this car isn't the most durable. Car-part shows engines, claimed to be good, as cheap as $300. Anyone near Portland with a good motor?
 

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Did you check the pin between the cam gear and the cam?

Sam
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
The cam is turning, but now that you specifically pointed me to it, that pin does look wrong.
86021
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Meanwhile, I found and downloaded the FSM and searched for info on this forum and elsewhere. One thing confuses me: no source seems to clarify which of the two marks (a single line or a triple line) on the harmonic balancer represents TDC. Assuming that one of them represents TDC, it's clear that this thing jumped time, big-time (pun intended). The flat indented line on the camshaft sprocket is something like 200-220 degrees retarded from the pulley marks. So... some questions:

1. Is that assumption correct? Which mark is TDC, and what's the purpose of the other mark?
2. How/why did this happen, and what's considered a cure? Welding? Extra torque and threadlocker? Stronger cam sprocket pin?
3. My gut says that if I correctly reset the timing and it results in decent compression (I'm used to 180-240psi BMW motors and various 400+psi diesels; I gather the ECA1 is healthy if above 140?), I apply whatever fix is appropriate for the cam sprocket, and leave the head on, the engine in, and carry on. Opinions on this approach?
 

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Here is the locations for cam timing, Everything is set on Number 1 cyl , Extreme left mark on crank pully is TDC.
86022
 

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I have a good motor I don't have plans for in Brush Prairie, WA. The car was wrecked just a few months ago and ran very well. I checked compression before removing transmission and got 230-210-220. It has 250K miles. Send me a Private message if interested.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
PM sent.

Yeah, my timing is WAY off. Curious what that other mark is for.

Did some homework: seems there are two internal oil screens on the ECA1, one for the chain tensioner and the other for VTEC. The latter is inline with the oil passages to the camshaft bearings, and when it clogs, the bearings starve for oil. The increased drag on the camshaft stresses the (rather undersized IMO) camshaft sprocket/shaft key, shearing it and randomizing valve timing.

The InsightCentral.net PDF encyclopedia curiously has a section entitled "Special Maintenance Considerations: Engine Oil" which mentions absolutely nothing about what I would definitely call a special maintenance consideration related to engine oil. This omission seems quite an oversight, especially since it appears to be a known issue that can ruin a $500+? head, and is (presumably) easily prevented by changing a $10 screen periodically.
 

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I'd love to see a tear down of these screens. My car's valve train looked pretty clean at 193K miles, but I'd love to see where you read about it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I started by searching for camshaft pin issues, followed a trail to this thread, and corroborated the info with some pages of the Cylinder Head section of the FSM. Page 2 of that also mentions an additional oil screen, for the chain tensioner. The part numbers are:

15825-P0A-005 superceded by 15825-P0A-015 VTEC filter "spool valve gasket"
14511-PHM-003 tensioner filter
 

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well, you're not in rare company here. you've got a twisted camshaft and you'll need a replacement head. It happens on these cars from time to time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Minor correction to you and major to me: the camshaft is snapped just before the third bearing surface. At this mileage, and on meaningful time constraints, I'm replacing the engine whole (thanks, Kenny!)

And another correction: my timing is slightly off. I thought there was one flat line on the cam sprocket, but now I see the correct one and it's only shifted a little, perhaps 2 degrees retarded.

My homework summary above appears to be exactly what happened here:
86036
86037
86038


So... I'm getting a replacement longblock. The following I'll replace while in there. Would anyone care to add to the list?
- Clutch kit Sachs K7027401
- Sparkplugs Denso 3381
- Rear main seal 91214-PHM-003, going with Nippon Reinz 91214
- Front main seal 9031143004, 9031143006, 90311A0001, 91202PHM003, 91212PWA003, or 91252SB2013 (whew! Also a Ford part, E1FZ1175A), going with Timken 473677
- Oilpan end seals Mahle OS32414
- Valvecover gasket Mahle VS50638 or Reinz 715375700
- VTEC filter 15825-P0A-015, genuine
- Chain tensioner filter 14511-PHM-003, genuine
- Intake manifold gaskets 17106-PHM-006, Reinz 71-53753-00

Specifically, should I replace any of these? The car has over 260k. The donor engine 250k.
- Chain guides
- Transmission input seal, not currently leaking
- Powertrain mounts
- Oil pump
- Timing chain
- Chain tensioner
 

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Clutch Kit: use the Exedy KHC11 clutch kit.
Sparkplugs: Use the Honda Letter plugs that match your donor engine's head. Scott, KLR3CYL, stocks them at the shop in SoCal.

When you have the transmission out, grab the input shaft and forcefully wiggle in all six directions. If it moves at all then you have worn out and/or failing bearings inside.

On that note, Scott does complete transmission rebuilds with all new bearings. The first and second gear syncro mod is done alleviate the downshift grind issue and in addition to that, everything gets disassembled and cleaned inside and out. No one does it better.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Genuine spark plugs, check. What do you mean by "letter"?
 
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