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Discussion Starter #1
Is anyone besides me experiencing problems with piston slap with their engine? The engine in my 2003 CVT was bone quiet when new but has now developed a case of piston slap on what sounds like #1 cylinder at 30,000 miles. :? Insight Trekker mentioned that the short skirt piston design is to blame for the clatter. I'm just curious as to how many other Insight owners may be experiencing this annoying dilemma?? Anyone?
 

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Our Insight did. Our 98 Civic did. In fact every Honda w/ a small I-4 that I have ever owned has. Our Element does not....yet (2.4L I-4).
 

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Piston slap is an inaccurate term. It denotes a much more serious condition. AFAIK Piston percussion is the accurate term.

To recombine the complete thought so new readers will understand the concept:

Way back in 1985 Honda (and probably several other Japanese auto manufacturers) shortened the skirts on the pistons to reduce friction. Unfortunately this allows the piston to "wiggle" a bit more until its fully expanded with temperature hence the rattle. It is of no durability consequence, but it can sure sound "bad" to a new Honda owner.

I personally know of several Hondas (not Insights) that have exceeded 500,000 miles with the noise :!: :shock: My old CRX HF and 89 Civic both did it for over 250,000 miles.

If you engine makes a sharp tapping noice that completely fades out after the engine is fully warmed up then its most likely the piston percussion noise. Loose valves do not fade with warm-up and commonly get a bit worse after warm.

HTH! :)
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Ok, so what typically wears first to cause the percussion, the piston or the cylinder? My engine has only recently developed the problem at 30,000 miles and didn't have the problem until just recently. Does the aluminum block have inserts or do the aluminum pistons ride directly on aluminum bores. I have the 2000-2003 factory service manual and that doesn't appear to indicate whether the bores are aluminum or have inserts. :? I've done engine oil and filter changes with the Honda 0W-20 engine oil at 3500 mile intervals and I'm a bit discouraged that my engine has developed this problem considering that I have taken very good care of it. I still find it strange that the problem is only with one cylinder and not all three. Something isn't right! :?

On another note, the piston illustrations in the service manual show some pretty tiny pistons with practically no skirt at all below the wrist pin. :roll:
 

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Engine sounds like a sewing machine

I concure with you Curious Dave...
I have a 2001 Insight with 95,000km on it now. When I purchased the car you had to listen very closely to hear if the engine was even running. Now it sounds more like a sewing machine. I complained about the noise while the car was under warranty and nothing was done. They told me it sounded fine to them.

As I write this, my Insight is at the dealer for numerous problems... I have never missed a scheduled service interval and the car should be having Type 4 service done for approx $390.00. The dealer has called me to let me know that the estimated service cost is now almost $1200.00. (Note that this is in Canadian dollars. Currently coversion rate approx: .90 cents =one dollar US)

In order to resolve the engine noise issue, the dealer wants to adjust the valve lash ($147.00) and at the same time perform a 'injector flush' (using a GM product that gets poured into the cylinders, then sits overnight) in order to disolve possible carbon buildup in the rings ($120.00). No promise that either will fix the problem. Seems to me that I might just be paying for their technician's training. Although in all fairness the dealer has told me that they will cover the cost of the 'flush' if it does not make a difference in engine noise.

Because doing both of these things at the same time will not tell me which (if any) might resolve the problem, I have told the dealer to adjust the valve lash first and I'll see how that sounds before proceeding to the injector flush.

I have a bunch of other issues too, but I don't want to get off topic so I'll post them under a new thread.
(http://www.insightcentral.net/forum/vie ... 5603#45603)

I'll let you know the outcome in the next few days.
 

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As with all noise diagnosis via the Internet there's too much room for error to be 100% accurate. But piston percussion "noise" is _NORMAL_ and of no consequence. If your noise is gone after warm-up stop worring, be happy :!: :) Its not a problem and it's charasterics are distinct.

FYI & AFAIK the bores are aluminum. [My edit: incorrect, their steel sleeved] The pistons are shot peened for the best "texture" to improve oil hang-up. As wear progresses (a few 10's of thousands of an inch) the noise will worsen, but completely fade after warm. Did I mention it completely fades after warm and is of no durability consequence :?:

What you are experiencing is anybody's guess. You could borescope it but if your symptoms match the above I personally wouldn't waste the time. And yes I thought I was wrong once, but found out it was a mistake. :p :)

Don't know what else I can say on this topic.

HTH! :)
 

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Discussion Starter #7
The clatter does fade once the engine reaches operating temperature, but not completely, and the problem seems to be slowly getting worse as time goes on. I'm still curious as to why only one cylinder is acting up instead of all three. I really hope I don't end up having to tear into the engine to see just exactly what is going on. :x My car has five months left before the three year warranty runs out so I'm going to keep my fingers crossed and hope that the problem doesn't get any worse. I checked my valve clearance myself at right around 20,000 miles and no adjustment was needed. I checked the clearance again at right around 28,000 miles and had to make some very minor adjustments.

Steve C ...... I hope the dealer plans to change your oil and filter after they attempt to remove any carbon deposits with a liquid solvent. Some of the solvent will most likely leak past the piston rings and contaminate the oil. :roll:
 

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The dealer could think its carbon buildup causing pinging, or premature detonation, hence the top engine cleaner. Could be a timing issue too although it's doubtful. Eh?
 

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Try an oil analysis. If the piston is going it should be making deposits in the oil.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
rusty41251 said:
Try an oil analysis. If the piston is going it should be making deposits in the oil.
I'm going to be doing an oil and filter change one day this week and that will give me a chance to look for metallic particles in the oil and filter. I'm also planning to invest in a mechanics stethoscope to help me pinpoint which cylinder is making the clatter. I'm pretty sure it's #1, but my hearing isn't the greatest after many hard youthful years of being a rock musician. :lol: I am now in my mid 40's and it's a wonder that I can still hear at all. My mechanical ear is still pretty good, though, all considered. :)

I forgot to mention that I removed the rocker arm shaft assembly and disassembled for inspection some time ago. The clatter at first made me suspicious of a worn valve guide or valve stem since adjusting the valve clearance did zip to improve the problem. After disassembling the rocker shaft to inspect for wear, I noticed that the rocker shaft and the primary aluminum rocker arms were worn on the bottom "load" side (the portion that faces downward on the cylinder head and found that a little strange for an engine with such low mileage. The amount of wear on the rocker shaft was only slight, about .0005" and the wear on the aluminum rockers was right about the same with .0005" missing on the I.D., so that makes .001" of total wear. I guess I can live with that.

I also checked my factory service manual and noticed that it says to coat the cylinder bores with oil after honing to prevent surface rust, which means that the cylinders most likely have iron or possibly steel inserts. The manual also states that the bores can only be oversized once to .010" oversize. I'll probably be stopping by the Honda dealer tomorrow to see if they have a new piston and/or a new short block in stock that I can look at and examine closely. 8) With my luck, they'll probably have neither one in stock. :roll:

Just out of curiosity, which version of the Insight does everyone drive that is experiencing the piston problem...the CVT or the 5-speed manual?
 

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5 Speed.
Update: Went to pickup my Insight from the dealer after they completed the valve lash adjustment. The engine was much, much, much, much quiter. Reminded me of when I first purchased the car.

I was about to drive away when I noticed that the 'Check engine' light was on. Wasn't on when I brought the car in for service.
Parked it in the service bay and drove my rental car back home.

and thus the saga continues...
 

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Hello!

At 92,989km I had the following problem with my 2001 Insight (Canada):
Knocking noise, excessive piston clearance.
Correction: replaced engine short block. Was all done under 100,000km warranty. Dealer told me it would have cost around $5,300!!

Looking at the old short block, they told me it was the middle piston that was problematic.

Christian
Near Montreal, Quebec
2001 #78, Canada
 

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Check Engine light caused by yet another bad oxygen sensor. Thankfully, the dealer paid for a new one since I had replaced the same sensor just over 1 year ago...

As I mentioned above, the car is much quiter after the valve adjustment, but still not a silent as it should be. At least I now know that the problem is not solely valve clearance. I suspect piston slop now. Next step according to the dealer is to dump the GM cleaner into the pistons then failing that hand the car over to Honda to decide what to do next.

Since Honda has now declared the Insight a dead model (Honda announced May 16th that it will be discontinuing the Insight as of September 06), it will be interesting to see what level of future interest they will afford their loyal Insight clients that continue to experience problems.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
According to my factory service manual: Piston-to-Cylinder-Clearance
(0.0002" - 0.0017"). That's just a bit on the tight side if you ask me. Not much room for thermal expansion. :? I suppose this is one reason why Honda recommends 0W-20 motor oil, but that clearance range is still awfully tight.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
ccharleb said:
Looking at the old short block, they told me it was the middle piston that was problematic.

Christian
Near Montreal, Quebec
2001 #78, Canada

Were you able to get a good look at the middle cylinder? I priced a new shortblock just for the heck of it and Honda gets $3980.00 US for one. A new standard size piston runs $45.00 US.
 

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Unfortunatly, I wasn't there when the job was done. They could have done only an engine job, but decided to go the easiest way with a new shortblock. Car is running very quietly now!

Christian
 
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