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I'm trying to make a purchase decision on a 2003 5 Spd. I would appreciate any thoughts or advice any body would care to give.

The situation: I currently drive a Honda CRV, which is too much car for my drive. My driving week is about 300-350 miles per week all around driving, with an obviously short highway commute each day. The Insight in question is a gray 5 Spd (75 K miles) in High Point NC (if this used to be yours, please let me in on the car's secrets!) for $14 K. I guess my main question is: buy this one now or order a new one? Manual or CVT if I decide not to go with this particular car? (I've read that in some cases the CVT computer compensates for less than optimal MT driving habits in terms of gas mileage.) Are there specific questions I should ask, for example "Has such and such re-call maintenance been performed?"

Finally, do I still get a tax credit for buying used?

Any general comments? I thank you all in advance for what ever bits of wisdom you can impart.

Randy W.
 

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Randy-

This is strictly my opinion.

1.) Used prices seem to have risen some since the gas price spike BUT $14k seems high to me. If you look at E-bay or the Buy/Sell forum here, you will have a better point of comparison. I would expect my 2001 with 70k miles to bring around $10k (same as I paid 2 years and 25k miles ago).

2.) Manual will get better gas mileage, CVT MIGHT manage the batteries a bit better. But, the '03 should have the updated battery management software/hardware so the difference in management may be smaller.

3.) The main question to which you need an answer is: Has the battery pack (NOT the 12V battery up front - the 144 V pack in the back) been replaced. That is the great unknown in terms of maintenance. Lifetimes have ranged from <40k miles to >200k miles. So much depends on how it was driven. Looking at the lifetime mileage MIGHT give an indication (a low number might indicate more battery abuse), but there is no test. The warranty on the pack is 8 years/80,000 miles so you are approaching the limit. It appears that Honda has allowed warranty claims past the 80k mile number in many (most?) cases, but who knows what the future holds.

4.) I don't think you get the tax credit used.

5.) I'm a big believer in used cars and I've had great luck with my Insight, but as with any used car you must do due diligence AND caveat emptor (I may have spelled that wrong). With the Insight you must also guess at the battery lifetime. Since Insights have depreciated a lot (even with the recent spike) and since new ones can be hard to find, I think a low mileage used model or one with a new battery pack and modest mileage (80k-100k) is a great deal. The savings are more than the tax credit.

Good luck,

Jim
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for your response. OBTW, $14 K is a little high, but all of the used cars books put this car in that range. I think they are actually beginning to appreciate in value!

RW
 

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Howdy,

1) In my opinion $14K sounds a little high for a car with that many miles. However, I don't mean to discourage you. It all depends on whether it's worth it to you.

2) New or used. That's always a tough question. I always get new cars myself, but yeah, they are expensive.

3) CVT or manual. The manual gets considerably better gas mileage, but the CVT does manage the battery level better. You can drive however you want, and the battery charge almost always stays at 4/5ths full or higher. If you get a chance, I would recommend driving each one. I got the CVT because I loved the gearless acceleration. However, it only gets about 54 MPG.

4) Tax credit: You only get the tax credit for buying new. I'm not sure what the credit is for 2006. You might want to check that out before making a decision. Also, keep in mind that you'll have to pay sales tax if you buy new (which will probably offset the entire tax credit.) I think some states might charge sales tax for buying used, but most don't.

Either way, I think you're going to enjoy this car. I really love mine. It's not just a car, it's a lifestyle.
 

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I just got my 2002 CVT Insight w/ 43,000 miles for $12,000. I did a lot of research on e-bay and most were priced around $14,000 or higher. Some with even more mileage on them than the one you mentioned. There were a couple of decent deals if you keep your eye out.
 
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