Author Topic: Honda Insight Owners  (Read 18691 times)

new2this

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Honda Insight Owners
« on: December 04, 2012, 10:51:35 AM »
I've seen several of you mention the 2001 Honda Insight and it's amazing gas mileage. There is one listed locally for $2000, but it needs a new IMA hybrid battery which the owner was quoted $2400 to have installed. It also has 186,000 miles. Normally I would be very leery of purchasing a car with this many miles, but with the new battery, they are claiming it could easily go another 100k. For those of you who own these cars, what are your thoughts? They are very hard cars to find, at least in my area.

grantmeaname

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Re: Honda Insight Owners
« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2012, 11:09:34 AM »
Jamesqf, resident Insight expert, will be along shortly, I'm sure.

In the meantime -- have you checked at a Honda Insight forum like this one?

Jamesqf

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Re: Honda Insight Owners
« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2012, 11:17:07 AM »
Yes, check the forum, but at $2K, I'd say it's a steal.

Depending on your level of mechanical/electrical expertise, you can replace the battery pack for much less than $2400.  In fact, it may not need to be replaced, just rebalanced.  You can find details on the forum, but basically it involves pulling out the pack and using a battery charger to discharge & recharge each individual "stick".  I could offer better advice if I knew just why the current owner thinks it needs replacing.  Worst case, it will run acceptably even if the pack isn't up to snuff, though acceleration will be sluggish.


new2this

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Re: Honda Insight Owners
« Reply #3 on: December 04, 2012, 11:22:14 AM »
Thanks for you reply! From what I gather, it's not really running at all at this point. I might even need to have it towed since it's about 100 miles away, but I'm thinking it may be worth it.

gdborton

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Re: Honda Insight Owners
« Reply #4 on: December 04, 2012, 11:29:28 AM »
From what I've read the Insight will run just fine without the IMA battery. It might be an indicator of something much worse if you need to tow it.

new2this

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Re: Honda Insight Owners
« Reply #5 on: December 04, 2012, 11:38:29 AM »
So if they are telling me that towing would be best because it is bad for the car to be driven without the IMA battery assistance, are they full of it?

gdborton

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Re: Honda Insight Owners
« Reply #6 on: December 04, 2012, 11:42:10 AM »
To my knowledge (and I am not an expert) yea.   It's just an underpowered (but still super efficient at cruising speeds) car.

focusaurus

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Re: Honda Insight Owners
« Reply #7 on: December 04, 2012, 11:45:15 AM »
Let me just say I recently purchased a 2001 Honda Insight CVT with 105K miles. It also ended up needing a new IMA battery, but that was not something I initially budgeted for. I paid way more than $2000 for the car, too. Just do the math on all the necessary repairs. If I had to do it again, I would absolutely run away full speed from the specific vehicle I bought. I will never recoupe the repair costs in gas savings. I would have been better served to buy a 2009 Honda Fit that was in working order. However, that is my specific vehicle which had not been well maintained. In general, if you can deal with a 2-seater hatchback, you may well want to buy that Insight.

Note the CVTs get MUCH lower fuel economy than manual transmissions.

FYI I looked into DIY IMA repair/replace that you will see suggested by Jamesqf and others on the insight forums. Looked like terrible ideas involving many many weekends of research and work, building custom racks to lift the heavy/awkward battery out of the car, home grown grid chargers, lots of warnings about electrocuting yourself to death, etc.

If your hobby is car tinkering with some seriousness and you ENJOY these projects, by all means, read up (a LOT) and then maybe go for it. But if you think this is a good project for a DIY job purely to save money, think again. This is a hopefully once in a lifetime repair. Instead of training yourself to replace Honda Insight IMA batteries, you could spend that time learning to alter clothes and reap a lifetime of rewards.

NOTE NOTE NOTE: The battery packs are problematic. Honda settled a class action lawsuit and had to replace most of them. They are expensive and unusual. Just be aware of this when you buy this car. The battery costs more than the entire price of the car in your case. You will get at most a 1 year warranty (or you can pay like $250 for a 3-year warranty) on your new battery. How happy would you be spending another $2400 to replace it again 4 or 5 years down the road?

WRT to driving without an IMA. You could do the 100 mile trip with some caution. The concern is eventually the lead battery will lose its charge entirely, but if you are willing to drive slowly in the slow lane with your flashers on for this one trip to get it to a repair shop, you could go for it. It will work, but the engine is 67 hp and will struggle on any hills. If you have serious uphill grade to deal with, you might want to just get it towed.

new2this

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Re: Honda Insight Owners
« Reply #8 on: December 04, 2012, 12:44:23 PM »
This is an automatic, I didn't realize it was 10 mpg different. Still, a 50+ mpg car for about 4k. We have an 05 Neon that my husband commutes 80 miles a day in (I know I need to move, that's another issue), so this would save us about $1000 a year in fuel. Is there another car in this price range that gets that kind of mileage?

cbr shadow

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Re: Honda Insight Owners
« Reply #9 on: December 04, 2012, 01:08:52 PM »
It's hard to say without actually seeing the car, but I'd probably buy it.  I also have a 2001.  There are MANY people on the forums (insightcentral.net) that drive their insights without the battery and do this daily.  If the guy is saying you can't drive it home, I'd look into what else could be wrong with the car.
There are vendors on insight central (Bumble Bee is one of them) that sell 'better than new' batteries for under $2000. 
When honda replaces this battery ($3400) they use factory refurbished batteries, not new ones.  I'd go through a reputable aftermarket dealer like bumblebee.
I have the manual version, but I routinely get 70mpg on my drive to/from work.  I went on an 800 mile trip and got 75mpg average for the whole trip, and had a 50 mile stretch where I followed a truck and got 94mpg!  I know hte CVT version doesn't quite get that, but still gets impressive gas mileage.

More than likely this is going to be a bit of a project for you because of the battery.  The upside to this car is that the battery takes a lot of work off of the engine, so the engine lasts forever.  The battery helps you slow down, so the brakes last a very long time. 


focusaurus

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Re: Honda Insight Owners
« Reply #10 on: December 04, 2012, 01:47:00 PM »
Bumble Bee battery list price: "The cost of the MAXIMA upgraded IMA battery is $2095 with standard 2 year warranty." Not sure if that includes shipping, then you have to install it. It took a team of specialist pros 5 hours to do my install because they had to troubleshoot what turned out to be a bent pin. Labor on this is significant.

I used Mile Hybrid Automotive which luckily is close to home for me (no shipping) and paid $2354.40 total for parts, labor, and tax.

FYI I got quotes from 2 Honda dealers for $2500 and $2700 for parts, labor, and tax. cbr shadow's statement about honda using factory refurbished batteries is of dubious veracity. I have heard contradictory statements.

Do your own homework. Tons of misinformation and outdated information out there on the forums.

Jamesqf

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Re: Honda Insight Owners
« Reply #11 on: December 04, 2012, 10:14:17 PM »
FYI I looked into DIY IMA repair/replace that you will see suggested by Jamesqf and others on the insight forums. Looked like terrible ideas involving many many weekends of research and work, building custom racks to lift the heavy/awkward battery out of the car, home grown grid chargers, lots of warnings about electrocuting yourself to death, etc.

This is not the case.  I can easily remove the battery by myself, with no special tools needed.  (Granted, I'm fairly strong.)  For a battery rebalance (which I do every year or so) I use a Triton battery charger that costs about $120 new.  It is a fairly time-consuming process - about 4-5 days - but you're not working on it all the time.  It takes a minute or two to hook up a stick, then you go away and let the charger do its thing for a couple hours.

Do take the electocution warnings seriously, though.  Wear electrician's insulated gloves when working on the pack, follow the instructions for discharging the DC/DC converter, etc.  The danger is real, but only if you do something stupid.  Just as if you e.g. crawl under a car when it's just supported by a jack, it could fall on you.

Chranstronaut

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Re: Honda Insight Owners
« Reply #12 on: November 10, 2017, 02:43:50 PM »
Bumping a dead thread (sorry), but I am seriously considering buying a 2000 Insight and am looking for a devil's advocate that owns one. 

I'm looking at one for sale under 80k mileage, manual trans, for $5,5000.  IMA was replaced in 2013 when the car had 50k miles.  Car has new low-rolling resistance tires and typical maintenance.  I live in Michigan and am planning to fit 13" civic wheels with winter tires.  My commute is about 20 min on the highway which should be enough to charge up daily.  Car looks very clean from the pictures and in better shape than the one my fiance used to have (he used to have an hour long commute and sold it when we moved and changed jobs).  Back in the day, he and I replaced and recharged the battery cells and *shudder* pulled the battery out and carried it up the stairs of our townhouse into the living room.  It was a full weekend ordeal to take out and again to replace, so I'm aware of how that goes...  Sounds like we did a similar thing to Jamsqf to recharge each stick one by one.

Basically, I'm asking if anyone can convince me not to buy this car.   My current car is a 2003 Focus wagon with a few pretty big issues, but is still driveable (oil leak, power steering leak, mystery noise that might be a bearing in the air compressor).  I'm expecting $800-1200 for it and would sell right after replacing with the Insight.  I like the cargo space in the Focus, but rarely use it and never have more than one passenger.  My only goal is to spend less than $6k for the car and winter tires after selling my Focus.

I think both my fiance and I regret letting our old Insight go and this is MUCH nicer shape and less than half the mileage.  So Mustachians, balance out our nostalgia and tell me, why shouldn't I buy an Insight?

The only reasons I can currently think of are:
1) It has no A/C and you can't really find the kits anymore (bring me a bedpan and catheter, please)
2) It's still a 17 year old car, so rubber and plastic materials are degrading and could lead to... something failing.
3) Even a newer IMA will eventually have to be replaced and/or recharged, so budget $2-3k for the future or a few days repair.

redrocker

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Re: Honda Insight Owners
« Reply #13 on: November 12, 2017, 02:48:30 PM »
Bumping a dead thread (sorry), but I am seriously considering buying a 2000 Insight and am looking for a devil's advocate that owns one. 

I'm looking at one for sale under 80k mileage, manual trans, for $5,5000.  IMA was replaced in 2013 when the car had 50k miles.  Car has new low-rolling resistance tires and typical maintenance.  I live in Michigan and am planning to fit 13" civic wheels with winter tires.  My commute is about 20 min on the highway which should be enough to charge up daily.  Car looks very clean from the pictures and in better shape than the one my fiance used to have (he used to have an hour long commute and sold it when we moved and changed jobs).  Back in the day, he and I replaced and recharged the battery cells and *shudder* pulled the battery out and carried it up the stairs of our townhouse into the living room.  It was a full weekend ordeal to take out and again to replace, so I'm aware of how that goes...  Sounds like we did a similar thing to Jamsqf to recharge each stick one by one.

Basically, I'm asking if anyone can convince me not to buy this car.   My current car is a 2003 Focus wagon with a few pretty big issues, but is still driveable (oil leak, power steering leak, mystery noise that might be a bearing in the air compressor).  I'm expecting $800-1200 for it and would sell right after replacing with the Insight.  I like the cargo space in the Focus, but rarely use it and never have more than one passenger.  My only goal is to spend less than $6k for the car and winter tires after selling my Focus.

I think both my fiance and I regret letting our old Insight go and this is MUCH nicer shape and less than half the mileage.  So Mustachians, balance out our nostalgia and tell me, why shouldn't I buy an Insight?

The only reasons I can currently think of are:
1) It has no A/C and you can't really find the kits anymore (bring me a bedpan and catheter, please)
2) It's still a 17 year old car, so rubber and plastic materials are degrading and could lead to... something failing.
3) Even a newer IMA will eventually have to be replaced and/or recharged, so budget $2-3k for the future or a few days repair.

I'm not sure a 20 minute commute is going to make it worthwhile in terms of gas savings. Depends on how much you drive outside of work for roadtrips and such. This is why I ultimately sold my 1st gen Insight, because I calculated that my gas savings probably weren't significantly higher than the cost of a battery pack every 5 years or so (an assumption I made because the southern heat tends to shorten their lifespan).
You could buy a significantly newer Honda (Civic or Fit perhaps) for that price, with less concern of components breaking down and better safety features. And you can put a tow hitch on either of those which can make it temporarily a lot more utilitarian than an Insight.

All that said, I do miss the uniqueness factor of the car and the less guilty conscious in terms of fossil fuel consumption. If you go for it, I'd try to negotiate a lower price. I feel like I remember the 2000-2001 year Insights requiring some programming /module updates, because I intentionally bought a 2002 after reading about that. If the IMA has already been replaced, the owner may know if those updates have been done. Good luck.

Chranstronaut

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Re: Honda Insight Owners
« Reply #14 on: November 15, 2017, 01:20:59 PM »
Thanks redrocker, the car was sold before I got to it anyway.  From what I can tell, the price is very fair for the new battery and mileage under 100k is starting to become very rare.  I like the 1st gen Insights for my own reason and would not be buying it for the $ savings on gas.  Thanks!