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Draigflag 04-21-2016 01:47 PM

Honda Insight Mk1
 
Trying not to get too excited, but I may potentialy be going to look at a Honda insight Mk1 at the weekend. They have been on my hit list for years since someone bought one locally when they first came out, I was just a kid and thought it looked like a car from the future.

Its one on the best hybrids out there, so advanced for it time, even today manufacturers struggle to make a hybrid like it with ridiculous real world economy combined with such a lightweight structure, and the all important (to me) manual gearbox! Fast becoming a modern classic with only about 200 examples in the UK, I'm keen to get one before prices rocket.

There are lots of owners on here, I'd appreciate some advise as regards to a buying guide, things to watch out for/check, areas of corrosion etc etc as I don't want to end up with a costly lemon. My biggest concern is the battery, although with less than 100,000 on the clock, it should be fine. Any advice is much appreciated, thanks!

benlovesgoddess 04-21-2016 02:00 PM

Good luck! About 3 months ago I approached two importers of Mk1 insights from Japan. One or both were eBay based, with professional looking shops. Cars seemed to range from 4,000-6,000.
Neither shop replied to my enquiring email, when either business could probably have sold me a model then.
I know the missus would have been far less happy with it than what we ended up with, but I think they are beautiful, would loved to have owned one.
Have you found a rare manual - what colour...?!

Draigflag 04-21-2016 02:14 PM

Yea Ive seen the Japanese imports, they are nearly all autos and are very expensive. The one I've seen is manual and in Aqua marine, which I may get wrapped to make it stand out if I go for it.

And there's over 135 Mk1 owners on here, but how many will see my information request and respond I wonder?

trollbait 04-22-2016 05:18 AM

I think the CVT is the preferred transmission type amoung the Japaness populace.

Be wary of the battery. The original Insight had Honda's poor battery management software; it would let the NiMH pack state of charge move too far out of the 40% to 80% for long life. The problem was worse with manuals, because they let the driver 'lug' the battery, to say. It returned great fuel economy at the expense of the battery.

Some owners have gone with daily charging of the pack from an outlet to maintain the Insight's battery life. Replacing bad modules in the pack also isn't rocket science, but you do need to be comfortable working around high voltage while the pack is in one piece.

Draigflag 04-22-2016 06:07 AM

Battery is my big concern as I think it's original. Seller has stated "holds the charge ok" but a replacement is about 2000, would make any fuel savings pointless. It's hard to know just from driving/looking the condition of the battery.

OliverGT 04-22-2016 07:11 AM

There was one for sale recently on Autotrader that looked like an absolute bargain. It had new batteries from Honda about 2 years ago. It's gone now though.

Would be on my wish list as well, only two seats though. But undeniably different and only about 200 left on the UK roads now.

Driven correctly, they are good for 80+ MPG. Having said that my old knackered 206 Diesel managed 76mpg.

Oliver

Draigflag 04-22-2016 09:10 AM

It will be my toy, a second car so practicality is not an issue. I spoke to the guy and he says it had a battery refurbishment a couple of years ago at a cost of about 600. That might be a bad thing, from what I can gather a replacement is better, a refurb just extends the life a little longer. Well I'm still going to check it out, despite the 6 hour round trip, like you say, 200 left in the UK, they never hang about long.

trollbait 04-22-2016 09:23 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Draigflag (Post 188269)
Battery is my big concern as I think it's original. Seller has stated "holds the charge ok" but a replacement is about 2000, would make any fuel savings pointless. It's hard to know just from driving/looking the condition of the battery.

You'd likely have to take it to Honda dealer to test the pack. If it was bad, you might not have to replace the entire pack. It should be pretty straight forward to remove the pack, disassemble it, and check the individual battery modules for the bad ones. It is just a job that takes time to do right.

Rebuilding a Hybrid Vehicle Battery Pack | Home Power Magazine
DIY Solutions to Honda Hybrid Battery Problems (Insight, Civic, IMA) - Fuel Economy, Hypermiling, EcoModding News and Forum - EcoModder.com

Draigflag 04-22-2016 10:10 AM

Thanks for the link. Ok, I know what to check for tomorrow, now it's time to get some insurance quotes, that could be a deal breaker if it's too expensive, which it may be due to parts scarcity and it's rarity.

benlovesgoddess 04-22-2016 11:59 AM

I looked at an ex BP test model on eBay, it had big miles (around 200,000 I think) and no replacement /refurbished battery...dunno if it sold for 1,600, or reserve not met. Didn't fancy the gamble, it was 150 miles away. Seller all yes/no answers, no further info...a bluey green colour. If it had better history, I would have risked the wife's disapproval of such an old and small car (though like you Paul, I still think it looks like it's from the future!)

Draigflag 04-22-2016 12:23 PM

Yea I saw that one too. I'm just in awe of the ingenious design and appreciate the vast technical engineering hurdles they must have had to overcome to create a car like this. This car weighs less than your average small car, which is remarkable for a hybrid with big batteries and electric motors. I like the clever use of light materials too.

Draigflag 04-23-2016 09:26 AM

Ok just got back, it was a 5 hour round trip, a long way to go for a test drive. Car itself was near mint, straight bodywork, solid underneath, no cosmetic issues inside or out. The seller came with me for the generous 21 mile test drive. So here are my worries given that I know little about the battery and whats normal/not normal operation for the battery.

Started the car and the battery had about 3-4 bars lit up, I'd say about 20%. After about 5 miles, the battery was at the top, about 85% and wouldn't go any higher. So I noticed the "charge" light had then switched to "assist" as I was accelerating etc. Could feel the motor gently pushing the car. Then after about 15 miles I started being a bit careless with the accelerator, and the battery dropped all the way back down to empty again. I drove gently for the last few miles, but as we pulled up, the battery was on the 20% mark again. I should add that the "IMA" warning light came on about half way through the test drive and didn't go off.

So is this normal? I had assumed a full battery would last a bit longer than a few miles of acceleration, but I'm pretty new to this tech. If it needs a new one, I may be able to use this as a bargain tool, I REALLY want this car.

benlovesgoddess 04-23-2016 12:37 PM

I can only report on how it goes in the Prius - the battery is fairly quick to both charge and discharge. Does the Insight use acceleration, deceleration and braking to recharge the battery? Honda IMA means just that, no pure EV? Any brisk accelerating and the battery goes right away. Super gentle dawdling will make it last...I imagine you need some Insight owners advice. I am on (but not much!) a great site called Honda Karma, bet you'll find some help there. Dude, just get it! Hell, my Rover 75 was a nightmare, always breaking down and costing me money. However, it is still my 2nd favourite all time car after the Prius! What's the worst that can happen? You'll have a car you love that costs you money and breaks down. You'll really enjoy the overall experience, regardless of problems. Good luck!

benlovesgoddess 04-23-2016 12:42 PM

The Jag, in Atlantic blue, nearly got a crick in the neck from looking back at her ...great to drive, comfortable... But a car you only buy one of...! A 575 ****heap gave me more pleasure than that 12,700 i20. I came very close to the Insight, and if I didn't have to cater for the missus too, would have probably got one.

Draigflag 04-23-2016 02:14 PM

I get where you're coming from, but the truth is, I'm 90% sure it needs a new battery, which means getting over to Yorkshire so the "only" guy in the UK can fit it for 2000. It's a big chunk, almost another insight for that money really, has to factored in. If you bought any car that needed a 2000 repair just after you bought it, you'd be upset. I'm going to sleep on, and hope there's more movement in the price...

LDB 04-23-2016 07:15 PM

Maybe the seller would go in for a percentage of the batteries swap?

benlovesgoddess 04-23-2016 10:05 PM

True, 2,000 in bills right after purchase is a passion killer. That Jag cost me 2,000 in bills, just spread over the 10 short months I owned her. It was this high repair cost that made me consider a brand new car for the first time. Never really regretted it though, cos I loved that Rover 75! If the final straw hadnt been the head gasket going I would probably have kept throwing money at it, at the rate of 200 a month!

benlovesgoddess 04-23-2016 10:07 PM

Or what about looking at a fresh low mileage import (I'm sure 40-60,000 mile models were available) - batteries should be full of life?
That's if those guys with the 4,000 - 6,000 cars can be bothered to reply to you!

benlovesgoddess 04-23-2016 10:08 PM

PS - get any pictures of it..?

Draigflag 04-23-2016 11:38 PM

LBD, yes I'm hoping the seller understands how expensive the battery is, anyone going to look at an insight will be an enthusiast and will know thier stuff. They're all going to realise it needs a battery after a test drive, which will no doubt put people off.

No didn't take any pics, but I'll post the Autotrader ad at the bottom. I'm not keen on the Imports, they are all autos which are not as efficient and are heavier too, and the imports can be more expensive to insure too.

Honda Insight 1.0 i VTEC IMA Hybrid 2dr

benlovesgoddess 04-24-2016 03:43 AM

Looks fab! Citrus is the insight colour I love the most, but this is a nice one too. I know you are hard to convince otherwise (just as I was!), but auto does drive really well...and is possibly even better for hybrid economy than a manual. Dunno if the Insight is a CVT. When I looked at Insights I was fixated on the rare manuals, but started to think an auto might be all there was available.
Has anyone on that Honda Karma been able to give you some advice?

Draigflag 04-24-2016 07:08 AM

Thanks for the thoughts. Well I joined Insight central, a forum just for the IMA Hondas, mostly the gen 1 Insight. I've had a good reply from the guru on there so watch this space! ;)

Draigflag 04-24-2016 12:29 PM

Well I went for it, I must be mad. Broke and mad! Got a good price in the end, seller appreciated the battery probably needs replacing so we agreed a price. Kind of nervous now. But excited too.

benlovesgoddess 04-24-2016 01:14 PM

Nice one! Be great to hear how it is to live with, the technology and real mpg figures. A Mk1 insight will be the first classic I buy, in some far off unspecified time where I can afford such luxurious fun!
When will she be on your drive...?

Draigflag 04-24-2016 11:24 PM

Should be here tomorrow. It's going to get very limited usage initially, probably not insuring it until June when mine runs out so I can get a multicar discount.

trollbait 04-25-2016 05:46 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Draigflag (Post 188292)
Ok just got back, it was a 5 hour round trip, a long way to go for a test drive. Car itself was near mint, straight bodywork, solid underneath, no cosmetic issues inside or out. The seller came with me for the generous 21 mile test drive. So here are my worries given that I know little about the battery and whats normal/not normal operation for the battery.

Started the car and the battery had about 3-4 bars lit up, I'd say about 20%. After about 5 miles, the battery was at the top, about 85% and wouldn't go any higher. So I noticed the "charge" light had then switched to "assist" as I was accelerating etc. Could feel the motor gently pushing the car. Then after about 15 miles I started being a bit careless with the accelerator, and the battery dropped all the way back down to empty again. I drove gently for the last few miles, but as we pulled up, the battery was on the 20% mark again. I should add that the "IMA" warning light came on about half way through the test drive and didn't go off.

So is this normal? I had assumed a full battery would last a bit longer than a few miles of acceleration, but I'm pretty new to this tech. If it needs a new one, I may be able to use this as a bargain tool, I REALLY want this car.

Was it just the IMA light? A quick search seems to imply having a battery light also on is the one to worry about. Even then, it is lightly just a single cell or module of the pack that is bad.

Some Insight owners have invested in a grid charger(@$350) to top off the pack, and that seems to solve some problems.

Even if the battery goes tits up, the Insight can still be driven without it.
Quote:

Originally Posted by Draigflag (Post 188322)
Should be here tomorrow. It's going to get very limited usage initially, probably not insuring it until June when mine runs out so I can get a multicar discount.

Surprised you couldn't get the discount as soon as you added the car.

trollbait 04-25-2016 05:53 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by benlovesgoddess (Post 188295)
I can only report on how it goes in the Prius - the battery is fairly quick to both charge and discharge. Does the Insight use acceleration, deceleration and braking to recharge the battery? Honda IMA means just that, no pure EV? Any brisk accelerating and the battery goes right away. Super gentle dawdling will make it last...I imagine you need some Insight owners advice. I am on (but not much!) a great site called Honda Karma, bet you'll find some help there. Dude, just get it! Hell, my Rover 75 was a nightmare, always breaking down and costing me money. However, it is still my 2nd favourite all time car after the Prius! What's the worst that can happen? You'll have a car you love that costs you money and breaks down. You'll really enjoy the overall experience, regardless of problems. Good luck!

Hybrids range in the degree that the hybrid side helps out.

There is the full or strong hybrids that can power the car on the electric alone at one end, and the mild or weak ones at the other. A minimal mild hybrid system just provides start/stop and regenerative braking with no input to propelling. Start/stop alone is referred to as a micro-hybrid in some circles.

IMA falls in between the two extremes. It can't go pure EV, but it helps much more in propelling the car than what a mild hybrid does. This middle ground is sometimes called assist hybrids after the IMA.

Draigflag 04-25-2016 08:21 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by trollbait (Post 188329)
Was it just the IMA light? A quick search seems to imply having a battery light also on is the one to worry about. Even then, it is lightly just a single cell or module of the pack that is bad.

Some Insight owners have invested in a grid charger(@$350) to top off the pack, and that seems to solve some problems.

Even if the battery goes tits up, the Insight can still be driven without it.
Surprised you couldn't get the discount as soon as you added the car.

Yes I've been reading about the grid charger, sounds like a worthy investment as it can balance the pack out so you get even charges, and it can break down the crystals that can form in the cells too. But I suspect as most batteries seem to die after 10 years, this will need replacing soon. As for the insurance, you can't add a car to your policy here, it needs it's own policy and details etc (unless you have trade insurance)

LDB 04-25-2016 11:03 AM

Wow, that's interesting about the insurance. We can add/delete any time and get multi-car and whatever other discounts may apply at any time. By June you'll have it so cleaned and polished it will gain a few mpg from the air flowing so easily over the wax job. :)

Draigflag 04-25-2016 11:15 AM

You can get multicar policies, but they are actually just two separate policies, and you have to add the tedious details for each car. It's just a way insurance companies get you to insure two cars, they just add the premiums together at the end then take a small percentage off to help seal the deal.

The grid charger is a good option, however the car needs to sit charging for some time, something I can't do as I don't have a driveway or a parking space, but I guess I could leave it at my parents house.

OliverGT 04-26-2016 05:13 AM

Congratulations.

Looking forward to any updates.

Don't get me started on Car Insurance! Here in Ireland, if you have two cars, your no claims discount starts at 0 on the second car. Not quite sure how they can be allowed to switch the NCD from the Driver to the Car, when it suits them, as I'm sure if I had a claim on one car it would impact the Insurance on the other one...

Sorry I'm ranting...

Congratulations again on getting the Insight, they are rare enough in England, like hens teeth here, although I did see one a couple of weeks ago, in the lime green colour they do, I nearly crashed !

Oliver.

Draigflag 04-26-2016 09:23 AM

Thanks Oliver, yea insurance companies are some of the biggest crooks out there. I understand about the 0 no claims, I had to start again when I insured my old Fiat 126 as a second car. I sure hope they've changed that now...

It's a very rare car, there are just 208 left in the UK according to registration data. I'm a little apprehensive, it's a gamble buying one with a dodgy battery, but I'm hoping the grid charger will put some life back into it, really don't want to fork out another 2000 straight away on a new battery pack. Anyway, I couldn't get any time off work, so it's coming Saturday now ;)

OliverGT 04-26-2016 12:13 PM

Draigflag,

You know that they are still a fine eco car even without the Battery fully working, but would be nice to to have a fully working one.

I know when I was investigating there are a couple of Insight geniuses in the UK, I'm sure there will be lots of help out there for you.

Oliver.

benlovesgoddess 04-26-2016 09:31 PM

Car insurance - when you have to phone up and pay a few quid to update your address or car and they say "thanks for your payment we'llkeepyourcarddetailsandautomaticallyrenewyourp olicynextyear mate..."
I don't think so chump - and for pulling that stunt I'm going to automatically choose another insurer next year!

Draigflag 04-26-2016 11:08 PM

Yea I remember last year, I had been up early and driving cross country for a car show, wanted my brother to drive so phoned my insurance to add him. It was "free" to add him, but they wanted a 26 administration fee, for the last 100 miles or so. I would rather risk falling asleep at the wheel!!!

trollbait 04-27-2016 05:32 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by OliverGT (Post 188363)
Draigflag,

You know that they are still a fine eco car even without the Battery fully working, but would be nice to to have a fully working one.

I know when I was investigating there are a couple of Insight geniuses in the UK, I'm sure there will be lots of help out there for you.

Oliver.

Yeah, a bad battery doesn't strand you like some other hybrid types.
Does the insight still have a 12v starter? Normally it uses the hybrid motor to start the ICE. Without a back up 12v starter, you'll have to leave the bad battery in place; it'll likely have enough juice to start the car. Which just means no simple weight cutting by removing it.

The six cell sticks for refurbishing the pack are readily available on the internet. Once you get those, all you need to fix a bad pack are some basic tools to remove the pack and disassemble it, and a good multi-meter to test the modules and sticks. It's more a question of taking the time to do it right the first time.

There was a story recently of a guy getting a deal on a Camry hybrid with a dying pack. He decided to refurbish it himself. When he pulled the pack, there was corrosion on the pack terminals; excess moisture/humidity must have gotten into the battery compartment. After testing the battery itself was fine. Clean up the terminals, and about $20 for new metal jump bars and battery anti-corrosion spray, the Camry was running fine.

Unfortunately, an early Honda hybrid likely won't have such an easy fix. The issue is that Honda's battery management software was allowing the packs to discharge too low. This is exacerbated with the manual because the driver can 'lug' the battery with it.

Draigflag, you should look into if the ECU got the flash fix, and getting it if not. It will result in lower fuel economy than before, but it will extend the battery's life.

LDB 04-27-2016 06:34 AM

Wow, and I thought our insurance was bad. We don't have to add anyone. We can allow any legally licensed driver to drive our car and they are covered so long as it's with our knowledge and approval. They don't charge us any update fees either... yet.

Draigflag 04-27-2016 10:49 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by trollbait (Post 188371)
Yeah, a bad battery doesn't strand you like some other hybrid types.
Does the insight still have a 12v starter? Normally it uses the hybrid motor to start the ICE. Without a back up 12v starter, you'll have to leave the bad battery in place; it'll likely have enough juice to start the car. Which just means no simple weight cutting by removing it.

The six cell sticks for refurbishing the pack are readily available on the internet. Once you get those, all you need to fix a bad pack are some basic tools to remove the pack and disassemble it, and a good multi-meter to test the modules and sticks. It's more a question of taking the time to do it right the first time.

There was a story recently of a guy getting a deal on a Camry hybrid with a dying pack. He decided to refurbish it himself. When he pulled the pack, there was corrosion on the pack terminals; excess moisture/humidity must have gotten into the battery compartment. After testing the battery itself was fine. Clean up the terminals, and about $20 for new metal jump bars and battery anti-corrosion spray, the Camry was running fine.

Unfortunately, an early Honda hybrid likely won't have such an easy fix. The issue is that Honda's battery management software was allowing the packs to discharge too low. This is exacerbated with the manual because the driver can 'lug' the battery with it.

Draigflag, you should look into if the ECU got the flash fix, and getting it if not. It will result in lower fuel economy than before, but it will extend the battery's life.

From what I can gather so far, yes the car uses the motor to start the car, which sounds weird because the engine just fires into life with no crank sound! But if the main battery is on its way out, you can break down and won't be able to start the car. I'm still learning. There are a few options with the battery, like you say, a grid charger can rejuvenate a dying pack (one guy has 200,000 on the original pack) so that's likely to be my first port of call. Failing that, I'll think about a refurb with fresh sticks, and if that doesn't work, then I'll bite the bullet and get a new pack. I'll try and get the ecu update, or at least find out about it. I think first I'll get the fault codes read, because they can determine whether the battery capacity is stuffed, or still salvageable.

benlovesgoddess 04-27-2016 11:14 AM

Exciting times!

Draigflag 04-28-2016 12:26 AM

Exciting, should be, Im just really apprehensive about this one, not sure why. My house is in desperate need of extensive repairs so everyone has been telling me not to buy the car and fix the house etc, which I should, but cars are my weakness :(


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