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MetroMPG 04-18-2011 12:12 PM

Got a new UFO*: 2000 Honda Insight 5-speed (ailing IMA hybrid battery pack)
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I only stopped in to ask about the tires (I'm actually still looking for used for RE92's for the Suzukiclone fleet) ... but ended up taking the whole car:
  • 2000
  • 5-speed
  • 269k km / 167k miles
  • ailing hybrid battery pack (the reason the previous, original owner sold the car)
Cosmetically it's good. Recent paint job, after the owner scraped the side last year. CORRECTION: not because of a scrape, but because their temporary winter car tent/garage fell on top of it in a windstorm.

Mechanically, I'm not sure. I haven't really had a close look at it yet aside from making sure the front end was tight before bringing it home. It has had full dealer service since new though, and I have its history.

I need another car like I need another hole in my head, but the price was right, and I happen to have the room to store it. (Frank Lee's prophecy has come to pass: the amount of junk one collects will expand to fill the available space.)

Also, these cars are exceedingly rare in Canada, and that factored into my decision to snap it up. Honda sold a paltry 155 Insights here in its first year. And that represented the best year of Insight sales over the 7-year model run (2000 - 2006). (Source: Jim Kenzie, Wheels Oct. 28, 2006 Honda puts clean pioneer out to pasture | )

Total Canadian sales of gen. 1 Insights were just 396 cars. (Source: Bill Vance, September 26, 2008 Motoring Memories: Honda Insight, 1999-2006 - )


* "UFO": Un-Finished Object. Too many projects!

UFO 04-18-2011 12:45 PM

Nice! Given the chance I'd have jumped all over that as well.

bwilson4web 04-18-2011 01:00 PM

Cool beans!

Bob Wilson

MetroMPG 04-18-2011 01:13 PM

Before I got into Metroids, I knew that a Civic VX would have suited my driving style & patterns best (predominanty rural cruising & highway use, where lean-burn shines). But the VX's have long been distant, rusty memories around here.

The interesting thing is if I choose to not to refurbish the Insight's pack and use it as a non-hybrid instead, it is essentially a sweet VX successor: lean-burn, 3-cylinder with tall gearing. Of course the Insight is also lighter, more aerodynamic, and has an even more efficient ICE than the original VX. (Though 2 fewer seats & less cargo room.)

(I'll likely refurb the pack though. Matt wrote up a good DIY on the subject - - and InsightCentral is obviously a trove of info.)

One other bonus about the car is the aluminum construction. Don't have to worry about it turning to swiss cheese beneath my feet.

bwilson4web 04-18-2011 04:18 PM

You might want to contact Re-InVolt in Sanford NC. David Taylor is a dang good Prius technologist who I recommend to anyone needing a rebuilt, Prius traction battery. I have a lot of confidence in his abilities and service and you might be able to swing a sweet deal for a drop-in replacement although you might have to work any deal through a USA cousin ... if you catch my drift. <GRINS>

Better still, take a vacation to ... Cape Hateras ... <BIG GRINS> ... and stop by his shop.

FYI, there are a number of USA 'cousins' listed here: Hybrid Training Resources Since 2000

The link "Hybrid Shop Finder" is Yankee for "Our USA Cousins."

Bob Wilson

Nevyn 04-18-2011 04:48 PM

I envy you! I want one, and in that color, too! That's just mean.

MetroMPG 04-18-2011 10:16 PM

When is toast not toast, but just very warm bread?

Potentially good news: the hybrid battery may not be quite as toast as I originally thought.

In January, the original owner decided to ditch the car primarily because the dreaded IMA light came on and a check engine light appeared with code P1449. The dealer quoted ~$3K for a replacement pack.
  • The IMA light was on & accompanied by a lack of assist, regen or charging via the ICE. However the DC/DC converter continued working (to supply power to the 12v system) and the engine continued to start from the IMA motor rather than the 12v "backup" starter.

    Because IMA was offline, the pack state of charge has been steadily falling since Jan. At the time the car was taken off the road, I'm told there were approx. 15/20 bars showing on the dash battery gauge. When I got the car last week, there was one bar showing. This change would be due to both self-discharge and from the IMA system starting up the ICE, I assume.
  • The P1449 code relates to the IMA battery. From what I've been able to gather, it's thrown for a number of potential issues:

    - cell over 80C for at least 2 seconds
    - pack out of balance (weak cell/s)
    - shorted cell
Clearing the code via the ScanGauge & resetting the CEL didn't help. Immediately after starting the engine, the charging display would briefly (for ~1 second) show up to 4 bars of charging. Then the CEL & IMA lights would come back on and charging would cease. Back to square one!

Resetting the entire system, however, seems to have temporarily solved the problem. I read that disconnecting the 12v battery could help in a P1449 situation, so I gave it a try this evening.

And it worked!

Upon restarting the ICE, the dash showed 4 bars of charging while idling, and the battery gauge started adding bars. After idling & driving the car for ~15 minutes, the pack was up to ~15 bars.

Driving gently, I saw & felt both assist and regen working. After 20 km the CEL or IMA lights have yet to come on again. The pack got as high as 19 bars, and as low as 17 during the drive.

So! While I may not have a completely toasted pack on my plate, obviously there is still some very warm bread. At a minimum, this reset "trick" may allow me to get the car through safety inspection with all green lights on the dashboard (so to speak), and then I can worry about the pack later.

CigaR007 04-18-2011 10:26 PM

Congrats ! The coolest colour for a 1st gen Insight.

roflwaffle 04-18-2011 10:26 PM

Right on! Quanto?

SoobieOut 04-18-2011 10:37 PM

Way to go on your purchase and temp battery pack fix!.

Love the gecko paint job!

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