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Old 05-01-2015, 12:15 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Most ignominious introduction ever...

Hi, my name is Ross, and I've had a 2000 Honda Insight (manual trans) for about 4 years.

I think that time is about to come to an end. My wife had an accident in it a few days ago, 5MPH waiting at a light when she started without looking, but it was with a huge truck's trailer hitch that bent her hood in half, pierced her front bumper and tore the tabs under the headlight, bent the center tie bar, and crushed the radiator (but amazingly, didn't pierce it or seem to affect its function at all). Nobody hurt which is good, but the car was already due for a long list of repairs this summer, including the intermediate shaft bearing replacement in the trans, a windshield that a passing tractor trailer took out with a stone over the winter, and two old tires in front that I just noticed when I took the winter wheels/tires off.

The car still drives as good as it ever did, no leaks or overheating or squealing or tracking crooked, which is the most heartbreaking part of all this. I am for all intents and purposes a mechanic (I've never worked as one, but my grandpa was and my dad was and I've done frame-off-resto level repairs on a bunch of cars), so I'm not shy about working to fix the car up, but some things are giving me pause. My wife and I want to start a family in the next year, so we're looking for something that has more room, especially since the car that got wrecked was her daily. Which brings me to the question in this introduction:

1. What's the best family eco-modable car to move to on a $10000 or less budget? We've been looking at manual trans Civic hybrids (gen 1) and the ubiquitous Prius. I've found that hypermiling is easier with the manual, and Gen 1 CVTs seemed riddled with problems.

2. Is there any specialized wrecker/salvage yard for Insights. A fix-and-flip place specializing in Hondas offered me $1000 for it which seemed pretty fair, but if there's a place that has interest in them beyond just another car to fix, that'd be great.

I'm sorry if this is a bit rambling, I've been on the phone for two days with insurance, etc. and am very stressed by all this. I'm just trying to make the right choice for this car. It's the best vehicle I've ever owned. I hope to hang around and figure out how to boost the MPG on whatever my wife's next car is.

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Old 05-01-2015, 01:27 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Welcome to the site. Glad your wife was not hurt. Sorry about your Insight. How about a Corolla?
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Old 05-01-2015, 01:59 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Welcome to the site!

With a 10k price range you have a bunch of great options.

With the Insight gone, a Civic hybrid is a nice alternative, but they do have issues mechanically as well as IMA wise. The Prius on the other hand really just doesn't.

I'm sure you could find a Jetta TDI or even Passat TDI in the 10k price range. Not sure what it'll get you these days as I haven't followed the diesels too closely lately.

Something else to look for, used 2nd gen Insights are in the 10k price range these days, and are only a few years old. The mileage isn't quite as high as the others, but it would be considerably newer, and they do beat EPA ratings easily from what other owners say.

If you didn't need the range, also the all electric Mitsubishi i-MiEVs can be had for 10k or less used and are only a few years old as well. I've personally been keeping my eye on these.
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Old 05-01-2015, 02:11 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Daox View Post
With a 10k price range you have a bunch of great options.
That sums it up nicely. I was seeing lots of good choices in Civics for 6 to 7k, but decided the leftover new 13 Fit was the better move for me. Just flipping through cars.com with filters selecting the number of doors, manual transmission, max number of miles on them, max price, etc. gives you a really wide view of what's out there.

Originally Posted by sheepdog44 View Post
Transmission type Efficiency
Manual neutral engine off.100% @MPG <----- Fun Fact.
Manual 1:1 gear ratio .......98%
CVT belt ............................88%
Automatic .........................86%

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Old 05-01-2015, 04:33 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Welcome aboard,

In my opinion it very much depends on what you expect from the car.
If it is your family car that is used as a daily by your wife, I’d go Prius and above all if you can get a Plug in variant since this could mean oil free operation for weeks.
They are probably more expensive than that though.
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Old 05-01-2015, 05:16 PM   #6 (permalink)
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A couple of summers ago I bought a 2003 manny-tranny Civic Hybrid. You'll see how well it does if you take a peek at my signature, it's "Tiptoe." It doesn't hold a candle to a Gen I Insight - few things do - or a properly hypermiled Prius, but it does pretty well.

The bad:

O2 sensors. It has three. It appears you can't let one go without it affecting the others. I don't know for sure if that's the case but I do know that as soon as I replaced one that had been bad for a while, the computer threw a code for one of the others. I'm saving up so I can have the job done at a shop.

IMA Battery. Yep, they have their faults. I got a grid charger and it helps, but really I need a new one. I might be able to wrestle a bit more life into this one if I could cycle it properly with a discharger to pair with the charger, but life interrupts the process. I work as much as 50 hours a week plus occasional weekend volunteer groups, so I guard my leisure time jealously.

The good:

Timing belt. It doesn't have one. GM invented the term "range anxiety" to help sell their Volt, but I already had it. How many miles left on the timing belt? How long before it snaps and destroys the engine? Better get it replaced. OR NOT since the Civic Hybrid uses a chain. You cannot know how liberating it is to not have that worry. I only wish it were timing gears, but you can't have everything.

Room. It's a compact car, but it's a pretty roomy compact car. Five adults fit. Four adults fit VERY comfortably. My 6'1" son fits in the back and has no complaints, and he sits behind me. I'm 5'10". He sits in back because I won't let him drive it. He ruins my mileage.

Manual transmission. Can't have one in a Prius but you can sure have it here. I've driven the Prius and yeah, it's kind of a spaceship for the road but the disconnected sensation of that transmission leaves me a little cold. Between the manual and the hybrid motor the Civic feels a bit like a compact car that has occasional access to a low pressure turbo - just a bit of extra oomph for when the hills get steep or you need to merge onto the Turnpike. If you're hardcore you can key off (or install a kill switch) for EOC (but key back on so the odometer registers the distance you cover). NOTE: there is an occasional hiccup when the auto-start lags a bit restarting the engine at a light. Just pop to neutral and back into gear, it'll start.

Mileage. There are Prii in the Garage listing that do better than me, but there are Prii that do worse, too. If you know what you're about, the HCH does pretty well without looking like you've just taken a shuttlepod to explore the surface of a strange new world. Except for the Hybrid badge, it looks like any other early 2000s Civic. NOTE: my Hybrid badge fell off earlier today. Anonymity here I am! Never mind the Ecomodder.com sticker on the window.

Two years ago my car was about $6000. If you can find a similarly equipped one you can probably find it for under $5000. I haven't had ANY mechanical issues whatsoever. I am showing a CEL but that's for the O2 sensors, and I have an IMA light - the pack is badly out of balance.

Please note that I'm getting over 50mpg even with these faults. I think if I could just scrape the cash together I think I could bump the average above 55mpg and keep it there.

Anyway. You asked, that's my experience. Hope it helps.

Lead or follow. Either is fine.

Last edited by elhigh; 05-01-2015 at 05:23 PM..
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Old 05-02-2015, 11:55 PM   #7 (permalink)
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You could also look into a later model Insight. Discontinued models always have a poorer resale price, which let's you get more car for your dollar. They stopped making them in 2014, and had a lot of sales incentives to clear them out. Check out pricing on 2010 and newer ones in your area, you might find a deal. In fact, the closer you get to a 2014, the better deal you might find. The last production year of a car can be a real score, the whole "Honda didn't even want to make these anymore, they must suck" stigma can save you some money. People that have the money to buy a near new used car want something that is current, they don't want something that failed, so no car dealer is going to want one on their lot.
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Old 05-03-2015, 03:27 AM   #8 (permalink)
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+1 on the 2nd gen Insight, as you may expect from me
My mileage shows what can be done with some mild ecomodding and moderate speed commute. (22 miles all level)

2011 Honda Insight + HID, LEDs, tiny PV panel, extra brake pad return springs, neutral wheel alignment, 44/42 PSI (air), PHEV light (inop), tightened wheel nut.
lifetime FE over 0.17 Gmeter or 0.1 Mmile.

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"In hindsight, I should have bet more on that horse"
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