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Old 07-09-2019, 05:28 AM   #1 (permalink)
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My 2nd Honda Insight

I was already working on a 2000 Insight in rough shape when another one popped up on Craigslist in April of 2019. The seller was asking $700. The Insight sat unused for a few years, part of that time in a barn on a dirt floor, resulting in extra rust of the steel parts. Before being parked, it had gotten a new IMA battery and catalytic converter from the dealer, along with new O2 sensors. When I looked at the Insight, it was pretty sad looking. Someone had keyed it, the driver's door had a scrape/wrinkle, the wheel skirts were barely hanging on, headlight lenses were hazy, and it had been smoked in. I offered $300 and my offer was eventually accepted. It probably helped that the owner was moving in a few days.

The keys were missing, so I had to disconnect the locked steering column and tow it home with a tow bar. I made a custom wiring harness to use the Insight's taillights instead of taping magnetic towing lights to the aluminum car!

I got the cheap $5 keys from the dealer, which required removing the immobilizer from the ECM to get the engine started. And I was pleased to discover that it ran very well. It does, of course, have the Insight's infamous 2nd gear crunch.

The brake lines looked pretty bad, so I replaced pretty much all of them. And I spliced the fuel lines in a couple of spots where they were leaking.

I talked to Ron Hansen of Hybrid Battery Repair at the Green Grand Prix and he told me not to even try the IMA battery without charging it first. I built a simple grid charger using a couple of LED power supplies that were recommended on Insight Central. 350mA for a little over 24 hours (battery fan running the whole time) brought the voltage up to 172 from a starting point of 94 volts. It's a 144v pack. So far the battery seems to be working great.

So with the IMA light now off, there was just one DTC caused by the missing immobilizer making the check engine light glow. Not good enough to pass New York State inspection, so an immobilizer bypass bought on eBay was added to the ECM.

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Old 07-10-2019, 06:39 AM   #2 (permalink)
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172v may not be fully charged on these batteries. It varies by outside temperature but I've seen as high as maybe 184v, with my old battery typically going a little over 180, then dropping down to ~178-179 as it finished balancing.
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Old 07-10-2019, 02:38 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Should I try charging it again? It was around 150-160 for a long time, then eventually got up to 172 and stayed there for a few hours. It was about 90F outside. Probably not the best day to charge it!
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Old 07-10-2019, 03:00 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Just want to make sure you had the fans running while charging it? It's very easy to cook one of these batteries by charging without the fans on.

Higher ambient or battery temperature will affect the peak voltage, so if it was very hot you might see lower voltage. Typically when a battery starts getting full (the first cells get full) it will be at the highest you'll see. As it continues to sit on the charger, the cells which have been topped off will start to warm up and their voltage will drop as their temperature rises. Usually within 2-4 hours of the battery voltage stopping rising is when it's completely balanced, and it will typically have dropped a volt or two in that time.

Does that make any sense?

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Old 07-10-2019, 04:29 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I did have the one fan behind the pack running. Is there another? Since it was so hot out, I actually ran the fan for at least 30 minutes before starting to charge. Hatch and doors open, rear glass covered.

I wasn't watching the voltage the whole time, but 172 was the highest I saw, and it stayed there for a few hours before I disconnected the power. About 29 hours total charge time.
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Old 07-11-2019, 09:35 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Sounds like it's fine then. Lower voltage can mean higher temperature, but it can also mean a healthier battery, as counter-intuitive as that sounds. 29 hours is more than long enough to charge a healthy battery from flat to full and then some.
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Old 07-17-2019, 11:59 PM   #7 (permalink)
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It passed inspection!


I'm have trouble getting 70 MPG with it. My Civic Wagon can get 80 MPG on a tank. Can the wrong tires and missing wheel skirts make that much of a difference? Lifetime is 56 MPG.
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Old 07-18-2019, 12:21 PM   #8 (permalink)
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The wrong tires make a huge difference. It's like dragging a boat anchor behind you. To the tune of 7-8 mpg lost.

Also, make sure you have the AC system set to "econ-AC off". Practically anything else you touch will run the compressor. I did my work commute yesterday and got 65 mpg round trip with AC on :-/, with no AC I can usually get 82-85mpg in that kind of heat. This car LOVES heat.

To make sure you're in the right AC (non) mode, first hit the off button, then hit the econ button twice. Adjust the fan as desired.

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Old 07-18-2019, 12:54 PM   #9 (permalink)
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The compressor is seized and bypassed. I wish I had working A/C! I will definitely steal the RE92s from my other Insight! And put the skirts on!
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Old 07-18-2019, 07:43 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Driving the Insight for mileage is quite different from driving a normal car. I was getting upper 50s in my Civic rated for 30 MPG (autotragic, so no 80 MPG like yours ), but my first Insight tank was only 66 MPG.

P&G doesn't work, DWL at 30-40 MPG in 5th works best, lean burn all the time. Lean burn kicks out when you go below 30 MPH in 5th and 25 MPH in 4th.

Air the tires up, skirts help some, underbody panels, tire pressure, check brake drag, spark plugs, all the normal things. Wrong tires will cost 5-20 MPG depending on brand and size. Mirror delete = +3% FE. Full lower grille block has coolant at 202-207 *F at 90 degrees outside and 197-202 *F during the winter.

The Insight with a working IMA has a slight constant background charge that will rob MPG. It only stops when your battery is at 18 bars or higher, at leas that's what it was on my '06. That charge never showed up on my Insight, but whenever an acceleration brought my battery down to 3/4 bars lit up on the display, it would background charge slightly (no visible charging) and make me lose ~10 MPG until the battery was full, thus negating most of the fuel savings from electric acceleration.

IMO, for ultimate MPG in the hands of a hypermiler, you need the battery deleted (weight savings outweigh battery benefit) or an IMAC&C + OBDIIC&C to manually control the battery. Without IMAC&C + OBDIIC&C, all the battery does is make the car faster, provide autostop and silent start, and capture energy for people who actually use their brakes, but at the expense of background charging and an extra 100lbs in the back of the car.

Working AC will cost you big in FE, as it does in any small econobox.

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