Frequently Asked Questions
(OK, they're just questions I thought up, but I think of them
Questions still to be answered
- Honda is selling the Insight far below it's actual cost to manufacture.
Will they also subsidize the cost of replacement parts or will they charge
the actual cost?
Potential Insight owners and their insurance companies want to know.
- How many microprocessors are onboard the Insight?
IMA, fuel injection, electric steering, electronic dash, automatic climate control,
ABS brakes, SRS (air bags),
and radio/CD changer for a start.
- Why is this the only US Honda that receives its gasoline on the right
Is it for safety reasons (statistically, most side collisions in the US
occur on the left side)? Or is it because Honda doesn't want to increase
produce different body panels for the right-hand drive and left-hand drive
- What materials did Honda use to control noise in the aluminum Insight?
Are they the same as used in other Hondas, such as the Civic, or are they
special lightweight sound deadening materials? Are they used
in the same places? I'll say one thing, the Insight engine is really quiet
but I don't think it's due only to the sound deadening mat attached to the
Questions with hopefully accurate answers
- How is Honda preparing dealers to service the Insight?
The dealers receive Service Manuals and at least four video tapes for the
service advisers and the mechanics. Honda has designed the Insight to make
it easy to swap out major components of the IMA system, eliminating the need
for mechanics to know every little detail about it's inner workings.
- Can you feel the IMA motor when it provides its boost and when it
recharges its battery pack?
Yes, but it's subtle enough that your passenger probably won't feel it.
Driving down the road in 5th gear and pressing a little harder on the
accelerator to go faster, the speed changes slowly. Then, when you press a
millimeter farther, you can feel the acceleration rate take a jump as the
IMA assist gauge indicates the amount of IMA boost you are using. If you are
decelerating in gear when the IMA state-of-charge gauge indicates the
battery pack is not fully charged, you can feel the car begin to decelerate
faster at the same time the IMA charge gauge lights up. Then, when the
battery pack is fully charged, the IMA charge gauge goes dark and you can
feel that the car is not slowing down as quickly as it was. Touching the
brake pedal as
you decelerate increases the recharging rate to its maximum.
- What about the up-shift and down-shift lights?
The up-shift light seems to be on every time you look at the gauges. If you
follow it's directions, your shift points will be approximately 14, 25, 32,
and 39 mph. I've gotten in the habit of skipping third and fourth gears when
I'm not in a hurry. The IMA motor makes it possible to tool around town at
40 mph in 5th gear without lugging the engine. When you press on the gas
pedal in this situation, the IMA motor kicks in to keep the car moving
forward smoothly. However, try as I might, I've never gotten the down-shift
light to come on. The only report I've received about the down-shift light
is from someone who was test driving an Insight up a steep hill in
Wisconsin. When the Insight could not maintain its speed in top gear on the
hill, the down-shift light came on.
- How rugged is the plastic gas tank 20 degrees below zero (Fahrenheit,
Someone at Honda assured me they've been using plastic gas tanks in cold
weather long enough to trust the tanks' ability to stand cold weather.
- How can the Insight be started if the IMA battery pack is
Though the IMA motor/battery pack is the primary starting system, the
Insight also includes a 12-volt lead-acid battery and a starter motor to
back up the IMA system.
- If there is no alternator, what keeps the 12-volt lead-acid battery
There is a DC-to-DC converter that steps the 144-volts from the battery pack
down to12 volts for the lead-acid battery (which also provides power
for the Insight's 12-volt accessories).
- Will the Insight engine bay accept one of Honda's hot four-cylinder
Honda's heard this question many times and says no, the engine bay is too small for
a larger engine (my solution: tell Honda you want them to resurrect the CRX).
- Is there a cut-off switch for the passenger air-bag?
No, just as in Honda's other two-seater, the S2000, there is no provision
for disabling the airbag when carrying a small passenger. The Insight
Owner's Manual has a large section on child safety that tells you to move
the seat as far back as possible when carrying a child. The Insight
includes a loop at the rear of the cargo area to attach a long strap from
the top of a child seat, over the top of the passenger-seat headrest, and
extending to the back of the car.
- How does the heater and air-conditioning system interact with the
Auto Idle Stop feature?
When the heater or A/C is working in Normal mode, it disables the Auto
Idle Stop feature. When the they are working in ECON (Economy)
mode, the Auto Idle Stop feature can temporarily shut off the heater fan or air-conditioner
at the same time it turns off the engine during a stop. According to the
Owner's Manual, the outside temperature must be at least 41° F (5°C) for
the Auto Idle Stop feature to recognize the ECON mode and shut off the
heater. It mentions the same temperature threshold for shutting off the A/C
in ECON mode, but I haven't used the A/C much this winter and cannot confirm
that number. It seems that no one would be using their A/C at temperatures
below 41° F (5°C), so the ECON mode would always work. I'm now in the
habit of shutting off the heater before coming to a stop at a stoplight to
enjoy the silence (and gas savings, of course) of the Auto Idle Stop
- Does the IMA motor/generator recharge the battery pack only during
It depends on the battery pack's state of charge. When
the charge is bellow 2/3 full charge, the IMA system will siphon off some of
your engine's power to recharge the battery pack at about 20% of its maximum
recharging rate while I'm cruising at a steady speed. However, if you
accelerate while this parasitic recharging is taking place, the recharging
stops--even if you're not accelerating enough to kick in the IMA boost.
- Does the IMA motor provide its torque boost in an on/off fashion or is
the amount of boost variable?
It is variable. When the Insight accelerates, one of the electronic
dashboard gauges indicates how much of the available boost is being used.
- What happens in a high-demand situation, such as driving up a steep
mountain, after the charge in the IMA battery pack is exhausted?
You go slower until the terrain provides an opportunity for the IMA system
- Is there a chance that the battery pack could give out just as the
Insight begins a passing maneuver?
In the extremely rare situation (such as the steep mountain road example)
that you have nearly exhausted the battery pack, the driver should check the
battery charge gauge before attempting a pass.
- Besides the aluminum body/chassis and the lightweight engine, what
other parts contribute to the Insight's light weight?
The gearbox is 9 pounds lighter than a Civic 5-speed, the front brake
calipers are aluminum, the rear brake drums are aluminum, much of the
suspension is aluminum...Honda didn't stop with the body and engine.
- What parts of the Insight are shared with other Hondas?
The steering wheel is from the S2000 (with the horn button in the center,
where it belongs!). The CD-changer is the same, except for different
mounting brackets. I'll list more shared parts as I learn about them.
- Is the mini-spare tire mounted on a lightweight cast wheel or a heavy steel
In keeping with the other lightweight components, the mini-spare is mounted
on a cast aluminum wheel. Interestingly, Honda designed the spare tire to be
an integral part of the crash protection system.
- How do the size, weight, and slipperiness of the Insight compare to
the late, beloved CRX?
|(dimensions in inches)
Coefficient of Drag
.32 (.35 Si)
.29 (.32 Si)
- Now that I know my Insight's Vehicle Identification Number, how far
away is it?
It was in transit from California in an enclosed truck all by itself.
- Will an Insight service manual be available to the general public?
Yes, the Owner's manual lists these manuals:
|2000 Honda Insight Service Manual
|2000 Honda Insight Electrical
|2000 Honda Insight Body Repair
Manual Base Book
|2000 Honda Insight Owner's Manual
- What is the small lens at the inside corner of each headlight?
These are the parking lights.
- How easy is it to remove the antenna for trips through the car wash?
The Owner's Manual says you must unscrew and remove the antenna and then use
a screwdriver on the two Dzus fasteners on each rear wheel skirt to remove
them before entering an automatic car wash that employs brushes to clean the
- With it's limited cargo capacity, will the Insight accept a luggage
rack, a bicycle rack, or a hitch for a very, very light trailer?
No, no, and no, you'll void your warranty. Maybe there's a reason Honda expects the Insight to be a "second
- Why does an 1800-pound car need power steering?
I'm no muscle man and I find the wheel extremely easy to turn when the car
is not running (that was on a smooth concrete floor), but it's much easier
when the car is running.
- What will Michigan road salt soup do to the aluminum body?
The Owner's Manual tells you not to let snow build up on the bottom of the
Insight because it will reduce the fuel efficiency and increase the chance
of corrosion. In another place, the manual tells you to make sure that
any replacement parts are genuine Honda parts or your Insight may be more
prone to corrosion.
- Why does the Insight wear 165x65/14 tires--a size that is not available
anywhere (except for the discontinued Pirelli snow tires I bought for next winter)?
These tires are optimized for maximum fuel economy and are supposed to be
pumped up to 38 psi front and 35 psi rear. These tires do feel hard.
No, I should say they "sound" hard, because the suspension does a
good job of compensating for the hard tires to moderate the abruptness of
potholes. My personal observations indicate that the more commonly available 175x65/14 tires
will easily fit inside the fender skirts if one is willing to sacrifice some