Mike's 2005 Honda Insight



The Car

Pretty much stock when I got it with a 5 speed manual transmission and air conditioning.

Go read Insight Central to learn about the amazing, Hi-Tech Cars. The forums are especially interesting!

My Modifications

photos below
  • Snow Tires
  • A Scan Gauge
  • A Radiator Block for cool weather operation
  • A Grill Block for cold weather operation
  • A Modified Underbody for snowy roads
  • A Hot Intake Air Mod
  • A More Efficient Air Filter
  • A Front License Plate Mount
  • Front Speaker Upgrade
  • Front Fender Repair
  • Solar powered cooling system
  • mIMA installation
  • Block Heater - This should help get moving on winter mornings.
  • Audio Line Input - Not a new stereo, but a GIANT improvement.
  • Future Modifications

  • An upgrade from the stock stereo is probably destined to happen at some time in the future. One that I can plug a mass storage device full of mp3's would be great.
  • I'd like to make a aerodynamic grill block. I'm investigating what materials might be used. We'll see how it goes.

  • How I'm Doing

    (click on image for larger)

    This kind of busy chart tracks my daily miles and miles per gallon for over a year.

    The mpg hit isn't that visible, but it sure feels like it is real. The change in December 2009 coincided with the air temperature dropping from 40's (F) down into the 20's. The combination seemed to cause a 10 mpg drop.

    The Block heater was installed when the temperatures were in the 40's (F). It looks like starting the day with a warm engine gave an immediate 8-10 mpg improvement.

    The MIMA did't produce any big jumps in mpg. I think mostly that's because the learning curve it entails. I think I started getting the hang of it about the time the block heater was installed, so it might have contributed to the apparent mpg boost from the block heater.


    Snow Tires

    I got some non-stock wheels with Michelin X-Ice Xi2 tires for winter.

    I ended up using a 175/65/14 tire. It's not an optimum size

  • It is 2.28 % larger circumfrance that the stock tires, so the speedometer and odometer are off by that much.
  • They are also a bit wider than the stock tires and the recomended Blizzak snow tires. Wide is a bad thing for snow tires.
  • They seem to fit alright in the wheel wells. I have no complaints after the first winter.

    Scan Gauge

    I installed a ScanGaugeII to monitor the engine temperature. It is a prerequisite to doing any radiator block mods.

    It's proved itself quite usefull for monitoring other things on the car. I always have the coolant temperature displayed, but I also find these gauges usefull:

  • Lean Burn (LBN) - the code can be found on Insight Central and on CleanMPG
  • Throttle Position (TPS)
  • Manifold Absolute Pressure (MAP)
  • Intake Air Temperature
  • Radiator Block

    Radiator Block for cool weather. I copied my radiator block from this post on Insight Central.

    Mine is cardboard covered with packing tape to waterproof it. Very simple and it works.

    The dimensions are exactly as in the link above:
    Overall Width 40cm, Height of main area 25cm, height of tab at end 13cm, width of tab 3cm.

    Grill Block

    Grill Block for cold weather operation.
    I copied my grill block from the Test 2 section here. I can't understand how he can run it in California!

    It was simply cut out of a foam floor mat and friction fit over the grill.

    Hot Intake Air Mod

    I added the hot air intake mod from this posting on Insight Central.
    None of the local car parts places seem to carry the intake hose in anything but 3 inch size, so I got my 2 inch air intake hose from Car Parts dot Com.

    The quality of the pre-heater hose from Car Parts dot Com isn't very high. The foil tubing falls apart pretty quickly. I had to replace or repair my intake about every month or two. Aluminum tape is great for repairing the hose. The repair is better than the original.

    It still disintegrates fairly rapidly. Eventually it will probably become entirely made of tape.

    The tubing just goes under the battery and wraps over near the catalytic converter.

    More Efficient Air Filter

    I installed a K&N Air Filter

    It's supposed to be easier for the engine to suck air through. It is very easy to clean. No noticeable change in mpg.

    Front License Plate Mount

    A front plate is required in Ohio.

    I didn't want to drill holes in the bumper to mount a plate. Others have attached plates to the bumper with zip ties. While investigating this possibility, I found a single threaded hole on the bottom, center of the front bumper. I made a Aluminum bracket to mount the front license plate to this hole.

    I doubt that hole is stock because it is not metric thread, but it was there, so I used it.

    I think I'll make some side covers out of the foam used for the grill block. The grey on the left side of the photo is my grill block.

    Underbody Modifications

    On my first drive in the snow I managed to convert my Insight into a snow plow.

    It seems that one of the less endearing features of this vehicle is the underbody has a tendency to catch on ice and snow on the road. This is quite inconvenient. The first event bent one corner of the underbody under the driver's seat down so it scooped up all of the snow on the road and packed it in between the chassis and the underbody.

    Since the underbody panel was damaged and couldn't just be bolted back in place, I fashioned an Aluminum bar to secure the leading edge of the underbody on each side. I used 2 inch by 1/8 inch stock. A 4 foot piece did both sides.

    Here's some photos of the modification.

    Here's the driver side piece.

    Once installed, here is the driver's outside end.

    And the driver side center.

    And the driver side inside, at the center of the car.

    Here's what the passenger side looks like installed.
    It is just about a mirror image of the driver side.

    Front Speaker Upgrade

    I purchased some Polk Audio db651s speakers to upgrade the door speakers. The good news is that they fit without any modification or cutting of the door panel and you can use the stock speaker covers.

    There are several instructional posts on Insight Central about swapping speakers. There is one in the Owners Central section, and the most recent one is in the community forum. I used all of them for reference.

    The speaker grill pops off easily with a screw driver.

    The speaker is held in with 3 Phillips screws.

    Here's the opening with the grill and stock speaker removed.

    From the various descriptions, I knew Honda used some custom connectors, but I didn't know what they looked like.
    The connector in the car looks like this.
    The two outer slots accept spade pins on the speaker.
    (sorry about the fuzzy photos, there wasn't enough light in the garage)

    I didn't want to cut off the factory connectors, so I made some jumper cables.
    It would probably be easier to get adapters from Crutchfield.

    The connector in the car seems to require a slightly thicker spade than the ones I had, so I put a slight crimp in it to maintain a good connection.
    (another fuzzy photo from the garage)


    and installed

    I had to use the longer mounting screws that came with the speakers
    because the Polk speaker mounting flange is thicker than the Honda speakers

    Speaker wire color codes:
    Front LeftGreen w black stripeLight green
    Front RightGreen w yellow stripeGrey w red stripe

    Front Fender Repair

    When I got the car I noticed a missing fastener on the front fender liner. Everything still seemed solid, so I left t alone.

    That was a mistake.

    When the snow and ice hit it, it got worse quickly. I'm not sure exactly how it happened, but the remaining fasteners were gone and the fender liner must have made it's way into the the tire. Technically it's #209787 FENDER, R. FR. (INNER)

    It's not too expensive to fix correctly, but it's not something I want to do in the winter. I waited for a warm day (20° F) and did a temporary repair.

    I did a quick repair with a vinyl stair step tread and some zip ties.

    The damage. Holes punched into the liner for attaching my patch.

    The sutures in place.

    Tightening down the stitches.

    And Frankenstein is all sewed up.
    We'll see how it holds up for the rest of the winter.

    Solar Powered Cooling

    I have the solar panels around for camping and I've always wanted to build something to keep a car cooler when it's out sitting in the sun. I some solar panels to power a couple of 12V computer fans. A single 14 W collector on the dashboard worked very well. And yes, I know the effiency of the collection through the glass is poor.

    First test.

    In a location where I can leave the panel outside the cabin, a 10 W panel works very well. Where security is a problem the 10 W on the dash and 20 W worth in the cargo area

    My first tests just attached the fans mounted inside the cabin space to one of the exaust vents. A better method would be to mount the fan(s) in between the inner and outer walls. This would vent the warm air directly out of the car. Where they are now, it is probably pressurizing the battey compartment but the airflow should still be out of the car.

    I replaced it with 3 10 W panels.

    The MIMA install

    This is the BIG mod. A mIMA system.

    I did the install in August 2009 and everything went smoothly. The plug-n-play system is very easy to install and the instructions are quite complete.

    The videos are very helpful. I had them on my Nokia N810 for quick reference.


    My mount on the light control stem.

    A normal type shift mount.

    One install note:

    Rather than using a vise grip on the fan mount timmerman nuts, a 15 mm bicycle cone wrench is a perfect fit.

    Installing a Block Heater

    Installing a stock Honda block heater (P/N 08T44-SEC-200) following the Honda Installation Instructions

    For some reason, I neglected to take photos, but the install was pretty simple. I did an explore before the install to make sure I knew where everything was and had all the right tools.

    I do have the Service Manual, so when I got the the section that said to refill the coolant system as described in the service manual, I was OK. I did miss the one thing in those instructions... There were a few paniced moments searching the Service Manual to find the coolant bleeder.

    I did buy the small install kit, which isn't much more than a couple of zip ties, just so I'd have the "right" parts for routing the cable.

    Audio Line Input

    I picked up a Blitzsafe HON/AUX DMX V.1 on ebay and installed it using the disassembly directions in this thread on Insight Central forums. 02insight's instructions and photos are excellent.
    As said in the thread getting the trim panel off is largely a matter of nerve and brute force.

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