Modifications and Adding Lightness

Discussion in 'Honda Hybrids' started by Sunin, Mar 4, 2009.

  1. Sunin

    Sunin Well-Known Member

    I've been an owner of a miata for over 10 years and am well versed in modifications and adding lightness to that car. What I am curious is there any good sights on how to mod and add lightness to the 2006 Honda Insight?

    I just picked mine up with under 14k miles on it and managed to get 63.9mpg on the way to work today. Before you all down me, I was averaging 42mpg just 1 week ago, so I am learning. I was extremely excited to see what I could do already. To me a 22mpg increase with not much effort was huge! Now to get it higher than that!

    I have some ideas on what I am thinking of doing to it to help the MPG.

    GOAL: I want to remove over 200lbs from the car or more!

    1. I only inflated my tires to about 40psi... I have read in other threads I should go 45 plus

    2. Checking out the spark plugs to make sure the dealer didn't fudge them up

    3. Considering removing the side mirrors and putting in blanks with the addition of a nascar 360 type rearview mirror.

    4. Converting to LEDs through out the car

    5. Replacing the seats with Race seats and 5 point harnesses and removing the seat belts mechanism. I've seen seats that are sub 9 lbs, so I'm going to rip out the seat and weight it for comparison

    6. Replacing the battery in the engine compartment with a light weight 4.5lb battery if it is not already a light weight version. I had one in my miata and shaved over 10lbs.

    I've already done the following:

    1. Removed the spare and all hardware and added a can of fix-a-flat. My insurance has road side assistance so a major blow out would be covered. Also at the PSIs we run these things at I think any flat we get mandates a tire be replaced as I question if a plug would hold up to the pressure.

    2. Removed the cargo/cooler box and the trunk mat and net (My goal is to weigh the stuff this weekend)

    3. Losing weight. I've dropped from 185 to 165 (hey this is an easy mod!)

    So other suggestions. I saw the Scanguage thing to help me ID when I'm in lean burn. I'm open for some good feedback and any websites that help detail out my passion that is now getting this insight to avg 100mpg.

  2. Right Lane Cruiser

    Right Lane Cruiser Penguin of Notagascar

    Welcome, Sunin!! You have a fantastic vehicle to work with. :D

    I understand your enthusiasm with lightening the load but honestly, it won't help you as much as you think. 200lbs is worth maybe another 7mpg in your car with the same driving habits.

    As a contrast, click on the green banner in my signature to see the mileage logs for my stock 2002. I'm 6'5" and weigh in at about 248lbs. My tire pressures are considerably higher than yours but other than that my results are strictly driving technique based. My highest tank was right around 120mpg for most of the distance but winter knocked me down to 115mpg in the last 300mi or so (out of 1567.4mi total).

    We can teach you how to turn your car into a consistent 100mpg+ vehicle but you have to be willing to change the way you drive. You're doing great right now but there is a lot to know about the car's subtleties.

    Where are you located? What is your local terrain like and what temperatures are you dealing with? Long or short trips?
  3. Sunin

    Sunin Well-Known Member

    I am in Sioux City Iowa. I have some mild terrain, a bridge that elevates probably a couple of hundred feet and i live about 500 feet or more up on a hill side. Weather is similar to chicago, we get very cold in the winter and 80's in the summer. The big difference here is we get a lot of wind. No buildings to block airflow. So on most days I am fighting a 30mph wind. Some days it gets to 50 plus.

    I am eager to learn techniques. I have no set style. I have a highly modified 10AE 1999 Miata with 400RWHP that I use for spirited driving so this is my commuter vehicle.

    The thing I have noticed the most is I can not maintain speed on the highway. I took a 300 mile round trip this weekend and avg'd 47.8 before learning something new on Monday that obviously has helped. But I want to learn even more. I am reading the Beating the EPA article now and am eager to get into that 100mpg range.

    I appreciate any and all help! Oh and somewhat short trips. Generally 10miles or under.
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2009
  4. ksstathead

    ksstathead Moderator

    tire plugs will hold the pressure fine.

    only problem should come from bad angle of puncture or sidewall damage where the plug won't work. If they work, they should hold. The sidewalls would blow out hundreds of psi before the plug got blown out, and even sean doesn't use that much psi.
  5. ksstathead

    ksstathead Moderator

    check out about our own basjoos. I think at highway speeds the cd reduction will gain you more than weight savings. And driving technique is always the biggest factor.
  6. PaleMelanesian

    PaleMelanesian Beat the System Staff Member

    Another note on tire pressure. I had a puncture in one of mine a while back. The plug has been holding for 6+ months at 60 psi. No trouble there at all.

    Mirror delete is good if you can legally and safely do it.

    LED's are good, and absolutely essential if you're downsizing the battery. I personally would keep the battery as it's already tiny.

    Honestly, I think Honda already did most of the easy stuff in lightening this car. It's built from aluminum, after all.
  7. Sunin

    Sunin Well-Known Member

    Cool good info I will use my road side assitance and ditch the fix o flat!

    Now it is learning technique!
  8. Sunin

    Sunin Well-Known Member

    Who said I was downsizing. The battery is about the same amperage, but a dry cell battery versus lead and acid. They are called Odyssey Drycell Batteries. In general they weigh about 10-20lbs less than oem. I'll do a touch of research and remove the battery over the weekend and weigh it :)
  9. msirach

    msirach Well-Known Member

    The ODY is a good battery with savings in weight. I even removed the passenger seat. That saves several pounds and you can haul bigger cargo (2x4x8's)

    NO ONE will diss you here for 63MPG. That's great for a step in the learning curve! I'm sure Sean will give you some great tips.
  10. Right Lane Cruiser

    Right Lane Cruiser Penguin of Notagascar

    Sunin, do you have a CVT? It will be more difficult to hit high numbers with that but you can do it with some work. The wind is another matter...

    Those short trips are going to be tough to get around. Does your car have a block heater? That can help quite a bit with short trips by enabling the car to warm up more quickly.

    Are you avoiding the highway? If not, you'll want to. :)
  11. Sunin

    Sunin Well-Known Member

    I do have a CVT. I only hit the Highway for 2miles. I needed it to be automatic because the GF doesn't know stick and she is hesitant to learn.

    So the CVT is part of the why I feel like I can't get it over about 55-60mpg on the highway at speeds of 55+. I could peak at about 70mpg on the high way if I drafted someone like a semi, but too often they would reduce speed if they saw me staying about 3 car lengths off their bumpers.

    I guess that is why I was heading toward the lightness. I also want to figure out how to get the IMA to kick on quicker. Right now I have to get it to nearly 25mpg for the assist to kick in and I'd like that to be around 40mpg. Any ideas on how? My battery stays within 3 bars of full all the time and to me that is not making the best use of it. Thoughts?

    Keep in mind my prior car was a 2000 malibu that on a good day got 25mpg, so I am happy with anything 50mpg or higher, but I do want to get it up higher and higher!
  12. Right Lane Cruiser

    Right Lane Cruiser Penguin of Notagascar

    Hi, Sunin -- you've got some new concepts coming your way. :)

    First off, your car does not have lean burn. You won't be able to get your car up to the heights that a MT equipped version (which does have lean burn) will reach, but you can definitely get her up over 80mpg in the right circumstances.

    The thing that isn't going to make sense to you right away is that you want to stay away from using the battery. I know this sounds counter-intuitive, but the simple fact is that you will use more fuel if you use the battery than if you do not. The reason is that the only way the battery will charge is if you first burn fuel to generate momentum, which is then inefficiently converted into electricity to charge the battery (slowing you down in the process). Avoiding this lossy conversion from gas to electricity you will get better fuel economy. In other words, using assist will get you better mileage in the short term but regen will pull it back down past where you would have been had you not used the assist in the first place.

    The first thing you want to do is practice a light touch on the accelerator. The CVT will adjust ratios to the most efficient RPM for a given speed -- you can encourage this once up to speed by backing off the pedal gently, then reapplying pressure. Use the lightest pressure you can to maintain speed and you'll see your instantaneous FE go up.
  13. ksstathead

    ksstathead Moderator

    Ah, the hybrid conundrum: buy it for the battery, then avoid using the battery for max FE.
  14. lightfoot

    lightfoot Reformed speeder

    Not exactly. More like "buy it for the small ICE optimized for MPG rather than HP, use the battery only when needed when the ICE doesn't have enough oomph, such as brief accelerations or uphills".
  15. Sunin

    Sunin Well-Known Member

    I figured that out quickly, but what i have noticed is if I don't use the IMA to get up to speed it takes too long and I drag out the 25-30mpg time for too long. Now I get up to speed quicker and am in the 60-70mpg range longer.

    I've already dropped 30 lbs from the car, I have plans to remove the multi-cd pack in the trunk and some of the excess sheet metal.

    I'll figure out battery and seat issues this weekend.
  16. Right Lane Cruiser

    Right Lane Cruiser Penguin of Notagascar

    You should be aware that the spare tire is actually considered part of the crumple zone in the back of the Insight -- yes, they really did configure it to absorb part of an impact! There really isn't much "excess sheet metal" back there.

    The trade off for battery usage is still there. As a rule of thumb, it will take twice as long to regen back the charge you use during assist.

    What "battery and seat issues" are you referring to?
  17. Chuck

    Chuck just the messenger

    Might want to consider a hot air intake while it's still cold.

    On battery usage: only about 30% of wasted kinetic energy is recovered by regenitive braking, so it's better not to waste it to begin with.
  18. basjoos

    basjoos Well-Known Member

    The mileage you get while drafting is the mileage improvement that your car could potentially get via air drag reduction mods since drafting has the effect of reducing your car's aero drag. I've gotten the Cd so low on my car that drafting produces so little mileage benefit that it is not even worth consideration.
  19. Sunin

    Sunin Well-Known Member

    Interesting design.

    The issue is just figuring out if I will replace them both for lighter weight. With the CVT limitations I feel the only way to get to the 100mpg will be to lose a good 300lbs.

    I was fishing around in the mod section and saw about the windshield wipers both front and rear. I have yet to use the rear wiper and it got nasty the other day. I also saw about a top air damn for the front bumper. I've got the wheels working on that already. I want to put something together that looks OEM.

    Last night I pumped up the tire pressure to 55lbs, from 42 in the front and 40 in the rear. I'm very curious to see what impact that has. Hoping it gets me closer to 70mpg.

    I agree with the using the battery. What I've noticed so far is the only regenerative parts happen when I used the brakes. Like I said on my normal commute I used less than 3 bars and it regens by breaking for 2 stop light and 1 stop sign I have on the way.

    Also just curious, and not suggesting others do this, but do you all do rolling stops. I've gotten in the habit of checking for cops and rolling through the stop sign if it is clear. Obviously I'm only going 5-10mph, but again that is 5-10mph that my ICE does not have to work for!
  20. Right Lane Cruiser

    Right Lane Cruiser Penguin of Notagascar

    You're going to have a tough time finding 300lbs to remove in the car! Search for Blake's posts and you'll see what he did to his '06 (MT). He hasn't been around for a while but did really nice work -- including the LED swap you are thinking about. He posted lots of pictures.

    55psi is good, but I run higher than that. ;) The car should coast very well at moderate (>30mph) speeds if the alignment is good. The ride can get a little rough because of the stiff suspension and short wheelbase but frankly I don't care when I can get stupid high numbers.

    Don't draft! It is way too dangerous to be worth the risk. :(

    Rolling through stop signs isn't condoned here -- we advocate following traffic laws. I can't claim that no one here does rolling stops, though.

    One easy target for weight reduction is the passenger seat -- it isn't hard to remove and if you never have a passenger it will not be missed. I'm not willing to remove mine but I know that billy did in his show Insight (which did have the mirror deletion mod, by the way -- replaced by a camera mounted in the driver's side tail light!) when he did mileage competitions.

    What is the speed limit on the highway you have to drive on? Your best mileage is going to come from speeds around 50mph. That may not be feasible for your location. If not, are there alternate routes that are lower speed? Sometimes the shortest route is not the one that will use the least fuel -- likewise the one with the highest fuel economy average isn't always the one that uses the least fuel. Try alternates and calculate your usage (distance divided by mpg). I actually drive a 3.5mi longer route each way for work because the numbers are so much higher that I use less fuel over all.

    You should get regen anytime you induce an engine braking situation. The brake pedal will intensify the amount, but it can be triggered without the brakes. You might need to shift to "S" to get it to do that for you. If you can accomplish this you'll have better control of regen and use less of your brake pads.

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