Honda Insight ZE1 Steering wheel

20170921_174946_resizedThe original plastic steering wheel of our ZE1 has been pretty shabby from the beginning. The 2017 dealer price for a new steering wheel was between 450 USD and 500 Euro.  Alternatively we would have been able to get it restored with a new leather covering. Since I didnt want a thicker wheel I tried to find a better unit online.  There have not been many used ones on ebay for the last year. On someone mentioned that the Honda S2000 steering wheel is basically the same as the ZE1s and interchangeable.

I bought a Honda S2000 AP1 steering wheel on and got it shipped to Germany. The S2000 wheel was equipped with additional buttons for the cruise control.

20170921_182458_resizedWe have just installed the S2000 steering wheel in our Insight without having any adaption issues. The airbag screws are under the covers on the left and right side. The additional cruise control buttons are just attached with two screws. If the steering wheel has cruise control option you have to change the back cover too.

One of the major difficulties is to handle the clock spring. When you pull the steering wheel off the column it will fall out. But dont panic. To get it reinstalled you have to wind the wiring back in. Properly installed you can turn the clock spring 2,5 times to the left and 2,5 times to the right (with steering wheel still uninstalled). When the front wheels are aligned you just have to place the clock spring in central position and get the steering wheel mounted.

WARNING: Please be aware that working on Supplement Restraint Systems such as airbags, seat belt tensioner etc. is dangerous and should be conducted just by trained professionals. 

Honda Insight ZE1

In the past I have been several times in California. In the land of V8 cars live many people who are very conscious about their environmental impact. Therefore Toyota and Honda sold a lot of Hybrid cars to the USA. I saw the Honda Insight ZE1 the first time on a US Freeway. It reminded me of the GM EV1 whose success story could not be written since car industry was not willing to unchain from the oil industry. Back in Germany I could not find any of these cars for a long time. But one day in 2016 I found an offer on Ebay Kleinanzeigen. The Honda Insight ZE1 from 2000 was imported to Germany in 2004 run by the same owner until 2012 and then stored since he did not find a mechanic able to take care of his car. I bought the car pretty cheap without having a look at it.


Now I want to use my blog to post all the technical problems and solutions we had so far with the ZE1. I have been able to solve several problems by checking . Some of the problems have been just tested and solved in our workshop.

When I bought the car it didnt run. The previous owner told me about a faulty starter but could not really tell what the problem is. I searched though the web and found out that the ZE1 has two ways of starting the petrol engine: first is a conventional starter second is the electric motor. The conventional starter starts the engine when the IMA (the hybrid battery pack) is empty. For this purpose a separate 12V battery is installed in the engine compartment. In our case all batteries where empty. After charging the 12V battery the car still did not run. Then we focused on the starter mentioned by the previous owner. We found a broken connection for the 12V Cable. Obviously one of the mechanics put too much torque on the bolt tearing it off the starter. Luckily I found a car wrecking company offering a used starter. After installation the car came back to life again. Surprisingly it did not just drive but also the hybrid system started charging the IMA. Sadly there were several issues we had to take care of.

The first care packet included:

– oil and filter change

– new spark plugs (we ordered the ridiculously expensive Honda ILZFR5A11)

– air filter (Mahle LX1081)

– new wiper blades – since the car has pretty futuristic look I decided for ‘advanced’ Bosch Aerotwin wiper blades front and rear

From the beginning I had the following issues:

– ABS light on

– milage reset button didnt work/ not able to change from miles to km

– engine light flashing from time to time – code P0420 DTC

– weak gas struts of the trunk lid

– steering wheel worn


– drivers seat cover torn

– compartment smelling moldy

– condition of paint and wheels to be improved