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