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Discussion Starter #1
Ever since I purchased the car, last year, I've been plague by bouts of extreme vibration. This engine vibration would manifest at certain RPMs, sometimes when cruising at highway speed, but mainly when accelerating, going uphill and down hill (engine braking). The vibration would occur at the resonant frequency of much of the plastic trim, rattling the entire vehicle.



Besides the terrible build quality, the vibrations have been my number one complaint with the vehicle. In so far as I'd be embarrassed to take passengers, as they would often comment on the noise. One thing I regret, is not taking it back to the dealer discovery. I assumed it was normal, given how many professional reviews commented on the droning of the engine.


Yesterday, I did my first oil change at 8100 miles. Much to my surprise, the errant vibrations have ceased. The engine is much smoother at the mid-to-high RPMs that used to trigger the vibrations. Intrigued, I've spent the day driving the car through various conditions, to see if the problem would reappear. So far, I have not been able to get the vibration to return.


My hypothesis, the vibrations could have been the result of the break in oil used as factory fill. I'm curious to see if the factory fill is a lower viscosity than the recommended 0w-20. My engine was assembled in Japan, I wonder if the Insight powertrain is also being produced in the US. If so, could there be a correlation between where the engine was assembled and the bad vibrations. These questions aside, baring no long term engine damage associated with the vibrations, I am much happier with the vehicle.
 

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Interesting finding! I've had occasional vibration from the gas engine at idle, but not during normal operation. Per Honda, the Insight's engine is built in Anna, Ohio, using a combination of domestic and globally sourced components.

What oil brand/specs did you use for oil change? Did you notice parts/pieces 'loose' that might now be tightened after oil change? Car & Driver's latest reliability review speculated that engine mounts may need inspection on their EX test model.
 

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I note a bit of "shake" when the ICE kicks in when I'm not moving. While moving, the electric engines are able to turn the engine for start-up (lock-up in reverse) which seems much smoother. While not moving, the Insight relies on an old-school starter which I attribute to the shake. Since the primary purpose of the engine is to perform as a generator, there is no real flex in the ICE drive-train when power is applied. This likely means the motor mounts aren't as "beefy" since they don't need to handle the stress. With all that said, I'm just postulating on the shake cause. I could be dead wrong.

It's interesting that your oil change resulted in a smoother engine. I'd like to say I've seen improvements in MPG due to my first oil change, but the change in seasons, along with more familiarity with the car, likely plays a part as well.

I doubt Honda used anything other than the requisite 0w20 oil. I'm not sure what else they would have added for break-in purposes. If you did the change yourself, did you notice anything contaminant-wise in the oil you drained? At 8K miles, it should have still been relatively clear. I have a hard time reading the oil level on the dipstick because it's so clear. What oil/filter did you go with at your oil change?
 

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Before the oil change, I was averaging 57.8 MPG, measured at the gas pump. I didn't notice any oil consumption, I try to check weekly. The oil was pretty dark near the end of the 8100 mile run, my oil life monitor was at 15%.

I performed the oil change myself. I didn't notice any contaminants, or anything unusual. I used Pennzoil Platinum 0w-20 and a Honda 15400-PLM-A02 oil filter.



I didn't notice anything loose in the engine bay (I have interior trim that is loose, like the air vent covers). I haven't noticed the loose hood/vibrations others have had issues with.

As for the Engine, my Monroney sticker says country of origin engine: Japan, Transmission: Japan. Not sure what that means, exactly.


At start and idle it's been very smooth and quiet (even on cold start). Only at certain RPMs that I would notice the harsh vibrations. Not having a tachometer, I would have to say it occurred around mid-high rpm (3,500-4,000 rpm?) and would go away if I revved even higher. It only occurred when the engine is driving the electric motor, or during long hill descents after the battery had filled 100%.

Before I changed the oil, I speculated it could be engine mounts, or the balancing shaft. Now, I am not so sure.
 

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I note a bit of "shake" when the ICE kicks in when I'm not moving. While moving, the electric engines are able to turn the engine for start-up (lock-up in reverse) which seems much smoother. While not moving, the Insight relies on an old-school starter which I attribute to the shake. Since the primary purpose of the engine is to perform as a generator, there is no real flex in the ICE drive-train when power is applied. This likely means the motor mounts aren't as "beefy" since they don't need to handle the stress. With all that said, I'm just postulating on the shake cause. I could be dead wrong.
The vibration I occasionally experience can last 5-10 seconds, and @Verdier reported longer intervals (30+ sec). Does a starter engage over that long a period? I only experience it when the ICE kicks in while car is idle, never while the car is in motion.
 

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Ever since I purchased the car, last year, I've been plague by bouts of extreme vibration. This engine vibration would manifest at certain RPMs, sometimes when cruising at highway speed, but mainly when accelerating, going uphill and down hill (engine braking). The vibration would occur at the resonant frequency of much of the plastic trim, rattling the entire vehicle.



Besides the terrible build quality, the vibrations have been my number one complaint with the vehicle. In so far as I'd be embarrassed to take passengers, as they would often comment on the noise. One thing I regret, is not taking it back to the dealer discovery. I assumed it was normal, given how many professional reviews commented on the droning of the engine.


Yesterday, I did my first oil change at 8100 miles. Much to my surprise, the errant vibrations have ceased. The engine is much smoother at the mid-to-high RPMs that used to trigger the vibrations. Intrigued, I've spent the day driving the car through various conditions, to see if the problem would reappear. So far, I have not been able to get the vibration to return.


My hypothesis, the vibrations could have been the result of the break in oil used as factory fill. I'm curious to see if the factory fill is a lower viscosity than the recommended 0w-20. My engine was assembled in Japan, I wonder if the Insight powertrain is also being produced in the US. If so, could there be a correlation between where the engine was assembled and the bad vibrations. These questions aside, baring no long term engine damage associated with the vibrations, I am much happier with the vehicle.
Both my transmission and engine are from Japan according to the sticker with final assembly in Indiana. 35% Japanese parts, 45% American parts, and the other 20% which it doesn't say is probably from Mexico... Car is quiet when running only experienced the engine vibration on rare occasions during idle. When was your car manufactured?



The vibration I occasionally experience can last 5-10 seconds, and @Verdier reported longer intervals (30+ sec). Does a starter engage over that long a period? I only experience it when the ICE kicks in while car is idle, never while the car is in motion.
It's the same for my car, only on idle, for a couple of seconds, on rare occasions(can't even remember the last time it happened).
 

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as for the engine, my monroney sticker says country of origin engine: Japan, transmission: Japan. Not sure what that means, exactly.
My sticker listed the same information for engine and transmission (maybe not surprising since all global Insights are produced in Greensburg, IN). Manufacturers are only required to list the "main" country of parts/sourcing, and only some manufacturers include detailed % by part/country. We know the engine isn't entirely sourced from Japan, since Honda announced 'a critical engine part' for the Insight is sourced from Mexico, and Insight production was affected Sep/Oct last year by flooding at the Celaya engine plant. So in the end, I take the sticker as a "directional" rather than "absolute" information.

at start and idle it's been very smooth and quiet (even on cold start). Only at certain rpms that i would notice the harsh vibrations. Not having a tachometer, i would have to say it occurred around mid-high rpm (3,500-4,000 rpm?) and would go away if i revved even higher. It only occurred when the engine is driving the electric motor, or during long hill descents after the battery had filled 100%.

@Honda2019 shared some 'rpm rules of thumb' based on OBDII readings, which is helpful reference. 3500-4000 rpm would be roughly the start of the gray hatch-mark area of gas engine operation. It's also interesting that your vibration would occur when the gas engine was running to bleed off excess energy. Not sure what to make of that yet, but new/different from what I've seen others mention...
 

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The vibration I occasionally experience can last 5-10 seconds, and @Verdier reported longer intervals (30+ sec). Does a starter engage over that long a period? I only experience it when the ICE kicks in while car is idle, never while the car is in motion.
The starter only engages for a second or two to start the engine. A 30-second shake is too long to be the starter alone.
 

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Without going full blown book answer:

Oil is far more critical in todays motors due to tighter tolerances and "start/stop" technology. Vibrations were most likely exacerbated by either "cold oil being more viscous" or lower oil level. I know the owners manual recommends checking the oil once a month, I try to check it at every fill (2 weeks or so).

I'd experience this on a much more severe level in my previous vehicle. Vibrations, noise, and worse gas mileage, and performance. I don't know how the insight's variable valve timing works, but many many of these systems are "hydraulic" based, and work off of oil pressure. The vibration would be compounded had the variable valve timing not had the appropriate pressure to be in the right position.

Heck, I had an 02 accord with a bad vtec sensor, solenoid, (one of those parts, lol). The car couldn't idle at all, but would run wide open flawlessly.
 

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Also wanted to add that, it wouldn't necessarily be just from lower oil levels, any contaminant could have caused excess vibrations. Curious to see if the vibration resumes at some point throughout the oil life.
 

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Not doubting you. What starts the car when it's not moving?
I think it's called an "Integrated Starter / Generator" (ISG): https://www.autocentral.com/doc/integrated-starter-generator-0001

This article on industry outlook for electrification offers an interesting (but wordy) breakdown of how electric vehicle segments are classified. Of the described segments, it seems the Insight falls in the ISG area:

"The Integrated Starter Generator (ISG) is expected to account for the largest market [...] due to the ability to shut down the engine automatically when the vehicle is idle or stuck in traffic. ISG reduces vibration and noise, improving comfort for users. ISG replaces the conventional starter, generator and flywheel of the engine to provide improved efficiency. It switches off the combustion engine automatically when at traffic and restarts it in less than one hundred milliseconds. This will lead to increased adoption of electrification in the vehicles."​
 

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I think it's called an "Integrated Starter / Generator" (ISG): https://www.autocentral.com/doc/integrated-starter-generator-0001

This article on industry outlook for electrification offers an interesting (but wordy) breakdown of how electric vehicle segments are classified. Of the described segments, it seems the Insight falls in the ISG area:

"The Integrated Starter Generator (ISG) is expected to account for the largest market [...] due to the ability to shut down the engine automatically when the vehicle is idle or stuck in traffic. ISG reduces vibration and noise, improving comfort for users. ISG replaces the conventional starter, generator and flywheel of the engine to provide improved efficiency. It switches off the combustion engine automatically when at traffic and restarts it in less than one hundred milliseconds. This will lead to increased adoption of electrification in the vehicles."​
Thanks. It must be the pulse-start piece that causes the subtle shake as it starts to turn the engine. It only occurs while not moving.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
1 Week Update

I've driven another 300 miles since the oil change. Initially, I thought the vibration events were gone; however, it has reappeared on two occasions. I've made a few observations, the vibrations occur on low battery, high-load and around 3000 RPM (around the start of the grey marks on the power meter). Another interesting observation, the vibration pulsates. It feels as though the engine is revving up and down in quick succession. One way to stop the pulsating vibration is to depress the gas pedal and go higher into the power band. High RPM operation of the engine is smoother and less jarring then the mid RPM pulsations that rattle the entire vehicle. Also, the pulsating vibration doesn't occur when the transmission is in direct drive (gear icon). Engine operation while in direct drive is always smooth, quiet and pleasant.


As a side note, fuel economy is still excellent with the Pennzoil Platinum. Averaging 61.9mpg on this tank, according to the trip computer. I typically see better results than the trip computer when I calculate mpg at the pump.
 

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I've driven another 300 miles since the oil change. Initially, I thought the vibration events were gone; however, it has reappeared on two occasions. I've made a few observations, the vibrations occur on low battery, high-load and around 3000 RPM (around the start of the grey marks on the power meter). Another interesting observation, the vibration pulsates. It feels as though the engine is revving up and down in quick succession. One way to stop the pulsating vibration is to depress the gas pedal and go higher into the power band. High RPM operation of the engine is smoother and less jarring then the mid RPM pulsations that rattle the entire vehicle. Also, the pulsating vibration doesn't occur when the transmission is in direct drive (gear icon). Engine operation while in direct drive is always smooth, quiet and pleasant.
Thanks for sharing update. Do you still also notice it on hill descents when the battery is full and ICE is bleeding off energy? Are the issues consistent enough that you can take to dealer and replicate? Any thoughts on what you'll check next (e.g. engine mounts, balancing shaft) -?
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I haven't been on a long hill descent recently, so I'll have to see if it happens again under those conditions. Unfortunately, I don't think this is an issue I could replicate at the dealer. It's only happened to me twice in the last week and even then it's unpredictable. I drive the same route (work commute) everyday, same time, traffic patterns, weather. Perhaps it's the programing of the ECU that's causing the bizarre pulsating shuddering engine vibration. I'm leaning towards a 1/2 order vibration, due to the harshness that shakes the vehicle and occupants. Maybe it's a misfire? No check engine light.
 
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