Buying A Used 2000-2006 Honda Insight Hybrid: The Guide

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If you've been reading Green Car Reports over the past week, you might have seen we recently bought a 2001 Honda Insight--an example of one of the first hybrids sold by a major automaker.

But what if you want to buy your own early Insight? What do you need to look out for?

And more importantly, should you buy one over a 2001-2003 Toyota Prius--the other, and considerably more successful hybrid that subsequently started the craze?

Finding one

Arguably, one of the trickiest aspects of buying a first-generation Honda Insight is finding one in the first place.

Honda sold little over 17,000 units worldwide between Japanese sales starting in 1999 and production stopping in 2006. On a global scale, that's pretty rare.

In the UK, where we bought ours, they're even rarer--around 250 found homes, and about 220 examples are still on the roads.

Luckily there are far more roaming around in the U.S, and there should be at least one lurking on sites like eBay at any given time. The downside is that it might not be anywhere near you--you may need to travel quite a distance for a good Insight.

First inspection

If you've managed to find an Insight, the next thing you need to know is what sort of general condition it's in.

Many Insights will have covered over 100,000 miles by this point, and more than a few have done double that. Those that haven't yet broken into six-figure mileages will typically cost a bit more, but the important thing to note is that condition is much more important than mileage.

In reality, the drivetrain components are quite happy doing several hundred thousand miles--and as a highly-efficient car, owners tend to treat them gently and maintain them well, to ensure good economy.

A history check with companies like Carfax is still worth doing if it isn't already being offered by the seller though--it's nice to know whether the car has had any accidents in its life and how regularly it's been serviced.

2001 Honda Insight

2001 Honda Insight


The Insight is constructed from aluminum, so the good news is wherever the car is located, rust shouldn't be an issue. Aluminum does oxidize, and you may see small bubbles in the paintwork as a result, but ultimately there'll be no holes or seriously bad patches.

It's worth inspecting for damage though, as aluminum can be expensive to repair. The front and rear bumpers are plastic and may be hard to find, but they should be cheaper than new fenders. The rear aero spats can be tricky too--they're rare, and replacements cost a few hundred bucks to replace brand new.

Headlights are prone to clouding up--something we're fixing on ours with a cheap restoration kit--and wheels can oxidize and corrode, which may require painting or re-finishing.

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