Category Archives: Insight

150,000 miles

Last night on the way hone little Insight and I rolled over 150,000 miles:


Not bad for a little hybrid. We’ve been together since December 2005, and I’m still averaging about 30,000 miles/year. Now that I live farther from everything my motorcycling takes in the extra 5-10,000 miles annually I’ve added to my life.

Go, Insight, Go!

Happy Birthday Insight!

One year ago today I picked up my insight. And this sunday I rolled over 30,000 miles on my way home from pittsburgh. tomorrow is the 30K service, and I need to find a detailer or someone who will wash the car down inside and out and but good as a nice little treat. happy birthday insight! I’m so glad I found you.

birthday shoutout

I didn’t snap a photo of mariss and his “the man” haircut, but it is totally his birthday RIGHT THIS SECOND and he is awesome. #31!

I drove out to pgh for his party — because of my crazy traveling and general sleepiness, I decided to go to bed early on friday after daddy-o dropped off my stuff from gramma’s, and then I got up at 3ish and started driving by 4. I got out to pgh in a solid 6 hours (mpg – 55.9). I had lovely ethiopian lunch with mariss and kelly and serena and then a very fun party and this morning was tasty latvian breakfast and knitting with kelly and then food co-op and the drive home, which took just over 6 hours, but then, there were 30 min. of traffic around allentown (they will NEVER finish that road construction). I got a total trip mpg of 59.9 so I think my mpg on the trip home was about 65 mpg. as I was going faster on the way home than the way out, I can only assume that it’s all downhill from pgh to nj. very very good weekend.

carbon diet

I was pretty interested when I read about the slate/treehugger green challenge (slate here and treehugger here), wherein one attempts to shave 20% off of ones carbon emissions. I mean, I know I have pretty low carbon emissions. I was so excited after seeing an inconvenient truth that I set about off-setting my driving emisisons with a 12,000 lb CO2 terrapass. I bought green electricity – now 100% of my electricity is coming from NJ wind and solar. and I drive a hybrid! that gets roughly 65 mpg! I’m not even getting into how I’ve alreday changed all my lightbulbs into efficient compact flouresent bulbs, and how I have to wait for my living room to “warm up” after I flip the light switch before I can really see things clearly.The slate/treehugger quizzes seem to assume that you’re not doing so great. I took the first quiz and had to pretend like I had a dishwasher. there wasn’t anywhere to say I was using a hybrid. so I came out with annual emissions of 15,706 lbs, which is not so bad when compared to the US average of 44,312 (and not so good when compared to india at 2,645).

but the difficult part came next, where I took the transportation quiz and was asked to pledge to check my tire pressure monthly (it’s easy when you have tire minders), buy a terra pass (check!) for my car, buy one for my flights (was planning on it anyway – am not sure if I should go international at 7,500 lbs CO2 or frequent flyer at 15,000 lbs – it all depends on if I go to england in addition to heading to japan), and then comes the hard question: do you promise to trade in your car for a hybrid in the next 6 months? well. they don’t know if I have a hybrid, they just know I get 65 mpg. the estimates they use say that “driving a hybrid reduces CO2 emissions by more than 10K lbs a year, assuming you currently drive a car that gets average mileage”. which. well. I don’t. I had better not tell them I’ll trade in my *cough*hybrid*cough* because then the calc works out to me reducing another 17K lbs, and that is more than I am supposedly currently using.

sadly, my busy engineering lifestyle precludes me carpooling or taking the train to work. sigh.

so far, then, I’ve reduced another 1,050 lbs CO2 by telling slate what I have already done. which isn’t so shabby, I guess: if the goal is 20% of total I’m already 1/3 there with 6.6%.

the topics for reduction they’ll look at are transportation, heating, food, clothing, electricity, holidays, water, and home/office. y’all should sign up! it’s interesting!


I updated the insight page with new mpg information. the exciting news is that I’ve broken the lifetime 60 mpg line this week! yay! now that 60+ mpg sticker is ENTIRELY accurate, instead of just mostly accurate. I hope I can maintain high mpgs with the colder weather that is blowing in – I didn’t start regularly clocking over 60 mpg on the trip calculator until last may. of course, I was still driving kind of really fast then, but I know the cold weather had lots to do with it too.

shiny car! this’n’that!

I picked up my new car yesterday evening and it is SO BEAUTIFUL. they washed it and vacuumed the insides before I got it, and it’s so brill. shiny! this is convincing me that hey, maybe I SHOULD wash and wax my car more regularly. shoot, it really DOES make a difference. have I mentioned to you how nuanced the paint shade is? when it’s clean it’s really not boring blue at all. amazing!

I was so glad to wash my hands of the chevy cobalt I was driving. That thing, while I’m sure is very nice, is just not for me. it *only* gets 30 mpg, the automatic made me both pissy b/c I had no control, and also caused me to drive really fast, and also, the headrest jutted out in such a way that I believe caused me to have a horrible back spasm on my way home from the beach on sat. So, I wash my hands of it! sadly I left my flaming lips cd in the car and I hope that the people who rented it right away this morning will return the cd to me intact.

tangentially, you may have noticed that I went to the beach on sat. We had a good time. And also, first time ever to the long island beaches without a surfit of either seaweed or jellyfish or both — that plus no paying and no sunburn (both benefits of getting to the beach at 6PM) equals very successful trip!

Also, in the heat, I might be perfecting the sweaty nap. it sounds very glamorous, I know, but it’s a skill ANYONE can practice. Speaking of heat, it’s hot! but because I don’t work out-of-doors I don’t mind it that much. I mean, it’s hot, and it’s kind of warm at night when I want to be sleeping, but it’s not that bad, all in all. did I mention I don’t have an air conditioner? see, if I worked out-of-doors that would lend me real street-cred but because I sit in a sealed up, ice cold office building, it just makes me reasonably tough. That, and it means I only use a maximum of 100 kwh of electricity monthly which means I can afford to purchase 100% nj produced wind power as my clean power source.

tractor-trailer truck tire vs. insight.

last tuesday I unforetunately ran over a tractor trailer truck tire cast off. or as I said to the insurance company: I struck a piece of road debris. It flew out from under the guy ahead of me and I went right over it (bump BUMP) and then I had that awful moment of fear where you check your mirrors to make sure nothing has fallen off of your car. luckily not. BUT I have a lot of body damage, so I am getting “body work.” snerk. I dropped off my wee, wonderful, sweet little insight today so they could do the following:

  • refinish bumper
  • reattach bumper (all the brackets are broken, or something
  • replace the rubber spoilers that are in front of and behind the passenger side front wheel
  • replace the aluminum shields on the undercarrage (upon hearing which my brother suggested I request the shields back b/c “aluminum is going for $0.65 a pound these days!”)
  • replace the cross member that is below the radiator
  • remove and check the a/c compressor because it was disloged by the “road debris”
  • align the hood
  • fiddle with the headlights, and
  • align the tires.

Man! I will have my car back on monday (one hopes) and until then I’m driving a chevy cobalt sedan. Automatic transmission. it is No Good. ok, I’m exaggerating. it’s an economy car according to the rental place, but shoot, it looks like a little tank!

also, driving this car around has made me realize why American’s don’t drive small cars: if you want to drive an automatic, you basically HAVE to drove an overpowered beast of a vehicle. it’s too hokey to drive a small automatic transmissioned car. you don’t get any pick-up. it’s annoying!

and on top of all of that I feel totally out of control b/c I don’t have any of my cool mpg displays, and also, I feel so out of place in the cobalt. like, I want to tell people “hey! it’s not mine! it’s a rental! I have a Really Cool car!” I would like to say that I don’t identify with my car, but I always have. I loved having the banged up civic because it was so punk rock. and I love driving my wee insight because it’s an unusual car. and now I’m in a cobalt sedan. Ick.

dealership blues

after a conversation with my love-hate dealer metro honda that went something like this:

dealer: what kind of car again?
me: it’s the hybrid insight.
dealer: oh, wait, you say it’s a hybrid?
me: yes, the insight *hybrid.*
dealer: you mean the civic hybrid?
me: [eyes rolling, veins popping] um, no, there’s another hybrid: the INSIGHT HYBRID.

I decided to give another dealer a shot. Today I went to garden state honda for my 15,000 maintenance (can you believe I’m at 15,000 miles already? I feel like I just got the car!). It was a lot better than metro honda in two respects: they knew what a hybrid was (when I asked if they had any insights in regular service they said maybe one other, but 10-20 hybrids total – compared to metro honda’s answer of “oh, yeah, we got some”) and also, they actually LISTENED to me. like, the guy brought the honda standard torque wrench out to show me and reassure me that metro honda couldn’t have messed up the very expensive magnesium alloy oil pan by over-torquing. So, that’s in their favor.

not in their favor is how they realized after finishing the oil change that they didn’t have the correct air filter so they THEN drove out to get one, making my visit in the very comfortably appointed waiting room last from 7:30 AM to 11AM. at least there were freshly baked cookies, and also, the internets for email checking. the experience was slightly mitigated by a slight discount on the bill and also their extreme embarassment. well! I guess that’s that.

I hope they start to send me coupons, because I’m for sure getting my engine work done there from now on. they’re closer, they open 30 minutes earlier in the morning, and they don’t treat me like a girl who doesn’t know anything about her car. and cookies. and internets. did I mention?


updated the insight mileage page and would like to note that while I’ve been flirting with the 60 mpg line for a few tanks now, on the last tank I was definatively over it! thank goodness, I didn’t want to have to return my 60+ mpg sticker!

also, FYI the green hybrid mileage database is a brilliant resource showing the different hybrids and their actual user-obtained mileage. It’s interesting to note that the insight has the largest standard deviation of all cars, indicating that HOW you drive it really has a huge impact on what kind of mileage you get. I know I drive too fast to be a hypermiler (check out the dudes with 90+ mpg!) but at least I know it’s MY fault, not the EPA testing methodology, or some failure of the vehicle.


now that the weather is warmer and my mileage is going up, I’ve put a static page in the sidebar with my insight mileage graph:

this morning my lifetime mileage was at 54.5 and my trip (current tank of gas) was at 60.1. I know if I drove slower I would get way better mileage, but, well, I’m just not very good at that sort of thing!

open letter.

Dear Metro Honda,

I’ve noticed that in the past we’ve had difficulties communicating. Sure, maybe it was just me, maybe I was being too demanding when I kept calling trying to find out when my car was coming in. I was just, you know, *worried* that the car wouldn’t come in before the end of the year. My feelings were hurt when you quit returning my calls, Metro Honda, but I thought we got past that when I forked over $20+ grand.

So now, dear Metro Honda, I find us having the same poor communication problems. I know that this is all very new for you. I AM your first Insight driver, and potentially your first hybrid car owner at all, despite the pretty reassurances you’ve given me. But I’m concerned, dear, that you don’t respect me. I’m concerned that you’re not willing to really grow with me, to grow in our relationship. Again we miscommunicated when I brought in the Insight for it’s first maintenance at 7,500 miles. Instead of an oil change and tire rotation, I got an oil change and a talking to. I know, Metro Honda, that you have a lot of experience with other cars. But I read the manual, and I am concerned you’re not really worried about what’s best for me and the baby. If you say I should change the oil every 3,750 mi, how does that reconcile with the recommended change of every 7,500? why didn’t you look at the service requirements for MY CAR instead of relying on what you *thought* ought to be done? When will my poor tires be rotated?

What hurts the most, Metro Honda, is that I just don’t think you treat me right. When I questioned why I should follow the “severe driving conditions” maintenance schedule you poo pooed me with several bad arguments. It’s the stop and go nature of the area, you said! it’s the wild fluctuation in temperatures that we get, ranging from a frosty below 32degF to a steamy above 90degF! And what about the SMOG? I was so shocked that you’d think my driving was severe that all I could do is respond: I don’t drive stop and go, unless I’m going to your place during rush hour. I think that the temperature range you just described is AMERICA. and SMOG? that doesn’t affect motor oil! it’s a closed system!

I don’t know, Metro Honda, is it me? is it because I’m a GIRL? am I not the man you’re looking for? Is it that I am too confident and well-informed to be the kind of girl you’re looking for? Should we have a special date night where I go over my cars requirements with your technicians? because on the one hand, you seem to want to see me twice as often as required by asking me to come in for severe conditions maintenance. But on the other hand, are you just into me because of my wallet? I don’t want to get petty here, but you should know that I had to reset my own maintenance required indicator light today.

Oh, Metro Honda. I’m not sure where we can go from here. Should I start hanging out with Garden State Honda? Is that what you want me to do? I hope we can hash some of this out when I go back next week and force an uncomfortable situation by asking you to rotate my tires.

In disappointment,

Karina Jean

it’s the little things…

I had to drive to Camden today for a pre-bid meeting. at first, my response to the PM was “um… Camden is by PHILADELPHIA.” But it’s such a beautiful day today, warm totally windy, and sunny, and it WAS nice to be out of the office all morning. But this is the real cake:

Total Miles to Camden round-trip: 170.5 miles
Reimbursable mileage amount: $75.87
Trip mileage in swank hybrid: 61.8 mpg
Total cost of gas used at $2.09/gallon: $5.77
Total “because I drive a hybrid” bonus amount for my pocket: $70.10.

Totally sweet. If I went on a trip like this every month I would recoup the cost of my warranty (because really, the mileage is not just for gas, but the wear and tear on your car) in just over a year. Excellent!

New Car!

side view of insight

Originally uploaded by karinajean.

it came, and it is twee and wonderful! I’ve been zipping along for 1 1/2 days now, and I’ve worked the mileage up to 47 mpg. to get it higher than 50/55 I’ll probably have to change my driving habits a little, but it’s worth it. seriously, y’all, this is the CUTEST CAR I’ve EVER driven.


this buying a new car thing is not so fun. this is one of the most frustrating per dollar experiences I’ve ever paid for, actually!

So, 2 weeks ago after my last pros/cons post, I went ahead and talked to a dealer. Actually, I called the dealer in Albany where I’ve ordered the civic hybrid (still coming in, and I still get the first one!) and left a message, and I emailed 2 local dealers through the Honda website. No one got back to me. So the next day I called Metro Honda in Jersey City where I’d test drove the insight, and spoke to Horatio who was pleased to order me a car. No joke. I explained my needs (manual transmission, silver, and by the end of the month because my inspection sticker is expiring and I DON’T want to have to tape my rust holes up). He told me 2 weeks, for sure, and he’d let me know exactly when that week. I filled out credit information, gave him a deposit, and went merrily on my way.

And he never called me back. I left him a Very Important Message last week before thanksgiving in light of my knee surgery, and he never called me back. I called him yesterday, and he said oh, that car I told you you could have was sold that day, and I can’t find you another silver one. Mid-December? um. I HAVE A HONDA CIVIC HYBRID COMING IN THEN. I don’t want it, but if it’s there and yours isn’t….

Seriously, yo. you’d think, if I showed up somewhere waving roughly $22,000 around people would jump to help me! especially because I know what I want and I’m not playing hard ball about it. Really, the only special treatment I am asking for is that the dealer get me the specialty agriculture license plates, because if I have to drive in NJ I’m driving a stick shift with funny plates and the best darn gas mileage I can swing.

in other gearhead news, does anyone think I need to worry about the electromagnetic fields in the insight?

Tax Deductions? I hardly know them!

I’m trying to figure out if I’m getting a 2005 or a 2006 hybrid insight. Of course, a very pity and entertaining post regarding the lengths to which I must travel to get the insight follows, but here’s the info I’ve found:

I talked to the IRS, because based on this table the 2006 insight isn’t eligible for the tax deduction (that’s ending this year). Vehicles that are eligible are:

Ford Escape Hybrid — Model Year 2006
Mercury Mariner Hybrid — Model Year 2006
Lexus RX 400h — Model Year 2006
Ford Escape Hybrid — Model Year 2005
Toyota Prius — Model Years 2001 through 2005
Toyota Highlander Hybrid — Model Year 2006
Honda Insight — Model Years 2000 through 2005
Honda Civic Hybrid — Model Years 2003 and 2005
Honda Accord Hybrid — Model Year 2005

AND, according to the UCS analysis of the 2005 energy bill 2006 insights aren’t yet accounted for in the new tax CREDIT system, either, though it does look like the manual insight will be a bust there entirely. Something about it only being a ULEV instead of a SULEV, I think. Something. Although, frankly, if you consider pounds of CO2 equivalent emissions for a ULEV that gets 65+ mpg and compare that to a hybrid pickup that gets 18 mpg and a $650 tax credit, it might not seem like a really valid way of awarding tax credits, regardless of the complicated formulas that pop out these results. I’m just saying.

So, anyway – the IRS said that the list is constantly in flux. They said that Honda had to apply for the tax credit/deduction, and that they had just added new information. So, I called Honda to find out if they’d applied. And they said they didn’t have any more information but that there was a process in place. And gave me a case number (because my stepmom is in the computer at Honda as the original purchaser still! creepy!) and I can call back and check.

it’s a crap shoot, I guess – I could really try to get the 2006 model and hope that I get a deduction, or I could get the 2005 and be sure of the deduction. After my tax bracket etc. we’re probably talking about $500, but hey. Just another thing to research obsessively on the internets, I guess. Anyway, this is all a moot point if I can’t get my new car on the road before the end of the year, because then I could revert to the exceptional civic hybrid tax credit, and actually save a bunch of money.