[islandlabs] car maintenance adventures

Burns, William burns
Thu Jan 29 14:20:19 EST 2015


The reason the "alternator" is so hard to find (in a yr 2000  Honda insight) is because there isn't one for that car. (I belatedly discovered)
Not original equipment, anyway.

What you're looking at appears to be the motor/generator that's molded into the engine block.
(doing any maintenance on that involves a *lot* of engine disassembly)
It generates a (varying) voltage somewhere in the range of 120 to 160 volts.

Then the hybrid system downconverts this to 13.8V to charge the "accessory" battery.
Unfortunately, when the hybrid system quits, the downconverion quits and you're running on an uncharged battery.

The solution is to lobotomize the hybrid "intelligent Power Unit" and then the downconversion circuit returns to "minimal" service.

This involved removing a ridiculous number of screws, removing a shielding plate, turning off the hybrid battery switch and ignoring the "you *will* be killed" warning message.

No I'm getting 50MPG on the gas engine only.


-----Original Message-----
From: List [mailto:list-bounces at freeculture.org] On Behalf Of Chris Knadle
Sent: Thursday, January 29, 2015 1:35 PM
To: Island Labs main mailing list
Subject: Re: [islandlabs] Unboxing Videos + (and car maintenance adventures)

On Fri, Jan 16, 2015 at 12:34:22AM +0000, Burns, William wrote:

> FYI:
> My car eventually and barely (at about 4:00am) made it home last night.
> It was quite an adventure including a trip to the local police station 
> (where they were very nice) and an extended stay in a citibank parking 
> lot where I stole some of their electricity to recharge my 12V battery.
> After those two extended layovers, my car made it (the last 4 traffic
> lights) into the driveway and then quit before I could get it into the 
> garage.
> I had to lift the hood and put the jumpstart kit on it to get it those 
> last few feet.
> The 12V battery was thoroughly destroyed.
> I cannot recommend driving around (for a week and a half) with no 
> functioning alternator. (or other equivalent system)

A 12V /car/ battery is generally designed to drain only about 20%; it's optimized for "cold cranking amps" rather than storage capacity.  A typical current draw of an ignition system is approximately 1 Amp from what I understand.  (Its difficult to actually measure, so I never have.)  And a typical car battery for a 2002 Honda Insight is around 15 Ah, but batteries typically aren't shown with this rating but rather how many "reserve minutes" they have available, and that's typically around 70 minutes -- i.e. 
a little over an hour.  I /think/ this number may assume the headlights are on -- which obviously you must use if you're driving at night, and the headlights require a lot more current.

The bottom line is that driving a car at night without a working alternator is ... well it's bound to be miserable.  I've had to do it once or twice.
And driving for any length of time on the battery alone will damage it, because they're not meant to be deep-discharged.

I see why you're having to do this though: Honda themselves don't seem to list a replacement alternator listed this car, and auto parts stores don't seem to have an alternator listed for the Insight either.  :-(  I think I got a hint, though.  Amazon.com showed an out-of-stock alternator for the car, which was $940 -- an "alternator rotor assembly", part # 1A300-PHM-000.
A view of the part from Honda:


It looks like there are several parts, so if you can figure out which part has failed you might be able replace that part of the assembly.
The Stator Assembly is $800 making it the most expensive part; if you do some Ohm meter tests on it you should be able to verify whether it's good.

I think the problem in this case is that the "alternator" for this car charges both the starter battery and the batteries for the electric motor, since it's a hybrid.  If there was a /separate/ alternator for the starter battery, that would make things easier.

> The 12V battery has been replaced and I am now the proud owner of a 
> "Schumacher SC-1200A" Car Battery Charger, which could be the subject 
> of another unboxing video.

I'm starting to like unboxing videos myself.  Only made one so far (for this current laptop I have).

> I plan to charge the 12V battery every night 'till I figure out how to 
> get the car to charge it's own battery.

Here's hoping you find a way to get this fixed.


  -- Chris

Chris Knadle
Chris.Knadle at coredump.us
List mailing list
List at freeculture.org

More information about the List mailing list