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Honda Insight hybid battery - Mouse damage?

A couple of days ago, the “IMA” light and check engine light came on in our 2001 Honda Insight. Moments later, the electric motor quit and we were driving on gas only. The battery indicator still showed a full charge. We took it to the dealer the next day with two theories in mind:

  1. It was now the inevitable time to replace the big hybid motor (please no, please no!) or…
  2. maybe we had shorted out the computer somehow with a mid-sized champagne spill in the rear storage area on NYE. (The champagne has been frozen in the carpet for 2 weeks but that day it had been warm and we thought maybe it had melted and run down into the battery.)

The dealer ran basic diagnostics and said it was a combination of the battery and possibly two computers. There’s a slim chance it’s only one or both computers, but the dealer said mostly likely it was the battery ($2,900) and one or both computers (for a total of $5,500). That pretty much totals out the car. For another $200, we could have them open the battery case and run more diagnostics to figure out which combo of those three things needs replacing. We figured it was junk, but it’s driveable (not at full speed), so we picked it up.

When we started driving, we were immediately struck by a STRONG smell of MOUSE coming out of the heat vents. Indeed, we know we have a mouse problem in the garage, but didn’t know they were in the car. And then it occurred to us -

  1. Mouse damage!! Maybe they’ve chewed through wires! I looked online and plenty of people have reported this, including Insight owners who had mice chew the wires to the battery and cause failure codes. The trouble is, we called two mechanics and both of them said it was “very unlikely” that this was the problem. We want somebody to look inside the battery case and all over looking for mouse damage.

Are we nuts, or is this reasonable? Where are the wires that might be affected? Can I look for them myself?

It Might Be Easier To Look For Mouse Droppings. Where There Are Mice, There Are Mouse Droppings.

If/Where droppings are found then you’ve got a place to start looking for wires that could be mouse damaged.


The battery cover is not that difficult to remove and check this out yourself, it’s definitely not $200 difficult.

The first time you go in there you’ll probably need to set aside about an hour, I had it down to about 15 minutes.

Head over to InsightCentral and do some browsing, tons of information on Insights over there as well as instructions on getting to the battery pack.