Honda Element Maintenance and Repair

pleiadespleiades Member Posts: 38
I've been shopping the Element and CRV, trying to decide...
I was just reading the CRV problems and the Element more trouble free?
the CRV owners are complaining about a pull to the right, cruise control, etc...


  • cwalticwalti Member Posts: 185
    We bought an '05 Element EX 4WD automatic last September. I drove it off the lot for $23,200 in Orange Co, Calif. Absolute trouble free and a joy by any measure. I personnally would have preferred the Element, but...

  • cwalticwalti Member Posts: 185
    We bought an '05 CR-V (sorry screwed up in the previous post...)EX 4WD automatic last September. I drove it off the lot for $23,200 in Orange Co, Calif. Absolute trouble free and a joy by any measure. I personnally would have preferred the Element, but...

  • tidestertidester Member Posts: 10,059
    BTW - after posting, you may edit your post for 30 minutes.

    tidester, host
  • pleiadespleiades Member Posts: 38
    Curious (since that is my dilemma now) why the CRV if you preferred the Element?
  • 1racefan1racefan Member Posts: 932
    These are the 2 that it came down to when my wife and I purchased our '06 Element EX, 4wd auto 2 months ago. Going into the dealership, I favored the more traditional looks of the CRV, she favored the Element. We ended up driving the Element, and a 4wd, EX CRV auto.

    I liked the fact that the CRV interior was more "refined" than that of the Element - my wife liked the "bare bones" look of the Element more. In hindsight, I am happy that we ended up going with the Element, as there is a ton of room in it with the seats folded up against the side (and with them completely removed)....much more cargo room than in the CRV with the seats folded down.

    One thing we did like more about the CRV was the position of the sunroof (in the front of the car where it belongs) vs the rear sunroof of the Element - although we have had the rear sunroof completely out of the Element a couple of times, and it does generate a good breeze throughout the vehicle.

    When we drove both vehicles back to back, we both got the feeling that the Element was more nimble than the CRV. Even though it looks more top heavy than the CRV, it seemed to feel more stable. The Element does have less ground clearance than the CRV (it sits lower), which would probably help it handle a little better. You need to feel the steering of the is very precise and tight - no deadspots at all. My wife also said she had better rear visibility out of the Element than the CRV - which is a big selling point for her (and this is her daily driver).

    One other thing to note is that the CRV utilizes a 5 speed automatic vs the 4 speed automatic in the Element. After driving both of them at highway speeds, I personally did not notice the 4 speed auto in the Element being any noticably louder than the 5 speed in the CRV. And speaking of noise...this is very subjective, but we did not notice any more road noise in the Element than we did in the CRV.

    As far as gas mileage for the Element goes, I can't comment on that. My wife only puts about 150 miles per week on it while driving it to work. We have a different vehicle that we use for long trips.

    You really should look at, and drive both. However, I would say that if you frequently carry backseat passengers, the CRV would probably be the route to go. If that is not an issue for you, I now personally prefer the Element.

    P.S. - we LOVE the audio controls on the steering wheel in the Element. I don't think these were available on the CRV.
  • pleiadespleiades Member Posts: 38
    What a great review! You could write for CR!
    Visibility would be an issue for me too, and cargo but passengers... not. Funny, CR mentioned road noise and freeway handling as not being great but every Element owner I have spoken to has said they don't find any difference from other cars. I was concerned because I'm told they won't let you testdrive on the freeway (didn't want to find out it was uncomfortable after (if) I bought the car). I like the idea of the venting sunroof, I sunburn easily so I don't need the expose, but my old bug had a sunroof that was great for letting heat out when parked in the sun for a while.
    The interior looks very plain and the dash board looked like an odd shape to me, but too many of my friends have SUVs with dash boards that look like the cockpit of an airplane (overdressed with gauges), I just see that as wasted money (though I'm sure it's poplular with some). I'll go drive some Monday...(CRV's and Elements). Thanks for the info!
  • bigfurbigfur Member Posts: 649
    I have heard the Element has a problem with rear brakes from the factory wearing out faster than the front? Anyone run into this problem?
  • jesbecausejesbecause Member Posts: 2
    I have an 05 and since i've had it , I have always heard a grinding noise from the right rear wheel. Taken it back to 2 different dealers and could not replicate the problem . One said it might be dust or pebble caught in between . I pull on the emergency brake to try to quiet the noise , sometimes it works and sometimes it don't . Please post if recall or some sort of fix . Next step i'm going to change pads
  • tomsr1tomsr1 Member Posts: 130
    I had a 2002 CRV and it always had a clicking
    noise from rear brakes. At 36000 miles the drivers seat was wearing out and the steering
    wheel was worn badly.This car did not look like it would hold up cosmetically so I traded
    it for a 2004 Toyota Highlander.It is much better quality.
  • elementmanelementman Member Posts: 11
    I have a little over 6,000 miles on an '06 Element EX-P AWD Auto purchased in Nov '05. I had some trepidations moving down from a Ford Explorer, and owning 4WD Trucks or SUV's for the past 30 years, but am glad to report complete satisfaction in owning and driving the Element. Since this is a problems page, here is what I've experienced. 1) Dealership trying to upsell me on an oil change at 3000mi, even though the manual plainly states 10,000mi. I complained to Honda America, and they reiterated 5,000 to 10,000 depending on road conditions. 2) I've noticed a click when turning the wheel hard over, but only at the max wheel over and seems OK. I'll keep an eye on it. 3) One time the door bound (binded?) when opening. Seemed too close at the front edge and caught the fender panel. POP! I'm lucky it didn't bend anything. Happened 3 or 4 times at that spot, but never again. I must have been sitting funny and had body twist. When I take it into the dealer I'll have the door adjusted. 4) Battery went dead once after 2 or 3 hours of XM radio (while I washed the car). I bought one of those jumper units from Costco for $49.00 (in case it happens during a wilderness campout) and now listen worry-free. 5) there is no 5. 6000 miles and pretty much trouble free. I'm loving my Element. Fun to drive, plenty of power (for what it is), lots of room!! I just moved my son from college condo. Loaded two bedrooms of furn in the Element and pulled 4x8 trailer in 3 trips to storage. Same goes for camping. You feel the weight, and it slows you on the hills, but it still gets you there!! Fun car. Happy purchaser. Do not miss the Explorer (every time I fill up at $30 instead of $50). Steady 21.5 to 22.5 MPG. City or highway.
  • pleiadespleiades Member Posts: 38
    there is no lock or any protection over the "fuel fill cover" or "fuel fill cap". Ther have been several items in the news about people siphoning gas....Help?
  • 1racefan1racefan Member Posts: 932
    I think there is an optional locking gas cap available. The way I look at life is that there are so many things crime wise that "could happen", that you can't worry about them all.
  • pleiadespleiades Member Posts: 38
    On the other had I'd be a fool to leave my front door open when I go to work or not attempt to protect my property or car where such protection is reasonable and sucessful.

    Thank you for the advice about the locking cap.

    When I write to the forum I'm seeking advice about automobiles, not "life" advice.
  • bigfurbigfur Member Posts: 649
    Can buy an aftermarket locking gas cap alot of places.
  • steverstever Guest Posts: 52,454
    I think the concern with an aftermarket gas cap is whether it will seal correctly; otherwise it could cause the check engine light to go off.

    Steve, Host
  • 1racefan1racefan Member Posts: 932
    Just to clarify - I was stating an opinion, not providing life advice (as I really don't care what people do/don't do).

    Just merely stating that there is a locking cap available, but I personally have not priced it or deemed a neccessity in my particular case. I think over the past year I have heard of 2 cases of stolen gas on the news. Out of a city of 200,000 plus people, I think I will take a chance.
  • cwalticwalti Member Posts: 185
    You do not need locking gas caps anymore either. It is for the paranoid and the gullible. Today's gas tanks have screens in them that prevent jerks from stuffing watermellon pieces in your tank or slipping an 'Oklahoma Credit Card' down the fuel spout. Also tanks on most new cars are sitting so low to the ground that it would be difficult to make that 'OCC'siphon work anyway...
  • cwalticwalti Member Posts: 185
    Oh it was a very simple decision.
    The wife said the Element was too ugly to have in the driveway and she wanted a Pilot. We already have an Odyssey and do not need another large vehicle. The closest I could get to an Element was the CR-V. It is a very good vehicle but I like the out-off-the-box functionality of the Element. My wife likes the same old box... And since I know where I sleep tonight I forced myself to have the insight and compromise for small but conventional...
  • cwalticwalti Member Posts: 185
    Do you wanna trade wifes? I think we got them mixed up a while back... :-)
  • pleiadesrowanpleiadesrowan Member Posts: 2
    Oh God, more insults.
    Ok, so they can't steal my gas anyway, good to hear (just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean they're not after you). Actually saw it on TV news, camera in a parking lot, watched guys stealing gas...OK? (not that the news people are not above a little sensationalism (OK, a lot of sensationalism) but, this one was true)
    What on earth is an Oklahoma credit card?
    As for the tank being low to the ground, as long as the container it was being siphoned into was lower, it would work. Basic science class.
    Asked at Honda service today, "How much for a locking gas cap?"
    Service guy "$79.00, for the cap and installation."
    Me "what installation?" gesture twisting cap three times clockwise....
    SG "That's what it says, $79.00, cap and installation"
    Me "how much for the cap and I'll uhh, install it myself"........"someone on the message board says they bought one from Honda for $29.99...."
    SG blank stare, no answer......

    Me "Never mind, I'll look on the internet".....

    Thanks, you just saved me a lot of money....
  • cwalticwalti Member Posts: 185
    An 'Oklahoma Credit Card' is a three foot rubber hose... :-)

    OK, you can make the argument that a full size SUV is still plenty high off the ground. But If you compare say the location of '72 Buick's gas tank and compare it to a comparable 2006 Buick I would venture the tank to sit lower. These few inches are crucial when working with the OCC. As you aptly stated its straight forward physics.... Naturally one can still suck from an older car. There the disadvantage is too that the needles not always return to zero. No matter what the dash looks on a modern car, they are all digital dashboards that just happen to display the information in an analog fashion, just because people like the analog gages better...
  • steverstever Guest Posts: 52,454
    You don't have to suck to start the siphon on a gas tank; you can wrap a plastic bag tightly around the hose and pressurize the tank by blowing into it. Then you pay attention when you remove your mouth from the hose and in theory you never get gas on your lips, or fumes down your throat when the gas gets sent down the hose to your holding tank by the pressure.

    Naturally the practice cannot be recommended since gas is poisonous and just inhaling the fumes causes respiratory distress. Plus pressurizing your gas tank is probably bad for the injectors and the vapor recovery system (CEL anyone?).

    If gas were invented today, the regulators probably wouldn't let us burn the stuff in our vehicles!

    Steve, Host
  • 1racefan1racefan Member Posts: 932
    Be careful when you ask me that question...I might just take you up on your offer. LOL
  • cwalticwalti Member Posts: 185
    That opens a whole new segment of insanity. Just imagine if cars would be introduced today.... Anyone proposing to simply guzzle highly volatile gas through a rubber hose into a bucket (tank) and then simply put a screw cap on and then drive this life bomb at 80 miles an hour down the street using nothing more then they huffs and claws to steer, direct and stop a two to 4 ton cruise missile... All the safety experts would turn ashen to such a totally wild proposal.... But then, -- we do it every day... :):):)
  • pleiadespleiades Member Posts: 38
    Ever see those little accordian shaped things used to start a siphon? They sell them at fishtank stores.

    "If gas were invented today, the regulators probably wouldn't let us burn the stuff in our vehicles!"

    Wonderful point! The inventor would be considered insane or criminal! I owned horses...they are a lot more work for a lot less speed and distance.
  • steverstever Guest Posts: 52,454
    I've never played with those things, or the bulb squeezer ones or the little pumps you stick on the end of an electric drill. Anything to keep your mouth away from the fumes would be good though.

    I ran across Dweiser's CarSpace album yesterday - he's got a great looking Cargo Khaki Element. Check it out here.

    Steve, Host
  • pleiadespleiades Member Posts: 38
    Very Nice! I really like the color! The landscaping isn't bad either. Wish-I-was-there instead of cleaning house today.
  • cmiles97cmiles97 Member Posts: 17
    I have a 2003 Honda Element EX AWD with 61,852 miles on it. It has been a good vehicle. Recently the yellow engine warning light came on. I referenced the owner's manual to discover that it is a problem with the emissions controls. After the $85 diagnostic test (non negotiable), the dealer determined it was the oxygen sensor. The replacement cost will be $327.95. With the $85 diagnostic fee this repair will be well over $400.00. By the way they did not have one in stock which allowed me to shop the repair price a bit. It turns out that there are two O2 sensors. The dealer conveniently forgot to say which one. Have others had this issue with the 02 sensor? Are they really that expensive to replace or am I being taken advantage of? Will it be a reoccuring issue? I had the same problem on my 99 DC 300M. It was replaced four times during the life of the car.

    I convinced the wife to buy this vehicle in part on Honda's rock solid reliability record and am a little disappointed to be paying a repair bill on a Honda with less than 100,000 miles on the odometer. I am a fanatic about performing preventive maintenance and adhere to the severe duty schedule. Yes it is just a bad sensor but now I can't brag about never having to pay a repair bill while still making car payments. I have a friend who feels that Honda's reliabity reputation is just "yuppie" hype since he has taken his 2001 Chrysler Minivan and 97 Chrysler Seebring both over 100k with no repair bills beyond maintenance. Both of course are rated much lower in reliability than any Honda. He still owns is first car, a 1983 Pontiac Fiero which still runs great. I can no longer argue the statistics with him.
  • extech2extech2 Member Posts: 120
    Call a couple Honda dealers and ask for the price of the O2 sensor, part only. Also check the warranty booklet because I believe the emissions warranty is longer than 3 years on any new car now.
  • cmiles97cmiles97 Member Posts: 17
    Thanks for the advice. I did shop it around with a second dealer. The first dealer wanted $150 for the front O2 sensor and the 2nd $138. The first dealer wanted $160 for installation, the 2nd $80. The second dealer only knew I had the diagnostic done at the 1st dealership.

    Hopefully the 1st dealer gave me the correct information, after I called them back to determine which sensor was bad. It was the "front" one. I went to the autozone and advanced auto parts websites to see if they had them. They do! Advanced had it for around $83 after taxes. I ordered it tonight and will put it in myself this weekend. The 2 late teen or early 20's clerks said it was an easy change out. We will see.

    A local mechanic shop (Ice Cold Air) that I use often for things I can't do myself said they would put it in for $20 once I got the part. They are my backup.

    Summary: Dealer 1 estimated $413. They got $85 out of me for the diagnostic. That I assure you will be the last time. Dealer 2 wanted $298 before taxes. I can do it myself for $83 or $103 if I prove not up to the task.
  • dglundydglundy Member Posts: 1
    I bought a 2005 LX 2WD last August. Everything is fine, except for an engine surge problem. The engine will speed up without the accelerator being pushed. Disconcerting to say the least. It appears to happen mostly when the engine is cold, but it happens at operating temperature as well. The engine speed does not increase a large amount, but enough to cause problems if you are not quick on the brakes. Anyone else heard of this problem?
  • lezablezab Member Posts: 1
    I have a 2003 honda element and my check engine light came on at about 50,000 miles and my mechanic said it was a service light. He did my service and turned it off. Only reason I question the O2 sensor is Ice cold air doesn't have the best reputation here in Florida for repairs. I would skip the dealer, and Ice cold air next time and find a mechanic recommended by friends.
  • aaron_erikaaaron_erika Member Posts: 1
    When I make a sharp or full turn a clicking noise occurs at the rear of the vechicle. I called the dealership to get some hints on what it could be and the rep informed me that perhaps the rear differential fluid needs to changed. Any ideas?
  • haikunaluhaikunalu Member Posts: 8
    Does anyone have any solutions /advice in getting wax off the Elements plastic panels? I find it hard to wax my car without leaving a few places with wax residue.
  • steverstever Guest Posts: 52,454
    Peanut butter, toothpaste, WD40, all kinds of stuff ...

    tcasboy, "Honda CR-V Owners: Problems & Solutions" #4547, 19 Jun 2006 8:37 am
  • zabethzabeth Member Posts: 3
    I bought a 2005 Element last year and have loved it. Recently the air conditioning stopped working. I called the dealer in Seattle who said it was under warranty unless something had blown into the condensor from the road. Sure enough, they claimed that something had flown in and tore up the air conditioning system. The repair bill was $835. Even more difficult is the fact that another rock from the road next week could blow out the air conditioning again. The attendant I worked with said he's seen in before in an Odyssey and a CRV, because the condensor is unprotected. He suggested taking it to a body shop to have some kind of grill fabricated that would protect the condensor but not impede the flow of air.
    Anybody have such troubles or hear anything like it?
  • steverstever Guest Posts: 52,454
    You may want to contact Honda and question the diagnosis. See this discussion:

    CR-V: AC Compressor Issues
  • gonzo3165gonzo3165 Member Posts: 3
    I have seen discussion of this problem on another Element Forum. Basically, people are buying Home Depot gutter guards (usually the black ones) and using black zip ties to attach it to the lower grill, either directly to the outside or from the inside if you want a little bigger challenge. It doesn't look that bad, allows air flow and saves you an $835 repair bill. The gutter screens are to keep leaves out of gutters on your house and can be had for around $5 or so. That and 10-15 minutes of your time are well worth it. More expensive options exist if you really worry about appearance.
  • djm2djm2 Member Posts: 712
    Why can't Honda make an "add on" grill to solve this problem? After paying for a NEW vehicle, the customer, has to go to "Home Depot" to purchase "gutter guards" to solve a Honda design issue! Is this the image that Honda wants to portray in the "new vehicle marketplace"? ---- (Honda and Home Depot perfect together)! ---- (or)---- (Get your Honda fixed with Home Depot parts)! ---- What is wrong with this picture? ----- If "gutter guards" can solve the problem, why can't Honda make a grill to do the same thing, and look better in the process?------- Best regards. ----Dwayne :confuse: ;) :shades: :)
  • zabethzabeth Member Posts: 3
    Thank you for your responses. I contacted American Honda who stated it was probably a rare occurrence and had no intention of being responsible for the problem. I became a squeaky wheel and so a case was opened on the issue... They also indicated that they don't endorese modification of the car in such a way to protect the exposed condensor, covering themselves further from liability, in case leaves or something gets caught in the added parts and a fire starts... They siad that it has also happend to Odysseys and CRVs. A service person at a dealer in McMinnville, OR suggested I look at billit grilles that kids use to soup up there cars. I found plenty on line, made to fit my car precisely, $46. plus shipping. I'm going to talk to my mechanic about installing one.
    It's unfortunate that Honda doesn't design retrofits. It looks like the 2007 Honda has a new front grill design. I'm drivng my Element tentatively and I guess the honeymoon is over.
  • gonzo3165gonzo3165 Member Posts: 3
    zabeth, check out There are numerous discussions about grille modifications, ranging from the Home Depot solution, to aftermarket grilles, to the billet grille (I called them cattle guards when I lived in Texas) you mentioned. Some cost over $100, and if you can't do the installation the price goes up even more. I can't tell from pictures if the billet grilles do a whole lot to protect the grilles, and I have not seen one in person. Let us know how things turn out for you.

    Dwayne, I hear you, man! Why would a reputable company simply bury their heads in the sand and pretend there is no problem when a fairly cheap solution surely must exist. Maybe this will be addressed in the 2007's, but who knows.
  • wamba2000wamba2000 Member Posts: 146
    zabeth, I installed the "gutter guard" solution on my 2004 EX. Lowes had black plastic gutter guard, so you can't really see it and it matches the factory black grill area. Between cutting the guard to length, then installing with black zip ties, the whole thing took about 20 mintes. I picked off about 6 bugs that woudl have hit the condensor on a recent trip. The gutter guard still has some flex to it, but won't stop the airflow.

    Sorry to hear you had to pay the $800+. You can see pics of the gutter guard install on the elementownersclub website as refernced in another message. Look in the Do-It-Yourself Modifications tab.
  • bwong06bwong06 Member Posts: 43
    When are the 07 elements due to hit the lot? I really want to get a Element but the upgrades on the 07 might make me wait
  • djm2djm2 Member Posts: 712
    If a stone was to be sucked into the engine, because of a poorly designed air intake system, would Honda make the customer responsible for that damage TOO? Honda is putting a "spin" on this entire issue. A grill could be easily designed to clamp onto the existing grill network. They know that there is a problem, but they will do nothing about the problem! They are giving sales away to Hyundai and Kia!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Best regards. -----Dwayne :confuse: ;):) :shades:
  • dhnsxdhnsx Member Posts: 5
    i would rather walk than drive a Hyundai or Kia.
  • djm2djm2 Member Posts: 712
    I will be "test driving" a "Top of the line" 2007 2WD Honda Element, as soon as they hit the lot at my local Honda dealer. I can't wait to discuss this A/C issue. I want to see their reaction!!!!!!!!!!!-------Best regards. ------Dwayne :);) :shades:
  • muckleroymuckleroy Member Posts: 1
    I am seriously considering the purchase of a 2006 Element. My concern is with the ground clearance. My daily commute to work includes 4 miles of maintained dirt and gravel road. Winters are long and sometimes severe here. I live at 8700 ft and sometimes the spring mud season turns the dirt road into a pretty sloppy drive. I would appreciate any advice and/or experiences. My old 1986 Toyota 4Runner has mastered the road well but now has 295500 miles on it. Your help is appreciated!
  • zabethzabeth Member Posts: 3
    In the AC discussion, I thought I read a message that someone sent me about having the AC blow out because fo external damage and the dealer paid for it. Now I can't find the message. Please write again. Thank you, Zabeth.
  • hbhawaiihbhawaii Member Posts: 8
    In general, I have been quite happy with my '03 EX, but there are some dumb design issues that are really fraying my nerves, to the point where I'm seriously considering trading it in.

    #1 is ground clearance, or the lack thereof. I just pranged the gas tank guard on a small rock in a dirt road, and have come pretty close to stranding on a berm top several times. If Honda wants to advertise this car as a "go anywhere" toy, it should build it so (compare with the new Toyota cruiser for instance).

    #2 is that damned suicide door, which makes loading in a parking lot pure misery. Nissan solved the problem in its trucks with a rear door that opens flat against the vehicle side. Honda could have, but chose not to.

    #3 is closely related to #2. I've lost count of the number of times I've bashed my head against the projecting piece of metal in the roof of the car that holds the two doors where they meet. Stupid, stupid design.

    #4 the back seat is good for five minutes of travel. Any further, and the claustrophobic heebie-jeebies set in.

    With regards to point #1, I posted this in the tires forum, but got no response: looks like there's no way to lift the vehicle, except to use bigger tires. Has anyone done this? How much bigger did you go? How did it work out?
  • wamba2000wamba2000 Member Posts: 146
    muckelroy, I have an '04 Element EX AWD and have been down lots of forest service and back roads without an issue. Haven't driven in snow, but mud and rainy conditions with passenger style problems.

    In your case, I would suggest purchasing new All-Terrain tires in 235/70x16 size (BF Goodrich and Bridgestone Revos are popular on the Element owners club web site.) There should be good enough clearance; if you run chains in the winter, you might want to drop to a 225. Consider it a cost of ownership, the stock Goodyears that are 215/70x16 are terrible in wet conditions, noisy and you'll be wanting to replace them almost as soon as you buy the Element anyway. (Mine lasted less than 20,000 miles of city driving).

    Hope that helps
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