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Honda Element Maintenance and Repair



  • My sons leased element was shifting very roughly n 1st gear so we brought it to AutoZone to read the error code. The code P0122 translates into Throttle Position Sensor (TPS). Here is the catch, Honda will not sell you just the TPS. They insist that you buy the entire throttle body assembly for over $700.
    Not wanting to spend all that money I searched the Internet for a TPS and found a place that sells them (TPS) from anywhere from $112 to $145.
    I bought one, followed the detailed instructions and it works perfect now.
    You have to remove the throttle body to get at the TPS and remove the 'special' screws that secure the TPS to the throttle body. The instructions say to use a dremmel to cut a straight slot into the special screws so that you can use a flat blade common screwdriver. I did it old school and used a new hacksaw blade to cut the slot and it worked great.
    You will also need an accurate digital voltmeter to set the TPS at .45 volts. I had one I picked up at Lowes a few years ago and that was sufficient.

    Bottom line: Dont be pressured into buying a complete throttle body assembly for a $100 part.
    If you want to buy the TPS from the same place I did, check out
    These are brand new, guaranteed TPS'.
  • When does the Element need new shocks/struts? Mine has 67K and seem to be getting bumpy. I had the bushing replaced about 10K ago.
  • steak57steak57 Posts: 1
    my Father's Element has same problems. (1) airbag indicator light doesn't turn off.and (2)the radio was not working until drive after 5 ~10 mins, it will turn on by itself. Honda service ( Alpharetta GA ) cannot find out what happen. and they said it is possiblitlty of low voltage. so we got a new battery, but it still the same issue for Both.
    After been there so many times, my Dad cut and put a black tape to cover the air bag light(hahahaaaa... ) it works, and Radio will turn on by itself after 10 mins, anyway. 03 Honda Acc has a Radio light out issue, but it is on a recall. so I am thinking Honda may need thinking about recall Element for the air bag light and Radio problem. (How do we make Honda recall it?, any idea?) :confuse:
  • Has anyone had a problem with the front seats side seams splitting & the side airbag deploying? We had this happen recently on the driver's side seat. Apparently, after not being driven for a few days, we were going to drive to town, and saw that the side seam had split & the airbag came out (without ANY impact) spontaneously. Kind of scary, not mention VERY expensive(!), because, of course we no longer have any warranty, and our insurance will not pay for it!
    The seams are also splitting on the bottom seat area.
    No, we're not huge fat people to cause this to happen & I was surpried that the seats aren't holding up. We've taken really good care of our Element; it's our "good" car, with 60,000+ miles, so it's not what I would call excessive wear & tear.
    Couldn't find any recall info on beware!
  • boogerbutboogerbut Posts: 2
    edited June 2010
    I just bought an 06 Honda Element and i love everything about it, but it has a squeak in the dash when i reach over 40 mph. It also only does it most of the time and not all of the time mostly when it is sunny and the air is on. I have had it at the dealership twice and they replaced a windsheild seal and then the barrings. Also when i picked it up both times from the Honda dealership, it still made the noise. Does anyone have any idea what this could be and how to fix it?
  • meghan424meghan424 Posts: 1
    I am experiencing a VERY similiar situation. When it is hot out, and I go over 40 MPH, a squeal happens. Initially I thought someone was honking at me.. It kind of sounds like a muffled horn.. I took the car to the mechanic on 2 occasions.. The first time he found nothing wrong.. and the second time he said it was the tires.. 4 tires and 600.00 later, still the noise.. Did you find out anything? :cry:
  • boogerbutboogerbut Posts: 2
    I actually did find out what it is. It was the seal on the windshield. They actually had replaced the left side of it, but that didn't fix it until the found out it was the top. They pretty much glued the crap out of it, i don't think it is going to last forever, but it will for awhile. Hopefully that helps you.
  • tesprotespro Posts: 6
    I have exactly the same problem you describe in my 2004 Element. It randomly fails to start while in park. I have found a get-around that has worked every time. Leave the ignition turned on, press the brake, move the gear selector to neutral, then try starting. For us, it has never failed.

    But the solution to my problem can't be the solenoid ... or it would still fail to start in neutral.

    I'd sure like to know the REAL problem and solution!!!!
  • bigfurbigfur Posts: 649
    edited July 2010
    I have this issue with my 07 E sometimes. Go to start it turn the key nothing happens, turn the key back try again it works. My best guess is this has something to do with the shift interlock system that dosent let the car start while it is in gear. It shows in park but for some reason the computer thinks its in gear. This also would explain why it will start in neutral and not in park.
  • i was wondering if you have ever found out the reason for it not starting sometimes. my element does the same thing. I have to turn the key on and off many times then finally it will start. sometimes i think its going to leave me sitting in the middle of nowhere. not sure if its going to be a in the switch in the steering wheel or what. what have you tried?
  • tesprotespro Posts: 6
    No, I've been afraid to raise this issue at the dealership since it is intermittent and I'm out of warranty. The potential repair cost is the scary thing .... and that's if they would actually fix it in the first place. The "bad solenoid" fix I read in a different post worries me ... because I don't think that is our problem. If I hadn't discovered the get-around of shifting to neutral, I would be afraid to drive my E! Just today, I had the same failure again and had to start from neutral. (I tried removing and re-inserting the key and attempting a restart first, though ..... unsuccessfully.)

    One would think that by now Honda would have heard of this failure and would have a known fix. I wonder why they don't have an engineer reading this forum????
  • bigfurbigfur Posts: 649
    Next time it happens, try to see if you just push up on the gear select a little bit if it will start. It sounds alot like the safety interlock for starting in gear.
  • tesprotespro Posts: 6
    I tried your suggestion to no avail so I stopped by the dealership today. Fortunately, it wouldn't start in park for them, either. They thought it might be the "transmission range sensor." I came home, did a google search and found the following story on another site:


    i have an '05 element and it is currently driving me crazy. here's the long story...

    in december when it was <20*F outside the element started acting up. i'd hop in to start the car, turn the key, and nothing happened. i'd turn it off, try again. sometimes it would start on the second try, sometimes not. it didn't happen every day, just occasionally. sometimes i would have to put it in neutral, then try, and it worked. sometimes i would think "i'm not getting out of the driveway today" but it always eventually started. i got the battery tested and it was fine. i took it to my mechanic and left it for 3 days and it never happened to him.

    i got online and researched at the honda element owners club forum and also called around the local honda shops to ask for opinions. the best guess was the transmission range switch, so i ordered it online. immediately, the element stopped having the problem. i mean, immediately from the moment of purchase. i never put the switch on. when it got here i put it in the shed in case it started doing it again.

    fast forward to's doing it again. on my 2nd day at a new job, on a job site, i thought i was going to be stuck there. it always starts, just takes multiple tries, and it only happens occasionally. i took it to the mechanic, he put on the transmission range switch and checked out everything, didn't see any problems. (of course it started right up for him \:\(

    it's still doing it. i don't know what to do. i turn the key and get nothing. the dash lights come on, but it doesn't start. i don't hear any clicking or ticking or pumps running or anything. any ideas?


    So, once again, a dealer "guess" could cost piles of money with no solution. The dealer says they can't call Honda without the car in the shop.
  • cwalticwalti Posts: 185
    Maybe your E just 'thinks' the battery is no good! I noticed that when my wife's CR-V had a tired old battery, it would sometime act the same way. The car will not try to start if it senses insufficient amp-flow. It also acted like that when one of the battery terminals was loose. All the dash lights came on but NOTHING when she tried to start it. I would recommend you double check ALL terminals relating to starting the E, re-seat them, and clean them, then load them up with the anti-corrosion goop!
  • tesprotespro Posts: 6
    Other posters with this same problem of intermittent failure to start in park have done the obvious - which is your recommendation. In my case, I even have a new battery. Also, if it were a battery or connection problem, why would it always start in neutral?
  • extech2extech2 Posts: 120
    The most likely causes are: worn ignition switch, the electrical part, or defective starter motor or defective fuel pump relay. If the engine turns over but fails to start then it is probably the fuel pump or the relay. If the engine won't turn then the starter or ign. switch. or the starter interlock. You need to have someone check for lack of spark or fuel presssure while cranking the motor.
  • I have had this problem twice so far with my Element. It is a 2004 Element EX Manual Transmission, has 180k miles on it, and was purchased brand new by me. The first time was a few years ago, and I don't remember what was done to repair it. The second time was this weekend. I had a lot of work done the last few weeks (head gasket, valves, etc....) and about 600 miles later this started. Just like the OP, at approx 3000rpm the car wouldn't take any gas. I am sitting at a Honda dealer right now, somewhere in NJ (about 250miles from home) and the tech has said that there is no oil in the car, and that is why it was happening. He says it looks like a seal that was incorrectly placed when the engine was put back together after having the head gasket, etc... replaced. They are on the phone with the dealer that performed the work to work this out.

    I am pretty pissed that this has happened. I have faithfully gone to the dealer for everything that the car needs. I know I probably pay a little more, but for me, personally, it's worth it for the piece of mind. I am not a 'car person', so this suits me and I'm fine with it. Whatever this is going to cost to fix, etc...., rest assured the dealer that did the engine work will be reimbursing me for every penny that I have to pay out for this!

  • My '03 Honda Element EX was hit last December on the passenger side by an uninsured teen driver and I had just recently dropped my collision coverage. The two passenger side doors were pushed in slightly and the side airbag went off after the car came to a stop. I have since replaced the side doors with two used '05 Element doors, but have yet to replace the passenger side airbag and obviously have the airbag light lit up still on my dash. My Element has 179K miles but is still running strong and I don't currently have the money to go to the dealer or a bodyshop to have the passenger side airbag and sensor replaced. If I replaced the front passenger seat with a used seat with an intact side airbag, would that work to fix my problem more economically. I realize I'd still have to have a bodyshop do the installation and reset the airbag dash light. Any advice would be most appreciated. Thanks
  • bigfurbigfur Posts: 649
    As a former auto body repair technican i have only one thing to say when it comes to people messing with air bags. If you dont have the proper training on how to repair DONT DO IT!!!!! There are many many things that can cause the air bag to to go off when its out of the car, as simple as a slight bit of static electricity. My advice on a vehical of that age and mileage would be to stich the seat back together and put a peice of black tape over the airbag light.
  • I feel and share your pain. My 2006 E blew the passenger side airbag several years ago from a hard bottom scrape. No body damage. After several months of research and costs above $1000 I decided to cut off the airbag (puny bag anyway) and stitch up the seat - and live with the light. As for replacing the airbag - I'm told there are several items that need to be replaced when a bag deploys. The impact switch for one, and the bag, and a seat belt tensioner, and a few other annoying goodies. It just isn't worth it for a car that rarely sees a passenger anyway. My lingering concern is weather the other bags will work when the dash light is on - and I have heard differing opinions on that one. I hope never to need to find out.
  • bigfurbigfur Posts: 649
    As a general rule they should still work. They all run to the warning light but they are on seperate circuits so they should all have power to them still. I stress though that is a general rule and everytime an airbag blows off its a differant situation.
  • I just purchased a 2011 Honda Element. Unfortunately, after driving the vehicle I have found that there is a constant vibration in the steering wheel at 55-70 mph. I have taken the Element to the dealer 4 times now. They have rebalanced all the tires, rotated them, and completely realigned the wheels. The last time, they put on better quality tires. At first I thought the issue was fixed, but it only changed the vibration speeds. The steering wheel has a constant vibration from about 45-72 mph now. The dealer is not sure what to do to fix the problem. The dealer had one 2011 Element on the lot, and when the service manager and the mechanic drove the other 2011 Element, they found it too had the same vibration. Now that Honda America has approved the new tires, they are not sure what to do to get rid of the vibration. I love the Element, but I cannot stand the vibration.

    Have any of you out there had this same issue? If so, how did they fix it. Any suggestions or comments would be greatly appreciated.
  • jbar0907jbar0907 Posts: 1
    edited October 2011
    I'm trying to narrow down possibilities as I don't know mcuh about cars and at the present time, I cannot afford the possible expense of "un-needed" repair costs. My 2003 Element EX wouldn't start on a very cold AM recently. Cold AM starting is not a new problem, but usually within many tries-it's not a problem. This time it seemed the same, but after lots of tries and following Manual in cold temps at elevation- nothing worked. Still now, all dash lights come on and power has not yet failed completely. At first when I tried to start it-it sounded as if it tried to turn over normally, but if I tried too often (before waiting 15-20 seconds between attempts) it would not turn over at all. Then after I went inside to cancel all early AM appointments, another member of my household attempted to try to turn ignition. It did not start, and they left key in ignition and battery on! I caught this within 10 +/- mins and turned off. After that-the car wouldn't even turn over (but dash lights still on).
    Today, I tried to jump battery and upon moving the battery cables would car give small attempt to turn over (and still all dash lights on). It did not start. I also noticed grounding cable coming from battery and waving around unattached. I had the car towed to closest shop-but not my trusted and normal shop. I've been trying to troubleshoot online and found this sight-great info!!! From this info, I have decided no question to have battery replaced and either fix or replace battery cables. I am not sure what else to think. I'm sure the garage will have ideas, but I want to be as informed as I can by that time. This forum seems to have been the best info and posters seem to know their Elements-so I thought I would seek advice here. Any helpful information would be appreciated.
  • At about 130,000 while in Baltimore, MD our Element began to exhibit an intermittant failure to crank. When it failed to crank we got lots of instrument panel lights - though I don't remember what they were. The dealer was going to replace the key switch (big bucks). Fortunately one technician suggested that we replace the starter relay (PN 39794-SDA-A03). It solved the problem! It is now a year and half later (150K miles now on the car) and the starter relay has failed again. That was a month ago. Now the same symptom is cropping up again. Any ideas about what might be causing this relay to fail. Our battery is good and both battery posts are clean and the clamps are tightly attached.
  • Does your Element have an auto transmission? If so, when you have a failure to crank in park, can you shift to neutral and start then? If so, then you have a duplication of the problem I had with my '04 and it is likely that your starter relay wasn't bad at all and it was just coincidental that your problem seemed to go away.
  • jpfjpf Posts: 496
    Invest in an engine block heater. They're well worth it in cold climates. Good luck.
  • bigfurbigfur Posts: 649
    I am looking to replace the fluids in the tranny and transfer case in the near future here. I have no idea about how much its gonna cost me, any body have a ball park price for me? (And yes i am WAAAY too lazy to just pick up the phone and ask someone!) THANKS!
  • steverstever Posts: 52,462
    edited February 2012
    lol, we've way spoiled you over the years, Bigfur.

    There's always the Edmunds Car Maintenance Guide but you'll have pull the numbers out, since the transmission service is included with some other stuff. (Forgot what year your Element is so just guessed).

    Don't forget the rear differential service (~$50) at 90k.
  • bigfurbigfur Posts: 649
    We have been spoiled i agree, but i love it. I have an 07 with 76K on it right now, was thinking of doing tranny, transfer, and the diffs all at once and replace with synthetic. Any suggestions?
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