Honda Element Problems: 9 Most-Common Issues

The Honda Element is a car from Honda that was first released in 2003. It’s a car that’s known for its boxy shape and unique style. The Element was discontinued in 2011, but there are still plenty of them on the road.

This car was not able to compete with the Honda Accord or Civic, but it still has a cult following. It is particularly popular with drivers over the age of 35.

If you’re thinking about buying a used Honda Element, there are a few things you should be aware of.

Typical Features of the Honda Element

The Honda Element is a four-door SUV that seats up to five people. It has a front-wheel drive and is available in both manual and automatic transmissions.

The car has a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 166 horsepower.

Some of the unique features of the Honda Element include:

  • A rear cargo area that can be easily reconfigured
  • All-around visibility thanks to the car’s large windows
  • An optional all-wheel drive

Problems with the Honda Element

Despite its cult following, the Honda Element does have some problems that you should be aware of before buying one.

Make sure to get familiar with the good and bad years for Honda Elements.

Here are common issues with the Honda Element:

Transmission Issues

The Honda Element is known for having transmission problems. In fact, this is one of the most common issues with the car. Many drivers have reported that their Elements had to be towed because of transmission failure.

The model year with the most reports of transmission problems is the 2007 Honda Element.

Leaking Sunroof

Another common problem with the Honda Element is a leaking sunroof. This is a problem that can be caused by a faulty seal or a clogged drain. If you live in an area with a lot of rain or snow, this is something you should be aware of. Sometimes, this can be fixed by cleaning the drain. Other times, you might need to replace the seal.

Excessive Oil Consumption

Some Honda Elements have been known to consume excessive amounts of oil. This is usually due to a problem with the piston rings. The piston rings are responsible for sealing the combustion chamber and keeping oil from entering it.

If they are worn out, oil can seep into the chamber and cause the engine to consume more oil than it should.

Rough Idle

If your Honda Element has a rough idle, it could be due to a problem with the throttle body. The throttle body is responsible for regulating the amount of air that enters the engine.

When this part of the car gets dirty, it can cause the engine to idle roughly. This is a problem that can usually be fixed by cleaning the throttle body.

Braking Issues

Some Honda Elements have been known to have braking issues. This is usually due to a problem with the brake pads or rotors. Such brake problems would happen more frequently in a car that is driven frequently in stop-and-go traffic.

If you notice that your Honda Element is taking longer to stop than it used to, you should have the brakes checked by a mechanic.

Squeaky Suspension

Another common problem with the Honda Element is a squeaky suspension. This is usually due to a problem with the shocks or struts. If you hear a squeaking noise when you go over bumps, it’s a good idea to have the suspension checked by mechanic.

Model years 2004 and 2005 seem to be particularly prone to this problem.

Water Pump Issues

The water pump is responsible for circulating coolant throughout the engine. If it fails, it can cause the engine to overheat. When the engine overheats, it can cause a lot of damage. Water pump issues are especially common in Honda Elements from model years 2005 and 2006.

If you notice that the temperature gauge in your car is higher than normal, it’s a good idea to have the water pump checked.

Rattling Engine

Some drivers have reported that their Honda Elements have a rattling noise coming from the engine. This is usually due to a problem with the timing belt. The timing belt is responsible for synchronizing the engine’s valves with the pistons.

If it breaks, it can cause serious damage to the engine. This is a problem that is especially common in Honda Elements from model years 2003 and 2004.

If you hear a rattling noise coming from your car’s engine, it’s a good idea to have the timing belt checked.

Ignition Switch Problem

The ignition switch is responsible for supplying power to the car’s engine. If it fails, it can cause the engine to stall. This is a problem that is especially common in Honda Elements from model years 2003 and 2004.

If you notice that your car’s engine is stalling,it is most likely due to this problem. The solution will most likely involve replacing the ignition switch.

Pros and Cons

Pros

The Honda Element still has a cult following among drivers who appreciate its unique boxy design and utility.

Even though it’s been out of production for several years, the Element is still a popular choice for drivers who need a car with a lot of cargo space.

One of the best things about the Element is that it’s very easy to modify. There are a lot of aftermarket parts available for this car, so you can customize it to your own taste.

People also love the Element because it’s a very reliable car. It’s not uncommon for these cars to last for 200,000 miles or more.

Cons

The main downside of the Element is that it’s no longer in production. This means that parts can be difficult to find and repairs can be expensive.

Another problem with the Element is that it’s not very comfortable to drive on the highway. The boxy design of the car creates a lot of wind noise, and the ride can be quite harsh.

Here is an overall summary of the downsides of this car:

  • It’s no longer in production
  • Hard to find new parts – since no longer in production
  • Wind noise
  • Suspension issues
  • Not ideal on highway
  • Excessive oil conumption
  • Rough idle
  • Braking issues
  • Squeaky suspension
  • Water pump issues
  • Rattling engine

Why Was The Honda Element Discontinued?

The Honda Element was discontinued in 2011 due to poor sales. At the time, Honda was facing a lot of competition from other manufacturers who were making similar cars.

The Element was also hurt by the recession, as many drivers were simply not in the market for a new car.

In the end, Honda decided to discontinue the Element and focus on other models.

As mentioned earlier, being discontinued has not stopped the Element from remaining a popular choice for drivers who need a unique and reliable car.

What Do The Reviews Say?

A 5-star review on Edmunds.com says,

“Fun, easy to drive and so versatile with the large cargo area, it’s like having the storage space of a minivan but the compact exterior for smaller spaces. The only tricky part for me is getting in and out of the back seat (having bad knees) is a bit awkward. … I’ve travelled back and forth across the country several times and it has been a great ride every time”.

The 2008 model apparently saved someone’s life according to a review found on Everyauto.com,

” Wonderful car. Airbags everything worked head on collision with Tahoe going 45 to 50 miles an hour. Walked away with minor injuries. Recommend this card to everyone I meet”.

Resale Prices

When it comes to the resale value of the Honda Element, there is some good news and some bad news.

The bad news is that, because the car is no longer in production, it can be difficult to find parts and repairs can be expensive.

This can make it tough to sell the Element for a high price.

The good news is that, because the Element is such a unique and reliable car, it can still hold its value quite well. If you take care of your car and don’t have any major problems, you should be able to sell it for a decent price.

For example, a 2003 Honda Element in outstanding condition with no options may trade-in for $2,200 but one in rough condition may get $1,516.

The 2008 Honda Element in outstanding condition will trade-in for about $5,129.

Maintenance Tips

If you own a Honda Element, there are a few things you can do to keep it running properly. Keep in mind, getting replacement parts can be difficult and repairs can be expensive, so it’s important to take good care of your car.

Here are a few maintenance tips for the Honda Element:

Change the oil regularly – this will help to keep your engine running smoothly and prevent excessive wear and tear.

Check the brakes regularly – brakes can be expensive to replace, so it’s important to keep an eye on them.

Check the tires regularly – properly inflated tires can help to improve gas mileage and extend the life of your tires.

Final Thoughts

The Honda Element is a unique and reliable car, but it’s no longer in production. This can make it difficult to find parts and repairs can be expensive.

The Element is also not very comfortable to drive on the highway and the ride can be quite harsh.

Despite these downsides, the Element is still a popular choice for drivers who need a reliable and versatile car. If you take care of your car, it can still hold its value quite well.

GO BACK: Honda problems per model.

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ⓘ  The information in this article is based on data from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recall reports, consumer complaints submitted to the NHTSA, reliability ratings from J.D. Power, auto review and rating sites such as Edmunds, specialist forums, etc. We analyzed this data to provide insights into the best and worst years for these vehicle models.