rough ride [Archive] - Honda Element Owners Club Forum

: rough ride

02-07-2005, 01:53 AM
First time writer to the EOC. It's a great site with a wealth of information and some fun stuff too.
I bought my SMM '04 EXS late December '04. Test drives were on smooth roads only...that's where I perhaps went wrong. Soon after the purchase my girlfriend and I took a ride in the hills south of San Francisco. The girlfriend got quieter and quieter until she uttered: Stop the car, I have to puke!!! I had also noticed quite a bouncy ride, but then this.. (At the time it crossed my mind that at least the interrior is washable) Since then I have checked tire pressure. It was normal, 32/34. Now it's down to 28psi front and 30psi in the rear. I know, not good. But this is the point when the ride gets a bit smoother on uneven roads. I am looking for a better solution and fear that tires alone won't do the trick. Has anyone come across a better solution then trading it in for a Buick? Any suspension tweeks? I really like the Element in all other respects and hate to sell it again over this issue. Thanks!! :roll:

02-07-2005, 07:21 AM
I would think some new tires would do the trick. The stock tires are a POS. Gte something thicker and wider with a better tread, then that offroad ride would be better. Might consider so new springs/shocks as well.

02-07-2005, 11:12 AM
Tires won't make a difference on rough roads - not for the kind of roughness that might give a person motion sickness. The Element has a short wheel base and relatively stiff suspension tuning so it doesn't roll strongly on curves. That does mean that on some roads it will bounce. However since all my cars in the past couple of decades have been pickups and SUVs in the same general size range, the Element seems pretty smooth to me.

Prior to buying the Element I test drove a Santa Fe. After trying it out on some curving residential streets my wife felt somewhat car sick - we concluded that, compared our RAV4, the Santa Fe roll a lot on curves. For our taste it was too soft. The Element is closer to the RAV4 in ride, and normally just fine.


02-07-2005, 11:13 AM
I've noticed the "rough" ride too. Gotta say, though, I love it. I like to feel a car beneath me. Then again, I've always driven trucks, SUV's, etc that are far from cadillac-smooth. Don't know about the new ones, but I used to drive the old Toyota 4-Runner and talk about wanting to puke! Ride in the back was like riding in an open bed compactl pickup. Which is, essentially, what the vehicle was. When you buy these vehicles, that is what you should expect. Luxury rides and vehicles are a different category altogeher.

02-07-2005, 11:25 AM
Describing the roads and ride in more detail may generate more useful comments. It doesn't sound like curving roads and swaying the problem. Periodic road joints, especially the kind found on freeways with tilted slabs could be a problem with the Element. Washboards on gravel are problem with an vehicle. Potholes? Rough, frequently patched pavement?

Last fall I drove some California highways in the eastern Nevadas that were little more than paved wagon tracks. Instead of culverts and bridges, the road dipped to cross dry stream beds. I've driven gravel logging roads with more cut and fill. Still, I found the Element to be a joy to drive on that kind of road. But then I like an occasional controlled roller-coaster style air time :)

Maybe the only solution is to drive slower on the rough roads. Sometimes with gravel washboard, I face the tough choice between going slow or going fast enough to skim over the tops of the bumps. Fast is smoother, but I loose a lot of control. But I've never driven pavement with that kind of delema.


02-07-2005, 11:27 AM
I agree with Dogbox and Paul I also want to add that you get what you pay for. The Element was not made to be the smoothest in rides. I would say that when you buy a Jeep the ride is very bouncy, but it is cool for off roading.

My take is that if you and or your wife / gf can not take off-roading, then get out and walk. Off roading is never smooth to say the least. Not meant to be knock, but just reality.

Enjoy and hope all works out well with your decisions.

02-07-2005, 11:38 AM
It is an suv not a lincoln town car. It isn't exactly a top of the line suv either so if you want an suv with a smooth ride get a jeep grand cherokee. Don't get me wrong the ride is a little rough, especially with my 18's but it's the price you pay to have the off road, capabilty.

02-07-2005, 12:00 PM

Cheaper than tires.

02-07-2005, 12:29 PM
Hey that stuff works. I took it before a cruise one time, while out in the Ocean. :-0

02-07-2005, 12:41 PM
So does your girlfriend not ever get car sick?

I know many people that get car sick sometimes on mountain roads and it has more to do with the driver than the car.

Hell, if I ride with my mother in law on a straight road she makes me car sick. I swear she shakes the steering wheel like a dog crappin' a peach seed. The only thing keeping me from ralphing is fear.

I find it hard to believe that the E alone can make someone who is never car sick blow chunks.

Try opening a window. :roll:

02-07-2005, 12:51 PM
Do you tend to turn the wheel to the beat of the music......that could do it also.:grin:

02-07-2005, 01:02 PM
Wow, thanks to you all for responding, and so soon!!
My previous cars the last 20 years were all Honda Civic Wagons, the last one a '90, and my worktruck is a Toyota pick-up. This just as a point of reference. Back in Europe I drove a 2 cyl Citroen Wagon. It had the smoothest ride but it would lean insanely around corners...the result of horizontally placed shock absorbers!! Now the E corners great and I am not suggesting I'd rather trade for the old Citroen. Even the gf suggested Dramamine next time around. My road here in town has rough suspension joints so I am reminded daily of the cloinck-cloinck. A '05 CRV was actually more muted and softer across this road. I may try some 225/70/16 tires, either Mich. Cross-Terrain or Yoko. Geolanders or ??? . Have read all the tire threads with great interest. To fool with after-market shocks may not be possible or worth it. Looking into it though. The E is otherwise sensational and I happen to like the look alot, except for the front grill. It's a little whimpy looking and if you stare at it long enough (i should be doing this less..) you start noticing it smiling at you..sort of. Some might like that but it's a bit too "cute" for my taste. I experimented with alternative grill solutions am may post some pix of this. Thanks again!!!

02-07-2005, 01:20 PM
Its generally accepted that Honda gave the Element a stiffer suspension than the CRV. In part because they were aiming at a different market - younger, less family, etc, but also because the taller body has the potential for greater lean, even though they managed to keep mass low. The suspension geometry is the same, but the strut tower brace and the sway bars (torsion bars connecting the right and left wheels) are thicker on the Element than on the CRV.

Regarding tires, I switched to 225/70/16 tires, first GY Integrity (rounded shoulder, fine tread), and now Cooper ATR (square shoulder A/T). I wouldn't say either gave it a smoother ride. With both I've found I prefer using higher than recomended pressure (2 to 4 psi above 32/34). With the Integrity the higher pressure reduced the tire roll on low speed sharp turns. With the AT tires, higher pressure lifts the shoulders a bit, reducing turning resistance and noise on turns. 235/60/16 might be a better direction to go, potentially giving more cornering stability without increased tire pressures.

Reducing pressure for low speeds on rough roads is a common technique among 4x4 drivers. That is something I need to test with my new tires. But at least on pavement I think they are better hard.


02-07-2005, 01:29 PM
Yes PaulJ, the type of roads: I am talking mostly secundary paved roads with lots of patches. Also, as mentioned earlier, expansion joints. It's just generally feels a bit restless and every bit of un-evenness seems to get announced to the ****pit. Never had this sensation with the Civic's and my x cab pick-up. The short wheelbase is what it is, with it's inherent cosequences.
I know a pharmacy could come up with more solutions then I care for. That's just not the road I would want to travel..

02-07-2005, 02:40 PM
Over the expansion joints the short wheelbase is probably a big factor. If the patches tend to alternate right and left, the stiff sway bars may be more responsible. Because of those bars, when one wheel rides up over a bump, there is more a tendency for the whole car to tip up in that direction.

The Civic may have a short wheel base, a softer suspension, with less need to fight body roll. In fact when ricers upgrade their Civics, adding or stiffening these cross body bars is one of the first things they do.

The pickup has a longer wheelbase, and a suspension that is stiff enough to handle the load (especially in the rear), but without a lot of cross axle stiffening, so the left front wheel can roll over a patch with out tending to lift that corner much. Riding in the bed over the rear wheels may still be uncomfortable on those roads.

I know 4x4 people sometimes put quick-disconnects on their sway bars, but that is an all-or-nothing approach. I haven't heard of a way of just toning down their stiffness temporarily. High profile tires, aired down, might also help, but you don't want to do much freeway driving in that condition.


02-07-2005, 04:38 PM
I have found a much better ride with 225/70-16 Yokohama Geolanders than the Stock Goodyears. Others that have been in my Element before & after are amazed how much better the new tires are. Might want to ask some of the other members for their opinions too. I'm thinking that 235/70-16 would have even softer ride? Load ratings are higher also(heat capibilities), so lower pressures like around 30psi should be safe within Honda's weight specs. Those members that have that size, it would be very interesting to hear their opinions on comfort too.

tom schibler
02-07-2005, 06:08 PM
Have to disagree about the difference tires can make. Despite the element's stiff springs and short wheelbase, different tires can noticably alter the ride. My mother in law had problems with her pacemaker riding in the backseat of my element until I switched from the oem Goodyear Wrangler HPs to Kumho Ecsta KH 11 (235/60-16). She found it noticably smoother. Also, think your tire pressure equation might need to be reversed. Fronts may need slightly higher pressure than the rears because of the front wheel drive weight bias. Since your tires are effectively air springs, a little less pressure in the rear will soften that rear spring rate somewhat. It's not going to be Lexus smooth, but it will help.

02-07-2005, 07:44 PM
Any idea why Honda recomends 32 front, 34 back? I agree that generally the front is more heavily loaded, and that with these pressures, the front tires are noticibly more flattened. Changing the front to back pressure ratio is supposed to have an effect on the under/over steering tendency of a car. It is also going to slightly alter the rolling diameter of the tires, and hence have a slight effect on biasing the rt4wd.


02-07-2005, 09:09 PM
You're talking about driving the Element on normal roads, correct? I didn't see anywhere that you mentioned driving off-road. Is your gf getting sick from normal roads? Has she ever had motion sickness before?

Do NOT disconnect your swaybars for driving on the road, that is an off-road only thing to allow for the suspension to get full travel. Dropping air pressure to make the ride more comfortable is only reasonable to a point. I would not drop the pressures before 28-30 front and 30-32 rear. Any lower and the tires will roll over to a dangerous level. Could cause you to lose control of the E and make things even worse.

Changing to different tires is a good is a good suggestion. Going too large a tire can have the opposite afffect of what you are looking to accomplish. Going with a larger tire can eventually lead to a bouncing affect much worse than you are probably experiencing now. Raising the tire pressures too much could also cause the Element to bounce too much. What you need to do is get a good pressure gauge and keep adjusting the pressures until the ride is what you are looking for.

Getting softer springs could do the trick for you using the stock shocks. If the CR-V suspension is the same, see if anyone over at is selling a set of OEM springs or even giving them away. See if they fit and try it out. Going with a softer spring with the stock shock could be just enough for a slightly softer ride. Would be an inexpensive solution, especially if it works.

The question as to why the stock pressures are 32/34 F/R. It is normal to have lower pressures in the front than the rear on just about every vehicle. This promotes understeer, the more desirable form of handling for the 99% of drivers on the road that wouldn't be able to handle an oversteer situation.

02-07-2005, 09:26 PM
On the RAV4 (at least 1 generation) Toyota recommends 28/26 f/r for the same size tires as the Element. The overall lower values makes sense, given the much lower weight of the RAV4. Its awd normally drives both front and rear, though I doubt if the 2wd RAV4 has a different pressure recommendation. However I did notice some chirping in the rear wheels when pressures were equal front and rear, suggesting that this pressure mix helps the awd operate more smoothly.

Anyways, with both cars, I have to think twice when adjusting tire pressures, as to which one goes which way.

Maybe I'll try the Element's tires equal front and rear, and see if I can detect a difference in handling.

I am still puzzled as to why some people report significant improvements in the ride smoothness with tire brand and size changes. I can understand a change in tread design affecting road noise and vibration related to the interaction of tread blocks and road roughness. It is less obvious as to how a change in tire will affect the movement of the car over a road patch or expansion joint. Could there be enough difference in sidewall stiffness to affect ride? How about tread width? The Wrangler HPs have a relatively narrow tread width relative to section width. Their initial tread is blocky, but wears down rapidly.


02-08-2005, 12:02 AM
Paul there are so many variables in tire design that it will absolutely make a difference. Not even going to go into low profile tires. Just stick with the E size tires. You have the tread design itself, as well as the shoulder style/design. You have the various compounds, the sidewall thickness as well as the tread thickness. Don't forget about the design of the tire itself, not talking about the rubber, but the steel belt designs... or the glass reinforced belts, treads, etc. There are so many variables when it comes to making a tire. How many steel belts, how they wrap around and through the tire, the tire bead style and design can make a difference.

Just think of the tire as another shock absorber within the suspension which it truly is. Then think about all of the different designs for shocks, struts and springs. So many different variables there as well as with tires. Your head can spin thinking about the combinations.

02-08-2005, 02:10 AM
I've come across most of those tire variables while browsing manufacturer's and retailers web sites. Generally those features as described as affecting traction (dry, wet, snow, etc), noise, and the somewhat vague concept of 'handing'. I can't off hand think of a feature that is supposed to help give a smooth ride on patched pavement.

I suspect most of the tires that we have talked about have 2 sidewall plys, 2 steel belts, and nylon edge plys. There may be some variation in belt width. Cooper tends to run wide. Goodyear narrow. Judging from the treadwidth figures I see for the HT/S, Yokohama some place in between. Tread depth for the Wrangler HPs is listed as 10/32, Geolander HT/S G051 as 11/32.

So while it is easy to point to reasons why the Wrangler HPs are fast wearing, or have poor snow traction compared to Nokian WRs, it is not nearly so obvious why they should give a rougher ride than a similar 'highway all season' like the Geolander.


02-08-2005, 11:06 AM
I am intrigued and encouraged by Larry's suggestion regarding looking into the possibility of replacing the E springs with the OEM CRV springs. I will check this out and report back. I am not opposed to slightly more corner roll in return for a smoother ride.(ps Larry, how do you like the Nokians?)
No, my girlfriend is not prone to motion sickness, and we did not go off-road. When she got sick, we were doing the secundary roads around Pescadero and La Honda, north of Santa Cruz (CA). I will play around some more with tire-pressures as well. I have called about 10 tire dealers and am only getting vague answers to my questions. Geolanders always seem to come up though. Good to read exchange between Paul and Larry. I'm learning here! If I did go for the 225/70/16's, could they possibly work on the '05 CRV as well, since the '05 has 16" wheels? Just in case I end up with a CRV. (hate the thought but it's a remote possibility if all else fails.. then could swap tires)


02-08-2005, 11:27 AM is the place to haunt when it comes to 05 CRV issues. A key issue is the size and shape of the strut tower. If it is the same as on the Elmenent, than same tires should match. It may be different. I believe the stock 05 tires are 65 profiles.

A general observation on CRV owners and their tires. Many are unhappy with the stock Duelers, which have an even lower UTQG wear rating than our HPs. There is a lot of talk of replacing them with one of the Yokohama Avid series tires (rather than the Geolander). The latest triple tread designs also have attracted attention. The change from 15" to 16" wheels, though, may shift these paterns, since the available sizes differ some.

In case it matters. You don't have to change to the 225/70/16 size to put Geolander HT/S tires on the Element.


02-09-2005, 07:24 AM
Just a thought. If you don't want to stray too far from what the Element you already have drives like, consider the same HP in a 225/70-16 size. The same tire you have, but just larger. Providing more air cushion, protection to your rims in potholes, and slightly wider for more grip. I have done this many times on Jeeps(TJ & Grand Cherokee),Chevys(Silverado 2500,Full-Size Tahoes,Suburban 2500) Dodge(Ram) and every car I have ever had(Sentra,Civic, 6 Saabs, 4 Mazdas, 2 BMW, Subaru, Saturn). Also adds the lowest amout of unsprung weight to the wheel / tire combo. Or call up Tire Rack and see what they say. Andy

02-09-2005, 08:08 AM
Rolf, I love the Nokian's. They are the 3rd set I have bought for my own use. I also bought a set 2 weeks after I got them for my E for my Mom's Camry and she actually noticed the difference! Said the car drove much smoother than before and she couldn't believe how well it drove and handles in the snow/ice.

215/65 R16 - CR-V stock size for 2005
215/70 R16 - Element stock size for 2005

For all practical purposes they are the same size tires and you wouldn't have issues bringing the tires from the E to a new CR-V if that was the direction you ended up going in.

The difference between the two tires is minimal, they are the same width; that's what the 215 represents; 215mm wide at the shoulder. The second number is a % of the first number; so the CR-V tire is 65% as tall as it is wide. The Element is 70% as tall as it is wide.

Here is what we are looking at:

215 = 8.46" in width
65 = 5.5" tall sidewall
70 = 5.922" tall sidewall

As you can see the Element actually offers more suspension from the tires themselves with all other things being equal. Meaning the same exact tire make/model. Because of tire construction and all sorts of other variables comparing one tire to another in terms of comfort can be difficult just by looking at the tire. You really need to find out how the tire is constructed and what it's intended usage is. I have not looked too deeply into tires for the E as I had plans on only getting one tire when I went shopping; the Nokian NRW. The only tire I will knock here is the OEM Goodyear since I have not driven the other SUV type tires before. I don't know how they handle or ride. Best suggestion I would have for you is to read the owner reviews on each tire on the Tire Rack Owner Survey ( But keep a few things in mind when reading through the surveys. Note how many total miles are driven for each tire, the location of the owners and actually why they do and don't like the tires. If these things don't match your criteria those reviews might be completely irrelevant to your situation. For example if someone says the tires suck in the snow but are great in the rain and dry but you don't ever drive in snow, then these tires might actually be good for you.

I just looked at the illustrations on Honda Automotive ( aka Majestic Honda and compared the pictures between the Element and the CR-V... they seem to match for the front and rear suspension designs. The springs are obviously different part numbers because they are different spring rates... It could be worth a shot. Have you ever driven a CR-V with your GF down those same types of roads? Maybe she wouldn't like the CR-V ride either...

Good luck with your choice(s).

03-14-2005, 10:58 PM
My wife and I just bought an Element, and we noticed some bouncing tonight on our first drive out, on paved roads. We didn't notice it during the test drive because we had two friends with us on the ride. I think the extra weight in the back eliminated all the bouncing. My guess is that if you're having trouble with the ride you can toss a couple of 50 olb. bags of gravel in the back and all your problems will be solved. I might try it myself.

03-15-2005, 01:23 AM
You're thinking about putting extra 50 lbs. of dead weight in you E?! With the damn gas prices these days, I might start driving around without the back seats soon. If it gets over $3 a gallon, the spare, the jack and the side steps are coming off too. I guess it won't hurt if I lose about ten fifteen pounds also, ha ha. :lol:

03-15-2005, 10:16 AM
An update: The weight works. If you don't like the bounce, then go to Home Depot and buy two 50 lb. bags of sand (which are relatively small) and put them in the rear cargo space. I would suggest putting them in a heavy duty plastic box or crate, so they can be removed easily and so they aren't such an eyesore. A long duffle bag would also work. This doesn't eliminate the bounce entirely, but it takes the edge off dramatically, especially when the bounce is most noticeable, at slower speeds (I haven't really noticed much of a bounce above 40.). If it's still too bouncy for you, try three bags. I hope this helps.

05-22-2005, 12:27 PM
Just wondering if anyone ever tried installing softer springs (possibly the CRV's) in their Element? I would like to buy an Element, but when I test drive them the road chop is too high. I would think that less stiff springs would be the most effective way to soften the ride.

05-22-2005, 04:01 PM
This is probably the best thread on topic of a rough ride.

It would be wise, next time you go for a test drive, to verify that the tires are properly inflated. Beyond that there isn't much you can do to make it less choppy. The short wheel base, tall body, the need to minimize body roll on curves, all contribute to a choppy ride in some cases.

Unless you really know what you are doing, buying a car in hopes that you can modify the ride is not a good idea.


Florida Roadie
05-22-2005, 05:08 PM
First time writer to the EOC. It's a great site with a wealth of information and some fun stuff too.
I bought my SMM '04 EXS late December '04. Test drives were on smooth roads only...that's where I perhaps went wrong. Soon after the purchase my girlfriend and I took a ride in the hills south of San Francisco. The girlfriend got quieter and quieter until she uttered: Stop the car, I have to puke!!! I had also noticed quite a bouncy ride, but then this.. (At the time it crossed my mind that at least the interrior is washable) Since then I have checked tire pressure. It was normal, 32/34. Now it's down to 28psi front and 30psi in the rear. I know, not good. But this is the point when the ride gets a bit smoother on uneven roads. I am looking for a better solution and fear that tires alone won't do the trick. Has anyone come across a better solution then trading it in for a Buick? Any suspension tweeks? I really like the Element in all other respects and hate to sell it again over this issue. Thanks!! :roll:

I'd try a new girl friend before I'd change my E. Start by looking on the bumps side of a ski area . If that fails Mountain bike trails are suggested .:-)

06-06-2005, 01:14 PM
I hate the stock tires. I had them on my S10. Poor traction and rough ride. I replaced them with Cooper Life liners. I chose these over the A/t because 95% of my driving is on paved roads and we don't get that much snow. NO trouble with 6 in. or so.

06-12-2006, 10:19 PM
One possible counter measure for rough ride is to increase the side wall height. If we read the "Plus sizing" guides they always say that this technique trades ride comfort for cornering ability. It stands to reason that one could "Minus Size" to trade the other way.

Some EOC members have "Minus sized' and gone to 15 inch rims for one reason or the other. For example Tangerine Dream is running 30 x 9.5 x 15.

I think one could "Minus zero" with a tire of 225/75R 15. I think the tire height is within one percent of stock (+1.6%). I also read a link about an EOC member (Quicksilver) using 15 inch Accord steel wheels. I think the offset was within a few "mm" of the standard Element wheel.

Has anyone tried this to improve ride quality? :|