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I was discussing gettin an 03 Element with a friend last night and he reiterated what I have heard before from some othe folks: "Never buy the 1st model year of any vehicle". I have read through many posts on problems, etc. and they don't seem that major to me and Honda seems to be fixing them. Any 03 owners here wish they had waited or are you having any major problems that fulfillt he warning of not buying the first model year?

PJA
Still Looking for the Perfect E for mE
 

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I was a bit skeptical myself at first about buying a first model year car, but then I did a lot of research (here and other sites, reviews, etc).

What I found, as you did, is that there are no major issues. Nothing in this world is perfect, we all know that, and everything that has gone wrong has been addressed by Honda. In my opinion what has gone wrong have been minor inconviences, and I can live with that.

I have owned my E now for over 5 months, and the only problem was a broken windshield that was casused by a rock thrown by a semi...which probably would have occured no matter what car I had been driving.

As a bit of extra peace of mind I purchased the extended warranty, but I am not worried due to the fact that this is a Honda, and my family and my husband's family are Honda people. The first Honda to enter my family was a 1980 Honda Civic Wagon (Gold)....it went 8 years and 188,000 miles, my hlusband's 1990 Civic has 160,000 miles and is still going strong.

I have to say that the only thing I regret about buying a '03 vs waiting for an '04 (which I did consider) is that the '04's now have several things standard that I had to add afterwards....it would have been nice to drive off the lot with keyless, bungees, and a passenger arm rest, but oh well!

Buying a car is a huge investment, and something that you will have to live with for a long time (at least in my house....we keep our cars for at least 10 years or until replacement is needed)...make sure you are comfortable with your decision. My last bit of advice is that there have been no releases of anything mechanical or systematically added/changed in the E for '04.....just cosmetic flair.
 

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>there are no major issues

Diane, I'll respectfully disagree with you here - there is one.

From reading the board, a recurring theme is glass, especially the front windshield, and inconsistent to problematic dealer support of same. I've also noticed that there is some debate about whether the recall(s) truly addressed the problem. I'm also reading too many reports of rock hits resulting in glass replacement relative to the number of vehicles represented here. There's clearly something going on (pun intended).

Comparing this board against another very similar one I belong to (for Escapes), the glass issue really sticks-out like the proverbial sore thumb. At least we can take comfort in it being the only repeat complaint, because I don't have the time for (and you don't want to read) the list of bugs in the early Escapes.

:roll:
 

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I can see your point Mike about the glass, but if you look at the dates of the posts regarding the glass breakage they have been on a steady decline. In the earlier months of 2003 they were numerous and very common, but as of late they have been few and far between.

I not saying that there isn't a problem with the glass, and perhaps due to the vins covered by the service bulletin the problem was obviously addressed (at least to some point).....but here is a question I must pose to those that have had their windshield break due to a rock or something other than what is covered under the service bulletin, was your E still in the vin batch that had the windshield problem in the Service Bulletin?

My E was, and I simply wonder if the flanges made it more prone to breakage??
 

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Good point. However, read on...

Reading between the lines in some of the reports, though, is making me think that at least the front glass is engineered as a structural element (no pun intended this time) as a means of reducing A-pillar bulk. This has been done in the past (some exotic sports car long ago forgotten), with the similar result that those that didn't break spontaneously were prone to breakage under the same conditions that would result in a negligible chip in a conventional vehicle.

In normal vehicle construction, the windshield "floats" in a structural frame, and I tend to think that's not the case here. The E's front glass area is, after all, fairly large, and the absence of a B-pillar increases the burden on the front structure significantly. That has to be accommodated somehow, and I took enough engineering classes to make me wonder, "OK, now how are they doing that?" with the extra-wide door opening lacking a distinctive subframe or other obvious bracing.

Class dismissed! :)
 

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PJA (Kigotai),

Do keep in mind that this vehicle is based on the tried and true frame/drive train of the CRV. I would completely agree with the old adage except that little more than the body and interior components are really new (and there have been a few rattle problems to work out in many on these boards).

About the glass... I too replaced my windshield due to a rock hit, something I've not had to do in my previous ~20 years of driving. I do understand what Mike has to say and history has shown him to be correct in many cases. However, as Diane points out, most of those Elements with issues of weak glass WERE indeed early owners (I bought mine in January), pointing not to frame problems but rather VERY poorly made glass. Two comments here - 1) There WERE early service bulletins regarding some high-spots in the frame around the windshield and how dealers were to flatten them out, & 2) Honda may have corrected this problem mid-stream.

From ELEMENTAL experience I have taken many more rocks (I think I've referred to my E as the Incredible Rock Magnet :? ) since it was replaced and have not suffered a second break (although a few others on the boards here have). There have obviously been some cases where no rocks were involved (i.e. defrosters in cold weather and severe wind buffeting come to mind). I think the important question to ask is when the vehicle purchased (i.e. what glass batch was involved) and whether or not more recent purchases have encountered similar problems.

Another note: I don't believe January 1st is a magical date that car manufacturers hold to make changes to problems they've observe in their lines. Certainly Honda wouldn't hold the reputation they do if they were held to batch-fixes. Query new owners. Look for new EOC members and ask them.

Good luck with your decision. If I totalled my car tomorrow, well, I'd buy another one.

Frederick
 
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