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Discussion Starter #1
I am looking to buy my first Element. It is an '04.
I went to test drive it and it had some issues that i'm not sure about. So i hope someone here can help.
Issues; 1. check engine light is on / i checked all the fluids and they are good. what else should i check?
2. There is a green light shaped similar to a key lit up, but i don't recognize the symbol.
3. Biggest issue: as i was test driving on the expressway, the gas pedal was pressed and my speed was 65. After a few minutes at that speed, the power just dropped out, and the engine started pulsing/surging. I lost speed rapidly but the engine continued to run in pulses/surges.
I finally limped back to the used car dealer. Once there i put the vehicle in park and pressed the accelerator down. The response was a constant surge/pulse.
I have never experienced this before.
The dealer said he would get it fixed, but i am curious as to what would cause this. Is it a relay problem? Or could it be the computer?
I also noticed that this vehicle has an aftermarket catalytic converter. Could the CAT be partially plugged and causing the O2sensor to shut things down and restart?
I'm not a mechanic by any means, so your help will be most appreciated as i wanted this car for my daughter, who fell in love with it at first sight.
2004 Element 2WD

Thanks!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 

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MM 2005 EX, AT southwest WI
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Price, vehicle mileage, and approx location would help with an answer, but in general 'love at first sight' is dangerous and maybe the combination of symptoms and used car dealer might move this one off the list. FYIW, recently I've seen 3 private party 05 Es and one 07 in the Madison WI area that were clean, 100k miles or less, and had exceptional maintenance for $6500 to $9000. One even had summer and winter tires in excellent condition. All had independent mech or dealer inspections done. Each would have way up there on my list were I shopping (or Locksmith;-)). The first one isn't always the one though I guess it can be. Locations vary widely and just my 2 cents worth.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Price, vehicle mileage, and approx location would help with an answer,
Hi Marv. I should have included this in the beginning. sorry.
The element is in awesome shape body, interior and and all visible engine and drive train.
Only the catalytic looks aftermarket.
it has 225,570 miles.
Dealer is asking $4800 with is in the mid range of the Kelly Blue Book for that year and mileage.
if they can get it fixed, i will run a carfax on it.
He had just received the Element a few days before and had not taken it for a drive yet. But iv e dealt with these guys before and am comfortable with them.
5 months ago i bought an '06 Saturn Vue with a honda engine from this same dealer. I had to replace the oil pan and the passenger side motor mount, but got a really good deal.
When i test drove the '04 Element (not sure of the exact model off the top of my head), it is a 2WD, it was sunny, 80 degrees here in Laredo, Texas.
Hope this helps.
 

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$4800 for a 2wd with 220K?! No way, 4wd's with 100K are around a grand more in these parts.
This will be a first car for my 17 year old. So i kinda don't want to spend a ton of money on a first first car for a young driver. But yeah, i also don't want a 4WD as she will be tempted to go mudding. This kid has no fear. lol:028::028:
 

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You should find out specifically what kind of trouble codes you've thrown if you are seeing the check engine light. If you can borrow a code scanner, or perhaps go for another test drive and stop at a local auto parts retail chain store, lots of them will do a scan for free. Big surprise, but the dealer might not let you know about all the specific codes & issues.
 

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I'd run. A check engine light with surging does not mean a soft code that's an easy fix. It could be anything from a vacuum leak (easy fix, probably not to expensive), to failing injectors (starts getting pricey) to a head gasket or piston ring issue or some other major hard part failure where you would need a full rebuild.

I'm imagining that if they had to replace the cat, it was probably ruined with oil and or un burnt coolant which leads to a head gasket for the coolant and a popped piston or valve guide for the oil. That's a motor rebuild...

I'd take it to a 3rd party mechanic that they do not recommend and spend a hundred bucks or so on a pre purchase inspection. A simple compression test and leak down will tell you everything, and they will run the codes... Plus they will get under the car and give you a run down on the health of everything that's important but hard to see (brakes, bushings, axles etc)
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I'd run. A check engine light with surging does not mean a soft code that's an easy fix. It could be anything from a vacuum leak (easy fix, probably not to expensive), to failing injectors (starts getting pricey) to a head gasket or piston ring issue or some other major hard part failure where you would need a full rebuild.

I'm imagining that if they had to replace the cat, it was probably ruined with oil and or un burnt coolant which leads to a head gasket for the coolant and a popped piston or valve guide for the oil. That's a motor rebuild...

I'd take it to a 3rd party mechanic that they do not recommend and spend a hundred bucks or so on a pre purchase inspection. A simple compression test and leak down will tell you everything, and they will run the codes... Plus they will get under the car and give you a run down on the health of everything that's important but hard to see (brakes, bushings, axles etc)
Thanks Fifty, that's all good advice.
Talked to the dealer yesterday. He said it was the O2 sensor. He replaced one and tomorrow I will test drive it. I'll take it to Autozone and have the codes scanned. Possibly take it to a mechanic for an inspection.
Thanks for the advice. I had not considered the cat replacement issue. I figured it had been stolen for resale as I saw in another thread.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
You should find out specifically what kind of trouble codes you've thrown if you are seeing the check engine light. If you can borrow a code scanner, or perhaps go for another test drive and stop at a local auto parts retail chain store, lots of them will do a scan for free. Big surprise, but the dealer might not let you know about all the specific codes & issues.
Thanks TimD.
test driving tomorrow and will take it to Autozone and run the scanner.
 
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