Honda Element Owners Club banner

1 - 20 of 21 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
12 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a 2005 Element EX (front wheel drive only) with 107k miles...and like many of you, I love the car and want to keep it running and on the road. I'm getting a "thud" in front end sometimes when I turn. I've been told by a certified Honda repair place in Chicago (Haas) that it's the rack. I'm looking to see if anyone out there can give some good advice on a couple of questions, as I'm just trying to not to spend approx. $2k to get this fixed...and too big a job for my own skill set.

Thanks and look forward to hearing back.
Jack

1. If I have Haas replaces the rack assembly, I'll get Honda OEM parts, but will pay dealer price (I think around $1200), plus labor. Does anyone have a suggestion for rebuilt or aftermarket parts that are considered a good alternative?

I saw Amazon has "Detroit Axle" replacement for about $200.

I also saw on Amazon a "Cardone" rack replacement on Amazon for $350

What's best refurbished or aftermarket parts for this fix? I've been told to look out for cheap Chinese parts.

2. Can anyone recommend a good, reputable independent mechanic (maybe works out of won garage) in Chicago or Northwest Indiana who could do a good job (maybe as side job if they work at a shop) replacing my Rack assembly? I can schedule Haas, but they're like $100/hr. labor...and again I would have to pay dealer price for OEM Honda parts. NOTE: I can buy my own OEM Honda parts at discounted prices, and Haas will put them on, but then Haas)then won't warranty them...which I totally get.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
25 Posts
Do you trust the shop that diagnosed the noise? It’s entirely possible the rack is to blame, but I would call that a rare failure. Is the “thud” consistent and predictable? Is it both left/right turns? Is it weather dependent? Any additional info could be helpful.
An unfortunate reality I’m seeing more and more is auto shops suddenly quoting $1400-$2000 for repairs since stimulus checks were released. It would be a shame to pony up that much cash for a misdiagnosis. Not saying that is what’s happening, but it is certainly a possibility.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Good questions and I did have to bring the car back several times to Haas to figure out some other front end noises...which turned out to be that I needed new struts..and some bushings. I think you're absolutely right that it's possible that the "thud" might be something else other than the rack. It seems to occur during a turn ( right or left turns...as opposed to a bump), although when starting car and backing out of garage...even very slightly turning steering wheel can make a "thunk". I understand there's a "u-joint" type piece at the end of the steering column...could that be it? Or maybe tie rods? Anyway, good point about perhaps having someone who is good at diagnosing front end and suspension noises and such. The car is really in great shape. I bought it new in '05. Never been in accident...but I'll bet one of my kids hit some Chicago pot holes or something a year or so ago. As I said in my original post...I'd drive this car for several more years/miles. I mean...why not? It's a great car. Just don't like the noises.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
156 Posts
although when starting car and backing out of garage...even very slightly turning steering wheel can make a "thunk".
Interesting, I have a noise that occurs when I back out of a parking spot with the wheel slightly turned as well. I had noticed that my steering rack was leaking last summer and have been keeping an eye on it, but it seems fine (note: I think that my leaking was caused by street parking the car with the wheel turned into the curb, so as I understand it my rack would spend days with pressure built up inside it--though I may be misunderstanding how steering racks work here).

Based on my own experiences and this forum, Elements are prone to all kinds of clunks and creaks! I've got at least three running theories for mine.
 

·
Premium Member
2004 Element EX-S AWD 6MT = “Zippy”
Joined
·
426 Posts
Welcome to the board by the way!
Your first post with links and actionable next steps... a rarity. Kudos!

Agree with seeking out multiple diagnosis sources... and a plethora of possibilities for squeaks and creeks...
(struts and bushings -lower arm, and sway bar- were on the top of the list until you had them replaced....)

Cheers!
Brad
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Interesting, I have a noise that occurs when I back out of a parking spot with the wheel slightly turned as well. I had noticed that my steering rack was leaking last summer and have been keeping an eye on it, but it seems fine (note: I think that my leaking was caused by street parking the car with the wheel turned into the curb, so as I understand it my rack would spend days with pressure built up inside it--though I may be misunderstanding how steering racks work here).

Based on my own experiences and this forum, Elements are prone to all kinds of clunks and creaks! I've got at least three running theories for mine.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thank you Hal and KargoMaster for the comments. This is a good forum. I just signed up today. I'm hoping Jhamp232 will be able to refer me to a good source to diagnosis the "thud" noise. I would be thrilled to find out it's not the rack, but if it is...then it is.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
968 Posts
Good questions and I did have to bring the car back several times to Haas to figure out some other front end noises...which turned out to be that I needed new struts..and some bushings. I think you're absolutely right that it's possible that the "thud" might be something else other than the rack. It seems to occur during a turn ( right or left turns...as opposed to a bump), although when starting car and backing out of garage...even very slightly turning steering wheel can make a "thunk". I understand there's a "u-joint" type piece at the end of the steering column...could that be it? Or maybe tie rods? Anyway, good point about perhaps having someone who is good at diagnosing front end and suspension noises and such. The car is really in great shape. I bought it new in '05. Never been in accident...but I'll bet one of my kids hit some Chicago pot holes or something a year or so ago. As I said in my original post...I'd drive this car for several more years/miles. I mean...why not? It's a great car. Just don't like the noises.
I had a front end thud noise on mine too when turning even slightly at low speeds, it was a bit intermittent and although one shop could not find anything loose, my number one mechanic had a look at it

He took a pry bar and started pulling on things and found the right front sway bar link was a bit loose

He disconnected the link and the clunking thud noise was completely gone

So by disconnecting the sway bar we were able to determine that a bad sway bar link was the culprit, since it was no longer connected there was no force on it to make it hit anything and cause any noise

A brand new Sankei 555 sway bar link went on and voila no more clunking!

Maybe just try disconnecting just one of your front sway bar links yourself and see if the noise goes away
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I had a front end thud noise on mine too when turning even slightly at low speeds, it was a bit intermittent and although one shop could not find anything loose, my number one mechanic had a look at it

He took a pry bar and started pulling on things and found the right front sway bar link was a bit loose

He disconnected the link and the clunking thud noise was completely gone

So by disconnecting the sway bar we were able to determine that a bad sway bar link was the culprit, since it was no longer connected there was no force on it to make it hit anything and cause any noise

A brand new Sankei 555 sway bar link went on and voila no more clunking!

Maybe just try disconnecting just one of your front sway bar links yourself and see if the noise goes away
Thank you Wannahonda. I will absolutely mention this when I have someone look at the front end.
 

·
Registered
07 2wd 5-speedauto
Joined
·
1,959 Posts
Plus 2 on the sway bar links. I installed Moog links on the front. On certain RH turns I heard a clunk. I used a chassis ear, and found it coming from one of the links.
Installed Honda links and now quiet as a church mouse.
As for diagnosing your noise, does the mechanic use chassis ears? They are real useful in finding hard to locate noises.


 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thank you 07lmnt...humm...chassis ears, never heard of them before. And thanks for the links. Another thing to add to the list when I have a mechanic check it out.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks all for contributing ideas, suggestions to my questions. Been chatting on another post with jhamp232 and he mentioned possibly sway bars links too.

I'm looking at receipts I keep on car and I had left and right "Front Stabilizer Links" (which I believe are aka Sway Bar Links) replaced 9/2018. I'm thinking they should still be good. I also have had the "Stabilizer Mount Bar Bushings" (looks like rubber mounts for stabilizer bar) replaced. So I'm assuming next possible culprits (aside from maybe rack) might be inner/outer tie rods and/or ball joints?

Chassis ears a great idea, but I don't know if a lot of mechanics have them. I suppose I could start calling around, but I'd sure like to know if anyone knows of any wrenches who might have them (who work on Elements) in Chicago, suburbs, and/or North west Indiana (Valpo, Merriville, etc). Thanks...Jack
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
156 Posts
Common sources are the sway bar links and sway bar bushings. After that things get strange.

I still have a hunch that this is the source of my issues: clunking sound (undercarriage) when passing over speedbumps

Though before I go messing with these big bolts I will be replacing the aforementioned sway bar components as they are incredibly cheap. My sway bar links were replaced (with moog) last summer, and I think one of them has already gone bad.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Hi Hal. I think that's a good plan for you and that helped me back when I replaced struts (and then subsequently replaced the sway bar links). My problem is not so much with noise going over bumps, but while turning. Hopefully all this discussion will help others too.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
968 Posts
I had used inexpensive sway bar links on my last car an Acura and they broke in less than a year and that car weighed 1000 lbs less than the Element.

Now I only use OEM or Sankei 555 sway bar links, they last.

If your sway bar link bolts are not rusted and ceased just disconnect one side or the other and you should be able to diagnose if the sway bar link is the problem without going through the hassle of finding chassis ears

My number one mechanic has chassis ears at the dealership he works at but they get broken easily with so many techs using and abusing them, the dealership would not replace them for the techs and I have never seen them at any other shop
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2 Posts
Thanks all for contributing ideas, suggestions to my questions. Been chatting on another post with jhamp232 and he mentioned possibly sway bars links too.

I'm looking at receipts I keep on car and I had left and right "Front Stabilizer Links" (which I believe are aka Sway Bar Links) replaced 9/2018. I'm thinking they should still be good. I also have had the "Stabilizer Mount Bar Bushings" (looks like rubber mounts for stabilizer bar) replaced. So I'm assuming next possible culprits (aside from maybe rack) might be inner/outer tie rods and/or ball joints?

Chassis ears a great idea, but I don't know if a lot of mechanics have them. I suppose I could start calling around, but I'd sure like to know if anyone knows of any wrenches who might have them (who work on Elements) in Chicago, suburbs, and/or North west Indiana (Valpo, Merriville, etc). Thanks...Jack
Hey Jack there's a fb page Chicago Area Element Owners you should join. Theres a person who works n Elements.
 

·
Registered
2003 EX & 2007 EX
Joined
·
12 Posts
A bad strut top bearing or a broken spring can cause symptoms that mimic a bad steering rack e.g. groans, pops, and hard-spots. Look carefully at the spring, breaks can be hard to see. They usually break near the point where the coil launches away from the top mounting plate. Another item to check are the steering u-joint couplings.

The outer tie rod ends are pretty easy to pop off. That allows you to manipulate the steering wheel and rack independent of the suspension components to help isolate the problem.
 
1 - 20 of 21 Posts
Top