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Discussion Starter #1
Howdy. We are trying to figure out if the problem with the engine in our daughter’s Element is in the cylinder head or block. We have made and posted to youtube a video demonstrating the engine noise but alas, as new members to this forum, cannot include the link to said video in this post. A search for “2008 Honda Element engine knock” will show our 2:41 video at the top of the results on youtube and shows the posting date of March 20, 2020. The text that describes the problem and accompanies the video reads as follows:

2008 Honda Element

2.4L AT AWD

153,481 miles



This is(was) our daughter’s daily driver and we are trying to determine if the engine knock is coming from the cylinder head or the block so that she can decide how to repair it: either a rebuilt head or a complete engine swap from a salvage yard. She has been driving it like this for about six months, but parked it when it recently started knocking while driving...before that time the knock was audible at idle only. Since the problem began the loud knocking noise could/can only be heard after about one minute from cold start (0:53 on this video). The driving portion of this video begins at about the 1:50 mark. Also, it burns(absolutely no external leaks) about ½ quart of oil every 550 miles. Any ideas would be appreciated. Below are the results of compression and leak down tests:



Dry Compression:

#1 155

#2 164

#3 181

#4 141

Wet Compression:

#1 200

#2 196

#3 205

#4 196



Factory Service Manual Compression Test Parameters:

Minimum 135 psi

Maximum variation between cylinders 28psi



Leak Down:

#1 12%

#2 8%

#3 12%

#4 16% Air escapes from oil filler cap and a slight hiss from #3
 

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I'm sure someone with more knowledge than myself will chime in to assist you, but I do recall some people mentioning that the balance shaft assembly in the lower area of the block can cause a knocking or tapping noise. I believe there are some threads on the subject so it might be worth searching them out to include or eliminate that problem in your case. Good luck with this.
 

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I'm assuming you are using a good quality oil of the correct weight and that it is full. The noise doesn't sound deep enough for a rod or crank bearing knock and it sounds like it is from the top, not the oil pump balance shaft assembly that is bolted on the bottom of the block. It also does not sound quite like piston slap experienced in my daughter's Element originally at 137K, then at about 205k, accompanied by using a quart of oil almost every tank of gas, on a used engine. I guess I would first remove the valve cover and check for anything obviously wrong with the valve train or timing chain.

Your compression and leak down numbers seem to indicate the engine is getting tired. Even with the issues my daughter's had, compression was 180+ across the board, leak down was less than 10% on three of four cylinders. To cure the oil consumption, I pulled the head, pulled the pan and balance shaft/pump assembly, pulled the pistons, honed the cylinders, installed new rings, and put it all back together. It still has a little piston slap (I should have installed new pistons, but was already over budget), but it now does not use oil between 5000 mile changes.
 

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I'm sure someone with more knowledge than myself will chime in to assist you, but I do recall some people mentioning that the balance shaft assembly in the lower area of the block can cause a knocking or tapping noise. I believe there are some threads on the subject so it might be worth searching them out to include or eliminate that problem in your case. Good luck with this.
Hi, we appreciate the response. I had not given thought to the possibility of oil pump/balance shaft problems but will explore that possibility.
 

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I'm assuming you are using a good quality oil of the correct weight and that it is full. The noise doesn't sound deep enough for a rod or crank bearing knock and it sounds like it is from the top, not the oil pump balance shaft assembly that is bolted on the bottom of the block. It also does not sound quite like piston slap experienced in my daughter's Element originally at 137K, then at about 205k, accompanied by using a quart of oil almost every tank of gas, on a used engine. I guess I would first remove the valve cover and check for anything obviously wrong with the valve train or timing chain.

Your compression and leak down numbers seem to indicate the engine is getting tired. Even with the issues my daughter's had, compression was 180+ across the board, leak down was less than 10% on three of four cylinders. To cure the oil consumption, I pulled the head, pulled the pan and balance shaft/pump assembly, pulled the pistons, honed the cylinders, installed new rings, and put it all back together. It still has a little piston slap (I should have installed new pistons, but was already over budget), but it now does not use oil between 5000 mile changes.
Hi, yes it has the proper oil type and level. We have adjusted the valves and had a look at what can be seen with the valve cover removed and saw no obvious problems. We had been leaning towards rings on #4 what with the lower compression and 16% pressure loss on the leak down test for that cylinder. That and the fact that the escaping air is coming through the oil filler cap. It would be much simpler if I were able to tackle the job myself as you did but, unfortunately, I am only able to try and guide our daughter towards the most economical repair at a local garage for her beloved E.
 

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I hear more than knocking. There is also metal-on-metal rubbing and possibly valve blow-by. Pull the plugs and check them. It would be worth getting a low cost lighted borescope to look in the cylinders if you knew what you were looking at.
As far as oil, I'm assuming that you switched to a high mileage oil at 75,000 miles, or if it was older, when you bought it. If not, you should once you diagnose the problem and fix it.
 

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Sure sounds like timing chain assembly noise. The compression readings went up after oiling the cylinders, so I'd venture to say that piston/ring issues are the culprit there. If #4 had a valve problem, its compression would not have gone up any significant degree after oiling.

Best bet is either a good used replacement engine, or as fleetw00d said pull the head and oil pan, inspect then "refresh" the bottom end, replace timing components and hopefully that does the trick. Of course getting a shop to do the latter may not be so easy.

I did that repair myself on my old Suzuki Swift, pulled head and oil pan, replaced pistons & rings, new rod bearings, fixed cyl head; 70,000 miles and years later in my Nephew's hands, it's running as good as ever. Of course the little 1.3 is much less sophisticated mechanically, and a lot easier to work on than the Honda K24A4!

G'luck with the repairs......ed
 

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I felt guilty about picking it in the first place and not taking the original knocking seriously enough. There was no way she could afford to pay to have a shop do all the work, so I bought an OEM service manual and started in on it. Lots of valuable experience for the one I bought (which thankfully doesn't use oil and doesn't knock).
 
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