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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all,

Seventeen years after my first test drive in an '03 E, and I'm finally looking to buy an affordable, high mileage model for beach and camping duty. I'm currently homing in on an '03 EX AWD with 163k miles. It looks to be in decent shape, with normal wear. The dealer tells me they performed the following:

  • Replaced the front and rear brake pads
  • Replaced front brake caliper
  • Replaced lower ball joints
  • Replaced front tie rod ends
  • Replaced rear upper control arms
  • Oil and filter change
They don't have service/maintenance records, but the Autocheck looks clean. The car lived in Illinois and Colorado, so I'm a little concerned about rust. I didn't see any after examining the photos pretty closely, other than a few bolts under the hood. At $4600, it seems to be a good deal. The car is 800 miles away, so I think the next move would be to see about getting an independent inspection.

Any advice on long-distance shopping for an E? I'm reasonably close to the LA market, so it may be best to just hang tight for something close by I can see in person.

Thanks!
 

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I have a 2003 DX 2WD Manual E with 220,000 and counting miles. My mom has an automatic 03 EX AWD Automatic E and I just want to lend a hand on what I’ve replaced recently in my E. I bought my E back in July 2019 and since then I’ve had to replace both front struts, both front control arms, a motor mount, the exhaust was leaking ( apparently that’s a common element problem because my mom did too), A/C compressor, the catalytic converters and O2 sensors (mom also had to fix on hers), front and back calipers, brakes and rotors. I’m telling you this so you can check these when you do your inspection.
I paid $2,400 for mine and I have gotten all of my money’s worth! I’m in college and Ive road tripped so much in it that I never regretted buying it. I hope she gets me many more miles to come!
 

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#1 concern has to be rust. Service history or list of what the dealer has or hasn’t done won’t mean anything if structure isn’t good. I looked at a 2010 which had 160,000 miles and an impeccable service history but underneath it was a train wreck.
Get the dealer to put it up on a rack and give you pics/video of underneath including suspension parts and rear bumper beam. This will at least save you a trip out to look at it or get it Inspected.
Let us know what happens.
 

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Good advice from WestCoastE; I wouldn't be too worried about the Colorado portion of the Element's past life, as when I lived there rust didn't seem to be too big of an issue like parts of the rust belt states, which Illinois should be considered part of. I always look under the hood of an element and if all the fittings underhood are clean, chances are the rest of the vehicle will be relatively clean, so if you're seeing some rusty bolts underhood I would advise caution.

If I were you, I would follow your own advice and look around locally as there are probably lots of rust free units where you live.
 

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2007 Element EX AWD AT (two!)
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The Illinois portion should be cause for concern. I looked at several from IL earlier this year with under 100k, and the undersides looked terrible. All the dealers were willing to send photos, even if they just stuck the camera under the bumpers, you can tell a lot from the condition of the oil pan and engine cradle up front and the rear cross member and bumper beam in the rear.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks, all. This is good advice. On closer inspection, many of the fittings under the hood looked rust-colored, even with the low res images. It scared me off from spending too much time and money looking into it further.

I'm going to hold off and explore some more local options. Hopefully something will pop up soon and I'll have more fun questions about roof racks and tires.

Thanks!
 

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2003 Honda Element Sunset Orange Pearl 2WD Automatic 135K Miles I Love It!
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Why not come out here to Florida? If you can find an Element that spent all or most of it's life here, rust will not be a problem. (My '03 EX has as clean of an under body as you are likely to find on a 17 year old car.)

You can fly out here, rent a car, shop around for awhile, and drive a new to you Element back home! The prices here are usually pretty much close to about anywhere else in the country.

Here's a few examples from my area:


I like this one. Love that Kiwi green! :)


Here's one in Miami:

 

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I just sold my 05 ex with 264k for $1500. Been a Colorado vehicle all its life and still is seeing how I sold it to a local towny. The only thing that was rusty about it was the exhaust, which I replaced before selling.
 
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