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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I'm in the market for a new car, and through various decision-making processes I've distilled my options down and found myself, rather unexpectedly, checking out a Honda Element. It appeals to me for all the obvious reasons that it appeals to other owners and prospective owners. I've found a used one that seems in good condition, test drove it today and liked it, but before I make a decision I wanted to know if there's anything I should check. I'm a car person, mechanically inclined and used to doing in-depth work on my own vehicles. Over the last 8 years I've owned two Integras and a Civic, so I'm familiar with Hondas.

The Element in question is a 2003 2WD EX with 103k miles on it. It needs new brakes, new front tires and a new battery (no problem, I can do these myself). The driver's side door lock also won't open from the outside with the key. It looks like this is the (common?) lock-wearing-out problem that I have read about elsewhere on the forums. Not sure if I will tackle that myself or not - can this be fixed (either DIY or by a locksmith) such that your one key still works in all doors and the ignition?

The seller is the only owner, and she has performed all regular maintenance at the dealer and has records of everything. I looked under the hood, looked at the front and rear suspension, oil pan, transmission, steering rack, and exhaust system. Everything looks fine, including all seals and other rubber. No body rust anywhere (car has lived in the SF Bay area so that helps). When driving there are no major rattles. Slight wind noise from the driver's door at highway speed (maybe it needs new weatherstripping?). It tracks straight when I take my hands off the wheel so looks like the alignment is OK. I did some tight turns in a parking lot with the wheel all the way over, windows down, and heard no unusual noises.

Part of my decision-making process also surrounds the fact that I've never owned an SUV or even a pickup, so it's a pretty different type of vehicle for me and my wife. I'm comfortable with it and think I would get used to it quickly, but my wife is a little worried about that. Even though it's 5" shorter than the cars we're used to, and only 3" wider, it's still a pretty different driving experience to a coupe or hatchback. If anyone has thoughts on that as well, I'm interested.

Overall it seems solid and I've checked all the basic stuff that I know to look for. Just wondering if there's anything else I've forgotten, whether it's Element-specific or not. Many thanks in advance!
 
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