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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all,

A few weeks ago my gf hit a curb after slipping from snow. It's the rear right that hit the curb at around 35mph. She was fish tailing around so only the rear hit. I took it to a Firestone and got their lifetime alignment. On the first alignment they said they can't align perfectly. They think something got bent. The rear right toe was adjusted to -0.77 (before was -1.58). The rear left camber is out too at -1.8. I understand that the camber cant be fixed unless I get an after market part. My main concern is on the toe. They aligned the best they could and it did drove a lot better. Any ways snow melted and the slightly off alignment wasn't bad enough to catch my attention. Fast forward a few weeks and snow comes again. I noticed whenever I am on the highway and drive over a patch of snow, the car would pull right for the duration it is on the snow. I am guessing it is because of the right toe that is out + the normal toe in from the left. They effectively steers my car right all the time. Any ways, it definitely felt unsafe to drive in the snow. Luckily, there hasn't been much snow.

Fast forward to today, I just took my car in to a different Firestone to get another alignment just in case if the first place didn't know what they are doing. They came back with similar results. The right toe got worse at -1.2 now. The left camber also got worse at -2.1. The difference could be from their setup, operator or measurement variation however.

Is it possible that they can't adjust the toe any more from a bent? Should I try a different alignment place or should I just start replacing parts? My main thought is probably changing out the top control arm or bottom control arm. The only reason I am thinking about changing the top one is because it looks like the camber changed after hitting the curb too. It actually brought it more in spec after the hit.

I am also wondering if it could be the strut or the hub.

I did crawl under the car. I didn't see anything noticeably bent. I did notice the sway bar link is more straight vertically on the right and the left has a slight forward slash orientation. /

2004 Honda Element Ex model with about 148k miles.
 

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If you want to keep it running well, I would suggest replacing parts. The rear lower arm is a big tubular “trailing” cantilevered part with no adjustment. Sounds like it could be bent as it would take the brunt of a lower wheel side impact.
You could probably find this part in a junkyard if you find an equivalent Element in good condition.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
If you want to keep it running well, I would suggest replacing parts. The rear lower arm is a big tubular “trailing” cantilevered part with no adjustment. Sounds like it could be bent as it would take the brunt of a lower wheel side impact.
You could probably find this part in a junkyard if you find an equivalent Element in good condition.
I definitely want to get running good again and more importantly get it back to being safe to drive.

I agree the lower arm is probably the big one to go after. I am also curious what are the chances that it could be the tie rod? I was thinking that could be it too since the alignment adjustment is on the tie rod. Trying to go for the most likely one so I don't have to keep going back to get multiple parts replaced.

Also if replacing lower control arm, is there any arm in just replacing one side and not both sides? Same question for the upper control arm too. If they are already doing the lower, I thought I would just have them do the upper as well with the adjustable camber version.

Is there an advantage of getting one from the junk yard vs getting a new one or aftermarket one?

Thanks!
 

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I believe the toe adjustment is a cam bolt on the lower knuckle-to-arm connection and it only has so much adjustment range. The camber control is the upper arm (I’m presuming that’s what you mean by tie rod), but you need the aftermarket. I just don’t see the upper arm getting bent by a low tire strike but it’s possible.

Yes if you are replacing the lower you might as well replace the upper. They are relatively cheap compared to the lower. You will pay a pretty penny for the lower arm. OEM is $650 on a quickly lookup. Junkyard might be a good find for $100 (?) but you usually have to do the work. If you get a used one make sure it’s in good condition but shops won’t use “used” parts.

I don’t think you’d have to replace both for this issue but some guys would call me an apostate for that.unless you’re at the track or doing performance driving (in a Toaster???) you won’t know the difference.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I believe the toe adjustment is a cam bolt on the lower knuckle-to-arm connection and it only has so much adjustment range. The camber control is the upper arm (I’m presuming that’s what you mean by tie rod), but you need the aftermarket. I just don’t see the upper arm getting bent by a low tire strike but it’s possible.

Yes if you are replacing the lower you might as well replace the upper. They are relatively cheap compared to the lower. You will pay a pretty penny for the lower arm. OEM is $650 on a quickly lookup. Junkyard might be a good find for $100 (?) but you usually have to do the work. If you get a used one make sure it’s in good condition but shops won’t use “used” parts.

I don’t think you’d have to replace both for this issue but some guys would call me an apostate for that.unless you’re at the track or doing performance driving (in a Toaster???) you won’t know the difference.
Thanks for the info! I guess I meant to say the cam bolt. I am not too familiar with these parts of the car yet. I just started repairing the car myself in the last couple of years and just learning as whatever issues come up. This is the first time I dealing with alignment issues.

I will look around for the lower control arm. I will probably just get an aftermarket part. They look much more reasonable at $60-$100. I will take another look this weekend to see if I can find anything bent before I take it in.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Something I do on my Elements is install a Rear Upper Adjustable Control Arm(s). This is the item that will allow you to adjust the toe of the two rear tires.

If you see an Element with teh two rear tires straight up & down, you can bet it has Rear Upper Adjustable Control Arms installed.

Here is an example: Amazon.com: Rear Upper Adjustable Control Arm Left & Right Pair Set for Honda Element CR-V: Automotive
I thought the upper control arms only adjust the camber?
 

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2007 Element EX AWD AT (two!)
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Adjustable upper control arms are primarily for camber; they may affect toe a little, but that is not their intent.

There is no harm in replacing damaged parts on only one side - they are being replaced because they are damaged, not necessarily worn out, in which case it would make sense to replace both sides.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
So I went to a mechanic today and had them take a look. The found that my wheel is warped. The way they diagnosed it was by taking off the wheel and mounting it on a wheel rack and spinning it. Once it started spinning its easy to see that its not spinning perfectly circular from the side. What I am wondering is, do wheels with tires on typically stay circular after some use? I am just wondering if that spinning test was a good test to check for warped wheel. This set of wires probably has 20k miles on them.

Any ways they are charging a total of $371 for the wheel change and upper control arm change. They are charging $135 for the wheel and another $135 for the upper control arm for parts. The rest are labor. Felt like they over charge the parts. I am considering getting my own upper control arm and giving it to them for installation or even doing it myself. But I do want to give them some business since they took a look at the car for 30min for free estimates. So at minimum I will be doing the wheel change through them.
 

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Wheels should run true regardless of age - unless you hit something with them, they shouldn't gradually get out of round or wobble from side to side. You can price compare at www.hondaautomotiveparts.com for OEM. RockAuto usually has very good prices on aftermarket parts. OEM list price for an upper control arm is about $180; $121 at the site I listed. $135 would be high for a steel wheel; probably reasonable for an aluminum wheel in good condition. Check first, many shops will not install parts that you bring to them. An upper control arm is not terribly difficult as long as the bolts come out easily.
 

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If it brought it more in spec, and based on the location of the hit, I would more suspect the lower arm or knuckle. One of my daughters hit a curb with a 93 Accord wagon (front) and bent the lower control arm and both front cross members, maybe even the knuckle. I ended up replacing the entire right side suspension.
 
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