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Discussion Starter #1
My beloved 08 EX MT AWD E has been with the dealership for a little over a week now as they are attempting to remedy the "squishy brake pedal" syndrome. I dropped it off last Monday evening (10/12/09) and had a pretty lengthy conversation with the service adviser regarding the VSA modulator TSB. He had his own theories, but we concluded that it may take a day to diagnose and get parts but that it should be a pretty routine job. Over a week later, this the current running total.

10/13 Tuesday- diagnosis - new master cylinder ordered

10/14 Wednesday- new master cylinder installed - system bled - issue remains - further diagnosis - new VSA moudle ordered

10/15 Thursday- New VSA module installed - system bled - issue is worse - system bled further - Honda Tech line contacted (according to SA over7 quarts of new flid were bled through the system before they contacted Honda Tech line)

10/16 Friday- After extensive diagnosis through Honda Techline new VSA module deemed defective and a new VSA Module in ordered to arrive on Monday

10/19 Monday- New VSA module installed and system bled - issue remains - Honda Tech line recommends replacement of brake booster - brake booster ordered

10/20 Tuesday- New brake booster installed and there is no change - the E will remain with them for further diagnosis/work. I was told that there is a technician dedicated to my vehicle until the problem is solved even though they are way past the point of making any money on the repairs/warranty work.

I do not think that there is anything sinister going on here and everything that has been done is covered under warranty. I have not returned to the dealership since I have dropped the E off so any determinations of acceptable pedal feel have been made by the service adviser and or technicians. I keep telling myself that it is a pretty simple system and they have covered everything from the firewall to the hardlines so either there is still a faulty component in the mix or I have and issue in the soft lines or calipers....(that is all that is left). The dealership is very hesitant to give back a car with an acknowledged problem in the braking system but they are more than ready to get this solved and get my E back to me.

This is day 10 of borrowing cars and arranging rides and it is starting to get real old. I am simply looking for feedback from the minds of the E.O.C. as anyone involved is open for suggestions. :confused:
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Since they have touched on everything except for calipers and brake line... there is one more piece of the puzzle that they have skipped over. What about the ABS module? Are they cycling this when performing the brake bleeding?
i believe that the ABS module is integrated with the VSA module, maybe it's the other way around and someone please correct me if I am wrong. I cannot find an ABS module on any diagrams of the braking system.

I am going to have to ask about the cycling of the system. I assume that they had to because they had to measure all kinds of differential pressures to diagnose the first VSA module as defective, but it is now the top of the list because it makes allot of sense.

Thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter #4
update: 10/21 3:00pm - Service adviser drove it about an hour ago after a tech worked on it all morning and says that the brakes engage at a different point in the pedal travel each time they are applied. ABS is fully functional but pedal feel is still vague. I asked about the ABS being cycled during the bleed process and he said that the tech walked through all of the recommended bleed procedures with Honda tech line on several occasions.

Dealership is completely stumped and waiting for response from H.O.A.
 

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Apparently the ABS and VSA are integrated.

2003-06:
"Modulator assy. (ABS)"
57110-SCV-A01

2007 (year VSA introduced) and 2008:
"Modulator assy., VSA"
57110-SCV-A51
57110-SCV-A52

2009:
Modulator assy., VSA
57110-SCV-B52

List on any of the above is a thousand bucks!

Maybe the new master cylinder is defective.
 

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Ok, been thinking about this a little. Have they pulled the calipers off and checked the seals? Possible that a seal could be bad? If a seal or even a rubber brake line is bad this will cause the squishy brake pedal you were originally feeling. If a piston is not sliding properly it could possibly cause the brakes to engage at different places in the pedal travel...

Just trying to see what else it could be.

Just did some searching online and ran across this.

bench bleed the master cylinder until all of the bubbles are gone, otherwise the pedal will still feel spongy
If there is still some air in the Master Cylinder it could account for all of these issues. This was found on a Honda Tech website.



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Discussion Starter #9
I really want to ask if the new M.C. was bench bled before it was installed, but I don't want to come off as insulting. I am reaching a point where that may be unavoidable.

In electronics, you always start from the wall and work your way out so hopefully their troubleshooting process leads them all the way through the braking system. i.e. caliper seals and soft lines.

If it comes back to me no worse than before I will probably upgrade to some braided stainless lines from Goodridge the minute it is out of warranty. Maybe that will improve pedal feel, if it ever comes back to me.
 

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Any chance they used a one man brake bleeder and forgot to insert the abs key? I've seen really odd issues out of the ABS systems following since air was trapped inside the unit and slowly bled back into the brake system.

I know how you feel about not wanting to offend them but at the same time they have replaced almost everything but still can not get it. To me the mechanic is more than likely overlooking something :/.
 

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Any chance they used a one man brake bleeder and forgot to insert the abs key? I've seen really odd issues out of the ABS systems following since air was trapped inside the unit and slowly bled back into the brake system.

I know how you feel about not wanting to offend them but at the same time they have replaced almost everything but still can not get it. To me the mechanic is more than likely overlooking something :/.
I agree with you. At this point if they can't get it working properly I would ask for another mechanic to have a go at it from scratch without any input from the current mechanic. Fresh eyes usually is all something like this might require.

I still think it's either the MC or the ABS Module. I just tossed out the caliper seals and brake lines since they claimed to have ruled everything else out... nothing else to check! :(



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Discussion Starter #13
I gave in and drove the 30 min up to the dealership tonight to have some face time with both the tech and the adviser. We covered allot of stuff and I got to take a look at some of the data from the time spent on the Honda tech line. We actually even pulled up this thread and a few of the ones involving the VSA TSB, so a big thank you to all for your help and communal knowledge.

The adviser drove the E this afternoon and he swears that it is like nothing the he has ever experienced. He drove about 200 yards (from service to the sales building) and when he went to stop the pedal sank nearly to the floor. He made a quick u-turn and headed back to the service building and decided to stop about halfway to see if it was repeatable. This time the pedal grabbed so high and firm that it caught him by surprise, engaged the ABS, and nearly bounced him off the steering wheel. Pulling back in to the service bay was a mixed bag of firm or soft pedal action. (anybody know the Honda part number for a Poltergeist...... i think mine is faulty)

As of the close of business today they are in contact with the regional service representative and he is going to be coming back with some options tomorrow by lunchtime. I am really curious about what the regional rep is going to have to offer in a situation like this. One of the other tenured technicians should be returning to the shop on Thursday or Friday from having the flu and they are hoping that he may bring a fresh perspective to the ordeal. For now I get to hurry up and wait for phone updates and drive the wife's VW.
 

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A seal leak (caliper or master cylinder) could cause inconsistent brake feel. But in the case of a caliper seal, there would be fluid everywhere on the pad & caliper. The problem would be obvious...

Perhaps one of the soft brake lines has ballooned. This is about the only thing left to check (if all checks mentioned HAVE been performed). I have heard of a similar problem getting air out once it gets trapped inside the ABS/VSA module. The dealer does have an electronic tool to cycle the modulator so that should have already been done. Plus modern cars cycle the ABS as soon you start them up (to prevent old fluid being trapped and corroding everything).

As far as bench bleeding goes, I did have a clutch master cylinder installed at the dealer on my 03 E. They forgot to bench bleed the thing and that ended up costing them a new 3rd gear and clutch/transmission housing. Sometimes the techs at the dealership forget things. It happens. Personally I think there was also something wrong with the new MC...

Either way, I wish you best. Hopefully they get it straightened out and don't charge YOU for all the parts that didn't fix the problem... :cool:
 

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Discussion Starter #16
A seal leak (caliper or master cylinder) could cause inconsistent brake feel. But in the case of a caliper seal, there would be fluid everywhere on the pad & caliper. The problem would be obvious...

Perhaps one of the soft brake lines has ballooned. This is about the only thing left to check (if all checks mentioned HAVE been performed). I have heard of a similar problem getting air out once it gets trapped inside the ABS/VSA module. The dealer does have an electronic tool to cycle the modulator so that should have already been done. Plus modern cars cycle the ABS as soon you start them up (to prevent old fluid being trapped and corroding everything).

As far as bench bleeding goes, I did have a clutch master cylinder installed at the dealer on my 03 E. They forgot to bench bleed the thing and that ended up costing them a new 3rd gear and clutch/transmission housing. Sometimes the techs at the dealership forget things. It happens. Personally I think there was also something wrong with the new MC...
I am with you on the new MC. I am wondering what effect continuous forced bleeding can have on a new MC. I have not heard anything yet today and frankly have not had the time to call them. The ballooning line theory is one that I brought up last night, but it was pretty quickly dismissed.... :confused: Either way, I have placed an order for stainless Goodridge lines that should arrive in a few days. If the feel is acceptable on return, I will wait until my warranty is over to install them. If it is not, I may swap the lines to see if they elicit a change.
 

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I am amazed by the breadth of what has been done so far, to no end. I was just telling Larry that I am stumped on this one, too. Have they taken the disk off every wheel and checked the caliper seal? I have seen instances where the seal will get soft and then "balloon" out, only to not do it consistently because the self-adjuster has changed conditions between pushes on the pedal.

I would also be at the point - once done with tearing my hair out - of approaching this methodically, eliminating each subsystem by capping-off the outputs using plugs. This would diagnose issues of local air trappage or fluid bypass.

Changing the flexible lines at the wheels might fix the problem, but if it does you won't know why - you'll be forced to do another full-system bleed, by chance fixing the real problem located elsewhere.

Very bizarre bug. Thank you for keeping us updated on it, for sure!
 

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Seriously, you would almost think someone dumped power steering fluid in the MC by accident which killed all brake components. Yes, I have seen this error performed before :rolleyes:. Everything and I mean everything had to be replaced.
 

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Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
Just got a call from my service adviser that the E is ready to be picked up. :D :D :D I think that he was about as happy to break the news as I was to hear it.

The "fresh set of eyes" decided to start at the calipers and work his way back to the known good components. He noted some questionable wear on the front caliper slides and seals. A quick front caliper rebuild seems to have remedied the intermittent issue and they saved one of the slides that they believe was the culprit as it is warped. It was causing the caliper to not reset properly some times and also hanging up on brake engagement. While I have never heard of this before, it certainly sounds plausible that this $6 part at the end of the line could cause odd issues through the rest of the system. Because the rebuild was done in one shot there is no telling if it was the slide or a seal, but I am just ready to have my ride back.

A huge thank you to everyone that racked their brains on this one! I will have to check with our shipping department about the legality of sending out thank you beers via UPS.....
 
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