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Discussion Starter #1
I just bought a '03 Element EX with a 5 speed. It has 81k miles on it and is a hoot to drive. I have done a ton of searching and reading about things concerning the AC. The AC has the typical musty smell coming from it and makes the car smell like a basement. At first I thought it was because the car had sat for a while at the car lot, but after what I read here I think the drain plug is clogged.
Things I have done:
Changed cabin filters
Sprayed air cleaner into the hole where the filters go
Checked drain plug, no water comes out
Blew compressed air into the drain plug, still no water.

I started to take the dash apart and was only able to get here. I have no idea how to get this gigantic one piece out.
How do I remove the passenger Air bag?
How to I unbolt the plastic from something underneath.
I have it loose on both sides, but I can't get it loose in the center.
Thanks
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I blew compressed air in there and dumped disinfectant in the vents and it still smells of musty grossness. I took all that apart without the service manuel. It is on the way, but I am not sure what the next step is, anyone know or have a manuel that can look it up for me?
Thanks
 

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Wow,
That is way over kill.
I would replace part, close it up, then turn on A/C with REC lite on.
Start spraying one of those disinfectants, like ozium or lysol all the time.
Atlest till the odors are gone.
But, just put back eveything, wow that is over kill.IMO
 

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Might as well paint that thing while you have it out :D
Now THAT is a brillant Idea !!!

as for the odors..............try tilex or another bathroom mold cleaner
then a bunch of Fabreeze, spray on and let it dry in place
 

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Well done my friend, especially without having access to the service manual :).

The part you want to clean is paritally behind the center console and partially behind the glovebox. The blower motor has to come out (it's under where the passenger's feet would be if they stretched out) as well as a cover to the left of the blower motor assembly which protects the evapourator and forms part of the HVAC box/ductwork assembly. I think I have an A/C system leak around my evapourator somewhere (refirgerant oil dripping onto my nice clean all-weather mats :rolleyes:) and I have to check around the evapourator so I already have the removal instruction for the evapourator printed off.

My Element used to be owned by a customer who lived on a dirt road so there's TONS of dirt and such under the dash. I'm thinking of pulling the whole kit and kaboodle out like you did just to clean back in there. Also, when I turn the temp dial from one way to the other, I hear a noise like the blend door is scratching or binding a tiny bit. Wouldn't mind cleaning that out either but not looking forward to evac'ing the A/C system and draining the coolant to do it, let alone amputating the dash temporarily :lol:.

I know there's a plastic piece in front of where the bottom of the glove box attaches to which needs to have a section of it cut out as per the Honda service manual (it's not crucial to safety, proper mounting or anything of that nature). I don't have time to explain it right now so it might be a good idea to wait until the Honda manual comes in for you so you can see it properly and how Honda intends you to do it. I've already cut mine out but didn't have time to dive into opening up the evapourator section of the HVAC box.

If I do mine this weekend, I'll try and take pics and post them up for you if possible.

Good luck and happy interior removing!!!! :D
 

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Um... don't wanna ruin any fun, but you probably could have just replaced the cabin air filters and fixed the smell problem. Worked on mine and you only have to take out the glove box.

Plus anyone could take anything apart without a manual. its the reassembly that yields "extra screws".
 

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Also without the manual you don't know about the fasteners (usually plastic clips) that are unrecoverable and have to be replaced with new.

Plus... I have this bad feeling you have seriously angered the dash rattle & squeak gods.
 

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Um... don't wanna ruin any fun, but you probably could have just replaced the cabin air filters and fixed the smell problem. Worked on mine and you only have to take out the glove box.

Plus anyone could take anything apart without a manual. its the reassembly that yields "extra screws".
If the residue is in the evapourator box, changing the HVAC filters won't change that, nor will spraying any kind of disinfectant spray or cleaner. If you have grime buildup in there, the only way to clean it is to open up the HVAC evapourator box and do it manually (something I plan to do while in the process of finding my refrigerant oil leak which is laughing at me from somewhere up in said HVAC box.

Extra screws isn't so bad when it comes to dashes. Most of the parts clip in pretty tight and the screws are almost a redundant fastener. It's when you are doing major engine work and you see that bolt or two in your cart left after you close the hood that you panic :rolleyes:.

Plus... I have this bad feeling you have seriously angered the dash rattle & squeak gods.
That is my biggest fear when it comes time for me to open up the heater box to clean out the groaning blend door :-(.
 

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One more thing...I would run your air conditioning on the MAX A/C setting or at least keep the recirc button on all the time in any other setting. I run mine on MAX A/C all summer when I do use the air and this setting is simple and works the most efficient.

MAX A/C allows the interior to be cooled quicker as the outside air is closed off and the system only has to remove moisture and heat from the air circulating naturally in the cabin through vehicle movement (the exhaust vents in the back by the wheelwells are free to open and close with changes in cabin pressure). It does not have the additional task of removing heat and humidity from the outside air which is being drawn in through the intake duct in the windshield cowl.

Home central air systems basically work the same way and are on their own "MAX A/C" setting constantly...well...so long as you are like 99.99% of the general population out there and don't run your air with the windows open :D.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
So I got it all back together with only one tiny extra screw! Not too bad. I got into the evaporator section and there was no mold, I could not get my hand down to the drain tube, or maybe I did and did not realize it. In any case the water is draining out of the drain tube, and so far it smells better.
If you have been in there, I moved the styrowfoam white divider under the evaporator and sprayed a ton of disenfectant down there. I then put it all together again.

MikeQBF I am not sure what you mean about replacing clips. I did not break any clips. There are 2 that hold the sub box on, but I was able to take them off properly and reuse them.

prior8t2000, I already replaced the filters and sprayed stuff in there. That was done a week before I ripped it all apart.

Not too bad for not having a manual. It took about 4 hours to get it apart and about 3 hours to get it back together. I also cleaned all the parts before putting them back in.

As for rattles, I went for a short drive over speed bumps, parking lots and some highways, no rattles yet. I made sure to bang and pull the dash really good as it went together to make sure it was not loose. Thanks for the help guys!
 

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>MikeQBF I am not sure what you mean about replacing clips.

I was speaking generically. Many body panels on the E are held on by non-reusable plastic clips. I can't tell you exactly which ones were of concern in your project without putting my nose in the manual for a half-hour, but I wouldn't be surprised to find a couple. The sub box clips are no problem - I can't count the number of times I've removed and replaced mine.

The general problem is that plastic clips can be fatigued in the removal and will not be as effective as they were before being pulled apart. We're usually not concerned with the clips with the pop-up centers that are intended to be un-done, but typically the hidden white push-clips that slide into slots molded into the panels, and some spring clips on trim bits.
 

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Good points, GenXDad.


Oooh, do tell!
LOL figures now that I just have my iPod for the net at home a d it's annoying as hello to type on you ask so that=P. Plus you're gonna make me dig out my notes from Honda school =P.

Recalling briefly if my memory serves me well, new vehicles I believe have vents with a rubber flap covering them. When airflow or pressure in the cabin is greater than the outside pressure, they open to allow airflow. I'd have to see where they are located on the Element but most Hondas have them at the back corner of the trunk or hatch area. They are usually hidden behind carpet or panelling on the interior and the bumper cover hides them on the exterior.

Older vehicles used to have them in the door frame and it looked like another dash vent.

I know it has something to do with equalizing pressures within the cabin as the car is driven and/or has the HVAC running.
 

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I agree with LMntGuy1982 their should be two cabin air filters behind the glove box. Replace them they are probably moldy.

Also I wasn't expecting that when I scrolled down. Great photo's
 

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Great job on the dash. Most people would be scared to death to take on that project-----no fear!

Has anyone been able to locate the grey, carbon cab filters? Honda no longer offers them, only white paper.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I installed 2 new filters before I started this, but Honda offered the white ones. Do the grey ones work better?
 
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