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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I have an 50K mile, 03, AWD EX for my son as a first car. Recently; I did brake fluid change, diff. oil change, trans oil change, eng. oil change (mobil 1). E is 100% ready to go.

I bring it home and my wife says its PERFECT!!! then does some research and says "It doesn't have side air bags"..... She wants them! research included looking for labels! found none in the car! lol

How new would I have to go to get side airbags - may have to trade up in year to get one.
 

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Side air bags in the front seats were an option for EX trim in MYs 2003 and 2004, standard in 2005. They became standard on all trim levels beginning in 2007. Side curtain air bags also became standard in MY 2007.

If your '03 has side air bags, the front seats will have a tag (2007-up seat shown, but the tag will be in the same place on an earlier seat):

 

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Discussion Starter #4
no seat tag... :( I'd be fine with it, but for my ND son....I guess I'll be searching for an upgrade.
 

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Something to note in your shopping - that Honda stopped working on more safety features after the '07 model. From that point on, the only safety improvement was a safer brake light design starting in '09. If you're looking first for safety, everything from '07 to end of production is the same.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I'm letting him learn with it right now. I ride with him as he's on a learners permit. In NJ, he will have to drive on a permit for 1 yr. on a graduated license.

Visibility is great for him. Its odd that the Element seems HUGE when in side, but the darn thing is actually shorter than my Prius!!!! Sitting in the drivers seat with an arm stretched straight out, you can't reach the windshield! lol The last car that I had like that was my 60 Pontiac!

Power and handling are spot on. All very predictable. Easy to drive.

Over the past few days I've noticed 2 things I need to take care of:
1) the 03 Element buzzing key switch! ordered a Honda part today
2) clunk in rear over sharp bumps only. going to replace R. sway bar links and bushings.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
replaced the ignition key switch thingy......no more buzzing.
replaced the rear sway bar bushings and links.

Going to list it for sale soon....Son in going to drive the Prius.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Checked in with the local Honda dealer today. Luckily, all my Recall work has been completed by the previous owner / dealer.

I needed to make an appt. for a transmission software update. When started cold, if you put it in gear, you can 20mph without hitting the gas!!!! There is a TSB on it.

Good News: update is FREE!!! Bad news: $125 diagnostic fee! lol
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Got the TSB done. Got a break, only $75! Also just changed out the rear shocks to Monroe quick struts. It sits a little taller in the back, ride is good.
 

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Got the TSB done. Got a break, only $75! Also just changed out the rear shocks to Monroe quick struts. It sits a little taller in the back, ride is good.
Did you have the struts done by the dealer? May I ask the cost? I am looking to replace mine (not bouncy, just light thumps over bumps) but its got high miles and will probably need soon. I want to do myself but can't seem to find quick-struts for the front other than oem.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Did you have the struts done by the dealer? May I ask the cost? I am looking to replace mine (not bouncy, just light thumps over bumps) but its got high miles and will probably need soon. I want to do myself but can't seem to find quick-struts for the front other than oem.
I did them myself. I did ask the dealer if they would give the shock bolts a "shot" to see if they would loosen during the software update. They told me that they would rather not.... They KNOW its a miserable job and it would be ALOT of time to cut them out - above and beyond the cost of the OEM shocks.

From RockAuto; the monroe's were $106 each.....plus new shock bolts from honda, plus 4 hrs of work to get them in. take a look at the thread I started in the suspension forum. NOT a fun job to do, but expensive if you have to pay!
 
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