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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
202146


Hello!

I bought this 2008 Element new from the dealer in 2008. It served well as our family car for many years. Eventually we “upgraded” to a 2016 Honda Accord and then a 2018 Tesla Model 3. The Element was used occasionally but was somewhat neglected.

This past summer I went camping with some friends and family and they had 4x4 vans and I could barely keep up down some real tough roads with my stock Element and home-made sleeping platform.

I wanted more. I looked at some Sprinter van builds but couldn’t stomach paying $60k-$140k. Plus I liked my Element and it only has 76k miles! I dusted off my EOC account and started researching.

Inspired by you all, I’ve decided to build my Element into the microcamping rig it was meant to be.

Done
  1. HRG “Ultimate” 3” lift kit with 1” subframe drop
  2. Falken Wildpeak 235/70R16 with full-size spare
  3. Skid Plate Guy engine skid plate
In Progress
  1. Skid Plate Guy fuel tank skid plate
  2. Fifth Element Camping microcamper system
Wishlist
  1. Gobi Ranger rack
  2. ARB awning
  3. Plastidip wheels black
  4. Wrap/plastidip/raptor liner body Toyota Quicksand color
 

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71 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
As you can see in the picture in my first post, the fuel tank guard has the least clearance of anything on the bottom of the Element. It's the first thing to scrape on the rough roads I've been on.

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I wanted to replace it with something more durable and higher clearance. I found Skid Plate Guy on Instagram and he has a nice fuel tank skid plate for the Element. I got around to installing it today.

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It's not a super easy install as the brackets need some bending/coercing to get lined up with the plate. After much cursing I got it tightened up and looking good!

202164
202165
 

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Wow, that's an absolutely beautiful element. I love the tank plate, and it should be more aerodynamic too
I agree...beautiful setup. Best looking lifted E I've seen and nice job on the protective plates.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thank you for your kind words :giggle:

I did a test drive while waiting for the four-wheel alignment (best guy in town is booked up and I'm willing to wait). The drive was fantastic, I was worried that the lift would change the driving dynamics too much. I think the 5mm wheel spacers I used to correct for the change in scrub radius do the trick perfectly. However on the way home I started hearing a clunking sound at low speeds/over bumps/not sure exactly the condition. Somewhere between re-torquing every bolt to spec and replacing front and rear sway bar bushings I think I've solved the clunk. It made no noise and drove like a charm on the last test drive.

I'm trying to figure out what to do with the full sized spare. My initial thought was to put it on top of a Gobi roof rack but now I am investigating other options. I like the Wilco Offroad Hitchgate Solo but I am concerned about too much load on the rear hitch because I normally have a bike rack and bike back there:

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Pre-lift picture with Kuat NV 2.0 rack on Kuat Pivot swing-away arm.

I need a bike rack and I strongly prefer a swing away arm to let the bike rack get away from the tailgate and provide a seating area for a post-ride rest. The Hitchgate Solo does provide an additional mount point for a bike rack to essentially take the place of the Kuat Pivot. Then I could have both the full size spare and and bike on the back, likely meeting or slightly exceeding the rated tongue weight. Decisions, decisions.

Next steps
  1. Get four wheel alignment
  2. Receive and install Fifth Element microcamper system
  3. Figure out what to do with the full size spare
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
I'm still waiting on the pièce de résistance, the Fifth Element microcamper system. Apparently the custom cushions are a little late. Early December is the estimate.

In the meantime I've gotten a number of little things done:
  1. Four-wheel alignment after lift kit install
  2. Ordered Gobi Ranger rack without sunroof cutout
  3. LED interior lights, some cheap ones from Amazon
  4. Installed SumoSprings on the rear to help with the saggy butt when I use my bike rack
  5. Installed OEM security system from Bernardi Honda
  6. Installed OEM fog light kit I hunted down off Reddit ($$$)
  7. Installed Harbor Freight light bar above license plate (temporary, this will go on the Gobi rack)
  8. Plasti dip test on full-sized spare, all wheels coming soon
0FCA97EC-A8D1-4F24-BB38-6588F03C744F.jpeg IMG_0299.jpeg IMG_0234.jpeg

I noticed that I have minor front-end damage when installing the fog lights. Apparently someone must have backed into me while parked at some point in the past. I ordered a new front bumper reinforcement and a new A/C condenser off Amazon (yikes). OEM is 3x the price so I'll roll the dice with non-OEM for now.

IMG_0294.jpeg

I've also decided that the full-sized spare is going on top of the Gobi rack for now so I ordered the tire mount kit for that instead of trying to mount it on the back.

Next steps
  1. Repair front end damage
  2. Plasti dip all wheels matte black
  3. Receive and install Fifth Element microcamper system
  4. Receive and install Gobi Ranger rack
 

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I went down with my E, but it has made me want a second “beater” one I could go up with like you’ve done. I really like how you are approaching it. Nice clean, thoughtful, purposeful upgrades.
Kudos!
 
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