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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hey all... I’ve been getting a front clunking that I initially swore was the sway bar area but I’ve just replaced everything there, specifically in the links and bushings and still hearing it pretty bad. I feel and hear it when I go over cracks and breaks in the road more specifically. Not so much over big bumps. I really hear it over wash board dirt roads the most. I also hear something bumping or clunking a bit just when I hit the brakes but not after they are pressed. I’m also getting a slight clunk or knock when I change from 1st to 2nd or 2nd to 3rd and higher rpm’s. Sometimes just as I engage reverse too. Not sure if all the clunking and knocking is related as it may be a few issues going on simultaneously.

I’m hoping that if I list what the symptoms are maybe someone could chime in with some constructive thoughts here.

Let me start off with everything that’s been replaced and with what:

Beck and Arnley Front stabilizer links; literally replaced 3 months ago. The sound I heard then when the old ones went is similar to what I’m hearing now and it feels the same. I feel it on the left and the right. Double checked the locknuts today and they were snug. Didn’t torque it down with a breaker bar or anything but did with a 17mm wrench and they were tight. Could these cheap bastards be done already?

OEM Front stabilizer bushings; replaced 4 days ago. I thought this was it but the noise is still there.

OEM Front struts-Salvaged; this is when I really started noticing the clunking and knocking but before then things were a bit muted possibly because of the noise and absorption of the really worn old struts and worn strut bearings I think. Could the lower strut bolts be loose. The noise doesn’t sound or feel like it’s in the tower area. I always double check my connections. And could both sides be loose? Seems rare.

Beck and Arnley Ball Joints; Replaced about 6-8 months ago. Will do wheel test later this week but felt around there today at the joint with the Element on the ground and everything looked good, clean, and felt tight.

Cardone CV axles; also replaced 6-8 months ago. This is another one of my initial thoughts. The boots look good. But... I felt around by the actual bar and axle where it connects/locks into the front differential and was able to feel a little play. Is that area supposed to be super tight after locked in? No leaks from it. I always thought a little play was normal, but I don’t know if that was there before or not.

Beck and Arnley Outer tie rod ends; replaced 3 months ago. Felt those today. Were also snug.

Power Stop Rotors and pads; replaced 1 year ago. Pads look absolutely fine. Rotors look good too.

Orielly brand Caliper Brackets; replaced 1year ago. I was in a pinch and needed two on the fly. This is another initial thought. Possibly a loose bolt somewhere maybe? Crappy design? But again, both sides? Seems rare.

Moog Compliance Bushings; replaced 3 months ago. They’re stiff but shouldn’t knock like this. Could the other control arm bushings be shot? I forgot to check those bolts today.

I think that’s about everything’s. My thoughts are either B and A stabilizer links are complete crap and gone already, the CV axles are shot or malfunctioning (maybe from the knuckle dislocating and being returned after putting on the newer struts?), or there’s some bolts loose in the brake caliper/bracket/rotor area’s.

I haven’t replaced the hub bearings. Could that be it? I’m not getting the signature wheel bearing moan.

This weekend I plan on doing a complete check, checking all bolts and nuts in the front assemblies as well as doing a wheel test from 12 and 6, and 9 and 3 o’clock.

Any ideas anyone?

Thanks for any advice here.
 

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first, loosen your wheel lugs and jack up the entire front - not just one side. next, with the wheels removed, give your suspension a push and pull. you may notice right away where your problem is. bolts and nuts can loosen up if torqued lower than spec. if you have cam bolts on your struts, that's where it's likely loose at. tighten that boy up and get it aligned (hopefully, they'll keep it tight too)
 

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Those Moog solid bushings knock like crazy. Every crack in the pavement makes an annoying clunk. The inside rearview mirror vibrates too. Do a search here for other postings.

I'm about to put stock rubber ones back in.
 

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Motor mounts...
 

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Motor mounts...
And/or the MT mount. All are easy to replace - the trans mount would be the first I'd suspect but worth checking the front and rear motor mounts as well. It doesn't seem like the right motor mount has many issues. I replaced all four last year with OEM mounts from Majestic Honda. Everything I've read says to avoid the aftermarket mounts and go OEM on these.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks so much... I’m going to check into them. Would I be able to tell if they were going by sight? I guess a test with the engine running and triggering the throttle and looking at them while the engine kicks, right? Should I be looking for rips in the rubber?

To replace them do I need to do anything special like need special tools? Do I have to remove anything first like the sub frame? I just support the motor right?

I feel the clunking in the pedal, which is why I suspect it’s sway bar or brake related but I’ll definitely give the mounts a heavy look over.
 

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Thanks so much... I’m going to check into them. Would I be able to tell if they were going by sight? I guess a test with the engine running and triggering the throttle and looking at them while the engine kicks, right? Should I be looking for rips in the rubber?

To replace them do I need to do anything special like need special tools? Do I have to remove anything first like the sub frame? I just support the motor right?

I feel the clunking in the pedal, which is why I suspect it’s sway bar or brake related but I’ll definitely give the mounts a heavy look over.
If any of them are totally shot then is should be visually apparent - when I replaced mine, none of them were totally gone but all of them showed signs of wear and cracking and I was glad I replaced them - the OEM mounts all made it 160k+ and I expect the OEM replacements to do the same, so I was glad to do it.

Easy job and only tools needed are wrenches/socket wrenches and a floor jack to support engine. The trans mount and rear mount were super easy. The front mount was easy as well but a bit harder to get to bolts - easy to do with some socket extensions etc. There are some how-to's on doing them on this site. I'm pretty sure there are some YouTube videos out there as well.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks so much... I’m going to check into them. Would I be able to tell if they were going by sight? I guess a test with the engine running and triggering the throttle and looking at them while the engine kicks, right? Should I be looking for rips in the rubber?

To replace them do I need to do anything special like need special tools? Do I have to remove anything first like the sub frame? I just support the motor right?

I feel the clunking in the pedal, which is why I suspect it’s sway bar or brake related but I’ll definitely give the mounts a heavy look over.
If any of them are totally shot then is should be visually apparent - when I replaced mine, none of them were totally gone but all of them showed signs of wear and cracking and I was glad I replaced them - the OEM mounts all made it 160k+ and I expect the OEM replacements to do the same, so I was glad to do it.

Easy job and only tools needed are wrenches/socket wrenches and a floor jack to support engine. The trans mount and rear mount were super easy. The front mount was easy as well but a bit harder to get to bolts - easy to do with some socket extensions etc. Check out the Element Owners Club Forum for some how-to's on doing them. I'm pretty sure there are some YouTube videos out there as well.
Will do. Thanks again.

I looked at some prices on Hondapartsnow.com. Are they really like $60-90 a pop? Jeez.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
A heap of thanks dgale. Next time I’m in Arcata we’ll have to meet up and cheers!
 

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Check the front lower control arm bushings. Take off the front wheels or possibly turn the wheel all the way left or right to see them. This is what was wrong with mine.

Motor mounts are easy to check also, just search. See the attached picture, see the separated mount.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I’m trying to pinpoint exactly when I noticed the knocking starting to happen. If I can remember clearly I would say it started after I changed out the front struts. Two things in that area got adjusted and/or moved around that could be the culprit.

One... when I was installing the new strut assemblies and before I realized things were a million times easier if you leave the top strut mount nuts loose to shift the strut column back onto the wheel hub, I pushed all my weight really hard down onto wheel hub and knuckle using the flex of the control arm to slide the strut arm into place.

Could I have ripped my control arm bushing by doing that? They are practically new (3 months old) and the Moog ones which I thought were pretty solid. But I did push on them to allow the strut arm in.

Also two... when installing the strut assembly the knuckle did separate out of the CV joint. I fit it back into place but could that have gotten damaged to the point where something got loose or broken. The other day when I checked around and pulled on the CV axle there was a slight amount of play where it locks into the inner part of the differential. Is that supposed to be that way? Or should it be really tight with absolutely no play? I can feel the axle bar knock a little, like a couple of mm’s.
 

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You sound like you are going through what I did last year with my ‘05 ex. I essentially replaced the entire front end and then the clunking kicked in. Does it seem to be worse going up hill or at and incline? My issue was the tranny mount. I went ahead and had them replace the engine mounts are the same time and when I got it back, smooth sailing.

With your CV Axels, I have usually experienced a little play with them when the are connected. The only time I had no play what so ever, was when the axel was bad. Sorry if that sounds weird but that’s how it has been with my E. If you have play in the knuckle, might be good to double check your axel nut. I actually avoided a big bull elk a couple of weeks ago and slamming on the brakes that hard actually was enough to unlock it allow it to come loose. How does it feel going around corners? I could feel knocking and slight vibrations when going around sharper turns. Mind you this is on the highway for me.

I don’t feel like it would be a bearing. Easy way to check if you don’t have the wailing would be to jack it up and grab the tire, give it a shake and wobble. If you have play going in and out, it’s possible your bearing is going out. But you don’t usually hear clunking with a bearing unless you have the issue above.

Sorry if I blabbed or said something that was already said. Just all sounds familiar to me! Hope you get it worked out, and if I missed that most, apologies!
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Imtimmith... thank you very much. I really appreciate it. I’ve been working with a few other issues in my Element over the past few days but I did get to peak at a few mount bushings in the process. The tranny(drivers side one) is definitely toast. Based on the sounds of the clunking I’m thinking the passenger side one is gone too. The front one I predict is gone also. I peaked at the rear while it was in the lift yesterday and I think the rear one was Ok.

I’m 99% sure all that noise, which is getting worse and worse by the minute, is those mounts. But I’ll definitely make sure the axle nuts are secure and tight just in case. Thanks for that.

I was going to get to the mounts today but it’s raining pretty bad where I am. I’ll keep it posted. I’m curious to see if any mounts are still good. Kinda doubt it. Now just praying rust doesn’t make this issue harder than it should be like it has for the other issues I’ve been working on. Cheers!
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Welp, pretty bummed after everything I went through today. I changed out the tranny mount, front mount, and passenger side mount. The front one was really thrashed, and so was the tranny one. Still glad I did this, but it wasn’t the noise. Passenger side one was hard to tell if it was bad but everything seemed to be in tact and I replaced it anyway with a newer one. The rear one was looking like it was showing a slight bit of wear but nothing major from what I could see. I was so excited, thinking everything was going smooth... Sure enough as I took it for a drive, the dreaded clunking, knocking, weird wheelish noise was still there! Dang.

I really don’t know what this could be anymore but my instincts are telling me it’s either the new Beck and Arnley end links(which might just be crap), the new Moog Compliance Bushings(that I may have somehow damaged), or something in the brake caliper wheel area that is loose.

I can hear it knocking on both sides of the front near the wheels individually. And it feels loose! Plus I hear it just before the car comes to a complete stop while applying the brakes. I swear it sounds like it did when my end links were bad but I felt the bar and it feels solid. I do need to get a pry bar in there. I still need to check the brake calipers thoroughly. And also the axles nuts just in case.

I kind of wonder if it’s the used front strut assemblies I just put in but I don’t understand how they would create a knocking sound.

I’m perplexed.
 

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Sorry you are going through this, I know first hand how frustrating the process of elimination can be. A few years ago I also replaced my front struts and mounts only to be gifted with a knocking. It turned out to be a bad strut mount, that I replaced on warranty. I agree that your end links are worth double checking also. I am confident you will find a solution and eventually report back the culprit!
 

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Discussion Starter #20
07lmnt... I did. Don’t have the best cell service where I’m located so I didn’t get to watch and listen to it yet, but wanting to check it out. This is a loose inertia-like knocking, not a stiff shock knock. Still possible though.

AWD... Thanks so much for the positivity. That’s what I get for using salvaged and/or non-OEM and discounted parts. Unfortunately it’s all I can afford at the moment. Getting close though...

I looked over just about everything I could think of and see yesterday. Pry barred everything I could. Checked the brakes, mounts, struts, control arms, end links, inner/outer tie rods, ball joints, etc...

Something I did though did tighten things up a bit. I was really happy for a sec. But the knock is still there over heavy twisty bumps on dirt roads and it’s eating at me. At this point I’m betting on it being the Beck & Arnley end links. They did tighten a smidgen yesterday via a freakin’ hammer to the wrench. It was pretty much the only thing that moved a little to tighten. The only thing is there was zero play when I used a pry bar to check them before that. Honestly I think they just aren’t very good but I’m waiting to test them on another round of tightening to find out for sure. It’s either that or it’s the rear engine mount. I looked at it a couple of days and it looked Ok from what I can see in the shade under the vehicle. I’m going to look at it extremely thoroughly again and take a pry bar to it tomorrow or Sunday just to be extra extra sure. If I don’t see any movement, those 3 month old brand new end links are coming out!

I did also notice my inner tie rods aren’t very stiff but there isn’t any clunking play in them. They just are really limp. That explains why my steering is so soft I imagine.

The good part of all of this I guess is that I did get to the motor mounts now rather than it turning into a more serious problem later. Two of them were seriously thrashed. I just talked to someone who had an Odyssey and he said Honda told him his tranny failed because his motor mounts were bad and he was driving on them too long and didn’t realize it. Plus I also know my inner tie rods are next.

Upward and onward.
 
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