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2008 Honda Element EX AWD
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just bought a 2008 Element EX and when I got it home i walked in front of the car and there was a strong smell of radiator fluid. I can't see a leak anywhere. The level is good but i put a mark on the reservoir so i could see if its getting lower. They could have topped it off before selling it to me. I'm hoping it's something as simple as getting a new radiator cap. Does anyone have any experience with this issue? The car has 132000 miles on it and the carfax report show that it was regularly maintained with oil changes and engine fluid flushes. I have to drive it for 20 hours straight in a few weeks so I want to make sure it's all good before I do that. Thanks for any insight!!
 

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2007 Element EX TRP
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I could also be your heater core inside the vehicle (it's behind the dash). You will get the smell, but maybe not the noticeable level drop. Hopefully NOT the case...... :rolleyes: :)
 

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2008 Honda Element EX AWD
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for your responses! And I forgot to mention that the radiator moves. Like it isn't bolted in very well or doesn't fit right maybe. I can easily move it back and forth from front to back about and inch or so. I feel like it should not move. I noticed it when I took the cap off to check inside the radiator.
 

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07 2wd 5-speedauto
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2,056 Posts
Radiator is designed to be mounted loose. Allows for expansion of the aluminum core or it may crack.
Routine checking of coolant is at the overflow container, not the rad.
 

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Unfortunately there are a lot of coolant hoses to look over. Dried coolant usually leaves a faint white residue that can sometimes be seen against the black hoses, particularly near the clamp attachments. a portion of the top of the radiator is plastic, and is a place that can crack and leak also. A radiator pressure tester might be considered if you find that your coolant level is dropping.
 
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2008 Honda Element EX AWD
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Good to know! I will look for that.
Radiator is designed to be mounted loose. Allows for expansion of the aluminum core or it may crack.
Routine checking of coolant is at the overflow container, not the rad.
Right. I was checking the cap and around it to see if I could tell if it was sealing or not. I compared the looseness of the radiator to all my other vehicles and none of them move that much. What you're saying makes sense but this is really a lot looser than any radiator I've experienced. ( I have replaced the one in my '99 CRV and one in an '87 Jeep Wrangler- I'm still no expert ) I feel like it shouldn't jiggle like it does. Seems like that amount of movement might cause a crack or bad connection somewhere.
 

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2005 Honda Element EX AWD MT
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72 Posts
I have a 2005 EX AWD 5 speed. For a year mine had a smell of radiator fluid but only a small leak. I would add fluid every 2 or 3 months or so. Because I could smell the coolant while I was driving, I thought it was leaking at the heater core. In 2016 on a 1100 mile trip, the car began to run hot because I let the coolant get too low. I added coolant and continued the trip, also returning the 1100 miles home I found that the top of the radiator was leaking where the plastic meets the aluminum. I could see the fluid seep out. So I think you would be OK on a 20 hour trip, but check and replace the coolant as required. I would check for coolant seepage at the top of the radiator. A nice radiator from Rockauto is only about $60 plus shipping. I replaced the upper and lower coolant hoses too, because they were also original.
 

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2008 Honda Element EX AWD
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for the response! Yes my hoses seem squishy so I thought I might replace them and see if that helps. On a trip to Santa Fe in my CRV several years ago, my radiator blew up heading up the mountain and I ended up having to change it in the parking lot of an AutoZone. I was lucky they had just one radiator that fit my car. I don't really want to do that again.:sick:
 

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Thanks for your responses! And I forgot to mention that the radiator moves. Like it isn't bolted in very well or doesn't fit right maybe. I can easily move it back and forth from front to back about and inch or so. I feel like it should not move. I noticed it when I took the cap off to check inside the radiator.
Even i was facing the same issue and this reply helped me out! Thanks for the help
 

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2008 Honda Element EX AWD
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Update. The dealer that I bought the car from agreed to have the radiator pressure tested and it showed no signs of leaking. I am not familiar with this test but I am wondering if that test would catch minor hose leaks as well?
 

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2003 Honda Element Sunset Orange Pearl 2WD Automatic 135K Miles I Love It!
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Update. The dealer that I bought the car from agreed to have the radiator pressure tested and it showed no signs of leaking. I am not familiar with this test but I am wondering if that test would catch minor hose leaks as well?
Yes, a radiator pressure test pressurizes the entire cooling system; and should uncover any coolant leaks.
 
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