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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I seriously don't know what to do anymore. This is what we've been dealing with the past month.

Honda Element EX 2003 2WD/automatic making horrible squeal noise constantly. Sounds like a belt or something like that.

Saturday, June 19th – Take in to car repair place. Look it over, not sure what it is. They think it could be a few different things Do power steering flush and replace pulley assembly (was bent.) Car sounds worse. By process of elimination, they now think it’s the a/c compressor. ($1,400 quote, declined repair.)
Cost: $265

Wednesday, June 23rd – Called around, found a better quote. Take car in for a/c repair place #2. Replace compressor and new serpentine belt.
Cost: $918

Saturday, July 10th – while driving home from IKEA, a/c blows hot and makes bad noise. Turn off a/c and don’t use it until Wednesday (my day off.)

Wednesday, July 14th – Take back to car repair place #2. They say the compressor fan has gone bad. Part not available until Thursday. Authorize repair. Leave car at place.
Cost: $421

Thursday, July 15th – Part comes in, gets replaced. Turns out the fan going bad damaged the new compressor. Needs replacing again. They will replace it under warranty but 2nd compressor has to be overnighted from out of state. Leave car at place again.
Cost: $24 overnight fee

Friday, July 16th – They replace the compressor a SECOND time. Report it failed once during testing (clutch disengaged in compressor) but could not replicate problem a second time. Everything checks out as far as they can see. (He said they looked at the service bulletins and found one similar under high acceleration but not identical problem. Said they also went through Honda suggested steps to test and it all came back clear.) Call them if we have problems.

Sunday, July 18th – Love is driving home from breakfast with his parents. The horrible noise starts again and he smelled an electrical smell.

WHAT IS GOING ON?? We're second owners of this car. It was a certified used Element and we've had it about 2.5 years now. Never any problems before this. Car is at 109K miles. We're taking it back again tomorrow since we're stuck with needing to keep taking it to them at this point for warranty repairs. We've charged $1,600 in repairs on the credit card and it's STILL not working!

Anyone have any clue what could be going wrong or what we should be doing differently??
 

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I seriously don't know what to do anymore. This is what we've been dealing with the past month.

Honda Element EX 2003 2WD/automatic making horrible squeal noise constantly. Sounds like a belt or something like that.

Saturday, June 19th – Take in to car repair place. Look it over, not sure what it is. They think it could be a few different things Do power steering flush and replace pulley assembly (was bent.) Car sounds worse. By process of elimination, they now think it’s the a/c compressor. ($1,400 quote, declined repair.)
Cost: $265

Wednesday, June 23rd – Called around, found a better quote. Take car in for a/c repair place #2. Replace compressor and new serpentine belt.
Cost: $918

Saturday, July 10th – while driving home from IKEA, a/c blows hot and makes bad noise. Turn off a/c and don’t use it until Wednesday (my day off.)

Wednesday, July 14th – Take back to car repair place #2. They say the compressor fan has gone bad. Part not available until Thursday. Authorize repair. Leave car at place.
Cost: $421

Thursday, July 15th – Part comes in, gets replaced. Turns out the fan going bad damaged the new compressor. Needs replacing again. They will replace it under warranty but 2nd compressor has to be overnighted from out of state. Leave car at place again.
Cost: $24 overnight fee

Friday, July 16th – They replace the compressor a SECOND time. Report it failed once during testing (clutch disengaged in compressor) but could not replicate problem a second time. Everything checks out as far as they can see. (He said they looked at the service bulletins and found one similar under high acceleration but not identical problem. Said they also went through Honda suggested steps to test and it all came back clear.) Call them if we have problems.

Sunday, July 18th – Love is driving home from breakfast with his parents. The horrible noise starts again and he smelled an electrical smell.

WHAT IS GOING ON?? We're second owners of this car. It was a certified used Element and we've had it about 2.5 years now. Never any problems before this. Car is at 109K miles. We're taking it back again tomorrow since we're stuck with needing to keep taking it to them at this point for warranty repairs. We've charged $1,600 in repairs on the credit card and it's STILL not working!

Anyone have any clue what could be going wrong or what we should be doing differently??
Wow, sorry you've had all these problems. To start with, you have several issues to deal with.

The squeal is either the belt or a belt driven component. Since you've replaced the belt, we move on to components. Water pump, A/C, Alternator, Power Steering Pump, Idler Pulley/Belt Tensioner. Sometimes the easiest way to find noises is by using a long screwdriver or piece of hose and use it as a stethoscope. You have to be very careful not to get it caught in moving parts, but it works well to isolate sounds. If using a screwdriver, touch the handle to your ear and the other end to a component. If using a hose, same theory.

Second, you said they replaced the P/S pump pulley and did a flush but now it sounds worse? There's your first hint, whatever they touched has affected the noise.

Next, Blows hot, makes bad noise. What kind of noise and did it affect the squeal?

Compressor fan? There is no such thing. These guys are complete idiots or you misunderstood. The compressor is one of your belt driven accessories. It has no fan, but it does have a clutch which would have been replaced at the same time as the compressor. The only fans you have are the two electric fans that cool the engine and one electric fan that is your cabin blower fan (heat, vent and A/C). Regardless, a bad fan could not cause your A/C compressor to go bad. They either screwed something up during the first replacement or they got a bad unit from stock, which is not uncommon. Also, a compressor typically will not have intermittent problems. It is a mechanical unit that is basically just a pump, it works or it doesn't. The clutch on the other hand, is an electro-magnet and could be intermittent. Either way, they just replaced it, so it would be a warranty issue.

My personal opinion is to take it to a shop that specializes in air conditioning, have them properly diagnose it, take it back to the shop you've been using, and now you're armed with the proper info to make them fix it right without spending any more money. It may cost to have them inspect it, but I would rather give them the money instead of the clowns you've been using.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
This IS an a/c specialty place. :|

The whole thing started because of the squeal. The pulley was bent and replaced but the squeal got worse. We were told that the Element is single-belt driven and that the compressor spins whenever the engine is on, regardless of whether or not the clutch is engaged and the A/C blowing. And that as a result of the belt now being in the proper place and under the proper tension, the compressor was under MORE stress and thus the increased noise. We were told the internal bearings were going bad and eventually, they would seize up, rendering the car undrivable.

We went to the second place - the A/C specialists - as they had a better quote ($900 including belt after labor and tax versus $1,400 compressor only plus tax) to replace the compressor.

Seemed to work mostly ok - took awhile to cool down - but did get cold. The squeal went away with the new compressor and belt.

But then, the a/c went hot. And the weird noise like driving over cobblestones. We were told it was a fan - I might have the part name wrong, it's on the invoice down in the car, I can verify later - that was spinning very slow and causing a pressure build-up in the compressor and overheating in the compressor. It only happened after they had the car running 20 minutes, they said the part was failing after it got hot/overheated.

We replaced the fan (again, I'll verify what the exact part is listed later) and they said that the pressure and overheating of the compressor did damage so they're replace it again for us. (But needed to get the part overnight from out of state.)

They replaced it again on Friday. Said they had run into the compressor clutch disengaging ONCE during their follow-up tests but couldn't get it to happen again. Said it was probably a glitch. They also said they went through all the service bulletins and steps Honda recommended to look for problems and couldn't come up with any issues. They said to let them know if the noise happened again. They were afraid there might be an electrical issue.

We are COMPLETELY maxed out. We even had to borrow money for these repairs so there isn't a single penny - literally - left for repairs anywhere else. We're going to take it back again tomorrow but I just don't understand what's going on! How many times can a part go bad, fail or just generally give us this much aggravation???
 

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This IS an a/c specialty place. :|

The whole thing started because of the squeal. The pulley was bent and replaced but the squeal got worse. We were told that the Element is single-belt driven and that the compressor spins whenever the engine is on, regardless of whether or not the clutch is engaged and the A/C blowing.Not completely true, the belt will spin the pulley on the compressor, but the compressor is not actually spinning unless the clutch is engaged. And that as a result of the belt now being in the proper place and under the proper tension, the compressor was under MORE stress and thus the increased noise. We were told the internal bearings were going bad and eventually, they would seize up, rendering the car undrivable.Again, not entirely true. I hate it when shops use scare tactics. It would not render the car un-driveable. Once you turn the A/C off the pulley will free-wheel.

We went to the second place - the A/C specialists - as they had a better quote ($900 including belt after labor and tax versus $1,400 compressor only plus tax) to replace the compressor.

Seemed to work mostly ok - took awhile to cool down - but did get cold. This may have been for several reasons. Temperature and humidity have a lot to do with how efficient an air conditioner can work. If you see at least a 20 degree drop from outside temp to inside temp with high temp and high humidity, that's pretty normal. Otherwise, it may have been under or over serviced. The squeal went away with the new compressor and belt.

But then, the a/c went hot. The only reasons for it going hot are that it lost it's Freon charge or the clutch wasn't engaging. And the weird noise like driving over cobblestones. We were told it was a fan - I might have the part name wrong, it's on the invoice down in the car, I can verify later - that was spinning very slow and causing a pressure build-up in the compressor and overheating in the compressor. This is the part where I call BS on them. This makes no sense at all. There are two parts in an automotive air conditioning system that regulate pressure, the compressor and the expansion valve. Regardless, the only moving part in the entire system is the compressor. It's built to run at high RPM in the extremely hot engine compartment. The statement "pressure build up in the compressor" is almost an oxymoron, the compressor is what makes the pressure. The system has a high pressure and a low pressure switch. If the pressure gets too high or too low, it will shut off. It only happened after they had the car running 20 minutes, they said the part was failing after it got hot/overheated.

We replaced the fan (again, I'll verify what the exact part is listed later) and they said that the pressure and overheating of the compressor did damage so they're replace it again for us. (But needed to get the part overnight from out of state.)

They replaced it again on Friday. Said they had run into the compressor clutch disengaging ONCE during their follow-up tests but couldn't get it to happen again. The air conditioner does cycle on and off, it doesn't run constantly. Unless it never cycled back on again, I wouldn't be concerned.Said it was probably a glitch. They also said they went through all the service bulletins and steps Honda recommended to look for problems and couldn't come up with any issues. They said to let them know if the noise happened again. They were afraid there might be an electrical issue. Have them explain what electrical issue they suspect. With the fan or clutch?

We are COMPLETELY maxed out. We even had to borrow money for these repairs so there isn't a single penny - literally - left for repairs anywhere else. We're going to take it back again tomorrow but I just don't understand what's going on! How many times can a part go bad, fail or just generally give us this much aggravation??? Unfortunately, it's very common to get bad aftermarket parts right out of the box.
I completely understand the frustration and financial dilemma.
 

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if you feel that the shop is clueless and you dont trust them anymore,,,tell them to remove the non working parts..and have the car towed to another shop..and call your credit card company and dispute the charges..iam sorry for your frustration...i know it stinks..i had simular issues like this years ago with a ford explorer....please keep us posted on the outcome...thanks
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Sorry, the second part that was replaced was Condenser Fan Assembly according to the invoice.

So, two compressors and the condenser fan assembly so far and still - it's not right.
 

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From your story, it can easily be deduced your poor E has yet to be seen by a competent mechanic. As with all professions, just because someone does it for a living and may even specialize, doesn't mean they know or care what they're doing. I could write a thick book on encounters like these.

At this point, it would be difficult to recommend sticking with them until it's fixed or cutting your losses by searching for a better shop. Just don't take it out on your poor E. Most likely, you had a simple part failure that could have been diagnosed and repaired correctly the first time to send you on your way. Best of luck to you and your E.
 

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Sorry, the second part that was replaced was Condenser Fan Assembly according to the invoice.

So, two compressors and the condenser fan assembly so far and still - it's not right.
Okay, here's another reason I wouldn't trust them. There are two fans for engine cooling and to assist condenser cooling. If one of those two fans failed, you should have noticed increased engine temperatures. Again, regardless of which fan it was, there is no way, and I can't emphasize enough, NO WAY that it would have caused exceedingly high pressures in the air conditioning system. The system is designed to encounter high temperatures in stop and go traffic and routine idleing. My opinion is to make them fix this at no additional cost and run like h3ll. Never look back and never take another vehicle to them. They sound dishonest and appear to use scare tactics because you're female and not mechanically inclined (not intended to be an insult).
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
Took it back again today. Had to have AAA tow it in so I could get it back to them and get both of us to work. (I already missed one day last week because of all of this and was late today - I can't keep missing time like this!)

NOW they're saying the parts are good and work but they think the computer is intermittently not sending enough power to the fan which is resulting in the noise and the hot air from the compressor. They say that I need to take it to Honda and pay more money out of my pocket to see what's going wrong with the computer system.

Basically, they're saying yes you spent $1,600 but while the parts work, you still have no A/C and sorry, we can't do anything more.

We're going to pick up the car and dispute this with our credit card company. They should never have taken on this repair if they could not provide a working vehicle at the end of it. And now to be faced with STILL no a/c - in Tampa Florida nonetheless in July!! - and a $1,600 bill AND have to take it to a dealer anyway...? Unbelievable!

I'm SO pissed right now I can't even tell you how upset I am over all of this!!

Has anyone ever heard of a computer malfunction like this or is this more hot air? Either way, I definitely am going to dispute it with my CC and figure out some way to take it over to a dealer to get a throughout inspection done.

edit
We'll be picking it up after work today. Wednesday (my day off), I'm taking it and the paperwork to a Honda dealership just to get a diagnostic run to find out what THEY say. Then, based on what the result is, I'll know where to go from here. The CC company says they need all the paperwork and that plus the diagnostic results should put us in better standing to recoup some of this money spent.

I'll update Wednesday after I hear from the dealership. In the meantime, if anyone has any thoughts or experiences or has ever heard of anything like this, I'd be happy to hear it. Thanks for your help and for letting me vent.
 

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Bumped for an update.....
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Sorry it's been the most miserable of weeks...

Wednesday I took it to a Honda dealership to get a Honda tech to inspect it. Turns out it was completely obvious that none of the work done by the a/c place was anywhere near correct. The compressor is on the verge of complete seizure. It's leaking at both ends. It's also basically exploded, putting out metal filings into the entire a/c system. Every single thing the a/c place supposedly fixed - AND MORE - needed repair.

Exact report from Honda:
Seizing compressor. Heard the two different noises on the road test. A screeching noise on acceleration and a rumble noise on deccel or braking. Also began to smell burning at the end of the road test. Found that the compressor is almost sized and is causing excess strain on both the compressor clutch and drive belt. The burning odor was caused by the overheating of the clutch bushing. A ND slipping drive belt. Compressor seizure likely due to the refrigerant oil leak at both ends of the compressor. No computer failure found.​

Repairs needed:

Replace compressor and clutch
Replace condenser
Replace expansion valve
New evaporator
charge (complete) a/c system
a/c flush
2lbs R134A
serpentine belt

Honda's quote for repair: $3,300.

Bear in mind, I spent $1,400 to the A/C place and $131 in diagnostic fee to Honda. Took car in today to mechanic my parents use for about $2,100 total repair. Wish I could have had Honda do it after all this nightmare but I just don't have $3,300.

We're now in touch with the corporate office of the a/c place. The work was done by a franchise but we're trying to get the corp office to issue a full refund - including the $131 diagnostic fee because they told us it was Honda's fault and we needed to take it to Honda.

Should that fail, we'll open dispute with the CC it was put on. And, I plan on taking them to small claims court to get the additional $700 the repair is ultimately going to cost me over the amount I already paid because Honda told me that the only reason so much needs replacing is because it was left to get so bad that the compressor ruined the entire a/c system. Had the job been done correctly, I would have only needed a new compressor and nothing else.

It could be months before we get a resolution if it has to go through the CC. It's apparently a slow process which is why we're trying to get corp to issue the refund.

Oh and the a/c place is now claiming that Honda broke the compressor. He says that if there are metal filings in the system, it's because Honda planted them there. He called the service manager at the Honda dealership and yelled at him! :shock:

This has been the biggest nightmare ever.
 

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Oh and the a/c place is now claiming that Honda broke the compressor. He says that if there are metal filings in the system, it's because Honda planted them there. He called the service manager at the Honda dealership and yelled at him! :shock:

This has been the biggest nightmare ever.
Check the web or Google or something. These compressors have a known history of 'grenading' and putting carp throughout the system. HONDA knows of this. Approach Honda respectfully and with the backing that you know that this is a known problem and you may find them much more accommodating.
Honda has replaced a transmission on my 8-year old 80,000+K miles Ody where the 3/36 long had expired without me spending a penny. In my experience Honda is VERY good about backing their product line.
Have you registered your vehicle at Honda.com? If not, do so right away. I always make reference to that web site and since I have 4 Hondas registered I haven't gotten any flack...
Good Luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #15
what a nightmare...is the car now fixed...up and running...???and best of luck with your dispute
I get it back tomorrow. I didn't want to rush the mechanic to try and fix it today; I rather they keep it and be sure it's completed, tested, etc. before taking it back.

And thanks. I need all the luck I can get at this point!

Check the web or Google or something. These compressors have a known history of 'grenading' and putting carp throughout the system. HONDA knows of this. Approach Honda respectfully and with the backing that you know that this is a known problem and you may find them much more accommodating.
Honda has replaced a transmission on my 8-year old 80,000+K miles Ody where the 3/36 long had expired without me spending a penny. In my experience Honda is VERY good about backing their product line.
Have you registered your vehicle at Honda.com? If not, do so right away. I always make reference to that web site and since I have 4 Hondas registered I haven't gotten any flack...
Good Luck!
The repairs are already underway elsewhere. I get it back tomorrow. Thanks for the info though.
 

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....Oh and the a/c place is now claiming that Honda broke the compressor. He says that if there are metal filings in the system, it's because Honda planted them there. He called the service manager at the Honda dealership and yelled at him....
Really? I mean seriously, how old are we? This is infantile behavior.

A similiar scenario in the past was explained to me like this: "You just told him that his baby was ugly, what kind of response did you expect?" In other words, critiquing (sp?) his work has offended him and now he's trying to put the blame on someone else People typically don't get offended unless there is an element (no pun intended) of truth to an accusation.

Good luck, keep us posted.
 

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Two other things that haven't been mentioned (I think).

You might have to go to small claims court as a last resort. Just keep it in mind.

In CA, we have an entity called the Bureau of Automotive Repair, that keeps an eye on bad auto repair shops and scammers. They can shut an auto repair business down pretty quickly if they don't do right (in this case a full refund). Likely, Florida has something along those lines as well. File a complaint with them. The "AC Specialty" place is too incompetent to continue business.
 
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