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Hi. Long time lurker, first post so please be gentle. I'm trying my best to learn the lingo so the mechanic doesn't immediately think "dumb girl" when I call...

I've had my 2003 manual 2WD, 200k miles since it was born. Best darn car. I'm religious about the maint. schedule. Last 6 months many things hit at once...

1. Running rough on idle and engine light comes on every so often. Code is cylinder misfire on Cyl 2. Plugs pulled (2 was pretty grungy) and did coil swap experiment. Cyl 2 coil was no good. New coils and new plugs for all 4 cyl. Codes cleared, yet quickly returned. Now engine light stays on.

2. engine mildly shaking on start up. Lasts a few minutes. We thought: okay maybe the engine mount was bad. The front drivers one was rusted out so we swapped it out. Tamped it down a bit, but it's still shaking when cold or idle.

3. Cold stall. If I just drive within a minute of starting the car, she religiously stalls at the second stop. You've got power and then the rpms just nosedive and it's stalled within 2-3 seconds. If you feather the gas going into the stop, you can sometimes save the stall. If you warm her up for 5-7 min until the engine temp comes up: no stall. Valves adjusted at the shop this week. Tiny bit shaky/rough (but waaay improved) and throwing the codes for cyl 2. Asked for a compression test after the valve adj. Result: 1: 155; 2:0; 3: 160; 4:160. Cylinder 2 is kaputt. Mechanic says it's valves, rings, hole in cylinder etc and left it there along with a 4500$ estimate for used engine purchase and install.

I have 3 cylinders. I have a car that since the valve adjustment is no longer shaking or threatening to stall. In fact, this is the smoothest its ridden in a year.

Next steps? Leak down test to get a handle on what about cyl 2 is toast? We have the camera that's going down cyl 2 later today to look for obvious damage. What am I looking for on the camera that would make me say "So long Element"? I love this car but trying to get a handle on whether I'm looking at an used engine replacement (not by this mechanic obviously), or could it be a <500$ valve job on cyl 2? Or do I list it "as is" on Craigslist? I am not made of $, nor can I do this kind of repair on my own at this time in my life.

Thanks!
 

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The cylinder leak down test will tell you a lot. It may be a valve and you can get away with a valve job. Unless you do it yourself, it is going to be way more than $500 though.
 

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If that was the element's first valve adjustment at 200k miles, then most likely its a burnt valve and will need a valve job.
 

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As stated your going to have a burnt exhaust valve. All your symptoms are perfectly describing this. If you can't do work yourself, your in for a bad day on the bank account. If you are lucky just the valve may need replacing but if your unlucky the head may need to be machined as well.

Berz out.
 

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Try a fuel injector cleaner ..a few times in a row to see if the would loosen some if any carbon on the valves or seats..it might help.

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Try a fuel injector cleaner ..a few times in a row to see if the would loosen some if any carbon on the valves or seats..it might help.
No such thing as a mechanic in a can. Waste of money trying snake oils on something like this especially if it's an exhaust valve.
 

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Are u a mechanic...SIR..?..no I'm sure...first of all ..I suggested a cheap and quick thing to do..it might or might not do anything...before he goes deep in the engine..bad fuel and carbon deposits can and will cause low compression..since no one knows the internal condition of the engine ..it was the cheapest and easiest way to clear out some of that..I never said "oh yea this is going to fix it".....ALSO...you can guess the problem it's all around the valves and cyl head..but the pistons can be shot damage by the carbon deposits around the rings....

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Are u a mechanic...SIR..?..no I'm sure...first of all ..I suggested a cheap and quick thing to do..it might or might not do anything...before he goes deep in the engine..bad fuel and carbon deposits can and will cause low compression..since no one knows the internal condition of the engine ..it was the cheapest and easiest way to clear out some of that..I never said "oh yea this is going to fix it".....ALSO...you can guess the problem it's all around the valves and cyl head..but the pistons can be shot damage by the carbon deposits around the rings....
Hence the suggestion to do a cylinder leak down test. After hearing about the fact that valves were never adjusted until over 200K, the likely issue is a burnt exhaust valve. Of course the cylinder leak down test will confirm. This is what you do instead of throwing snake oil at a problem.

Sorry...but a fuel injection cleaner isn't going to do squat.
 

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Again no one is assuring that it will fix the problem...SIR...you need to read and understand before you star shooting comments...

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We are speaking from experience here. So while your fuel injector cleaner might be something to try later, the FIRST thing that needs to be addressed is a compression test and leakdown test.

Berz out.
 

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Dog...I got experience..i have done every repair on my Element..and have years as mechanic.....just to let you know..if you read he did the compression test...showing nothing in cyl 2..so why would you use the inj cleaner..after a mayor repair?..it doesn't make sense..if that were my engine after trying all reasonable low cost procedure..I'll do an engine swap..for a low mil engine...simple..it's cheaper..END of story.

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No such thing as a mechanic in a can. Waste of money trying snake oils on something like this especially if it's an exhaust valve.
This ^^^^^

There is no way in heck a fuel injector cleaner is going to raise cylinder compression from zero to acceptable.

Save the five bucks for your upcoming repair. Get a leak down test done.

Last year I replaced the complete cylinder head and head gasket. I got the complete cylinder head off a cylinder head rebuilder on eBay for about 400 bucks. I did the repair myself, and it was a big job. With the new head, gaskets, timing chain tensioner, etc, I think I wound up spending around 700 bucks.

So far, I have 16,000 miles on the repair and it runs great.
 

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Try a fuel injector cleaner ..a few times in a row to see if the would loosen some if any carbon on the valves or seats..it might help..as it reads NO ONE is saying it would fix the problem..but 5 bucks..is nothing compared to 5k ...THIS IS FOR THOSE.... that thought I said that...not is not a mechanic in a CAN...and again if it doesn't do nothing it can be fixed for less than 2k engine swap with less mileage....by an auto shop....just need to keep looking around....forget the cylinder head swap and **** as it is not that cheap unless your doing it yourself..and it is a PITA...

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