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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Greetings fellow Element enthusiasts! I'm a lifelong Honda owner but I just bought my first Element on Friday. For posterity's sake, here are the details:

2004 Element EX 5spd manual AWD, green. 1 owner, 200k miles, paid $4,000 (seller was asking $5,099). It came with a few known issues, some which were disclosed by the seller and some which I found during my inspection and test drive. Namely: a bad rear wheel bearing, burnt out speedo/tach backlighting, one rust spot on the leading edge of the hood, slight rust on the bottom of both front doors, slight surface rust on the hardware caps on both rear side pop-out windows. Original owner's mechanic was also apparently a bit shady as there is a zip tie holding the coolant reservoir on instead of it's original mounting bolt and a large hose clamp holding the cat's heat shield on, neither of which the seller knew about. The rear differential mount's rubber is tearing and the rubber that holds the rear diff's counterweight is completely gone. The left rear strut is leaking and both rear struts have enough surface rust to deserve replacement. Aside from some smudges and small tears in the driver's seat the interior is in really good shape. During the test drive I noticed a small exhaust leak that sounds like it is coming from the manifold. During the test drive two pieces of exhaust pipe heat shield also fell off (FELL OFF!!!). This embarrassed the seller quite a bit, maybe I should have driven a harder bargain? LOL. I believe they came from the downpipe just forward of the cat. There was also a squeaking sound, like a rubber bushing, coming from the left rear suspension. Since getting it home I've noticed an odd noise coming from the brakes in the left rear but only at very slow speeds (when almost stopped). I believe this could be a symptom of the bad wheel bearing.

As I said, I'm a lifelong Honda owner. I currently also own five other Honda vehicles, including an '02 CR-V 5spd which is the Element's kissing cousin, and four Honda motorcycles. I'm looking forward to Element ownership and gearing up to take care of the few issues that mine has. See you guys around!
Automotive parking light Wheel Tire Vehicle Car
 

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2003 Honda Element Sunset Orange Pearl 2WD Automatic 135K Miles I Love It!
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Welcome to the EOC coolcat! :)

You can find how to info on any of your needed repairs right here on this site.

And there are a lot of very knowledgeable people here willing to help as well!
 

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2007 EX AWD AT; 2008 LX FWD AT
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For the low speed noise in the rear, check the brake backing plates/shields. My 08 does that when I first start driving in the morning. My brake shields are pretty rusty and rub against the rotors. I'm collecting all the parts for the rear suspension so I can have them stripped and powder coated (new backing plates), then install new bushings and have the complete suspension ready to swap out when the time comes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Starting to think that the wheel bearing noise isn't wheel bearings at all. There is absolutely no play in the wheel bearings but the rear diff fill and drain plugs are extremely rusted and the rubber is worn out on all of the rear diff mounts. I'm going to change the dual pump fluid today and I'm ordering all of the parts to replace all three mounting points (and the counterweight).
 

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Since your up there in miles
The donut gasket between the exh man and the head pipe does blow out. Those manifold studs rust up, and the heat shields do rust out and rattle or fall off. Rear calipers do tend to stick sometimes, need to lube the sliders real good. If brake fluid has never been changed the piston will rust though from the back side. The backing plates rust and make all kind of weird sounds. If you have an auto make sure you replace the filter and fluid with only oem honda fluid. Lower rear strut nut and bolt are most likely rusted solid. Other than that these Element are great cars, if you do your own wrenching they really are very easy to work on. Youtube and the search function here will get you through most issues.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Since your up there in miles
The donut gasket between the exh man and the head pipe does blow out. Those manifold studs rust up, and the heat shields do rust out and rattle or fall off. Rear calipers do tend to stick sometimes, need to lube the sliders real good. If brake fluid has never been changed the piston will rust though from the back side. The backing plates rust and make all kind of weird sounds. If you have an auto make sure you replace the filter and fluid with only oem honda fluid. Lower rear strut nut and bolt are most likely rusted solid. Other than that these Element are great cars, if you do your own wrenching they really are very easy to work on. Youtube and the search function here will get you through most issues.
Thanks for the reply. Yes, I do think the exhaust leak is coming from that donut gasket. It’s not too bothersome yet so I’ll look into it maybe next summer. Having the exhaust heat shields fall off during the test drive certainly was entertaining, the seller was very embarrassed. That too is nothing I’m very worried about. Brakes are all working well but things are rather rusty so I’ll be going through that system when I receive my package from Majestic Honda with the new rear diff mounts. It’s a 5 speed manual, as I said, but yeah I’ve seen Honda transmissions ruined by people using non-Honda atf. I’ve been busy this week so far wrenching on our ‘02 CR-V, which shares the same platform with the Element. It popped a brake line and had a stuck parking brake so I’ve been doing a deep dive on its brakes. It also decided to puke all of its steering fluid out on Sunday. It’s coming from a rusty return line which I think was an odd choice to begin with. I’ll probably be replacing it with rubber all the way from the rack to the reservoir and I’ll be keeping my eye on the Element just in case it pulls the same trick eventually.
 
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