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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone - just some info for anyone that may be considering replacing suspension bits...

First, a bit of context: I'm cheap - I have kids in college and would like to retire some day. I love my E, but like many owners I'm reluctant to throw too much money at it (I have a second vehicle).

In the last couple years (I now have 165k miles), I've replaced control arms, ball joints, axles, sway bar bushings, O2 sensors, struts and the catalytic - all with non-oem parts.
  • I've chased the CEL ever since the aftermarket catalytic and O2 sensors. Not a huge deal being downstream of the motor (okay okay and possibly poisoning the planet) plus the oem catalytic is a colossal rip-off imo
  • The ride never seemed to improve
  • The noises never went away
  • Today I paid $2500 to redo every previously replaced suspension part with OEM after taking it a very reputable shop complaining of ride quality and noise (thankfully all 4 Gabriel struts have held up).
I'm stunned at how much better the ride is - not brand new of course, but significantly better. And not honeymoon better - I drive the same roads every day, I know every bump and crack. Definitely better.

I knew at the time I was rolling the dice, and much of the $$ I saved went into my daughters' college accounts, but I also knew there would be a day of reckoning if I decided to keep it.

Nothing wrong with community college, right honey? Still love my Element!
 

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thank you for sharing this, in the future I will be replacing front lower control arms and was debating in my mind whether it was worth the savings to go aftermarket with the arms which would include their own bushings. Or try to replace the bushings on their own.

I bet some Michelin all season tires would also help the ride quality too
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Funny you mention tires, I put Geolanders on couple years back. Good tires (especially in the snow), but they only add to the rough ride.

Here are the control arms I shouldn't have bought:

 

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Im in a similar boat, minus the kids. Every time i use aftermarket i regret it: i try to think through how hard the swap is and ask myself if i want to do this job again in 18 months.

OEM is a safe bet always, but heres where ive regretted not using it (or on rare occasion thanked my stars that used OEM the first time.)

knock sensor
(any sensor that returns more than a 1or a 0)
(Any sensor that requires disassembly to reach)
Motor mounts
Sunvisor Clip (honestly)
Axels
Axles
Axls
Coilpacks (i used the OEM, but didnt buy from honda: i used Denso: id also trust NGK)
Spark plugs
Anything pulley driven (because you do NOT want to do that job twice)
Starter
Every fluid other than oil and

then some things arent that important IMO:
Non formed hoses/
CV boots (if rebuilding an OEM axle)
tie rod ends and ball joints (they die when the rubber dies and its pretty quick in hot and sunny AZ)

i don’t think the catalytic decision was a bad one. I paid $350 for a CA emissions approved cat. I figure california is PRETTY focused on emissions so if its good enough for them than it probably does as good a job or better than the OEM.

with what i saved on the Cat i got a full custom cat back exhaust with resonators and upsized tubing. ¯\(ツ)
 

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Funny you mention tires, I put Geolanders on couple years back. Good tires (especially in the snow), but they only add to the rough ride.

Here are the control arms I shouldn't have bought:

Thank you I will avoid those particular control arms
 

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IMHO, aftermarket parts are not created equal. Just because something “looks the same“ or even if it was “made in the same factory” doesn’t mean it is the same product quality.

Im wondering if we at the EOC might consider keeping a list of aftermarket brands-parts that have worked well / poorly for us. The only problem I see is that the list of bad parts could grow really quick, because the number of “no name” brands on Amazon seem to flood the market.
 

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Been in the repair biz for 45 yrs. My experience is 95% of aftermarket parts are junk. Moog used to be good stuff, now it's chineesium junk. Anything made by Dorman is also junk. Most autoparts store brands are junk. Same with Amazon or ebay. OE is usually the safe bet for reliability and fitment. Problem is the E parts are becoming obsolete. Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I tend to agree that most non-oem is likely junk. Oh and 07lmnt, you're right to point out fitment. One of the reasons that I had to start over was my non-oem control arms didn't jive with my new oem ball joints. Of course it didn't matter as the non-oem control arm bushings were already thrashed. Literally lasted less than 15k miles

My advice to anyone having a hard to time ponying up the $$ for OEM: Bite the bullet and go to a reputable Honda place (I'm lucky as I have a place just down the street that only works on Hondas/Acuras). Ask them if it's a safety issue. If not, wait until you've saved enough to do the job right. Also, some places will actually setup a payment plan with you. Or possibly financing (hopefully at a reasonable interest rate).
 

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Before joining EOC and reading all of the negative reviews, I was definitely going to pick up some of the parts I needed from 1A auto. Their videos made them seem like a reputable company, but I haven’t seen any good part reviews for them on here. I did pick up ball joints and front and rear sway bar end links from autozone (I actually have had good experiences with duralast parts on other cars in the past, plus they have a good warranty, but like I said on my thread I’ll go oem if they don’t hold up on the E.) I bought some poly bushings from Powerflex and they look like a solid company. My car background is mostly in the 240sx/mk3 supra world where I guess I became primed to want poly bushings, but they were also still much more affordable than the oem parts I was quoted and I can always rent a ball joint press kit for free to replace them if somehow they go wrong too. I am going to be more careful about what parts to avoid though because of this, thanks.
 

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I can recommend from personal experience and the experience of other people I know such as a close friend who is a car mechanic that there are some good aftermarket parts, some of those may not be cheaper than OEM however.

Some good aftermarket experiences I and others have had on other cars are

Eurorotor brake rotors and drums, much better than any rotors regardless of price and cheaper than all other rotors except only the basic white box no name ones. I paid $50 Canadian per rotor for the Element

Hawk brake pads on the Element, more expensive but worth it.

Carbotech brake pads

Tokico struts

KYB struts

Eibach springs

H and R springs

Sankei 555 suspension parts, ball joints, sway bar links on the Element

Sankei 555 tie rods

Trakmotive CV Axles on the Element

Ractive exhausts ( may be out of business though )

Ebay windshield wipers on the Element

Aftermarket windshield on the Element and only if installed correctly and allowed to fully cure

AC Delco battery

Interstate battery

Aftermarket radiators have been fine, they are not as high pressure as AC condensors which I would only use OEM

National Wheel bearings

Amsoil brake fluid

Negative Battery Cable on the Element, cant remember the brand though

Generic Aftermarket horn

Aftermarket metal pedal covers on the Element to replace worn out OEM rubber pedal covers

NPN cabin air filters on the Element

Moog adjustable Rear upper control arms on the Element

Dorman engine oil pan on the Element

Fel pro Oil Pan gasket on the Element

PCV valve on the Element, cant remember the brand though

SACHS rear hatch struts on the Element

Kenwood stereo and speakers on the Element
 

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I'll chime in here with my own experiences of aftermarket parts, specifically with the Element suspension. When I was looking at replacing all 4 OEM struts, and doing a lift at the same time, I went through some aftermarket trials. I first tried to run aftermarket front struts and strut mounts. While the struts held up reasonably well, the mounts were shot in a couple thousand miles, which prompted me to evaluate the rest of the components in the strut assembly (strut, spring, strut mount, isolators, etc.) when they needed to be redone.

Ultimately, I came to the conclusion that the best value for my money was complete OEM strut assemblies, as the cost of picking and choosing OEM parts and aftermarket parts to make up one assembly was just too risky with my money and time. Being able to trust the parts as a whole, to hold up and not have to disassemble the whole strut to replace the one shoddy aftermarket part in it was not worth the cost savings.

With regards to the OEM ball joints, the ball joint boots are sold separately for not much money and I think should be treated as a maintenance item. Once you see some dryness/cracking in the rubber, replace them with fresh boots before they burst. Otherwise, you'll end up having to replace the ball joint (which are not available separately from Honda, only with the complete knuckle). Then you'll have to roll the dice with aftermarket ball joints or buy the whole knuckle/wheel bearing.

Lastly, as commonly stated in the Element community, for lifted Elements there is still no good alternative to OEM front CV axles if you want any kind of longevity out of them. I've tried aftermarket axles and high quality rebuilt OEM axles (which performed better and held up longer), but ultimately failed much earlier than new OEM.
 
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