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Me and my wife just bought our second Element. It is a one owner (we bought it from original elderly couple) 2004 EX with 134,000 miles. No rust, no wrecks, no real outside cosmetic wear at all (not even scratches really).

We bought it for $4,700.

The couple hadn't driven it for a while. We had a shop in the town check it out before we bought it and they said there were no issues.

After we bought it, we took it to the Honda dealer and our local mechanic who is a friend, and both found around $1,500 in suggested maintenance to do (some more serious than the rest).

Even with that bill for maintenance work, did we do ok on the price? I'm not up with the current street value of Es (I know blue book is sort of out the window)

Just feeling pretty down having to spend so much money so soon after buying it and wondering if we should have held out for something different. I thought I was doing my due diligence by having a shop check it out, but I must have chose an incredibly lazy or ignorant shop (had great ratings online)

Anyway, just looking for some encouragement I guess!
 

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2003 Honda Element Sunset Orange Pearl 2WD Automatic 135K Miles I Love It!
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Hello.

Well, without seeing the car, the initial purchase price is about right. Perhaps not a bargain, but about the going rate for a private party buy, and certainly less than what you would pay a dealer for the same car.

Question: What all did the Honda dealer recommend that you do for the $1500?

Generally, if you can find an independent shop familiar with Hondas to do the work, it will cost much less than a Honda dealer will charge. It would make sense to shop around a little more for the work.

At 134K miles, the one maintenance item that should be done (if it hasn't been already) is a Valve Adjustment. The general consensus is that should cost in the $200 - $250 range. So what all else are you getting for the other $1250? I am curious!

Let us know. And maybe shop around before hand.

And don't feel down! You probably still got a really good value for the money! :)
 

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Hello.

Well, without seeing the car, the initial purchase price is about right. Perhaps not a bargain, but about the going rate for a private party buy, and certainly less than what you would pay a dealer for the same car.

Question: What all did the Honda dealer recommend that you do for the $1500?

Generally, if you can find an independent shop familiar with Hondas to do the work, it will cost much less than a Honda dealer will charge. It would make sense to shop around a little more for the work.

At 134K miles, the one maintenance item that should be done (if it hasn't been already) is a Valve Adjustment. The general consensus is that should cost in the $200 - $250 range. So what all else are you getting for the other $1250? I am curious!

Let us know. And maybe shop around before hand.

And don't feel down! You probably still got a really good value for the money! :)
Thanks!
It needed front brakes, front suspension work, there was an oil leak, and the radiator arms needed to be replaced. Other recommendations were changing out the brake and transmission fluid, but going to wait until next oil change for that.

We did shop around unfortunately. The independent shop we used had similar prices to Honda, but would replace things more thoroughly and they have a 3 year 100k warranty on their work (honda is 1 year 12k I believe)

Have not heard about the valve adjustment. Neither the dealership or either of the independent shops that checked it out brought that up and I haven't heard of that in the past (I've owned 3 Es) Will probably hold off on that for now.

Thanks for the input! I really appreciate it. This was by a landslide the cheapest E locally under 150k miles. Not sure if the price is going up. That's why I jumped on it, assuming it would need some work (just not this much :confused:)
 

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OK. If it needs all of that work, ~ $1500 is in line, I suppose.

I wouldn't go back to the shop who did your pre-purchase inspection! I mean, how hard is it to tell that it needs front brakes and has an oil leak? Finding worn suspension parts sometimes means that you need to know the particular car well, but sheesh! I hope they didn't charge you much!

At least changing the auto trans fluid and brake fluid is some rather easy DIY stuff. So you can save a little $ there. Do a search here if you need to learn how to do those.

There's a lot of information on Valve Adjustments on this site. Honda recommends that it should be done at the 100K miles mark. If you haven't got any maintenance records, you really need to get it done.

But, there are a lot of mechanics out there who mistakenly believe that if the engine runs smoothly and the valve train is quiet, it doesn't need adjustment. WRONG! That may apply to other engines, but not a Honda 2.4.

Do a search on this site; there is a lot of posts on this subject.

I wish you well!
 

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If the structure is solid as you say it is, you have a middle aged car for $6,200, assuming you get repairs done. Not a bad deal. Still very low miles for a 2004. When you poke around the rest of this site and see folks with 250-300,000 on an '04 and still going strong, that should be your encouragement. The "little old couple haven't driven it" adds the fact that it probably hasn't been abused.

Plus, the Honda dealer will always find something wrong if you are asking for them to find something wrong.

I would guess you will be fine.

Get us some pictures.
 

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I'll also add that "oil leaks" that dealers find are sometimes the result of someone spilling oil somewhere (perhaps during an oil change) and road dirt/grime accumulating on that sticky area, making it look like a leak. Wipe the area clean where they say the leak is and then monitor it. Put down some cardboard in your garage and see if you actually have an active leak/drip.
 

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Some oil leaks are PCV related- a thorough inspection for the source is in order. An oil seal/gasket leak oil additive may slow down the oil leak- Sadly, garages have been known to exaggerate oil leakage to get the repair work. The Chrysler dealer informed me a couple years ago that my 2012 Fiat 500
(now sold) had an oil leak that needed repaired. The service writer made it sound serious- I said- lets pop the hood- have the mechanic show me!
He arrived and pointed to a generalized oily wet spot at the front of the engine.
"Explain to me, how my car has an oil leak, but there are no oil spots on my garage floor?"
Shrugged shoulders-
Me- "this looks like oil deposited by hot engine vapors over 60,000 miles of driving, but if you think it;s a leak, take pictures and submit it to Chrysler for a warranty repair, because I have a lifetime warranty!"
Oops- hood closed, maybe it's Ok after all Mr Kumquat. Your oil change is all done--

Do the brakes first- then something else each month- you will soon figure out what is important and what can be done later.
In my case, my one owner 05 had some deferred maintenance-
In the first two months--, 4 new tires, oil and filter change, electric A/C cooling fan and a new Denso radiator. Added a keyless remote module to get around the door lock not working and four wheel alignment at Pep Boys. I have spent $800 and did some of the work myself. My wife thought I had bought a lemon, but all is good now.
Original price was $2600 for an E with 230K miles. The front seat upholstery is still uncracked!
Being retired and only driving 5000-6000 miles a year, I don't need a car payment for such casual usage. Plus, the depreciation is a deal breaker for me now. Haha, when I worked at Chrysler, I bought a new vehicle every couple years- depreciation be damned.
 

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You did fine even with the $ you need to put into it. It is, after all, an older car and there are virtually no older cars that don't need a little money thrown their way. And it sounds like all the stuff your car needs is pretty much just normal wear and tear stuff. If it has good bones like it appears to, it will be a good vehicle for a long time to come so long as you get the maintenance caught up. Like someone else suggested, just pick off one thing at a time as you can afford it -- although I agree with the person who said the valve adjustment is pretty crucial on these after 100k miles.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
You did fine even with the $ you need to put into it. It is, after all, an older car and there are virtually no older cars that don't need a little money thrown their way. And it sounds like all the stuff your car needs is pretty much just normal wear and tear stuff. If it has good bones like it appears to, it will be a good vehicle for a long time to come so long as you get the maintenance caught up. Like someone else suggested, just pick off one thing at a time as you can afford it -- although I agree with the person who said the valve adjustment is pretty crucial on these after 100k miles.
Thanks!
What exactly is the valve adjustment? Honda did not mention this when I took it to them and neither did another shop I took it to for a second opinion. Is this something I would have to ask them to check out specifically? Trying to not ask for more problems for them to find, but want to stay on top of things.

I've had three Es in the past and have never heard of this 😬(all well over 100k)

How much does this cost typically? Thanks
 

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The engine's intake and exhaust valves are actuated by the camshafts. There needs to be a very precise amount of clearance between the valves and the camshafts to ensure the valves fully close and also open at the correct time. Valve clearance can tighten or loosen up over time. Loose valves make a clicking sound and aren't very dangerous, but tight valves don't make noise and can lead to burned valves, which can be very costly! I also highly recommend getting the valves adjusted if you don't have any record of that being done.

My 2010 E only has 45,000 miles on it, but I decided to check the valves last year to to be safe. I did the work myself, it isn't overly difficult if you are somewhat mechanical, but if you have never set valves before, probably better to just take it to a shop. Anyway, all my valves were in spec, but several of them were on the very tightest clearance (the dangerous side) for spec. I reset them all to right in the middle. Again, at 9 years and 45,000 miles, mine were in spec, but on the tight side. I feel much better knowing they are now set properly. I'll do it again't at 100K.
 

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The engine's intake and exhaust valves are actuated by the camshafts. There needs to be a very precise amount of clearance between the valves and the camshafts to ensure the valves fully close and also open at the correct time. Valve clearance can tighten or loosen up over time. Loose valves make a clicking sound and aren't very dangerous, but tight valves don't make noise and can lead to burned valves, which can be very costly! I also highly recommend getting the valves adjusted if you don't have any record of that being done.

My 2010 E only has 45,000 miles on it, but I decided to check the valves last year to to be safe. I did the work myself, it isn't overly difficult if you are somewhat mechanical, but if you have never set valves before, probably better to just take it to a shop. Anyway, all my valves were in spec, but several of them were on the very tightest clearance (the dangerous side) for spec. I reset them all to right in the middle. Again, at 9 years and 45,000 miles, mine were in spec, but on the tight side. I feel much better knowing they are now set properly. I'll do it again't at 100K.
Is this a normal things that shops will check out when doing a thorough inspection? Is it something that the Honda dealership will check when doing regular maintenance? Thanks
 

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I think it's one of those things that if you don't mention it, they won't usually suggest it unless they know Elements very well.
 

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Is this a normal things that shops will check out when doing a thorough inspection? Is it something that the Honda dealership will check when doing regular maintenance? Thanks
No, unless they notice valve-train noise (loose valves), I doubt they would mention it. If it only costs $200-$300 to have them adjusted, I would definitely try and get it done. The valves could very well be fine, but like I said, a valve job is a very expensive repair.
 

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Is this a normal things that shops will check out when doing a thorough inspection? Is it something that the Honda dealership will check when doing regular maintenance? Thanks
Well, you would think a Honda dealer shop would know all about a valve adjustment. Every time I went to a dealer with my Accord (same engine as the Element), they always tried to sell me anything and everything! But, in your case, I guess not!

The reason the valves usually need adjustment is that they are too tight (typically on the exhaust side) rather than too loose. What happens is over usage the valve face pounds into the valve seat, thereby raising the height of the valve stem, which in turn tightens up the valve train. So there is no valve noise in this case. When it gets too tight, it keeps the valve from closing completely, which then quickly burns the exhaust valve. And then you get a really high repair bill; and you don't want that!

So again, just because you don't hear any valve noise, doesn't mean that all is well under that valve cover!

Even my most trusted local mechanic (who otherwise is great) refuses to do a valve adjustment on my Element, insisting that I don't need one because it "sounds fine"! So I will need to do mine myself, I guess! :)

Here's a good video for all the Do It Your-Selfers out there:

 

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te1966, yeah, just do it yourself, it's not hard if you have adjusted any valves before.
You do need a set of angled feeler gauges though. Just take your time and double check everything😁

Oh yeah, and as you said, the noisy valves aren't the ones you have to worry about!
 
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