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Discussion Starter #1
Need your help guys.. My wife and I have a 2003 Element EX AWD with about 130 k on it, and it runs great, no oil burning ect.. We have in the past driven this in snow, mud, and sand with no issues. Here is the deal. We recently put on new tires, General Grabber AT's. I believe stock size. We have notice about a 2mpg decrease and a slight decrease in power which is expected with a heavier and more agressive tire. Now, we took the E to the beach and the sand was tornup and loose.
We were scraping the bottom but not spinning. The element did not spin the tires, it just seemingly lost power, floored in both drive and reverse, it did not have the snuff to move. The strange thing is that we can usually hear the brakes kick in when the wheels slip in order to gain traction. Nothing this time, possible that it stayed in two wheel drive.
Anybody else have this issue?? By the way, the E has seen muddier roads than most and also pulled more than most but also maintained to the highest standard and not neglected. Any tips on how to increase the low end power?? This forum has a wealth of information and I hope somebody can shed some light on this. Thank Everyone!!
 

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If the profile is correct, it's a 2003, and no VSA. EX has ABS (my DX does not).

But I'm surprised about the no-wheel-spin. Even if the under side resting solidly on the sand, the front wheels should spin. If not, then all of the engine power is being absorbed in the transmission.
 

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If the profile is correct, it's a 2003, and no VSA. EX has ABS (my DX does not).

But I'm surprised about the no-wheel-spin. Even if the under side resting solidly on the sand, the front wheels should spin. If not, then all of the engine power is being absorbed in the transmission.
Correct! There are no 'breaks kicking in' either... That sort of stuff is reserved for more sophisticated drive lines. ....like Acura's SH All-Wheel-Drive. What you may likely hear is when the overload valve releases excess pressure for the oil to short-circuit pack into the sump... With aggressive tires in loose sand, the Element simply does not have the torque to be a lot of fun. Get a sand-rail...
 

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I drive on the beach all the time. NEVER had an issue (i did once but i was driving like an idiot) and i Used to roll with BFG AT/KO's.

My suggestions.
1) select 1st gear
2)Deflate your tires to 20psi. Or if you dare 15psi
3) Do not park in deep ruts. I push the sand all the time out on carolina beach, but as long as i keep some momentum i dont stop until im on some firmer sand.

Also, im not sure how much it takes to get the 4wd system to shut down... but ive done it myself on 1 or 2 occasions. Both times i was rodding it like an idiot. Every time i stay in first and just keep her going at a steady speed i do just fine. However, If youve killed the 4wd system, your front end quickly digs into the sand.

It really does make a world of difference to deflate your tires. Just make sure to inflate them asap once you leave the beach and dont drive above 25-30 mph until you do.

Hope this helps.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for the input guys. I was not tearing around in the sand, it was over memorial day and the sand was all torn up. I cam from the pavement to the typical hard pack sand no issues. When we got to the rougher sand there was some guy in a 2wd truck stuck so I had to slow to almost a stop, when we attempted to resume the 5-10 mph speed looking for a parking spot the element slowed to a stop even though I increased throttle to full. Not once did I spin, or hear the noise that usually accompanies the rear end kicking in or what I thought were the brakes directing traction to the necessary wheels. How will deflating the tires help? Won't that just lower my ground clearance and increase my footprint (which increases traction,not an issue here)? I believe you are right EXwSCnose, just not enough torque in the element. I was just taken aback by this as it has been through large amounts of snow, and semi deep muddy roads. With these two examples though the rpms were up and the wheels were already in motion. We have taken this on the beach several times before, lakes, Florida, Corpus Christi. I guess this was sadly just to much. If anyone has any reasonable upgrades for more bottom end (aside from smaller tires) let me know. Thanks guys!!
 

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Deflate your tires. requires less power in deep sand... you could just trust a guy who has done it several times over, or... if you really want to know, heres what i got when i googled. (aka the long explanation)

Information following this comes from this 4x4 site.

"Narrow tires make them sink deep in soft surfaces like snow and sand. When sunken in the front tires have constantly a small berm of sand in front of them. While driving they push this berm without ever being able to climb it. That produces a lot of extra resistance. More resistance requires more torque to keep the vehicle moving. But traction is not good on sand. The particles are not stable and tires tend to dig in deep - only creating more resistance"



So, how it relates to the E... Basically youre working your E harder than you need to, Thus you are effectively doing the same thing as "rodding" it without any of the fun. Taking the tires down to 20psi is only going to decrease your clearance on pavement ever so slightly. however, its a Net INCREASE in clearance on the sand compared to fully inflated tires that are going to dig in.

air em down and you will be suprised how much easier it is to drive on the sand.

Unless youre sitting on the frame, the E can usually handle it.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks! That now makes sense.. I never thought about the pushing effect aired up tires would have, I just always thought it was for more traction. You are truly a great resource! Learn something new everyday.
 

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Nice Job!

Deflate your tires. requires less power in deep sand... you could just trust a guy who has done it several times over, or... if you really want to know, heres what i got when i googled. (aka the long explanation)

Information following this comes from this 4x4 site.

"Narrow tires make them sink deep in soft surfaces like snow and sand. When sunken in the front tires have constantly a small berm of sand in front of them. While driving they push this berm without ever being able to climb it. That produces a lot of extra resistance. More resistance requires more torque to keep the vehicle moving. But traction is not good on sand. The particles are not stable and tires tend to dig in deep - only creating more resistance"



So, how it relates to the E... Basically youre working your E harder than you need to, Thus you are effectively doing the same thing as "rodding" it without any of the fun. Taking the tires down to 20psi is only going to decrease your clearance on pavement ever so slightly. however, its a Net INCREASE in clearance on the sand compared to fully inflated tires that are going to dig in.

air em down and you will be suprised how much easier it is to drive on the sand.

Unless youre sitting on the frame, the E can usually handle it.
Nice explanation ReaperZune, That was impressive!8)
 

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Don't be scared to drop your pressure below 15-20 lbs. I had to go down to 10 lbs on Hatteras last weekend because the sand was so soft. Just take it really easy and make wide turns once you get back on the real roads.
 

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My E Drove in Deep Outer Banks Sand With These Modifications

I just returned from a week in Corova on NC's Outer Banks. The town is only accessible by driving ~10 miles across the beach and the town itself has only rough sand roads. Driving my 2010 4WD EX Automatic at low tide caused no issue whatsoever. I had to drop tire pressue to 20 PSI or less and shift into 2nd or 1st in really deep patches in order to keep going, however.

Reducing PSI on an already low vehicle also meant that I scraped the undercarriage a great deal when the tide was higher or I had to drive through deep sand, but I only got stuck when I returned from town and forgot to re-deflate the tires.

My only issue is that I hit a drop in the sand and knocked my hood out of alignment. Now it latches but won't quite close all the way.
 

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Reducing PSI on an already low vehicle also meant that I scraped the undercarriage a great deal when the tide was higher or I had to drive through deep sand.

Negatron Mr. Williams.

Reducing PSI probably had nothing to do with the scraping. you actually dig in deeper, as you found out, when you dont deflate. You are actually (as silly as it sounds) gaining clearance in sand by deflating. See my previous post that describes the physics involved with sand travel =)

ALSO! Pictures or it didnt happen =P:twisted:
 

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I just came back from a week in Salvo, NC and let me say that my E performed great in the sand. I aired down to about 18 psi before getting on the beach and didn't have any problems. The only time I got stuck was when I thought I'd try it without airing down. I did plow a bit of sand in some areas but as long as I kept the momentum up I got through just fine.
 

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deflating tires

The explanation of deflating your tires is pretty convincing. But remember the fact that when the tire is in its optimum pressure, the shape of the tire is almost circular except for the very bottom, that creates a very small contact surface between the tire and the groung. When you deflate the tire a little bit, the bottom part of the tire becomes flatter and thus increases the contact area, giving you more friction between the ground and your beautiful badass toaster!!

my 50 cents
 

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............ We have notice about a 2mpg decrease and a slight decrease in power which is expected with a heavier and more agressive tire. .............The element did not spin the tires, it just seemingly lost power, floored in both drive and reverse, it did not have the snuff to move.
Was this issue ever resolved? If not,

What was the engine doing (how many rpm's) when you had this power loss?

This doesn't sound like an issue of traction but more like a mechanical failure. The 160lb.ft. of torque the E has should always be sufficient to break the tires loose if the undercarriage were to hang up, and should in very nearly all circumstances have enough power to overcome sand berming in front of the tires - to a point that at least one of the wheels would spin and dig itself into stuck.

My first suspicion when reading the OP was that possibly the revs increased while the vehicle made no progress forward with no wheels spinning(?) - indicating a serious automatic transmission slip. If applying more throttle had no effect on the wheels or rpm of the engine, I could see this only likely if the E's engine was powering a 50 ton steamroller pushing against the side of a mountain.... or it was stuck in a higher (numerically) gear.... or really really really buried in the sand.

Your comment about a whole 2mpg loss in mileage with a noticeable decrease in power running a different tire also indicates something beginning to fail. A loss of power that would be perceivable enough to you to mention it in the post would only be likely if you had increased the tire size substantially.

With the gear reduction of 1st and or even 2nd gears the tires should have spun as forward momentum was lost.

Need more info on everything that was occurring while the vehicle lost forward movement, but (just my $.02) it sounds like your transmission is getting burned up. In fact, does the AT fluid smell burnt?
 

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Power loss, while starting on a steep, loss section.

I had something very similar happen to my E in Tahoe a couple of years ago. The car in front stopped while going up a steep loose section, so I had to stop. As I started again, power seemed to drop off, no wheel spin. Pushed in the clutch, gas it some gas to raise the revs and let the clutch out was met with the same result no power or spin. Running a manual tranny EX, with grabber AT2's (about 11lbs heavier per wheel than stock).
Ended up backing down to a flat spot, letting out the clutch and kept the speed pretty constant in 1st gear and climbed up it. Didn't adjust air volume in tires, never discovered what the problem was. :twisted:
When I got back from the trip, check the usual stuff, plugs, air cleaner, rear diff fluid; all normal.
Josh
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Update

I have been out for a while but good to see this has lived on!!! The Element now has around 160,000 miles on it. It was pretty much as the guy posted above. No power when taking off from a near dead stop, no motor rev, no wheel spin, just the motor trying to pull. Nothing has happended or changed much with the car. With the stock tires it was spin city in the sand, not so with these. The car has been maintained better than most and I do all my own upkeep. Motor and tranny work as they should, smooth pulling. The tranny fluid is good, pulls one 500 lb atv and trailer just fine, again, a bit slow off the line... When stuck in the sand, I did have it in first as well (auto). I have tried once or twice at a stop signs and it will spin the tires, albeit briefly. I think the issue is lies with the tires, heavy, tall tread, and lots of traction. Given this is a 4 cyl, it is not a torque monster at the lower rpm's, wind it up and she is good to go. Just adjusted the valves and its in great shape, ready for another 100k easy.

Going to get lighter tires at some point, these are overkill. Also, tonight I am pulling the starter for a rebuild!!! (not looking forward to that).. Also have a thump in the passanger side rear wheelwell that I cannot seem to locate, no broken busings or loose linkage.. Oh well, Long live the best Element website Ever and the great people that inhabit it!!! Have a great night guys!!!
 

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Like someone said.. reduce the pressure on the tires...

Wide and not so aggressive tread (lugs) are your friend...

Take a look at the Sand buggies and their tires... (Unless they got them paddle tires) They're pretty smooth...
 
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