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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
2004 Honda Element AWD EX Automatic w/side air bags Silver

This noise has been going on for several years and I have no clue, and neither does the dealer.

1. It's a clicky, whirring noise, that sometimes sounds like static from the radio. It seems to come from somewhere behind the dashboard area.

2. It only happens at speed. The noise begins above 40MPH and can become continuous at around 70MPH.

3. It sounds like the noise is in the cabin. It's clear and unmuffled, which may point to something in the HVAC system.

4. It seems to get a little worse in very cold weather.

The only thing I can think of is this. I had the cabin air filters replaced about two years ago, and this is when the noise seemed to start (I think). Is it possible that the filters were installed incorrectly and rattle when air passes over them at the higher speeds?

Any other guesses about what this might be?
 

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Easy enough to check. Change them out again. Not hard to do. Search for instructions on the board here.
 

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Welcome to the club. One thing to check is the molding around the windshield as they get loose on these all the time especially if you had a windshield replaced. Check the side ones by wiggling them and if the place where they touch the windshield pull away from the glass the molding is loose and you might be able to just tap it back in place and I have heard of the top one causing noises also. I used some electrical tape and taped down the molding and went for a drive and it worked. I had to order new clips and it worked.
 

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Welcome to the EOC!

I would look at slimerdogs suggestion as this happened to me after having my windshield changed out the second time. The clips that hold the molding on were broken causing the molding to vibrate at speed. Once the new clips are installed the noise goes away.
Where are you in Virginia? It would be good if you filled in your profile.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
mkh -- Changing out the filters sounds like a good idea in any case. The car has about 55K miles. I spent several days studying the available info and I should be okay with this.

slimerdogs -- I checked the moldings and the one on the driver's side had a little give to it and squeeked a little when pressed on, but I don't think it's the cause of this noise. I had my wife press on the molding while I sat in the car, and you can tell that the sound is outside the car.

The noise I'm getting sounds like it's inside the cabin. So I'm going to target the HVAC system.

Is there anything behind the dash that might be affected by wind, such as a loose tag? Would that sound get into the cabin?

Jackson49 -- Definitely not the molding. Sounds like it's inside the car.

I'm in Northern Virginia, halfway between Haymarket and Leesburg.

There is a similar thread about the same sort of noise that I found here:

http://www.elementownersclub.com/forums/showthread.php?t=52752&highlight=cabin+air+filter

So I guess the next thing is to pull the air filters and check that general area.

I found an online PDF version of the 2003 Owner's Manual. Interesting that in that year they gave directions for changing the filters, but in later years said it had to be done by the dealer.


Edited to add: I ordered this from Amazon: 1 "FRAM CF10135 Fresh Breeze Cabin Air Filter-Pack of 2"

They were $18.44, including one-day shipping.
 

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If that doesn't work try turning on the recurculation and see if the noise changes or goes away. When you pull out the filters check in the housing with a light and see if there is anything floating around there. I had some leaves that were in mine and they fell down to the blower when I removed the filters.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I have replaced the Honda-installed filters with the Fram filters. The Fram seem a little better made. The old ones, with about 25k miles on them didn't seem that dirty.

The screwdriver-from-the-inside method of loosening the clips worked a lot better than the finger-from-the-outside. Especially since it was about 25 degrees in the garage.

The good news is that the noise is almost completely gone. You can still hear it occasionally, but it's quieter.

So i guess that the noise was originating in the HVAC system.

I tried switching to recirculate, but it didn't change the little bit of noise that was left.

I think that maybe the trays themselves are loose, and that's what I heard. If it gets a little warmer, I might take the whole thing apart again and put some foam padding along the edge of the trays, especially the righthand one. The left tray has the foam from the door cover pressing against it.
 
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