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2003 Honda Element Sunset Orange Pearl 2WD Automatic 135K Miles I Love It!
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Discussion Starter #1
OK, so I know I'm an antique for still listening to the AM/FM. But I'm getting rather poor radio reception on my '03 EX.

When I first bought it, the antenna was gone and the base was badly damaged. The dealer I bought it from also had one of those old fashioned car washes with the rotary brushes! (Yeah, those aren't extinct yet!) So I'm betting that's why there was no antenna! (The missing roof rack probably met the same fate!)

So with no antenna or base I got very little reception.

I found a good used base only on the cheap, and after installing just the base, there was a noticeable improvement; at least I had some reception.

So then I bought a new Antenna from that infamous auction site. The antenna was 7 inches long and looked the same as the original. Screwed on and it looked like it has either brass or copper on the core.

But the reception now with the antenna only improved like maybe 5% over having just the base! And the reception is still nowhere near as good as any of my other cars.

So, did I miss something? Is this new antenna cheapened somehow compared to a real Honda original?

If anyone has some insight on this, please let me know.

Thanks!
 

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Is it the OEM radio or an aftermarket car stereo? My first thought is to make sure the antenna wire is properly plugged into the back of the radio. Assuming it is, then I'd say the problem is with the base and/or the antenna you installed. When you say you got it on the cheap, I assume it was used - is it an OEM Element part or something different? You can buy all of these parts from Majestic Honda, although the base isn't cheap:
https://www.hondaautomotiveparts.com/v-2003-honda-element-5-door--ex-2wd--4-speed-automatic/electrical-exhaust-heater-fuel--radio-antenna-speaker-1

You could also try to find at a junk yard - I assume this would be an easy part to find there and would give you a chance to try a different one and see if it makes any difference.
 

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2003 Honda Element Sunset Orange Pearl 2WD Automatic 135K Miles I Love It!
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749 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Hello dgale. Thanks for the input.

I have the OEM radio with CD player (no CD changer though).

I got the base from a local wrecking yard (they didn't have a correct antenna). It looked like an original Honda part in very good condition, and came from a 2004 Element (mine is an '03). The base looked identical to what was left of the old broken one. The "cheap" part was I paid $5.00 for it, and I carefully removed it myself. (Everything on the donor car looked undisturbed.)

The antenna I bought on *Bay. It cost a whole $7.00 delivered. The seller boasted "made from the highest quality materials" but made no mention of what those materials were! They referenced part number 39151-SWA-305, and said it was a direct replacement for a 2003 - 2011 Element.

I hope it's as simple as I got a cheesy antenna! I really don't want to tear into removing the radio to check connections and such! : - (
 

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removing the radio is relatively simple, once you know how.
first remove the U |_| shaped surround using a plastic pry bar down under the lower left and lower right corners. careful, ease it out slowly.
then remove the 4 bolts that hold the radio in.
then pull the radio straight out (yes, it's slightly up, but i mean keep it oriented the same way it was in the dash.)

antenna connection is on the back.

install is just the opposite of removal. go easy on that plastic trim, which just pushes evenly back in.
 

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2003 Honda Element Sunset Orange Pearl 2WD Automatic 135K Miles I Love It!
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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
Hello dgale. Thanks for the input.

I have the OEM radio with CD player (no CD changer though).

I got the base from a local wrecking yard (they didn't have a correct antenna). It looked like an original Honda part in very good condition, and came from a 2004 Element (mine is an '03). The base looked identical to what was left of the old broken one. The "cheap" part was I paid $5.00 for it, and I carefully removed it myself. (Everything on the donor car looked undisturbed.)

The antenna I bought on *Bay. It cost a whole $7.00 delivered. The seller boasted "made from the highest quality materials" but made no mention of what those materials were! They referenced part number 39151-SWA-305, and said it was a direct replacement for a 2003 - 2011 Element.

I hope it's as simple as I got a cheesy antenna! I really don't want to tear into removing the radio to check connections and such! : - (
UPDATE: Problem Solved! YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I picked up a good used and apparently original antenna from a local you pull it yard. It came off of an '07 SC. Cost me a whole $5.

I installed it on my '03 EX base and now I get radio reception as good or better than my other cars. It was just as simple of a fix as one could ask for! :)

So the problem all along was that cheap knock off antenna I got off of Flea-Bay!

So I learned how to tell if you have an original: The original is slightly flexible, has a soft rubber like outer coating, and is ~ 6 13/16 inches long. The cheapy is rigid, has a hard plastic outer coating, and is ~ 7 3/16 inches long (about 3/8 of an inch longer than the original). Otherwise they are very similar looking.

So another lesson to be learned: Stay away from that cheap Chinese knock off junk available on the net, no matter how tempting the price might be!
 
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