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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a few friends that have given me some good info about the element. One of them actually works at Honda's R&D dept in ohio and the other works on the element production line. Without getting anyone in trouble I can tell you one change that might possably in store for 2004. Honda is very aware (and embarsed "sp") about how easy it is to scratch the outside plastic panels. They are actually considering not using the plastic any more and just stick with what is on the rest of the body.
 

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I doubt that Honda would lose what is the trdemark feature of the vehicle, but it's OK with me, as it will make a first year car a valuable commodity! Sort of like a 64 !/2 Mustang! A 5 sp AWD with plastic might be the rarest of all Hondas.
 

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2003 2WD MT GG, 55K as of 3/20(!), It’s a Fun Box
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It's not really as simple as deciding to use metal where the plastic now is (to use the same material as "the rest of the body"). But they could probably move to painted panels that were body colored (like Saturn). They'd cost more initially and more to replace later. I actually like the look of the contrasting panels, so it would just make me happier to have this year's model if they make this change.
 

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[quote:9b72a553c6="inside_info"]I have a few friends that have given me some good info about the element. One of them actually works at Honda's R&D dept in ohio and the other works on the element production line. Without getting anyone in trouble I can tell you one change that might possably in store for 2004. Honda is very aware (and embarsed "sp") about how easy it is to scratch the outside plastic panels. They are actually considering not using the plastic any more and just stick with what is on the rest of the body.[/quote:9b72a553c6]

I am not passing direct judgement on this post, so please do not take my comments wrong. However, whenever I have read news that supposedly was "inside, secret information" about cars or motorcycles it is proven to be bogus. Also, most high level employees would not be allowed to give out this info, ahead of time, do to signed contracts, legal ramifications etc. Lower level employees wouldn't know of such construction changes far ahead of time anyway (except thru rumor). I would sincerely doubt if Honda would change to an all metal body. I also doubt that Honda would go to color coordinated panels since this is much more expensive for both manufacturing and for insurance (panel replacement) reasons. Also Honda has now given the E a look which is well accepted and highly unique.

Perhaps making an adjustment in the composite material itself would be in the plans. However, my panels are not scratching at all now that I have many layers of Lexox protecting them. This goes to show that it might be more of a protective remedy (like wax on a paint job) than an error in manufacturing. I have also heard that Honda is coming out with a panel care kit (but again, this might be bogus info).

I really do not think that the composite material of the panels is much of a problem at all. The problem seems to be that Honda has not told customers what to protect the panels with nor have they offered any protective kit themselves. Left unprotected, the panels do scratch easily yet are amazingly resistant to accidents and breakage etc. Regarding the scratches: if you protect them with the proper dressing, they seem to be just fine.

I guess time will tell.
 

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I do not yet own an Element - but the scratching issue is a big concern to me in the decision phase.
I have a 96 Olds Silhouette Minivan, the body of which is mainly painted composite panels. That part of the vehicle I've really liked. Don't get me started about premature head gasket failure though.
The interior of the Olds is mainly plastic - much like the Element - and it scratches significantly.

Anything they can do to reduce scratching or "rubs" would make it even more attractive to me.

Peter
 

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jayharley - well put. I think Honda will probably just go to a new composite material - that would be the least expensive engineering option.
 

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The issue is not that the composite panels should be painted, or should be metal.

The issue is that some have reported that they scratch easily. Someone said that his friend 'lightly ran his fingernails' across the surface and made 2 foot long scratches.

Ya know, I gotta say: baloney. You can generally feel when you're scratching something with your nails. If someone felt the plastic coming off underneath the pressure of their fingernails, they'd stop. Further, what man has nails that long? Mine barely go beyond the end of my fingertip and I certainly couldn't make a scratch like that.

Whatever. If the composite panels can be actually treated on the surface to make them stronger, good. If they're changed chemically to be stronger, good. If Honda does make changes, there's one thing for sure: not everyone will agree on them.

JMHO. YMMV.
 

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[quote:12da95cf6c="TheLusciousHellcat"]The issue is not that the composite panels should be painted, or should be metal.

The issue is that some have reported that they scratch easily. Someone said that his friend 'lightly ran his fingernails' across the surface and made 2 foot long scratches.

Ya know, I gotta say: baloney.
JMHO. YMMV.[/quote:12da95cf6c]

I have to agree. I am not sure how it is possible to scratch these panels by simply rubbing your hand over them unless they were very sandy. I liken the panels somewhat to a high gloss black paint job. If you wipe your hand on a dirty black paint job you will, indeed, scratch the finsh.

The truth be told: Put numerous coatings of Lexol on the panels and you will have few problems, under normal conditions. I can literally go to my E, and rub my hands over the panels and they look as good as new.
 

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Has it occured to anyone that perhaps the composite panels are more durable than the tissue in ones fingernails and perhaps the marks left on the panels are not scratches, but rather a smear of ground down fingernail tissue? Generally in production of plastic parts that need to be scratch resistant, a texture is applied to the mold which results in a textured part. The texture reduces the friction on the surface of the plastic resulting in a more durable finnish. This is done with just about any consumer product that is exposed to a harsh environment. Just take a close look at your PC keyboard, mouse, monitor etc.........

:roll:
 

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While ona dealer lot, a salesman commented that the panels seemed vulnerable to scratching and ran his thumbnail (with what looked like moderate pressure) across the grey textured panel of a DX. It left a fairly deep impression, though of course given the texture of the DX panels it wasn't noticable at any distance.

My own EX doesn't seem prone to scratching much. Given the complaints I've seen here, that surprises me a bit. I applied what I considered to be the same sort of fingernail pressure and it barely left any mark. I'm sure my turn will come!
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Well you are allowed your own opnion. But I do know that this is only speculation coming from my friend who works there. He works in the qc area for the elements he says there are a good number every day that come through where the panels are already scratched. Honestly that is only what I heard. But I do know that I will wait till 04 to get my E. Not that this years is that bad, it's just that next years will be that better.
 

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I hope that Honda does take care of the panels. I am waiting till 04 also b4 I buy. Knowing Honda, they wouldn't want something this small to tarnish their reputation. The information comming from the insider, maybe 80% true. You all don't know what is happening inside the factory, maybe they get scratched there. We all dson't know how many times they have to pull one back to replace panels. I am a child of a factory worker, booboo happens and they usally have first hand b4 everyone. To the person that put this info out, please keep me posted. Thank you.
 

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Even as I say this I know there will be naysayers, but I will say it anyway, again. (check posts from "January,February".)
The panels do scratch too easily. I think its a composite mixture problem.
I'm heartened to hear (true or not) that Honda is going to have a fix for this shortcoming in an otherwise great vehicle.
 

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The panels do scratch too easily. I've seen badly scratched Elements at my dealer.

They need a to make the panels more durable - like the brochures.


I love my E, but Honda can improve it.
 

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Engineering wise anything they do with plastic, short of Lexan, will be a compromise if they want to keep it affordable. The more scratch resistant the more prone to cracking, in general. So going up the scale in scratch resistance will tend to make the panels less flexible and less resistant to breaking in a small fender bender. I'd rather have the flexibility.

Perhaps over time the scratches will blend in to sort of a satin finish. The first scratches are going to stick out though.

From what I've seen of the prices, the panels are cheap enough to replace if they get too scratched up.
 

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I don't answer for anyone but myself, but I know when I report that the panels on my Element don't seem to scratch that easily, it's a statement of fact not an opinion. I assume that others saying the same are also reporting factually, just as I believe those reporting scratches are reporting facually.

Consequently, I can't help wonder if the composite mix changes slightly from one batch to the next. So I tried an experiment. Mine is Vin# 3050, an early EX and while I can scratch the panels if I try, I've got 3200 miles on the clock and there is only one small scratch visible. So I went to my dealer's lot and found an E with a 25000+ Vin and tried the thumbnail test in the same location as I tried on mine - it left a definite mark. Tried mine again... no mark. Tried the dealer's EX demo with a Vin of 5000+, again, no appreciable mark.

There must be some difference between the materials, though they look and feel just as flexible. And I'm not saying that my panels DON'T scratch or can't BE scratched, just that they are certainly not as prone as others seem to be.
 

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[quote:05de55c413="za9ra22"]I don't answer for anyone but myself, but I know when I report that the panels on my Element don't seem to scratch that easily, it's a statement of fact not an opinion.

So I went to my dealer's lot and found an E with a 25000+ Vin and tried the thumbnail test in the same location as I tried on mine - it left a definite mark. Tried mine again... no mark. Tried the dealer's EX demo with a Vin of 5000+, again, no appreciable mark.

There must be some difference between the materials, though they look and feel just as flexible. And I'm not saying that my panels DON'T scratch or can't BE scratched, just that they are certainly not as prone as others seem to be.[/quote:05de55c413]

This is an interesting test for sure. Mine is a 5000+ also. I have no scratches at all. As I have posted many time, I also treat mine regularly, which also seems to help. The treatments with Lexol seem to make the surface more "slick" and it is very difficult to make any scraches at all.
 

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I am not having any sort of scratching problems with my panels. Then again, I make a point not to drag my fingernails across the finish. It seems that the people expressing concerns about the panels scratching have 'tried' to scratch them. My advise, Lexol, and QUIT TRYING TO SCRATCH THE PANELS!! :shock:
 

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I just got back from the Detroit Auto Show and had a good look at the Element. One alarming thing I noticed was the number of scratches the rear quarter plastic panel accumulated! I tested it out and was able to create very visible scratches with my finger nail!! I thought maybe they're just skid lines and attempted to whipe them off with my finger. But they don't come off!!! I tried the plastic on the roof and they don't scratch! So what gives? I don't think the Honda engineers would put such soft plastic panels on this car. This was a EX model. This is kinda a downer news to me since I've been so interested in this car.
 
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