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Discussion Starter #1
Hello All!

I am a perspective Element buyer. First off, I am in Virginia, in the suburbs of Washington, DC. Finding an Element is a chore. My neighbor owns one, a 2003, I believe.

I have found 3 within 200 miles of my location (Woodbridge, VA). The one I am really interested in is found in Leesburg,VA. It is a 2004, 5-speed, I do not know if it is a 4x4 yet, but I am going to look at it today. The color is GGM, and it has 151,700 miles on it. Kinda scary, but I know that there's a ton of life left.

So, should I pursue this E, or keep looking?

BTW, I am 18, and this would be my first car.
 

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The mileage would not scare me, but how much are they asking for it? Also do they have maintenance files on the car and a carfax report?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Alright, good call! I did forget to put in there. The dealer is asking $8400. The carfax is a certified 1 owner. The service records appear up to date.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
okay, well. how much would you pay for this model year (within reason). My budget is about $8000 plus taxes and fees. In other words, what should I offer the dealer??
 

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okay, well. how much would you pay for this model year (within reason). My budget is about $8000 plus taxes and fees. In other words, what should I offer the dealer??
Find the "True Market Value" (TMV) on edmunds.com/ and start about $1000 below that. Be willing to come up to the TMV but I wouldn't go over TMV. You said you have 2 other options so you can use that as a bargaining chip.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Update: 2 out of the 3 have been sold. I am actively seeking the third. It is a 2003 DX, 5 speed, 2wd. It has ~94k miles. I have been researching this E, and from my understanding, the DX's do NOT come with a radio (Am I correct?), as this one doesn't. So my idea was: buy the Element, throw a navi system and a few speakers in there, change the wheels/tires, and several small mods.

With that being said, my questions are:

-What is a "good" navi system under, lets say $600?
-Where is the best place for the best price (I have been looking at Crutchfield)?
-I am just about hired at an auto shop, so I can get tires for a discount, but, where could I find other wheels?
-Random question: Could I buy a navi system online and have BestBuy install it for me?

Thanks for all the help so far, hopefully by this time next week I will be an Element owner!
 

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Did you search on AutoTrader.com for other choices within 200 miles or so? I'm not so sure you'll be happy with a DX model unless the price is very attractive.
 

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If you're reasonably handy with tools, it's not so hard to install the head unit in a stereo system. It's an opportunity to both save money and learn a bit. The folks at the auto place where you will be working can probably advise on this as well.

Crutchfield throws in a wiring harness - wiring harnesses are definitely the way to go for a stereo install. There will be threads elsewhere on the topic, but basically it works like this -
* Your Honda should have a stereo connector (it looks like a weird sort of square plug with lots of pins inside).
* The stereo unit that you buy will probably have its own plug connector coming out the back... BUT it won't plug into the connector in your car.
* The wiring harness consists of two plugs with bare wires on the ends of each. You splice the bare wires together (following the instructions given by Crutchfield) to create a custom adapter that plugs into car on one end and the stereo on the other end.
* The rest of the installation is mechanical stuff - getting the trim pieces in place and the like. You need to be handy and good at following directions, but it's not terribly hard. Where you need to remove tabs and the like from the install kit, I recommend using a hacksaw to cut plastic pieces (breaking brittle pieces of plastic with pliers can lead to unpredictable and undesirable results).

If the head unit install goes well, you might try other things like speaker replacements and the like. Be patient - there are people who can do this stuff really fast, but take your time and allow a few hours. Get your cable splices good and tight (I like to crimp mine with channel locks or a really strong pair of vise grips). If you need to strip wires, invest in a wire stripping tool if you don't have one - Klein, Irwin, and Channellock all make decent stuff. For the connectors, I would recommend the crimping inline connectors over wire nuts - you can find these at Walmart or a hardware store for a decent price.
 

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I would also echo steamloco's thoughts about autotrader.com. A quick look there shows 20 Elements from 2003-2006 priced at under $10,000 within 200 miles of Washington, DC, including several AWD EX models at a price that might not be too much more than you're looking for on the DX. Of course, if the price is good on the DX and the advantages of an EX do not justify the additional cost, I can certainly understand that. And as you've suggested, you can use the money that you save to upgrade the DX to your tastes.
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
Loco: I have set up my search radius for 200 miles, only 2 (3, one sold) come up. This one and another DX in NC. I wish I could get ahold of an EX but thats not going to happen...and if they don't accept my offer, then I'm S-O-L!

Metallikov: Thanks for the input/advice! but the place where I will be working is basically a tire shop :p

EDIT: I have a strict budget that allows me no more then $8500 on an E. I wish I could be able to bump it up a little bit more, but thats it.
 

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Loco: I have set up my search radius for 200 miles, only 2 (3, one sold) come up. This one and another DX in NC. I wish I could get ahold of an EX but thats not going to happen...and if they don't accept my offer, then I'm S-O-L!

Metallikov: Thanks for the input/advice! but the place where I will be working is basically a tire shop :p

EDIT: I have a strict budget that allows me no more then $8500 on an E. I wish I could be able to bump it up a little bit more, but thats it.
New user here!
Hi there. I know how you feel. I am trying to keep my car note under $200, so $8500 is the top for me. :oops:
 

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I see six 2003 Elements within 200 miles of zip code 20212 on autotrader.com. A couple appear to be a bit over that (apparently the search engine is liberal in its interpretation of 200 miles). There's a couple 2WD EX's under 100,000 miles, and a couple AWD EX's at 130,000 - 150,000 miles. There are also some DX's, but they don't seem to be any less expensive. You might set your price search criteria at $9,000 or so and start negotiating - the existence of other, more reasonably priced cars at a distance might make it possible to buy something closer to home at the same price.

Take your time on the purchase - money seems to be an issue for you, and if you're in a hurry and rushing to buy something, you'll usually pay more.
 

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I'd set my price point at $10,000. Sellers star high on AutoTrader (Trust me -I've sold five vehicles on AT) hoping someone will bite. After a couple weeks on the market many of the sellers will be willing to give you "close to auction/wholesale" price, so you could get one of the $10K E's in your $8,500 budget range.

I watched AT carefully for three months looking for a 2006 AWD EX Auto for under $15,000, then hit the one we bought at the end of December for $12,495 from a super high volume used car clearinghouse dealer. Some fool actually traded it in (their raping on the trade turned into my good deal on the buy!)to a place that sells everything $1500 to $4000 under full retail.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Okay, Update #2:
-The Element in PA is back on the market for some reason. The internet sales person also stated that the windshield is out until early this upcoming week (kinda phishy, if you ask me). This Element is also in and under my budget. It is an EX (YAY!!), so I will see about this

-One of the constraints(sp?) for buying an Element is it must be a manual transmission*. That's what is keeping the number available very low.

*My dad is wanting me to learn stick, I want to learn as well. My grandfather had a 1986 Chevy S-10 that had "four-in-the-floor", and I drove that for the last 5 days it lived (about 10 miles total, said and done). That being said, I do know the basics of driving stick and I am really, really wanting to learn even more!

-This Element is PA has ~147k miles, so I know it has been driven. It also has been in a fender-bender, but that was in '05, and is still driving. I am not worried.

Quick question for those who drive or have driven a manual transmission vehicle; how long did it take you to get used to the ballet of driving said vehicle?

Once again, thanks for the input and help. It has been very appreciated!
 

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I grew up with stick transmissions (tractors and an F-250). Pros and cons both ways - if you'll be doing lots of stop and go rush hour city driving, manual transmission can get old. But on the open road and especially in hilly terrain, I prefer manual. Ultimately, I'm kind of indifferent since my driving is a mix of these, but if I lived in the DC area and was in traffic a lot, I'd want an automatic transmission. To each their own - some people prefer manual transmission regardless.

I'd try to avoid something that has been in a wreck - little things seem to go out of alignment and then fail prematurely for years afterwards (windshield seals, perhaps?). If it's $1,000 or more cheaper than other options and it was a minor accident (NOT a salvage title in any event), you might consider it, but I'd still try to avoid such a thing... lots of fish in the sea if you're patient.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Well, it was damage to the back bumper...and the dealership lowered the price below $7000.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Final Update: I BOUGHT ONE!!!

I found one in my budget, under it actually. It is a 03 EX, AWD, 5-speed. It has a few cosmetic flaws, and a few functional "problems" (i.e. the flap, over the crevice between the tailgate and trunk is detatched. Also other non-mechcanical things). I paid $6900, so I am very happy with a few bucks left to do some minor mods...I have pics from CL/AT. but the post-deal pics will come tomorrow after I get the plates, and it comes home!
 
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