I did it without jacking up the car, but then you better have a strong chest if you are doing it by yourself! It helps to have an extra pair of hands for a couple of minutes to hold up one end while youtighten the other. Of course jacking up the car helps!!!
My side steps arrived at 6:00 this evening from UPS and finished install before 8:00. Everything went ok. Some of the clips were disguised with the under coating, but came out fine. The passenger side seems to be a little easier, since there seems to be a little more room on that side for tightening the nuts (be careful, the exhaust is on that side and may be very warm). I used two metal ramps (one for the front tire and one for the back) to raise the E. It made the installation very easy, especially added room for the torque wrench. :shock: One big word of CAUTION, be very careful backing down off the ramps, there was negative clearance between side step and ramp. :? It made me scratch my head for a minute on how to get it off the back ramp, but I was able to adapt and overcome with a little ingenuity. The side steps look great, and now my little boy doesn't have to literally crawl in any more.
Brought home our Element on June 7th, received our accessories from CheapHondaParts.Com on June 9th, and have been trying to squeeze in time to install the side steps the rest of the week. Made an abortive attempt the evening of June 11th, but, after flailing away with the plate bolt end of the driver's side step for nearly an hour, I ran out of patience and daylight, restored things to pre-install status (i.e., put back all the plugs) and waited until today (Friday, June 13th (no, I'm not superstitious)) to make a second attempt.
Two-plus hours later, the steps are in place and I'm a much happier camper.
The instructions state you need a ratchet. Make sure the ratchet is in good working order. Using an old well-worn ratchet (as I did) is going to make the installation process very tedious. Oh, and make sure you have a good, l-o-n-g ratchet extension.
The instructions also state you need an 18mm socket. I didn't have one but found my 3/4 inch socket worked just fine.
Before doing any assembly, I strongly recommend that you completely pre-thread the eight flange nuts and small flange bolts used in Step 1, pre-thread the four large flange nuts to the four plate bolts and pre-thread the remaining 12 flange bolts into their respect holes in Step 5. The machining of the hardware in the side step kit leaves much to be desired, and some of the mount holes underneath the vehicle are not precisely aligned. After doing the pre-threading, you may want to note which bolts went with which nuts and which bolts went with which mount holes.
Thanks to my abortive first attempt, I also found another trick. Take each of the plate bolts, and, using some enamel paint (I just used some Gloss Red Testors modeling paint from my model paints box), paint a horizontal half-moon (or sunset, if you prefer) on the end of the threaded "head", making sure not to get paint on the threads themselves. I did this so I could easily tell which way the plate of the plate bolt was pointing.
Unless you have better eyesight than me and/or a much better lit garage, I would recommend doing the installation during daylight hours, preferably allowing for more than two hours of good light.
My first install attempt was tried with the Element sitting on the ground. Not a good idea if you a) have a large head (I'm a Size "8"), wear glasses, and have a fairly large frame (I'm 6' 1 1/2").
My second attempt was done running both wheels on one side up service ramps. Be v-e-r-y careful if you use service ramps. First, I'd recommend having someone outside the vehicle watching and coaching. Second, while getting up the ramps is relatively simple, getting back down after the side steps are mounted is another matter. The side clearance of my Element is just under 10 3/4 inches without the side steps, more than enough room for the ramps. However, once the side steps are installed, the side clearance dwindles to just over 8 1/4 inches, not enough to clear my ramps.
Fortunately, my ramps are hand-made hardwood jobs, so when I first backed down and the side steps met the top of the rear ramp, the ramp took all the punishment. At my wife's suggestion, I ended up using some two-by-fours to act as a "lift" behind the rear ramp, giving me just enough extra clearance that I could scoot out the ramp with minimal effort.
Step 1 can be done as written. Be sure to not tighten the nuts, as you will need to have some "play" in the bracket when you get to the end of Step 5.
Steps 2 and 3 are rather nerve-wracking, especially when installing the driver's side step, as you have to contend with obstructions that make the work area quite tight.
In Step 2, I would recommend installing the plastic washer more than halfway (more like two-thirds) onto the plate bolt. The plastic washer acts as a wedge to keep the plate bolt from falling inside the frame hole. Positioning it halfway doesn't wedge things tight enough (and pushing it further after the bolt is inserted doesn't work very well), as I found out the hard way when one of my bolts slipped inside the hole. Thankfully, it didn't fall all the way down in and I was able to retrieve it.
In Step 3, make sure that when you rotate the plate bolt, you are positioning it so that it will wedge against the bottom of the frame as the large flange nuts are tightened. Test each bolt before attempting to mount the side step. Also, only thread on the large flange nuts enough so they will stay put. You will need the "play" for successfully aligning the other flange bolts with their mount holes.
I found I needed assistance when installing the driver's side step, mainly to hold up the front end of the step while I struggled to align the rear holes with the plate bolts and thread the large flange nuts. The passenger side step I was able to install without assistance.
In Step 5, make sure not to tighten any of the flange bolts until all the bolts are partially threaded into their mount holes. Again, the "play" will be needed. Also, don't forget to install the metal washer with the upper center flange bolt. I overlooked this step and ended up crawling under later to do so.
Four recommendations I would make to Honda (assuming they monitor this site, which they should if they are not doing so) for the side steps. First, include the installation instructions in the box. Second, expand on the documentation details. Third, improve the quality of the machining of the mounting hardware ("Made in Japan" quality, please, even if it's actually made in the U.S. of A.). Fourth, replace the plastic washer with something that a) forms a better wedge when installed on the plate bolt, and b) doesn't actually work against the apparent intention of having the surface of the rear side step "lock" with the frame hole. One idea I have is a thin polyester felt washer with an inner threaded ring.
[quote:e8a88a8719="plainsmonk"]Fortunately, my ramps are hand-made hardwood jobs, so when I first backed down and the side steps met the top of the rear ramp, the ramp took all the punishment. At my wife's suggestion, I ended up using some two-by-fours to act as a "lift" behind the rear ramp, giving me just enough extra clearance that I could scoot out the ramp with minimal effort.[/quote:e8a88a8719]
Lucky you had wooden home-made ramps, I have the steel ones. Too bad you didn't see my post above with the clearance caution first. I solved my problem exactly the same (ramp off the ramp), only I had 2" x 12" boards handy. Fortunately, I was anticipating a close fit and had my wife back the E down of the ramps so I could watch. The side steps and the ramp kissed, but it could have really got ugly if I wasn't watching.
I wholeheartedly agree with your review of the instructions above, and good tip about the paint on the rear plate bolt, finger nail polish would work too for those that don't do much modelling (that doesn't sound right, modelling w/o finger nail polish :roll: ).
Good point, IlliniWoods, about the enamel paint. Nail polish would work fine, too, as would Rustoleum (if you have some in a can or just want to spray a little on a plastic lid and dab up some of it with a small brush or even a wide toothpick).
In hindsight, I could have also backed up the Element onto my ramps (one behind each wheel). That would have given me the necessary working room for the rear bolts, and probably enough to install the middle and front bolts, too. Plus, it would have eliminated the clearance issue.
Also, if you have a non-functioning ratchet and it happens to be a Craftsman (Sorry if this sounds like a Bob Vila commercial), be sure to take it to the local Sears for a free replacement. Mine was twenty-four years old (bought to work on my first vehicle, a used 1970 VW Van; ironic, eh?). I took it in and they replaced it, no questions asked. The "unlimited warranty" truly is unlimited. The new ratchet gets broken in installing the roof rack on the Element .