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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Okay, so I'm driving in Houston traffic heading N on I-45. Usual idiot drivers, but I am abnormally impatient on this evening after work downtown. I feel a little aggressive, a little road-rage session wanting to happen....but no.....I grumble and bitch to no one listening....and the moment passes. Minutes later I encounter a complete group of distracted, hair-brained, idiots that are seemingly targeting my Element.
OY! We will have none of that....size 11 stomp, Element barks to life and we easily (and somewhat forcefully) motor away from said gaggle of idiot drivers. That felt really good, a little adrenaline, slight superiority, and proud of my E. HUmming toward home, hanging with traffic 15 minutes later, another distracted F250 decides to float over and squeeze me out of my lane....oh no, no, not today....STOMP, WHAAAaahhh, then that F250 started making really sick expensive sounding noises like it popped a sparkplug out and it was huffing or chugging air under high pressure. Sounded like he had broken something. So I slowed down a bit as I passed him and the rhythmic hissing quieted. Well that was weird. So I curiously accelerated hard again, the E downshifted two gears and immediately started making the expensive F250 noise. NO! NO NO! That noise is me!! And I also lost a bunch of power! I BROKE MY E!! Think quick....go easy with her....she seems okay if I don't push her. The first thing I think of is BURNED VALVE. But she seems to be okay right now at steady speed and 70mph on my Houston flat road. What I imaging it? I start to accelerate....*PIFF* *PIFF* *PIFF* *PIFF*.....DAMN, not imagining. Limp home easily for 20 miles. Stop in my driveway.
-She smells weird, hot, stinky.
-I went in the house to research. Not finding much that sounds familiar. Googling *PIFF* *PIFF* doesn't return much.
Aside: I'm at 145k on my E and no major services done. She's been a wonderful ride. At 115k I had to replace an O2 sensor. At 120k I had to replace my factory catalytic converter. Honda wanted $1300 to replace with Honda cat. OUCH! Autozone has one (complete bolt it type, no welding) for $389 plus tax. Still ouch, but she's been a gem otherwise.

Research not helping, I'm still worried it's a burned valve. I've never adjusted valves....STOP YELLING RamblerDan. I now know. Sheeesh.

So I call around to get prices to adjust valves. DIdn't call Honda yet.
Shop #1: $300 and three day wait.
Shop #2: $307 and a week wait.
And I'm reading online that this should be done for like $80 - $120 bucks. What am I worried about, burned valves cost WAY more than that. LIke $1600, right?
So I go back outside, she's cooled down now. I start her up and she sounds mostly normal, except this really metallic rattle that is really hard to pinpoint from inside the cabin. Under the hood it actually sounds muted. Kneeling beside the front tire looking through the wheel-well at the edge of the valve cover it is really loud. Expensively loud.
Okay, You-Tube valve adjustment. Not sure I want to try this, don't really have the time to mess things up. But I'm really curious now.... I'm imaging broken rocker arms, broken valve seats, bent valves, chunked pistons, scored cylinders. Oh, I'm feeling nauseous. How about a K24A2 transplant? More You-Tube. No, too adventurous. Head swap? K24z? Sell her? Oh sad. :-(

I gotta look inside.
Pulled the Spark Plugs.....everything looked really good. Toasted marshmallow color, darn near perfect. Oh, these have 145k on them. Well, let's take the valve cover off and see what we can discover. Never done this to a honda before. EASY though, cover is off, and I find.....nothing abnormal. So it must be in my cylinder. DAMN.
Nope, gonna stay positive and go see my trusty mechanic Dennis Haas at Oakridge Car Care. He tells me that $60 of the $300 is a new valve cover gasket, but mine was nice and rubbery and told him as much. So I left the E at his shop Friday evening with instructions to take a look and listen to the rattle. I also explained the *PIFF* *PIFF* expensive noise.
Monday he calls me and says, "Kurt, it sounds like something broken is in your catalytic converter. I think your cat has come apart inside, and when you accelerate, it blocks up the exhaust and causes it to wheeze and huff. And your converter has a 5-year warranty (fed law). I can still do the valve adjustment if you want. "

RamblerDAN DEMANDS JUSTICE FOR THE E! So yes, do the valve adjustment.
Okay, done.
Dennis, here's a new replacement Catalytic Converter, swap it out for me. done.
What do I owe you Dennis?
$189.32 total. Dude. That's too cheap. He smirks. Naw, that's it.
She starts right up, clatter of valves and injectors is music to my ears. Sounds good. Accelerates nicely. Returned the broken Cat for a full refund at Autozone.
It's been a week now. She's back to wonderful. Really like my E.
Still have not repeated the size 11 Stomp yet. The idiot drivers will find me soon enough though. All is well.
And Dennis is my hero. Again. :)
Dennis Haas - Oakridge Car Clinic on Rayford Rd. (281)367-3565

Premium Member
1,099 Posts
I'm glad you said popping the valve cover was easy. I need to do valves on both of mine. I'll try my hand at the '04 first =P.
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