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Discussion Starter #1
Just replaced the starter in my 2003. Went with OEM - about $400 from Majestic.

A couple of comments, for those who will need to do it in the future.

First, I did it from the top. Nothing difficult about doing it this way, just takes a fair amount of time. I marked all the connections to the throttle body - electrical, coolant, vacuum. Not sure this step was necessary, it was pretty easy to figure out what went where when I was reassembling. The most time-consuming part of the job was scraping the gasket off the throttle body. Also probably unnecessary, the old one still looked good. And before someone proclaims you should always replace one, I can say that I went with the old one 3 years ago when I was installing the cruise control, and did not have a problem then.

Second, while you're in there already, replace the knock sensor and the heater bypass hose. The former you can reach from underneath if need be, but not the latter. The hose is just a few bucks, absolutely no reason not to replace. I was replacing the radiator at the same time, so this decision was automatic.

Third, yes, it is possible to replace the starter from underneath. Two reasons why I did not go that route. One, I have large hands and lack the additional joints that must be required to do this job comfortably. Second, speaking of comfort, I do this work to clear my head, not to beat the clock. Frustration is not what I look for here. Yes, I know, I'd never make it as a dealership mechanic. No intention to go there, though.
 

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2003 Honda Element Sunset Orange Pearl 2WD Automatic 135K Miles I Love It!
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Just replaced the starter in my 2003. Went with OEM - about $400 from Majestic.

A couple of comments, for those who will need to do it in the future.

First, I did it from the top. Nothing difficult about doing it this way, just takes a fair amount of time. I marked all the connections to the throttle body - electrical, coolant, vacuum. Not sure this step was necessary, it was pretty easy to figure out what went where when I was reassembling. The most time-consuming part of the job was scraping the gasket off the throttle body. Also probably unnecessary, the old one still looked good. And before someone proclaims you should always replace one, I can say that I went with the old one 3 years ago when I was installing the cruise control, and did not have a problem then.

Second, while you're in there already, replace the knock sensor and the heater bypass hose. The former you can reach from underneath if need be, but not the latter. The hose is just a few bucks, absolutely no reason not to replace. I was replacing the radiator at the same time, so this decision was automatic.

Third, yes, it is possible to replace the starter from underneath. Two reasons why I did not go that route. One, I have large hands and lack the additional joints that must be required to do this job comfortably. Second, speaking of comfort, I do this work to clear my head, not to beat the clock. Frustration is not what I look for here. Yes, I know, I'd never make it as a dealership mechanic. No intention to go there, though.
Thanks for your input on this. I too would be inclined to work from the top for the same reasons you mentioned.

I'm likely looking at replacing the starter on my '03 EX sometime soon. It still keeps cranking away, but at 17 years old, and 136K miles, it can't be too much longer for this world!
 

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Hi,
I go in from the top also, not that hard and plenty of room once you get there.

For starters, I rebuild my own.

I buy a JY from E-Bay and then rebuild with Honda parts.

Not that hard, the Mitsuba's are pretty tough but from my experence usually wear out by 150,000 miles.

 

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Discussion Starter #4
When you rebuild, do you just replace the brushes (or brush assemblies)? Or do the bearings and/or planetary gears need attention as well?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
150K? Makes me feel better, I have 197K on my car, just replaced the original starter.
 

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Hi,
There is nothing written in stone on starters longevity???

I just clean, replace the brush set and plunger kit.

No bearings, just bushings and those have always been good to go on mine.

Just clean and relube.

I then bench test and have never had a problem, no doubt because the Japanese starter is well made to begin with!

The gears have always been fine, not that hard to do and you can save some money.

Even the E starter from Honda is rebuilt, can't help but wonder what they do to their rebuilds???

Probably no different than what we can do ourselves???

Be advised the "S" wire connector changed about 2006, so if you do get a spare to rebuild from E-bay get the right year for your car!!!
 

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FYI - 276k on my 2003 E still original starter an original alternator. Had to change my 2008 E’s alternator at 200k.
 

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Hi,
My wife and I both drove E's at one time, she now has a RAV4.
One starter went out at 110,000 and the other at 130,000???
One thing you can do to help the starter is to always turn your AC off when you shut the car down so when you start it up the starter does not have to also pull the AC to start.
Everything helps!
 

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I believe you will find that the AC clutch is not powered while cranking. 165k on my original starter 2010 SC (AC switch in almost never off as I live in TX).

I did change to an Optoma Yellow Top battery at about 80k. Since it can supply the proper starting current (unlike the stock battery) I think it may help with stater longevity.
 

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Hi,
Well....If you have the AC on and you apply power while cranking what is it going to do?

Wait a few minutes for the car to warm up???

I don't think so?
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Theoretically, a battery supplying more current to the starter is harder on the starter - puts more load on it.

Falling back on my old mechanical engineering background, I think of extreme cases. What's the extreme case here? No power coming from the battery -> no load on the starter -> the starter lasts forever. More power coming from the battery -> the opposite.

As far as AC on while cranking - the switch might be on, but the AC compressor is not putting any load on the starter because the clutch is off. The clutch will engage after the engine starts. To verify, have someone crank the engine while you watch the AC compressor. At least that's how my E behaves, as well as my Jeep.
 

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Yes, you and I agree on the AC clutch.

However in my engineering background, when you don't supply enough current to a starter motor, it takes longer to start the engine and builds up more heat. And I think if you look back in your engineering background you will find heat to be the enemy of most things. You may also find that many things fall under a nice bell curve, so no current or enough might both prolong life. Rarely does a simple explanation provide all the answers.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Well, maybe. OTOH, less current means less energy and therefore less heat. Plus, what does really wear in a starter? Seems to be the brushes. Graphite they're made of is not particularly heat sensitive, it's the friction that does the job on them. Less load, less bending, less friction. Of course the armature expands with heat, so if there is indeed more heat, there may be more friction as a result of that.

As you say/imply, many factors are at work, a simple explanation may not cut it. Anyone up to taking a starter apart, putting strain gauges on the parts, and loading it up? I only have enough ambition to replace brushes/plunger in my old one. And even that not right away, have 3 old cars on my driveway, plenty of maintenance backlog.
 

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Hi,
I guess everyone can do as they please...

They bought the car and can operate it as they want.

I was raised to shut everything down until the engine was running and even wait till the engine warms up before running down the road.

Opinions, vary I guess!
 

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Listening to my starter crank a little slower than normal this morning made me think of this thread!

I bought my '03 EX two years ago now with the same (typical stock, slightly larger than a garden tractor sized) battery, that I have no idea how old it is because no one removed the little date punch outs on the sides! Such is life when you buy a used vehicle with zero maintenance records! : - (

I too was concerned that going to a larger sized battery would have some adverse effect electrically; and was more concerned about first the alternator and second the starter.

But after consulting with members on this site, who have used larger batteries for years without any problems; well, that put my fears to rest! :)

So it sounds like sooner rather than later I will be upgrading to a 24F battery for my E and I'm also going to put in a new ground cable while I'm in there. My original ground cable still looks OK (FL car), but it is 17 years old now too, so.........

The way I understand it, the starter motor will draw no more current than it needs to crank the engine. (And on the same note, the alternator will produce no more current than is needed to charge the battery.) If the battery will not supply enough current to the starter, the starter will crank only as fast as the available current allows. More available current really can't harm the starter. As the starter ages and requires more current to compensate for it's worn condition, that extra current will be available from a larger battery. Which should prolong the starter's life somewhat.

Hope this helps! :)
 

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Hi,
I thought about a bigger battery, but I live in Florida so no real cold to deal with like up North.

You can do a voltage drop test on your battery cables to tell you what is going on there.

The bigger battery will make it harder to check your automatic transmission fluid.

As long as you keep up with keeping the cable connections clean, and check your Alternator now and then should not be any problem with the OEM size battery?
 

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Hi,
I thought about a bigger battery, but I live in Florida so no real cold to deal with like up North.

You can do a voltage drop test on your battery cables to tell you what is going on there.

The bigger battery will make it harder to check your automatic transmission fluid.

As long as you keep up with keeping the cable connections clean, and check your Alternator now and then should not be any problem with the OEM size battery?
Thanks seagiant. I'm in FL too.

I never thought about the trans fluid dipstick part. I do remember that it took me about 15 minutes to even find it when I first bought my E! (LOL!) Should have just looked at the owner's manual! :)

Perhaps I should check that out further before I dive into the 24F battery conversion.

Thanks again! :)
 

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My opinion, but most people have problems as they do not do any maintance.

Clean battery post, good cables, clean ground connections....

One thing that happens in Florida is corrosion inside cables(white powder) that you can't really see but rob you of power.

As I said a voltage drop test with a VOM Meter will tell you what's going on there.

"Eric The Car Guy" has a lot of Vids on Elements because he drives one!

Good info there, I have not taken my E to a real mechanic in years!

 

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My opinion, but most people have problems as they do not do any maintance.

Clean battery post, good cables, clean ground connections....

One thing that happens in Florida is corrosion inside cables that you can't really see but rob you of power.

As I said a voltage drop test with a VOM Meter will tell you what's going on there.

"Eric The Car Guy" has a lot of Vids on Elements because he drives one!

Good info there, I have not taken my E to a real mechanic in years!

You are right on about the maintenance. The Element seems to be the kind of vehicle where the regularly maintained ones go to 300K+ miles no problem, and the poorly maintained ones are ready for the bone yard by ~ 175K miles!

I still have that original stock ground cable that has no insulation on the last 3 - 4 inches. I have seen all the pictures on this site from the rust belt cars where that exposed part has corroded badly and causes a lot of problems. And even though mine still looks OK, I figure the $12 - $15 I'll spend on a nice new one will be cheap insurance.

I like Eric The Car Guy's videos too. If someone still thinks they can't do the job after watching Eric's video; well, they probably shouldn't be messing with fixing cars to begin with! He does have a lot more tools than the average DIYer, but I probably wouldn't try something like a valve adjustment without seeing it in detail first. And Eric's videos are great for that!

In the 2 years that I have owned my Element, the only thing so far that I sent out to a shop was balancing my 4 new tires! I even mounted them and replaced the valve stems myself, but didn't trust my antique bubble balancer! Spent a whole $20 cash!
 

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Add me to the list of E starters being replaced. Mine started bogging down over the past 2 months to the point that I would carry a breaker bar to tap the starter to get it going. I went in through the top (no lift) and I got to say, that lower intake support bolt and the 2 electrical connectors on the bracket were the hardest part. That, and the 17mm bolt needed a long ass cheater bar on the end of the ratchet to get it loose.
 
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