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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Well here's my dilemna,
I was at the brink of purchasing a new 4WD EX Black E today, but after reading all of the info about the scratching panels, I'm glad I did not. I owned a 1985 Jeep CJ7 up until about 3 years ago, as you know, there are plastic fender "extentions" that seemed indestructible when I 1st bought the car in 1984. I was correct!! You could not scratch these suckers unless you used a blade or a flame torch!!!
Keep in mind, we are talking about an American Motors car here.
Do I expect the HONDA panels to be scratch "resistant"? Absolutely!!! If they cannot stand up to the likes of an American made "Piece of Chevy" Avalanche or Dinosaur Jeep, they are in serious trouble!!! The one thing that I questioned from the start on the "E" was that plasticy look, bought I was sold on the idea that It would not ding, dent or scratch like painted fenders. I hate to think that my 8 year old daughter or my dog "Freckles" might permanantly marr the finish of my new "E" without blinking an eyelash!!
I will be waiting for some answers from Honda and feedback from you current "E" owners before I make my decision. Right now the CRV seems like the way to go. 5 seats, a more plush interior seat material, up front sunroof, more comfy seats, more cargo space behing the rear seats.. I don't know, someone please change my mind, I am 40, have entered Midlife Crisis, and I really did not want to own the same car as my friggin neighbor!!!!
 

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Let me put it this way - I just turned 42 and wanted a practical vehicle to carry my wife, my daughter and any big stuff that needs totin'. I wouldn't have bought my E if I thought any component of it was going ot be give real grief. Yes, my E came delivered with some small scratches in the exterior plastic panels - no big whoop. I'm devising a fix for them. If I'm working on a fix for them, I feel Honda is working on one also - especially if they are losing potential sales or if getting complaints on them. Frankly, i wouldn't worry about it, no matter what you own it will have battle scars on it. With the fun I'm having with my E right now, i can live with them (to an extent!!!)
 

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I don't blame you a bit for holding off or making a different purchase altoghter. I have an Element and love it but am pretty concerned with what those panels will look like in a few years. They're not very tough.
 

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I still don't understand what everyone is complaining about.... I have an EX with about 1300 miles and I have no issues at all with the cladding....
 

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BigWaveDaveE,

I understand your dilemma. I too was undecided. I had already ordered and could have cancelled but was already sold on the car. Let me tell I just love the EL. Besides the panels, it is a dream to own. I hope Honda comes up with a tougher panel though.
I originally kept the issue alive( scratching panels, under different topic heading) because I didn't want people to sweep the Issue under the rug. Hope this helps.......Butch
 

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I went to the chicago auto show last weekend, and went around and did the fingernail test on every car with "plastic" body panels I could find. The element plastic allowed more of a "mar" than a scratch, the plastic seemed hard and very smooth. The Chevy Avalanche plastic was sort of softish and bumpy, and I could put a nice little gouge in the plastic. The Saturn Vue was a similar material, and I could put a real indent in the plastic with my nail.

I hate to break it to everyone, but I think this is just something that you have to deal with. Its only plastic, and at least you wont have to fix paint and get rust if it gets scratched. My nails are pretty darn soft, I can't even open those pen knives with mine.

Just my two cents.
 

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I was at Detroit Auto Show. Me and some buddies tried like hell to scratch the Chevy Avalanche, But could not . At least with our fingernails.
we did however on the Element see hundreds of scratches (maybe a thousand? no joke!)some deep, some superficial and some just plain old scratches.
We looked very closely at other cars because I had already ordered my Element and I wanted to know if it was just inherent in composites in general or just Honda's composites. I was sad to find out that Honda's composites were of a much inferior material.
I still bought the Element only because I absolutely love the car and blessed to have enough money so if it is a real problem by next year I'll just trade it in on a hopefully new and improved Element.
 

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If a CRV or some other car has enough going for it that scratches on a plastic pannel on the E will cause you to buy it then you should. I drove the CRV, compared gas milage, looked in the back and imagined how that would hold up to salt water and my scuba tanks, fish, and sailing gear and it was not contest. I read about the scratches and checked it out myself. On the EX they don't show up much at all and once cleaned they show up even less. I do note that they show up more on the DX. But I also never had a work vehicle that I didn't have scratches on, usually on the paint as well from bushes rubbing against the sides. Funny thing is that I already have a chip in the paint from a rock but the pannels look great.
 

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:shock:
I saw an Element at the Kansas city Auto show last night- and after reading about the scratchable side panels, I decided to give it a try- Here's my results:

On the bumpers I found that I could scratch the surface, but not easily ( I didn't want to sit there scratching away all night on their display Element!) but on the back tail gate where the plastic wraps up over the gate (where the glass window meets the lower gate) I gave just a light scratch with my very chewed up fingernail- and I was VERY surprised to see how easily I scratched the material!! I left a very noticable 3 in. rough scratch withvery little pressure with my fingernail. I deal with assorted plastics and materials daily (toy designer) and this appears to be a very soft (read- cheap) compound. The bumpers seemed to be sturdier and didn't have as many scratches as the tailgate area. Still, I was very surprised as I thought the whole issue was exagerated, but after trying it myself- I can see how serious a problem this could be: What will my '03 Element look like in '04, '05...'06??!!!

Also the surface of the tailgate as well as inside walls seemed very easy to scratch. (The flat surface of the tailgate when it is opened) Also the small plastic bin under the extra power outlet in the back right had been completely shattered and an attempt by the Honda Reps to glue it back in place was not very sucessful. I wonder if it is also fragile.

I plan to continue shopping for an Element tomorrow, but I will certainly raise these issues with the sales person!
Glad I found this site and read about it first!

Dave
 

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artdude,


thanks for the imput. as I have said all along Honda could have came up with a sturdier material.
since you work with plastics in design, you know there are plastics out there that could have been a better choice.
I did end up buying the Element. i love the car, just wondering what these panels will look like in a few years. guess I'll find out. :?
 

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True a finger nail should probably not scratch a cars surface, ( I tried lightly scratching without any luck??) but come on everyone, Metal isnt the most scratch resistent mterial either. Sure a finger nail wont do it but any simple metal object can scratch paint on metal. I did not find the panels to be as sensitive as everyone is describing them. We'll see after I get my element how they hold up!
 

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As I have said before, regular old paint (bc\\cc) is much more durable than the plastic on the Elements...and you if don't believe that you are lying to yourself.
 

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I think if the plastic coating used was a little more durable - and we all know it can be done - there would be no comparison to painted panels.

The plastic panels make the vehicle look better, and if they were like advertised - much more flexible and versastile than painted panels.

I, personally, don't want painted panels.


Some people buy the Element because it's different, and then run out and put carpet in it and plan on painting the panels. They are basically just making it like everything else on the road again.
 

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[quote:628b43373e="artdude102"]:shock:
I saw an Element at the Kansas city Auto show last night- and after reading about the scratchable side panels, I decided to give it a try- Here's my results:

Dave[/quote:628b43373e]

I thought you owned a Element already?

I was at the show too!

Funny: A dealer tried to sell me the Element you were scratching! LOL

I am very close to buying one soon. trading a 97 Jetta...
 

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I was at the Kansas City Auto Show over the weekend and checked out the Element. I was impressed by the number of people gathered around the Element. I heard many positive comments from its unique styling to the many utilitarian uses for this vehicle. Having read the comments on this site by owners about the plastic panels, I proceeded to check the areas where scratches would be vulnerable to everyday normal use. I am somewhat disappointed to find scratches. I feel sorry for the person who will buy that vehicle at the show. I like the Element and hope that the Honda people will remedy or at least respond to the worries people have about the plastic situation. I hope to get mine soon.
 

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so how hard would it be to replace the panels after a few years?
it's got to be less expensive than replacing metal ones, no?

IT'S A CAR, NOT A BABY!!!
 

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Here's a suggestion. If you are concerned about the plastic panels getting scratched with fingernails or toothpicks or dust particles blowing in the wind, instead of complaining about something you obviously think is such a big problem with the E, then don't buy one. It's just that simple. There are lots of things on lots of cars that don't quite go the distance as far as keeping your car forever. Like the black moulding around the windows of most cars. If you wash it enough, (and the way some people are concerned with the scratches on the panels I assume they ALWAYS have clean cars) the black fades out and can even crack!! What can you do? Maybe Honda could have made them better, maybe they should have made them scratch proof, but the fact is, they aren't. So maybe what those people are looking for is something a little more durable, like a military tank. I am sure the panels on that would resist anyones fingernails.
Still, I don't understand this obsession with destroying property that anyone would walk up to a car, theirs or not, and try to scratch it with anything. Don't we get mad at kids for doing things like that?? :roll:
 
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