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Hello all,

This is my first post here, as this is the first issue I've had with my Element. Please bear with me, this is quite long. I'm going to take the car to the dealer, but I'm hoping that someone here has had the same issues and can give me a little guidance. I'll give as much background as possible.

I've got 35,500 miles currently. The stock Goodyear tires are nearing the end of their life. When I had the 35k service done, my mechanic said I could get tires and an alignment "anytime."

Over the last six months, on five separate occasions, my VSA and Traction Control (yellow triangle) lights have come on. The first time, I was in Frech Lick, Indiana on the steepest hill I've ever driven up/down. The car did fine on the way up the hill, no warning lights. On the way down, I noticed that the Grade Logic Control had taken over (which is normal) and I was on the brakes almost the whole way down....all of the sudden, the VSA and Traction Lights came on. We weren't sliding or skidding, everything seemed normal. The lights remained on until the next time I cycled the key. After that, all was normal.

Since that time, the lights have come on three more times, all under normal driving. Last week, while driving on a straight, level road, both lights came on again. It was raining, but again, I wasn't out of control or noticing any wheel slip. I drove directly to my local mechanic (who had performed the 35k service the week before) and he ran a diagnostic check. No engine or transmission codes present but the wierd thing is, he could not communicate with the ABS/VSA system. We then cycled the key and the lights were out.

I received the brake pedal recall notice in the mail and felt validated because I have always thought my brake pedal was too soft. I bought the car new and it had a "hard spot" on one of the front rotors from day one. The rotors were resurfaced and all was fine. Around 15-20k, the dealer turned the back rotors due to a vibration while braking at highway speeds. When I had the 35k service last week, the tech noted that I would need pads soon, about 5k miles.

Now, my next issue may be related or perhaps its something different all together.

I had to have a right front axle seal replaced 10-15k miles ago because I was leaking transmission fluid. Not a major leak, but I did notice it on the garage floor. Dealer did the work, covered under warranty, of course. My issue is that over the last 5-10k miles, I have noticed an intermittent vibration when driving. At first, it would do it every now and again. But over the last couple of months, it has gotten much worse. As best I can describe, its almost like a "torque converter shudder" at around 40 mph. Under normal/light acceleration, the car will shudder and the tachometer seems to fluctuate. Almost as if one of the tires is square, the car kinda has this "hopping" feeling. Once it's in overdrive, it goes away. Under harder acceleration, it's totally fine. Doesn't shudder at all.

Honestly, it feels more like a tire that is totally out of balance but it is completely intermittent. It happens almost every morning when I have 5 miles of stop & go traffic on the way to work. It's almost like I can feel the transmission going in and out of overdrive, like rapid-fire, before it finally settles into gear. The last stretch of my drive has several stop lights with enough room in between to hit 45 mph. That's when I notice it the most. Like I said though, it really is intermittent, but I'm noticing it more & more.

After getting burned really bad by the horrendous transmssion issues in my previous Honda (2003 Accord EX V6 Coupe), I'm a bit nervous. I love my Element and I hope this isn't a sign of things to come. Anyone have any insight as to what might be going on?
 

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You have correctly identified the shudder problem, which is most likely due to torque converter bypass clutch lockup issues. #1 on your hit parade should be a transmission fluid change using Honda fluid only.

This particular clutch is typically the most vulnerable area of the transmission for premature wear and mis-engagement issues due to using 3rd-party fluids. The relationships between the fluid, the clutch material and the engagement rates are exact, so missing performance points by changing fluid response curves - either through worn-out fluid, or wrong fluid - will exhibit your symptoms.
 

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I would sincerely hope that the Honda tech who changed my axle seal would have had the smarts to use ATF-Z1 and not Dexron or some such aftermarket equivalent. That having been said, I will have them service the transmission tomorrow while it's there.

I will update this thread when I hear back from the dealer.
 

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Dealer Dissapoints, again

An update:

Dealer had the car all day yesterday and called that afternoon to discuss the vehicle. According to the service writer, the VSA and Traction Control lights were coming on intermittently because my brake fluid level is low due to severely worn front & rear brake pads. A week earlier, my local guy did my 35,000 mile service and told me I could go another 5k easily on the current pads. The brake fluid reservoir is easily half full; at the level it was when I took it in. Estimate for new pads was $495 and they charged $45 to tell me this.

The transmission shift quality issue remains unsolved. Tech "could not duplicate customer's concern" and said there were no known issues with the Element drivetrain. I noticed they only drove it 6 miles, even though I told them it might take multiple test drives of at least 4 miles for the condition to present itself. I told them to service the transmission while they had it there. Since it's still under the powertrain warranty, I guess I'll just drive it to see if it gets worse. The guy also said that the Odyssey's are having this exact same issue(and that I "described it to a tee") , but that my transmission is completely different, so the transmission programming update doesn't apply.

What really aggravated me was that the invoice mentioned nothing about my complaint of the transmission shift quality issue. They put the transmission service under the VSA/TRACS light issue. So, if going by the invoice, it looks like I never made a complaint about the transmission shudder. Oh, they also quoted me $800 for tires and an alignment. Surely my local tire shop can beat that estimate...

So, I guess I'll buy new tires, get an alignment, and have my regular mechanic do the brakes. At least I'm still 25k away from the expiration of the powertrain warranty... When I go to my local guy, they are genuinely helpful and express an interest in solving the problem. Yet, from the initial phone call, I got the impression that the dealership couldn't have cared less about my concerns.
 

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I had this same issue. The car would shake-shudder at 1300rpm and 35mph and again at 1800rpm and 39 mph. The only way to get it to stop was to 1)step on the gas, 2) get off the gas, or 3) press the button that would turn the Over Drive off. I was having this problem and the vehicle was due for a transmission fluid change and I had my NAPA mechanic do it. When I got the car back the frequency and the intensity of the shaking changed and after a day or two actually got worse. After reading this thread and several others, notably:
http://www.hondasuv.com/members/showthread.php?t=19393
and
http://www.justanswer.com/questions/134ey-i-have-a-2005-honda-element-which-has-slightly-over

I checked with my Mechanic and he did not replace the transmission fluid with Honda Brand Transmission Fluid. I took it back to my mechanic and had him flush the transmission fluid by changing it twice with the Honda Brand transmission fluid.

I am happy to report that it worked like magic! The problem is completely gone. I really didn't believe that using Honda fluid would make a difference and my NAPA mechanic didn't either but i figured i didn't have a lot to lose to try. I thought I was going to have to buy new transmission or sell it and buy a new one. Best <$99 fix ever!

Thanks for your guidance!
 

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30 to 45 mph shudder in car

I went the the dealer with this shudder problem and they could not find it. Usually in barely moving along and getting worse. 2005 AWD with 126,000 miles.
I read about changing the trans fluid and told them to do it. They did not think that was the problem. That was one week ago and no problems. I am going to change the trans fluid again at next oil change. Thanks to all for mentioning this. May have saved my car and my psy. Bob
 
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