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Welp, my 2003 Element's valves are very noisey again. Bought the car from the original owner in excellent condition w/107K on the clock. Engine was completely quiet and smooth, but decided to have the local Honda dealer adjust the valves, as it had never been done. Mistake. They ticked from the day I picked it up from the dealer, and when I contacted them about it, they said it was fine, and not to worry about it. A month later, we had moved to a rural town in another state. Over the next 5K miles, the valves got noisier. No Honda dealer for almost 100 miles, so I had a local shop re-adjust them. They said the valves were loose, a couple excessively so. After that adjustment, the valves were quieter, but not completely so, like when I bought the car. Another 5K miles on the clock now (118K total), the valves are making way too much noise again. Going to drive the ~100 miles to a dealer, rent a car, and let them try another adjustment. Hope it works. Otherwise I'll be looking at installing a remanufactured head at the dealer. Ugh. I should have left the valves alone in the first place!
 

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on these engines the valves get tighter with age. when valves are tight they make less noise. when valves are too tight they can burn a valve if left alone for too long. when valves are loose they make more noise but you won't burn a valve. over time those loose valves will always get tighter. you can get more miles before the next valve adjustment at the cost of maybe a bit more noise from the valve tick. you can keep them tight within spec if you do it yourself and always adjust them at like 20k so they won't get too tight and burn a valve. that way you won't have ticking but at the cost of more valve adjustments.

dont put in a reman head you don't need to
 

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If they can't adjust the valves, I wouldn't trust them to install a head.

If you have any mechanical abilities, look into doing the adjustment yourself. You can also just check the clearance, you'll get an idea of what's going on with out any chance of messing anything up. The valve adjustment itself is basically loosening a nut and turning a screw so a feeler gauge slides in.
 

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This is why your location is important. Az is a pretty big state and I'm sure if you could give us a clue as to your current location, there might be a EOC member near you who could recommend a competent mechanic (not necessarily a dealer) to adjust your valves. Remember, the engine should be overnight cold before he/she starts the adjustment. Hope this helps.
 

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If you have them adjusted again, ask them to write down the gaps on each valve (three are 16 of them) before adjusting them. I'd like to see if they are looser than specs and if so, how many of them are off and by how much. As noted, noisy valves is not in most cases a big deal and much better than excessively tight valves, which can burn the valves. What I wonder is if a subset of them are loosening up, either because the folks that previously adjusted them didn't tighten the nut on some of them enough or if there is some sort of rocker arm problem where one or more of the nuts are loosening themselves. I've never heard of this happening but can't see how else you would have valves adjusted and they would progressively make more noise afterward.

Either way, you don't need a new head, you just need to figure out if they are loose and by how much. Also if they do adjust them, also have them give you the clearances they used for them - This will help you down the road to see if they are changing, in what direction, and how quickly.
 

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I would NOT put a head on it just because it sounds noisy!!! A quite honda is a tight valve clearance honda, which isnt necessary good. Judging valve clearance by the sound is never an accurate way to predict the clearance. Check them as normal with feeler gauges COLD!!! the OP element is probably 100% fine.

With K valves, remember its a loose clearance considering what hondas require:

008 to 010 intake COLD
010 to 013 exhaust COLD

A good mechanic can easily put them dead on 8 and 10 for the best "sound", but again never judge by sound. Yes, its possible for clearance to tighten up as miles rack up. This however isnt always the case. If the valve and seat wear, the valve will naturally rise toward the follower, closing clearance. Alternatively, cam lobe and follower can wear causing clearances to open. These are small changes and are usually nothing to worry about in a normal DD engine.
 

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008 to 010 intake COLD
010 to 013 exhaust COLD
I just adjusted mine last week - I set all the exhaust valves to 013 and intake valves to 010 - I figured I'd set them to the loose end of the specs since they'll tighten over time. No noise that I can notice at those specs.
 

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Note:
Revised:I found that the exhaust specs I was using were were off by a mm. I guess I should read twice and do once. :(
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I just checked and adjusted the valves on my 2008 Element at 103,000 miles. This is the second Element I've owned. The 2004 rhas run smoothly and quiet until it was totalled at 80,000 miles. Theis 2008 had 80,000 miles on it when I got it 5 years ago. Since last summer it had begun to run slightly rougher, hesitate when starting,and stumble when accelerating at lower speeds. I was prepared to look at the valves this spring.

I used ETCGs method of turning over the engine using the power steering pump with the spark plugs removed. With a good LED light in place and a hand light it was very easy to see and track the marks once I discovered the big pointer on the VTEC gear almost aligned with one mark and the orange chain guard has an index on it.

The only problem I had, besides dropping a few fasteners, was my old legs and back. I had to lay on top of the engine to do the exhaust valves. I would strongly suggest using a scaffold or platform or several pieces of 2x12 stacked lumber. I will be the next time.

I've read that valves tend to wear tighter with age. I expected to find a lot of them toward the small end of their specified ranges. They were. Cylinder #4 had its' exhaust valve below its minimum 0.010in and cylinder #2 its' intake below the minimum 0.008in. All the other valves were within range, 0.009in for intake and 0.011in for exhaust, tight but still in range.
I'd watched several videos about the procedure ETCG in particular, and every one of them was adjusting the intakes to their minimum spec and the exhaust to 0.012in. (I should have paid closer attention.)

But my back was giving out, so adjusted the #4 and #2 to match the others. The plugs looked OK, but since they were out I replaced them with the same NGK type. I used nickle antiseize on them. (The old ones were so hard to remove I was afraid that I'd break them.)

The mantra "slappy valves are happy valves" implies that it's better to err toward the loose end of tolerance. Exhaust valves not opening enough can heat enough to erode, possible damage the seats.

If I expected valves to wear tighter, I would understand loosening the exhaust to wear toward optimum. But tightening the intakes clearance makes no sense, unless the engine is being tuned for a use other than what it was intended.

Anyway, with all the valves set to within specifications, listening to the valve cover it is the same loudness. Because it is firing more evenly, the intake and exhaust resonator are more effective. The fuel injector clicking is more detectable. The stumble is gone and the engine doesn't hesitate as much.

This 12 year old Element now feels like my 2004 did when new.

But this summer I'm going to go through this again and loosen all the exhaust valves to .012in Now that I've got the procedure down it should be easier. I'm not in a rush because I'll only drive 1500 miles, most at slower speeds.
 

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2003 Honda Element Sunset Orange Pearl 2WD Automatic 135K Miles I Love It!
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Note:
The Element's exhaust valve specs must have changed over the years.

The mantra "slappy valves are happy valves" implies that it's better to err toward the loose end of tolerance (not a clattering slap-happy engine). Exhaust valves not opening enough can enough erode or weld to the seats, tearing off bits from themselves or the seats. Intake valves not opening enough would starve the cylinders for air.

If I expected valves to wear tighter, I might understand loosening the exhaust to wear toward optimum. But tightening the intakes clearance makes no sense, unless the engine is being tuned for a use other than what it was intended.

After my experience finding a new feeler gage set, I believe that I found a partial explanation for why K exhaust valves are set to 0.012m, why ETCG uses only a 0.012mm gage and a 0.008mm gage. The 2004 has a lash range of 0.010-0.013mm. 0.0115 is not a standard gage. There is no other reason for setting the exhaust to 0.012mm. (There is NO rational reason for setting the intake to 0.008 mm. )
For all that I have read on this site on the subject of valve adjustments (and I'm no expert), the general consensus is that the intakes loosen and the exhausts tighten with usage.

So, in order to maximize the amount of miles between valve adjustments, you would want to get your intakes set to the tight side of the range at .008 (because they will get more loose) and the exhausts set at the loose side of the range at .013 (because the will get tighter).

That's how I'm planning on doing mine in the near future, unless someone lets me know otherwise.

I'm getting too old to be doing this for the thrill of working on my engine! So now at 135K, and with no maintenance records as to whether or not it was ever done or not, I want to do it once and only once! So by the time I get to, say 235K miles, I'll be too old to drive at al!! :)
 

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Wear of the valve seats (either the valve edge or on the cylinder head) results in the valves moving slightly higher when seated, thus decreasing the valve lash. Wear of the top of the valve stem, the tip of the adjusting screw, the cam lobes, the rollers, or the rocker pivot points will result in increased valve lash.
 

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Welp, my 2003 Element's valves are very noisey again. Bought the car from the original owner in excellent condition w/107K on the clock. Engine was completely quiet and smooth, but decided to have the local Honda dealer adjust the valves, as it had never been done. Mistake. They ticked from the day I picked it up from the dealer, and when I contacted them about it, they said it was fine, and not to worry about it. A month later, we had moved to a rural town in another state. Over the next 5K miles, the valves got noisier. No Honda dealer for almost 100 miles, so I had a local shop re-adjust them. They said the valves were loose, a couple excessively so. After that adjustment, the valves were quieter, but not completely so, like when I bought the car. Another 5K miles on the clock now (118K total), the valves are making way too much noise again. Going to drive the ~100 miles to a dealer, rent a car, and let them try another adjustment. Hope it works. Otherwise I'll be looking at installing a remanufactured head at the dealer. Ugh. I should have left the valves alone in the first place!
Welp, my 2003 Element's valves are very noisey again. Bought the car from the original owner in excellent condition w/107K on the clock. Engine was completely quiet and smooth, but decided to have the local Honda dealer adjust the valves, as it had never been done. Mistake. They ticked from the day I picked it up from the dealer, and when I contacted them about it, they said it was fine, and not to worry about it. A month later, we had moved to a rural town in another state. Over the next 5K miles, the valves got noisier. No Honda dealer for almost 100 miles, so I had a local shop re-adjust them. They said the valves were loose, a couple excessively so. After that adjustment, the valves were quieter, but not completely so, like when I bought the car. Another 5K miles on the clock now (118K total), the valves are making way too much noise again. Going to drive the ~100 miles to a dealer, rent a car, and let them try another adjustment. Hope it works. Otherwise I'll be looking at installing a remanufactured head at the dealer. Ugh. I should have left the valves alone in the first place!
I purchased a 2010 with 95k last November 2019. I paid too much for it from a Honda dealer. I had been looking for quite a while, and my 2011 Outback had 240k, and was facing a cat replacement, and some front end work, and a set of tires. The Element was in perfect condition, one owner, garage kept and serviced religiously by a Honda dealer. With that said, I did all of the maintenance I could, replacing fluids, plugs, brake service, etc. I was driving it at 100K and started looking around for the valve adjustment. I spoke to my highly reliable mechanic, and he was not interested in doing the job, and said I should do it myself. He sad the engine sounded a bit slappy, and that was better than no slap. So with the Covid-19, and me at home, and the dealer wanting $600.00 to do the job, I decided to do it myself. I used the instructions that was posted here- and ETCG's YouTube video. They both put together an awesome tutorial and saved me a lot of money. My first attempt took 4 hours, and I ended up with a leaky valve cover. Small leak, but annoying. So I pulled it off the next day and rechecked all valves, and made a few minor adjustments- and completed the job in half the time - 2 hrs. I did break off a valve cover bolt during the second attempt. A trip to the dealer, and borrowing a torque wrench that read less than 20ftlb. Also, I was so excited about the first adjustment, that I drove the car right away and the Honda bond did not seal- so I had the oil leak. Second time, I let it sat overnight and have driven it over 100 miles today- no leaks. I am confident I can do this now more often, and quicket- thanks to the post here and Eric. The engine is a bit quieter at start up, otherwise, not much change. The exhaust was a bit tighter, and the intake a bit loose- nothing alarming. I used the specs from the post on this site. I did purchase the adjustment tool, but did it also with a wrench and screwdriver. With the adjustment tool, gasket with grommets, the Honda bond, offset gap tool, and bolt replacement, I still saved hundreds. Just saying, if I can do it, anyone should be able. The first adjustment I used latex gloves. The second round, I did it bare handed, and felt like I had a better drag with the feeler gagues. Make sure the gouges are flat after inserting, have really good lighting. A mirror helps, and I used a folding table to layout parts. Good luck with your adjustments. I really enjoyed doing mine. Tomorrow is oil change day- specifically waited after valve adjustment in case anything fell into the engine like old Honda bond or dirt. I did remove the plugs and turned to TDC like Eric did. Love this car.
 

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For all that I have read on this site on the subject of valve adjustments (and I'm no expert), the general consensus is that the intakes loosen and the exhausts tighten with usage.

So, in order to maximize the amount of miles between valve adjustments, you would want to get your intakes set to the tight side of the range at .008 (because they will get more loose) and the exhausts set at the loose side of the range at .013 (because the will get tighter).

That's how I'm planning on doing mine in the near future, unless someone lets me know otherwise.

I'm getting too old to be doing this for the thrill of working on my engine! So now at 135K, and with no maintenance records as to whether or not it was ever done or not, I want to do it once and only once! So by the time I get to, say 235K miles, I'll be too old to drive at al!! :)
I've read the same thing. I don't work on my car for fun either. I do it because I always have and I still can- barely. At the diminishing rate I'm driving, this car will never see 150,000 miles.

I've got all the service records from the first owner. This is the first valve adjustment done on this Element, at +100,000 miles. It had been running smoothly until about 800 miles ago. If I drove it every day I might not have noticed the change.

I was prepared to see all the intake valves loosened toward ~0.010in. They weren't. Seven intake valves were right in the middle of the spec range at 0.009. The one exception was below at 0.008. I loosened it to match the others.

Somehow I got the exhaust valve spec range wrong at 0.010-0.012in, but 7 exhaust valves were at 0.011. That's at the low end but still in spec. The exception was at .010. I loosened it to match the others.

This engine had been in production of +8 years when my E was built. If Honda had experienced significant valve wear in it IMO they would have changed the published lash specs AND set the exhaust valves looser and the intake valves tighter at the factory. AFAIK, they never did. Mechanical specifications are always X+/- y, not X+z for some things and X-z for others.

I'm sticking with the mechanical engineers standard. When I redo this work (in a month or so, back willing) it will be to check the aberrant valves first, to see if they have changed, then verify that all the intakes are 0.009 and last to set all the exhaust valves to 0.012.

To me the important thing is that before the engine was running unevenly. Now it is running better.

btw, The gauge set I have has 0.001 increments over the range from 0.005-0.020in (CTA A309). I don't need to guess, I can do over/under checks for every measurement.
 
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