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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My car has started making clunking noises in the front end when driving over washboard roads. I did a quick search and found out that at 50,000 miles, it's not unusual for the E to need front struts and this is the classic noise they make when they go bad.

I stopped by the Honda dealer on lunch break and after a $750 quote, I quickly left. I've been calling around town to shops that have done work for me in the past and found one that will do the job for $190 plus parts. While I'm still waiting for other shops to get back to me, this seems reasonable. My only question is what struts? Obviously I could buy the Honda ones but they will be too expensive through the garage and they won't let me supply them myself. The only aftermarket strut I can find that is a OEM replacement is by KYB. Is this the company that supplies Honda their front shocks? Is there anybody else making an aftermarket front strut that might be better? I don't want to lower the car. I just want to make it stop going clunk.

As a side question, do I need to replace the strut mount or strut bearings? I found this paragraph on drivewire.com that I thought was interesting. Anybody care to comment?

The Honda strut mount is located on the top of the Honda strut assembly and is used to provide a pivot point and mounting location for the strut. The strut mount is only used on cars equipped with Mac Pherson type struts, and are typically only found on smaller compact cars. The Honda strut mount is typically made of rubber and has a strut bearing in the center that allows the Honda strut to turn right to left with the steering. The Honda strut mounts should always be replaced went replacing the strut assembly. An indication that the strut mount has failed is you would hear a knocking noise while going over bumps, the other way you may notice a Honda strut bearing going bad is that the steering seems a bit hard when turning the wheel. If you need to replace the strut mount or Honda strut bearing you will need to remove the strut assembly from the car. Be careful! The Honda strut mount and bearing actually holds the spring under hundreds of pounds of pressure, and if you remove the gland nut holding the strut mount to the strut assembly without using a spring compressor you will cause yourself great harm. Best bet is to remove the Honda strut assembly and take it to a Honda professional and let them replace the strut mounts. You will need to realign the Honda suspension after changing the strut mounts.
Who can help me strut my stuff?
 

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outpost4 said:
My car has started making clunking noises in the front end when driving over washboard roads. I did a quick search and found out that at 50,000 miles, it's not unusual for the E to need front struts and this is the classic noise they make when they go bad.

I stopped by the Honda dealer on lunch break and after a $750 quote, I quickly left. I've been calling around town to shops that have done work for me in the past and found one that will do the job for $190 plus parts. While I'm still waiting for other shops to get back to me, this seems reasonable. My only question is what struts? Obviously I could buy the Honda ones but they will be too expensive through the garage and they won't let me supply them myself. The only aftermarket strut I can find that is a OEM replacement is by KYB. Is this the company that supplies Honda their front shocks? Is there anybody else making an aftermarket front strut that might be better? I don't want to lower the car. I just want to make it stop going clunk.

As a side question, do I need to replace the strut mount or strut bearings? I found this paragraph on drivewire.com that I thought was interesting. Anybody care to comment?

Who can help me strut my stuff?
If im not mistaken most of Honda's struts are made by Showa.I don't kknow why they wont let you supply the parts and just have them install them.....we do it here all the time.
 

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I love what passes for "service" these days. Umm ok, we want your business, but only if you use our marked up mediocre quality stuff, are patient, easy to deal with and basically aren't too much trouble or bother for us.
What ever happened to old fashioned "shops" where people knew what they were doing, were anxious to help you, could pretty much put on anything you could dream up - and fabricate it if you couldn't find it. They didn't care where you bought it - they were happy to have the work putting it on if not the sale.
Those folks knew that if they gave you good service, that you'd be back again and again - and refer your friends too. Sadly it seems most of the places I deal with these days are so bad (and so RUDE) I wouldn't refer my worst enemy to them.
Perhaps the best solution is to find the best struts and then find a shop who sells those struts or will put those particular struts on for you if you buy them elsewhere.
 

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Kyb Oem

You can find plenty of KYB shocks which come OEM on the E. Look around a complete set minus install should run you around $200. I have seen lots of ads for that price. As for Aftermarket ones, I haven't seen any at all. If you get any info let me know
 

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outpost4 said:
My car has started making clunking noises in the front end when driving over washboard roads.
I have the same noise, but i only have 14,000 miles...
Any one have any clues?
Should i get it checked?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
After a couple of weeks of delving into front struts, I have learned this:

(1) No one makes an aftermarket strut for the Element. There is the KYB factory strut and that is it. Monroe says they make one but I've got to believe it is the KYB re-branded for Monroe. I can't imagine they'd make one themselves for the few Elements they'd fix.

(2) If you are going to replace the strut, replace the mount and the bearing, too. It's too big of a job to not replace all of the pieces that might be bad.

(3) The dealer is 25% higher than a good independent. I settled on one shop to do my job as I've had good work from them in the past and they were willing to do the research, looking for an aftermarket strut. They quoted me $700 to replace the struts, mounts, bearings and realign the front end when it's all over (the service manual says to realign the wheels after replacing the struts). Initially the dealer quoted me $750. I went back by there today to firm up their quote. They hadn't included the extra parts or the alignment. Their new quote was $940. I told them they were $240 too high. They politely said that's the way it would be. OK. I can get the same parts and great service from somebody else. The decision was a no-brainer.

The shop ordered the parts today. When I get them it, I'll let you know how it rides.
 

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I have had that clunk/knock since day one and Honda has never been able to fix it. They also have not changed the strut mount/bearing. They say that is not the issue. When they replaced the struts for the second time I would have thought that they would have changed the bearing but, noooooo. You will get different opinions about doing an alignment after strut replacement. The dealer never did an alighnment on mine and I ask the mechanic and he stated that it did not need to be done. Anyway, I took it to have an alignment and it was not needed. I have not done struts on the E but I have done them on other cars and sometimes you need a spring compressor and sometime you do not. If you were down in S FLA I would help you. But, you're not. Have fun you can do it. What is the worst that can happen? You let the "freon" out.
 

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If you replace the struts then you need an alignment unless the mechanic that took apart the frond end marked it so it would go back together the same way and thus not requiring an alignment. I've done many suspensions this way and have not gotten alignments afterwards. I've done friends suspensions as well and once in a while someone feels the need to check my work on an alignment machine... been perfect every time. :)

Gregg, who did you end up ordering the suspension from? Or did you just let the shop doing the work order the parts?

As for replacing the strut bearings everytime you replace the struts. It really depends on the age and condition of the bearings. they don't always need to be replaced.



 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
spdrcr5 said:
If you replace the struts then you need an alignment unless the mechanic that took apart the frond end marked it so it would go back together the same way and thus not requiring an alignment. I've done many suspensions this way and have not gotten alignments afterwards. I've done friends suspensions as well and once in a while someone feels the need to check my work on an alignment machine... been perfect every time. :)
I've heard this before and I'm sure it's true. At 50K miles, it's not the worst thing to check the car's alignment and I'm going to have them do that, realigning as necessary.

Gregg, who did you end up ordering the suspension from? Or did you just let the shop doing the work order the parts?
It turns out the Monroe struts aren't available until "late fall" which means first quarter of 2007 to my mechanic and me. The KYB rep was in the mechanic's shop when I was in there last and confirmed they didn't make an aftermarket part. I ended up ordering the struts from the only game in town, which is Honda parts. I bought them myself from Majestic Honda which has a new order page. You can now specify shipping before your order is completed. Pick "FedEx residential" for cheap ground shipping. Excellent news. My shipping and handling was just $20.

As for replacing the strut bearings everytime you replace the struts. It really depends on the age and condition of the bearings. they don't always need to be replaced.
I'm sure this is the case but since I can't view them until everything is taken apart and in a mechanic's shop, and the labor is such a large part of the install, I thought it was best to replace all the parts that might be worn. I'll gladly spend an extra $50 in parts not to do this job again in 20K miles.
 

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What did the total end up being for parts and shipping?

Be glad that Monroe doesn't have suspension bits for the Element. They make some of the worst [email protected] on the planet. I'm surprised there aren't struts/shocks available for the Element considering the handful of coil-over kits out there. You'd think the market would be much larger for factory replacement pieces on a 3 year old vehicle. :|

I agree, nothing wrong with getting an alignment after doing the suspension swap out, just pointing out that it is easily doable to swap out the parts and not need an alignment. I'll do my suspension in the Spring most likely and get it aligned then. So far don't have any issues at 55,000. :)



 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
spdrcr5 said:
What did the total end up being for parts and shipping
I may get yelled at for this one, but when I costed out the price of the highlighted parts below



(I know - you don't need to replace #8 the bump stopper but it's rubber and yikes, I start to worry. Replace it! :D )

the price was $374.33 plus shipping. If I replaced the kit and kaboodle, parts numbers 3 and 4, it was $389.69. I've always liked kaboodle, especially with lots of curry. :D I bought the whole assemblies. I'm even going to have new front springs!

Shipping was $14.87 plus Majestic's standard handling charge of $4.95 (reasonable) for a total of $19.82.

My complete order was $409.51.

Be glad that Monroe doesn't have suspension bits for the Element. They make some of the worst [email protected] on the planet. I'm surprised there aren't struts/shocks available for the Element considering the handful of coil-over kits out there. You'd think the market would be much larger for factory replacement pieces on a 3 year old vehicle. :|
Don't you think Monroe would just buy them from someone else? As for the fact there aren't aftermarket stock parts, it comes as a surprise to you, me and the KYB rep.

BTW, over this process, I found out that the factory struts may not be KYB. lizzurd says they are probably Showa. Anybody else have an opinion?
 

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Did you also replace the rear shocks? As for the bump stops, if your struts are badly worn then you could have actually damaged them. Not a bad idea to replace them then.

I wonder if Sears has suspension bits for the Element. lol



 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Today I had my new struts put in.

When you buy the kaboodle from Honda, this is what you get:



It took the shop about half a day to install them and do the re-alignment (more on that in another thread). I was shocked when I got the bill. It was too low. $100 for install on the struts and the shop's standard $69.95 for the alignment. I even got a free oil change due to a shop special. $187.75 total, tax included.

I asked my guy why so cheap and he said, "When you bring in a complete assembly, it's just too easy to install." I thanked him. I also think it's time for a nice present.

Afterwards, I noticed how much more solidly the car drove. I deliberately went over a set of speed bumps. No problem. Smooth. It still clunks on bad roadways but then, I clunk on bad roads, too. Normal driving is quieter. The difference is at the same time both not overwhelming and significant. It is a moderate improvement as the struts weren't that far gone. It is significant in that I can feel it easily when I drive. It feels like I just put on a new set of tires.

I called back to my guy to ask if he saw anything wrong with my old struts. He said no, that they looked fine, and wondered why I was replacing them so early. He then told me a story about replacing 9 lower cooling/heater hoses on his own truck before a long road trip. Most of the hoses looked fine. He was laughing when he told me the story. We all have our things. :)

I've driven cars that drove klunkier than my E before the strut replacement. I owned an Accord with a front end that should have fallen off. Most people wouldn't have replaced the struts as early as I did. It was going thud a lot before I replace them. Now it doesn't nearly as much and it drives much better. Was it worth the $600 total? Absolutely.

I'm happy.
 

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Most of the work with struts is messing with the spring once you get the strut out of the car. With a complete strut assembly it is a piece of cake...

If you still have the clunk I would check the sway bar bushings and tie rod ends ...both super cheap and easy to fix (if it is a tie rod end you can "feel" the clunk in the steering wheel). Also check the battery hold down strap.
 

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outpost4 said:
Today I had my new struts put in.

When you buy the kaboodle from Honda, this is what you get:

I recently had my front struts replaced under extended warrenty at 90K, and Honda replaced the whole kaboodle for me as well, which was a big bonus. I also had that "klunk" when turning into my complex, and I convinced Honda to replace both struts, not just the one that they reccomended. I will nore than likely swap out my backs next summer with Majestic parts also.

Outpost, Were your struts "oozing" that oily crap from the seals?
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
^ No ooze. They looked fine. It was just riding rough.

Struts are so interesting when they fail because they fail so gradually. It's hard to tell if they are any worse than yesterday. It's only over time that you notice the problem. In my case it was very noisy clunks on not that rough roads.

I will be free to admit if there is a bell curve on when people replace struts, I was on the left side of the curve, toward the bottom.

Green Machine, the roughness that remains seems normal for the car. It does and should have a stiff ride; it's one of the things I like about the Element. When I go over bad expansion joints, or down a stretch of Interstate I drive to work that's under construction and is beat to sh!t, then I still get clunks. They come through the whole car, not just the wheel, and are both acceptable and quite normal.

Just because I had the front struts replaced doesn't mean that the E should drive like my mom's old '68 Buick Electra. And that's a good thing. :D
 
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