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"Da Box", 2008 Element LX, Atomic Blue Metallic
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey everyone!

Long story short, my second cylinder valve is burnt. I know this is a fairly common problem and that there are a few threads about it, but I wanted to document my own experience, and I also wanted to explore all of the possible options for people experiencing the same problem as me in an orderly informative way.

I've brought it in the a reputable engine rebuilder amongst the local car scene, and they quoted me $3500 (CAD) to resurface/replace/repair the engine. They also mentioned that they could do a whole engine swap for me for around the same price (me buying the engine + them installing it ~ $3500).

Issue Background
I'm no mechanic, but I'll do my best to explain the issue as I understand it.
  • Burnt valves are often causes by ineffective seals between the valve itself and the valve seat
  • This allows for the hot gasses within the engine to escape through the ineffective seal, which will often cause burning to the valve.
  • This burning leads to low compression in the cylinder, and will often lead to misfiring (in my case, P0302: second cylinder).
  • Burnt valves can lead to poor engine performance (especially at idle), engine noise, misfire, increase fuel consumption.
  • It is a very important fix and should be taken care of right away
  • Fairly costly and time consuming

Personal Background
  • I am a recent graduate. I've got no source of income and I'm not rolling in the cash right now (if you can hook me up with an engineering job, dm me lol).
  • I'm fairly mechanically inclined, although I've never taken apart my engine past the cylinder head cover. With instruction/proper tools, I'm confident I could I could do anything.
  • I paid $6000 for the Element back in August of this year, still paying it off
  • 08, LX, Standard Transmission, about 225100 km, good body condition.
  • Engine is a 2.4L K24A8
Options
  1. Shell out the $3500 to have the engine rebuilt
  2. Buy an engine and have it installed for about $3500
  3. Buy new valves + gasket and try and install them myself
  4. Buy new engine and try to install it myself
  5. Sell the car, get another similar vehicle
Counter Arguments
  • Buying an engine could be sketchy, engine could crap out within the year.
  • Doing it myself could lead to complications (seized bolts, other "road blocks"), costing me more.
  • Doing just the valves without resurfacing the cylinder head may not solve the problem (could possible lead to ineffective seal + burnt valves again)
  • Taking out the engine will require an engine hoist
  • If I sell the car, I'd be looking for another Honda SUV or something similar.
Current Suggestions
I've been stewing over this for quite a while now and have been reaching out to various car groups/Element groups for support. basically what I've gathered from these communities is this:
  • It would be more cost effective to do a swap, an A2 even (although an A8 would be easiest to mount)
  • JDM would cost less, installed and all, many have gone this route
  • My mechanic is trying to screw me over (does seem a little outrageous
My Plan of Action
At this point I'm leaning heavily towards the full engine swap. The one thing holding me back is where to get it from, which engine to get (I'm not opposed to throwing in a better engine if I'm going to be doing a swap anyway, however I know this can lead to other issues), and whether I should do it myself or not.

My Questions for the Community
I've got a few things on my mind, especially for those of you that have went through with an engine swap before:
  1. After going through the information, which route would you take?
  2. Where did you order your engine from? I'm looking for a JDM ~50,000km, maybe some sort of warranty
  3. Did you swap it yourself, or did you get someone else to do it?
  4. If you did it yourse4lf, how difficult was it? Was it your first swap? What was the most difficult part?
  5. What engine did you use? What engine would you recommend swapping to for better performance? What accommodating mounting hardware would I require
Thanks for reading, I appreciate your time and support. I'm not ready to give up on the Element Dream just yet.

Cheers!

Tire Wheel Vehicle Window Automotive tire
 

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2007 EX AWD AT; 2008 LX FWD AT
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I suggest a version of option 3. Pull the head yourself, have a local machine shop do the head work (disassemble, clean, resurface, install new valve seals, install valves); then reassemble the engine yourself. It might not really need one at the moment, but might be a good opportunity to install a new timing chain and tensioner. For reference, this is a thread on what I did to my 2008 (when it was my daughter's) to cure oil consumption and address other problems. Spent somewhere on the order of $1300 in parts and shop work, not all of it associated with the engine. The best tool you can own is a OEM service manual.

P.S. Just doing the head doesn't require a hoist (have someone help with lifting the head off).

fleetw00d : 2008 Honda Element LX - CB7Tuner Forums

Burning a valve is a separate issue from the head sealing on the head gasket and block. If the valve clearance isn't checked/adjusted often enough, the exhaust valves are particularly prone to getting tight (little clearance between the rocker and valve) which may eventually prevent the valve from closing completely allowing the combustion gases to leak past it during the power stroke which burns (actually melts) a portion of the valve.

Unless you know the history of a donor engine, you could be getting a whole set of other issues.
 

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Yup, I'm with Fleetwood, you have roughly 140k on the motor so the bottom end/pistons should be good. Do the head and timing gear and you should be good for at least another 140k. Besides, your an engineer. How hard could it be. Kidding.;)
 

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I would do a dry/wet compression test to look at the other cylinders. If compression is good elsewhere then I would do what fleetwood says and have the machine shop fix you up. If the compression test shows that the engine is somewhat worn … then I’d do a JDM swap. To do it yourself or hire it out would depend on how fast you need the car back and running. I would guess that a one man shop could swap over an engine fo you in about 3 days. For me to DIY would probably take me over 3 weeks using my weekends. Costs of new tools would be a consideration, but cost of a rental car during also needs to be accounted for.
 
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2004 EX AWD 5MT
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Newbie here, with a similar situation on my newly acquired 04 EX AWD MT.

I’m planning on pulling my head to inspect damage, then make a concrete decision from there.

I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND checking out Eric the car guy’s 3 videos on pulling and replacing the element engine. He has a ton of great info, video angles, and tool recommendations to help you out on getting a lay of the land. here’s a link to part 1:

If you still feel it’s beyond you after reviewing those videos, I’d focus on finding a trustworthy local mechanic to do this job for you.

good luck!
 

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"Da Box", 2008 Element LX, Atomic Blue Metallic
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
After doing a bit of research, I'm leaning towards doing a replacement on the valves only. The way I see it, it'll be the cheapest/fastest temporary fix. Obviously this may not "fix" the issue long term, but if/when the cylinder misfires again, I'll be able to determine if the head needs to be resurfaced from making a bad seal to the valve cover.

Again I'm no mechanic, but this is the way I see it. I can't see how going through with only the valve replacement could make things any worse off than they currently are!
 

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2004 EX AWD 5MT
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Honestly I think this is a great outlook. It doesn’t hurt to try, and head work is actually much more forgiving than block work. Especially if you have a local machine or motor shop to help with cleaning and (potentially) checking for any warping or signs of anything else needing addressed before putting it all back together.

I’m honestly likely to do the same on my element, since again, there’s little risk if the motor is already kinda toast. Worst thing that happens is we break something and need to replace the whole motor anyway. 🤷🏽‍♂️

We got this, mate! We’ll bring these American built Japanese machines back to their former glory. 🇺🇸🇯🇵
 

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My daughter overheated her 96 civic and popped the head gasket. The car had 233,000 miles and had had the head gasket replaced before. She bought a new car and gave the civic to me, so I pulled the head, installed a new head gasket, water pump and timing belt, {chinese parts, on that engine the water pump and timing belt are buried in the engine so it's stupid to open it up and not put them in}. I put it back together without having any head work done, and now it has 270,000 miles on it. I SHOULD have had the head professionally rebuilt and resurfaced, I SHOULD have used OEM honda parts, but I didn't have any extra money. I DO think, in your position, you should have the head reworked by a machine shop so you know it's done right, and perhaps invest in an OEM head gasket, and maybe even head bolts {if that is what is recommended}, even if you choose NOT to install new cam chain and gears. Good luck, Phil

PS. don't forget you can "borrow" many tools from your local auto parts store, rather than buying them all.

PPS Harbor Freight sockets and wrenches and ratchets are good enough to do most anything you need them for.
 
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