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The Honda Element lives up to the automaker’s reputation of manufacturing reliable vehicles. Although it has been discontinued, you can still find a lot of these SUVs on the used car market. If you’re planning on buying this model, it’s a good idea to read up on what other drivers have to say about this vehicle and familiarize yourself with the common issues they’ve encountered with their crossover SUV.

Are Honda Elements Reliable?

The Honda Element scored high in terms of reliability. RepairPal gave the model a reliability rating of 4.0 out of 5, ranking it 1st out of the 32 vehicles in its segment. Similarly, J.D. Power gave the 2011 Honda Element 81/100 in terms of quality and reliability. The average annual repair cost for a Honda Element is $490, which is lower than the average repair cost of $520 for compact SUVs.

Honda Element Common Problems

As reliable as it is, the Honda Element doesn’t come without flaws. Here are the most common issues across its model years:

Engine Oil Leaks

A common complaint about some 2003 to 2011 Honda Elements is an engine that leaks oil due to faulty oil pressure sensors. The issue is usually accompanied by an illuminated check engine light.

Depending on the severity of the problem, mechanics may either inspect the sensor and ensure it’s properly sealed or replace the part. If you encounter this issue, don’t worry. There are many budget-friendly yet high-quality aftermarket oil pressure sensors available on the market, so finding one for your Honda Element will surely be a breeze.

Differential Fluid Breakdown

2005 Honda Element - Honda Media Newsroom
Several owners of 2003-2010 Honda Element models have complained about groaning noises coming from their rear differential whenever they make turns. Image source: Honda Media Newsroom.

Several owners of 2003-2010 Honda Element models have complained about groaning noises coming from their rear differential whenever they make turns. Upon investigation, they traced the issue to a differential fluid breakdown. Owners of the affected vehicles had to have their rear differential serviced to solve the problem.

Unstable Rear Tailgate

If you’re eyeing a Honda Element that rolled out between 2003 and 2010, there’s a chance that its rear hatch light may turn on unexpectedly because of a maladjusted rear tailgate. This is a common complaint from owners of these model years. Mechanics had to adjust the tailgate of the affected units to solve the issue.

Faulty Door Locks

Many 2003-2008 Honda Elements owners have complained about malfunctioning door locks. According to reports, faulty door lock tumblers usually cause this problem. To solve the issue, the door lock assemblies on the affected units had to be removed to replace the faulty tumblers.

Issues involving door locks seem to top the list of 2003 Honda Element common problems. Several owners have reported having difficulties unlocking their doors because their key won’t go in. The problem usually starts when the remote stopped working. Some drivers had to dismantle their driver-side door to retrieve their key that got stuck in the door lock.

Paint Issues

If you’re planning to buy a 2008 or 2006 Honda Element, keep an eye out for paint-related issues. Several owners have complained about car paint chipping at around 38,350 miles. Most drivers reported that the paint cracks started appearing out of nowhere.

Based on the reports that made paint issues a part of the 2006 Honda Element’s common problems, the problem is usually caused by the SUV’s clear coat layer. If your Element develops paint problems, don’t worry. You can restore your vehicle’s sleek looks by repainting it. The repair and labor cost for this type of issue will depend on the affected paint that’s affected and the severity of the damage.

Faulty Seat Belt Wire Harness

2007 Honda Element EX Interior - Honda Media Newsroom
The supplemental restraint system (SRS) warning light on some 2003-2007 Honda Elements may turn on because of a faulty seat belt wiring harness. Image Source: Honda Media Newsroom.

The supplemental restraint system (SRS) warning light on some 2003-2007 Honda Elements may turn on because of a faulty seat belt wiring harness. Fortunately, replacing the faulty wiring harness may easily fix this issue.

If your vehicle has an illuminated SRS warning light, don’t hesitate to take it to an auto repair shop for proper diagnosis. Besides a faulty harness, this may mean something is wrong with your vehicle’s airbag system, which is crucial in case of a collision.

Loose Gauge Needles

Several 2007 Honda Element owners have complained that their gauge needles fell off at around 80,700 miles. Some of them were driving on the freeway when their speedometer needle suddenly fell off, while others noticed the part after they hit a speed bump. Most of them had to replace the whole instrument panel to solve the problem. Repairs for this type of issue can cost up to $1,400.

Excessive Vibration When Braking

Some owners also report feeling noticeable vibrations when braking due to a fault in the brake system. In most cases, the problem is caused by warped front brake rotors. If your Honda Element develops this issue, you may need to have its rotors machined or replaced to solve the issue. Replace faulty or worn brake components immediately to ensure road safety.

Key Won’t Go Into Ignition

Aside from having faulty door locks, many 2003 models also had issues with its key. Several owners complained that their key won’t go into the ignition and had to hire a locksmith to fix the problem. Owners were usually charged $600- $700 for this type of problem.

The issues mentioned above are only some of the problems that your Honda Element may develop as it racks up mileage. But don’t worry. As long as you follow your regular maintenance schedule, you’d surely make the most out of your SUV’s service life. At the end of the day, the Honda Element is definitely a worthwhile investment.

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