Which Honda Element Years to Avoid and Why? (Explained)

Since Honda stopped manufacturing the Element, it is now only available to people looking to buy secondhand. It has been a great low-cost alternative and the first car for many youngsters of that era.

The Honda Element has only been produced for nine years. From 2003 to 2011 it was in limited production. For many people, it became a trustworthy and reliable daily driver.

Not all the models did great in their lifetime, some did fare better than others. We’ll be looking at the Honda Element years to avoid and which models to consider if you’re in the market for used cars.

Honda Element Years to Avoid (List of Years)

The Element’s reliability or build quality was never questioned as they provided the best service to the users. But the first two model years did have some other major issues. Engine and transmission were the main reason for user complaints.

The 2008 model, on the other hand, was plagued by several concerns, the most serious of which being premature brake wear. That is why this model does not get recommended if there are options for other model years to choose from.

Below are some of the Honda Elements that didn’t quite make the grade this year:

  • 2003 Honda Element
  • 2004 Honda Element
  • 2006 Honda Element
  • 2007 Honda Element

This list was made from the number of complaints that each year model had received from its users.

2003 Honda Element problems:

The 2003 model was one of the worst years for the Honda Element. According to Car Complaints, it had the highest number of complaints and issues reported.

The issues ranged from accessories, brakes and electrical problems to engine and transmission problems.

The most common problems were that the key wouldn’t go into ignition which cost around $500 to repair, the odometer died prematurely and the rearview mirror had too many blind spots, drivers would not have enough vision to safely park or drive the car in reverse gear.

The engine would also sputter over 3000 rpm and the idle time was excessively high. The batteries on this model are prone to dying a lot because of this.

2004 Honda Element problems:

Honda had worked on the previous models then fixed the problems and then built the 2004 model. Even after Honda’s delicate work, there were some issues reported that were severe.

Issues include a malfunctioning seatbelt warning light and one incident of an airbag going off unexpectedly.

However, others have been in significant crashes but the airbags did not deploy causing them great harm.

The windshield would get cracked without any impact and for no reason at all. The odometer stopped working and the seat cushion would separate from the seat.

2006 Honda Element problems:

The 2006 Honda Element had minimal complaints, with paint concerns remaining the most prevalent.

However, if you buy a 2006 Honda Element, you should have the airbags examined because three reports of faulty side airbags were received. 2004 had reports of significant harm to drivers because of the airbags not deploying in time and that is a serious issue.

While this was an uncommon occurrence, it’s one you don’t want to discover the hard way.

2007 Honda Element problems:

According to Car Complaints, the worst model year for the Element was the 2007 model.

It didn’t have as many complaints as the others but the dominant issue on this one was the gauge needles breaking out causing a bright light to enter the drivers’ eyes which is a risky condition to drive in. Honda has not done anything about this issue in the Elements’ lifetime.

What Makes These Honda Element Years Worth Avoiding?

The following are some of the most common Honda Element issues:

  • Engine Oil Leaks
  • Malfunctioning Door Locks
  • Ignition Troubles

Let’s talk about these common issues and the reported problems users have made.

Engine oil leaks:

This problem can be found in practically all Honda Elements. The major cause of engine oil leaks is faulty oil pressure sensors. The gauge needle splitting from the body is also sometimes responsible.

The check engine light is on as a result. Oil leak of any sort is dangerous and should be taken care of promptly.

The faulty sensors can cause mechanics to overlook the issue which can become fatal in the long run. This will also cost a lot of money depending on the condition of the parts. They may have to replace the component entirely.

You can easily acquire aftermarket oil pressure sensors for your Honda Element that is both affordable and of decent quality.

Door Locks Malfunctioning:

The worst door lock issue was with the 2003 Honda Element when consumers had difficulties opening their doors because their keys wouldn’t fit inside or got stuck.

This issue can be found in Honda Elements from 2003 through 2008.

According to my research, the problem arose because the remote would not operate at all, and some owners had to disassemble the driver’s side door to remove the key that had been jammed in the lock.

The doors not locking properly is a bad condition because there are risks of the car being stolen.

Ignition trouble:

The car not starting at all because of malfunctioning keys is a heavily reported issue for the Honda Elements. A lot of the owners had to pay a locksmith to get rid of this problem.

This is not a minor problem because it might be unsafe to drive on the road and repair costs can range from $600 to $700.

Which Years are Safe to Buy Used?

These are the Honda Element years that you should consider purchasing. Keep in mind that some models will have minor flaws that can be readily remedied and do not cost as much to repair as other models.

Furthermore, while acquiring a secondhand vehicle, you should be cautious because some may have more issues than others.

Let’s explore which model years of used Honda Element give the most value for the price. The following Element year variants are the most dependable:

  • 2005 Honda Element
  • 2008 Honda Element
  • 2009 Honda Element
  • 2010 Honda Element
  • 2011 Honda Element

From the latter few years of the Element’s production life, from 2009 to 2011, relatively few issues have been documented. The 2009 Honda Element is a popular model because of its next-level SC trim, which is meant to appeal to a more streetwise clientele.

The most prevalent complaints mentioned were a nasty odour originating from the ventilation system and issues with the cabin quality, both of which are not the most important factors to consider when purchasing a used car.

Because of its tiny and adaptable interior design, the 2010 Honda Element is the finest choice for you. This car is loaded with incredible amenities that will enhance your driving experience and help you work more effectively.

The 2011 Honda Element is also a great choice. The only complaint was from a sceptical user who frequently felt that the vehicle was going to stall but it never did.

While you should always be cautious when buying a secondhand automobile and make sure it has been thoroughly vetted and tested before handing over any money, you should feel more at ease when looking at these model years, while the others are Element years to avoid.

The Best Honda Element Model Year

The 2005 Honda Element is wholeheartedly recommended as it’s the most consistent version out of all the model years.

This vehicle has a lot to offer, from more storage room in the back to side door openings, as well as excellent handling for comfortable driving.


Despite its excellent reputation and image, the Honda Element has had its share of issues over the years. However, many Honda Element owners will concur with me that it is one of the finest purchases you can make. Because you want a safe car, be sure to inspect the vehicle thoroughly and learn about the model’s details as well as the safety and dependability ratings.

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