04 Element rumbling/chuttering



Just recently, when I turn at lock or nearly lock I hear and feel a pulsing grumble at a very low frequency … does it when turning either right and left but does not do it in reverse.

The tires had recently been rotated but it does it when turning at lock in loose gravel, and tires do not leave scruff marks on dry pavement so I don’t think it is the tires.

Local mechanic (not the Honda or Accura garage)checked the ball joints and suspension and steering mechanism, etc. but could not identify the problem. He thinks it might be something in the transmission like a computer controlled valve or clutch.

I believe that this model has “on-demand” 4 wheel drive, but know from an experience that the vehicle will not move if one front and one rear wheel are spinning.

The vehicle has 70,000 miles and is out of warranty, so am asking for your opinion which I can relay to my local mechanic … and hopefully not have to go to the dealership and pay the big bucks.

signed, grumbling in NH


Since the Element is essentially a CR-V with a boxy body, I am going to assume that you have the same AWD system as a CR-V.

There is a known problem with the center differentials on CR-Vs, and just today on Tom & Ray’s radio show, they again advised a CR-V owner to have the fluid in that differential changed in order to eliminate a mysterious noise that the caller was experiencing when he made a turn.

It appears that CR-Vs need the differential oil (the same service procedure will take care of both the center and rear differentials) changed by 50k, and today’s caller reported that his CR-V began to exhibit this problem by 30k, so it is certainly not hard to believe that your “CR-V in a box” needs this procedure done at 70k.

Just be sure that the fluid that is used is the genuine Honda differential oil, as the other products on the market are not compatible with the Honda design–just as with their transmissions. Don’t believe your mechanic if he tells you that he has a differential oil that is equivalent to the Honda fluid, and if necessary, get the real stuff from the Honda dealer and take it to your mechanic.


I agree. Have the oil changed at a Honda dealer, or at least with genuine Honda oil, and see if the noise goes away. This is one of the reasons we always advise people to become familiar with the maintenance schedule for their vehicle(s).


you need the dealer fluid,its called DUAL PUMP FLUID,and must be run on the lift with proper sequence,to get the fluid into the clutch packs,pays 1.5 waranty,2.o hrs out of waranty and takes that long to do it properley.

hope that helps.


You all are right … did the tranny fluid changes but not the differentials … thanks…

Will have that done and report results…


Had the differential DPF changed and chuttering went away … my bad.

And learned that although the maintenance book says change the front and the rear diff’s, the front is really part of the tranny … so despite having changed the tranny ATZ not too long ago, it got changed again … $100 +/- … guess that’s about what I’d expect to pay for a night course in Honda Element.

Re: “sequencing” I read on another site that when the rear diff’l appears to be full, the vehicle has to be taken off the rack and driven forwards and backwards to fill clutch packs and them put back on the lift and “topped off”. Does this make sense?

Thanks again for the good guidance.

signed: a bit smarter and no longer grumbling.