I have the opportunity to purchase, through an elderly family member who can no longer drive, a 2007 Honda Element EX with only 2k miles on it. The original window sticker says the retail price was $23,110, and the KBB values it at $17,500, but I’m being offered it at $14,000 as a family member. It’s the fact that this is a very good deal that has me interested. Even though I’m not that excited about having a car payment, my current '01 Accord has 185k on it and it would be nice to have an almost new vehicle for long trips I take several times a year. My concern is that the mileage is SO low, that there may be underlying issues with it. Hell it probably hasn’t even had it’s first oil change yet! Are there things I should look out for when I finally go to look at the vehicle? Should I be concerned with with certain things that will wear over time? If this was a 2012 with 2k miles on it, I wouldn’t think twice about buying it, but I’m nervous about doing daily driving in a vehicle where I’ll be racking up more miles in a couple of months, than the vehicle has experienced over the previous 7 years. Any suggestions/input would be greatly appreciated. Cheers.
I ended up taking $8,500 for a 2007 Civic Coupe with 13,000 miles on it a few months ago. (I thought I would get a couple thousand more.) The reason? The unknowns you’re talking about. Things degrade just sitting (and this Civic was garaged). Basically the buyer mentally puts aside a few thousand dollars for potential problems that may show up. What problems? Who knows. Corrosion can attack anything. An Element isn’t the most economical vehicle around and may not be the best for you; only you can know that. I might offer $12,000 and see what happens.
While I am normally very leery of cars that have been driven for very few miles over the space of many years, this one might be worth taking a chance on…as long as you are willing to spend some money on maintenance w/in the first few months of owning it.
If I was buying this vehicle, I would do the following:
IMMEDIATELY do an oil change, using synthetic oil of the correct viscosity
IMMEDIATELY use a good-quality fuel system cleaner, such as Techron.
Drive it for no more than one week, and change the oil, again using synthetic oil
Drive it for ~2 weeks, and do another oil change, using synthetic oil
Hopefully, that regimen will clear out any possible sludging left by the–probably–local-only driving patterns of the former owner.
However, you also need to do the following, a.s.a.p.:
Replace the tires, as they are now too dried-out to provide adequate traction on wet road surfaces
Replace the battery
Change the brake fluid, as it is undoubtedly saturated with moisture after sitting for 7 years, and as a result, is the fluid is dangerously diluted with water.
Change the coolant, as the rust inhibitors stopped being effective a long time ago.
If the engine utilizes a timing belt, get it changed very soon
Change the serpentine belt.
Then, resolve to do a transmission fluid change after a few months, and to begin to use the normal Honda maintenance schedule–which should be sitting in the glove box.
As long as you are willing to spend a few hundred $$ on maintenance in the first few months, this could be a good find.
A 2007 by now would normally have around 100K miles on it. So as listed above, if you do a 100K mile service based on the owner’s manual, then you should be fine. Also, agree on new tires.
Perhaps you’ve already checked the recalls:
The Element is a good reliable vehicle and I would take it. Just do as VDCdriver says and take care of all the deferred maintenance, and be aware that all that maintenance will run in the neighborhood of $1000, not counting new tires.
NADA shows clean retail (which is not worth) based on the very low miles as being a shade over 14k so the price it’s being offered at is not a steal in my opinion. The vehicle is still 8 years old, low miles or not.
As mentioned, factor in any needed service and things such as tires, battery, etc. and your investment gets considerably higher.
I just looked at the value of an Element EX with auto transmission and 2000 miles. Edmunds says it is worth $10,800 in a private sale. KBB says $16,300 in very good condition. A used EX with 54,000 miles has an asking price of $14,500 at a dealer near me. I think $14,000 is too much. Check on line for similar Elements near you to see what the asking price is. If you can’t find private party sales, just subtract $1000 off the dealer price.
I agree with the others. The only other thing that would bother me is that it was never driven enough during the warranty period to disclose any defect issues that there may be. If there is an engine defect or transmission defect that shows up at 10 or 20K, you are out of luck. Just like electronics, there is a certain burn in period and after that you know what you have. This car has never been burned in, and that would be a risk to me.
It’s an ok deal, but not a great one. There are concerns with a car not being driven very much. But if the car was garaged the whole time, the interior is in like-new condition, at $14k, it’s probably worth a chance. I’d still be a little leery though. At the minimum, check all the fluid levels, open the oil filler and look inside the best you can for signs of sludge build-up, and ask a mechanic to check the exhaust system for signs of rusting from the inside. I’d probably do a compression check too, to rule out sticking valves.
I’d be OK with buying this. Sure, there will be fluids and tires to replace, but when you’re done you’ll have an Element in very good condition. If this were something else I might be more fearful, but the Element is so well made and typically trouble free I wouldn’t worry too much. See if you can knock a little more off the price by explaining all the maintenance you’ll need to do, but I wouldn’t push too hard unless you want your relatives mad at you. I suspect you’ll end up with an excellent vehicle for a reasonable price. The Element seems to be loved by many of its owners to an unusual degree. They didn’t sell in huge numbers, but I bet Honda would have a lot of repeat buyers if they still made it. I think dropping it from their lineup was a mistake as the world needs a few quirky cars. Women with big dogs have been left with few good choices. My sister-in-law will keep hers running as long as possible for carrying feral cats to be spayed, rabbits, macaws, and whatever other critters need ferrying.
My mother has a Civic of similar age that doesn’t get driven normally more than very short distances, though my sister makes a point of taking it out for a longer (20 mile or so) drive every few months. Short of hiring someone to drive it, that’s all we can do, and the car has been completely reliable. She has her maintenance done by a guy who works for many older drivers with similar driving habits. He’s a wonderful asset to the community. If you’re lucky your relative had someone like him.
And others make very good points. If this were a much older car with less then average mileage, I would be more concerned. “Time wear” other then mileage wear is not great on a 2007 and other then having it gone over by a trusted mechanic, there is nothing I would fear from it’s purchase. IMHO, it may need a brake job earlier then usual unless it has been stored inside and dry. Other then that, if you don’t buy it, give me the phone number !
I would drive it like it were a new car and break it in carefully though.
It will soon be closeout time for '14 models. This car is 7-8 years old. The $17k value from kbb is just crazy high. 14k is better, but still high IMO.
I think l’d only replace the tires if they show significant dry rot cracking. I would replace all the fluids. If the motor has a timing belt that will need to be replaced in 12-18 months, an $800 job. $10k is a good deal, $12k is OK, $14k you are doing the family a favor, $17k is a ripoff.
The 4-cyl Accord uses a timing chain, but the 6-cyl still uses the belt. If it helps tip the balance, I have a 2005 Accord EX V6 with about 125,000 miles, and I have no problems at all. I change fluids, brake pads and rotors, filters, and just keep driving.
an average of 250 miles per year?
I’d be concerned about what kind of critters have made their home in the vehicle.
I suppose the wildlife would depend on the use frequency. I don’t think my mom’s car gets driven much more than that, but it does get used once or twice per week, to the supermarket or to church.
If a car is getting driven that often I wouldn’t worry about critters. But it sounds as if this Element may have been parked for quite some time. Then I’d worry about critters and give it a thorough inspection of places they might have gotten to. It also seems to be more common in colder parts of the country. I’ve never heard anyone mention having this problem in California. In areas where warm, dry nesting sites are less common I can see why somewhere in a car would be appealing.
Buy it,service it,enjoy it,you are probaly going to like it ,especially if you have dogs(only one recall thay I see that could possibly give you a few problems) they dont make them anymore(the niche market got filled I guess),do put new tires on it-Kevin
The owners ofbig dogs will have to picket Honda dealers until they bring it back. There are probably a few plausible sustitutes (Kia Soul?), but none have the unusual flat, low floor and seats that fold up againsy the sides. For smaller dogs the Fit would be excellent, with its clever rear seats, but Newfy owners will be restoring Elements for a long time.
I like to guess what cars will be collectible in the future. Not the Ferraris and Lambos and such, but more ordinary cars. I think the Element may be one. The Chrysler 300 of a few years ago might, too, with its near-show car lines. The current one softened them up too much.
I think you’d definitely want to do as others have recommended, and service the vehicle as soon as you get it. I can tell you though from owning an Element, it really is a great car. Mine is at 150k right now, and the only thing that I have ever had to replace on it that wasn’t basic maintenance was a window regulator.
I’ve yet to meet an Element customer who doesn’t love it. My sister-in-law probably has no more than 75k miles on hers but is panicked by tbe thought of eventually having to replace it (and it’s probably good for another 150k miles.) It’s so perfect for her needs.