2003 Element Dies Inconsistently

I have a 2003 Element in very good condition. I have religiously taken it to my local Honda Service and the car is maintained in accordance to the manufacturer’s guidelines. My Element has 113,000 miles and has not had any problems until recently. On numerous, but inconsistent occasions when I turn on the engine, cold and warm, the idle is lower and the engine quieter than normal (almost feels like the engine is not on). When I begin to drive, it doesn’t bolt out and gradually moves slowly. I could drive for several blocks and it appears normal until I come to a stop; the engine dies and I have to restart. This does not happen all the time, but when it does, it’s only the when I turn the ingnition and the engine turns on and the idle is lower than normal. When the engine is turned on and the idling is higher, I don’t have this problem. I have taken this to my Honda service on two occasions and they could not find anything abnormal. I asked them to check the fuel line; they said they did (don’t know if they actually did or just told me they did).

Any suggestions are appreciated.

The idle air control valve (IACV) may need to be cleaned or replaced. Since cleaning it is fairly inexpensive, I’d ask your mechanic to do that first.

Thanks. I’ll go Monday.

I’d agree regarding the IAC. A cleaning of the throttle body and MAF sensor at the same time is always a good idea.

I’m not sure about what it means to have checked the “fuel line” but someone who is attentive to the problem (dealer service depts are sometimes not) should evaluate the fuel pressure. In particular, it should be observed on a cold start. The residual pressure on a hot shut down and then pressure on hot restart should also be observed.

Was the idle rpm measured by your shop, and confirmed to be lower than it should be? Did the shop hook up to the OBD II port and read the diagnostic trouble codes pending and active? Since you’ve taken such good care of your car, I’d suggest you have those done just to document the current situation, before changing anything. I do agree with the others posting here that now would be a good time to do a general purpose throttle body/ IAC cleaning along w/confirming the IAC is functioning to spec. If it is simple enough to remove the throttle body for a bench cleaning, that’s usually better than attempting to clean it while it remains on the engine.

It sounds like this isn’t only a problem at idle, but continues when given some gas while driving. OP, is this true?

Sorry but what is OP?

OP = “original poster” / “original post” (In this case it is you).

I brought my car in and replaced the IAC as all of you recommended. IT WORKED!
I don’t think the service technician determined this was the cause of my car dying until I told them I got the recommendation from the Cartalk Community.

Thank you all for your accurate diagnosis.

Thanks for posting back. Good to know we sometimes guess right. :wink: