2004 Honda Element - Worth the investment?

My daughter loves her 2004 Honda Element. She recently spent almost $1000 for a new radiator and 2 cooling fans. A week later her AC stopped getting cold so she chugged the car back to her mechanic and was told she needs a new AC compressor and clutch - cost: another $800. The car has about 135,000 miles on it and still runs like a champ. It’s got almost new tires. It needs about $1500 worth of body work to make it look cherry. Yes, she’s actually considering this. Is it time to look for a newer car? If Honda started remaking the Element she’d probably go out and buy a new one.

First of all is this daughter an adult living on her own ? Basically has she asked for you opinion because people don’t always do what other people think they should do .
The only thing I would do if mine is have a shop look it over for about 125.00 to see if there are other costly things that it needs .

I’d say the Element is a vehicle worthy of restoration. Like the Toyota FJ, and some other recently discontinued “classics” people do love them that much. Check out the comments under this related story.

Fix the AC and drive on… for a VERY long time. 135K on a well maintained Honda is nothing.

At that point if she wants the cosmetics done up, go right ahead. $1500 is not a lot to spend at all.


I’d fix the a/c, just make sure it’s a shop that knows their way around a/c. Google ‘Honda a/c black death’ for more info. It was a problem with 2002-2005 CR-V, and I’d imagine the Element.

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Worth the investment? a vehicule depreciate in value each year unless you own one of the rarest cars in the world…its not an investment. Since her vehicule is a constant money pit and she wants to spend another $1500 on body work,the math makes no sense.The vehicule value is probably less than $1500 even if she fixes her up.Might be time to look for another one.

+1 to that for bodywork to be done on the 16-years old car, it has to be quite special, so indeed it is waste of money.

still, I do not agree to “time to look for another one” either.

If car is in decent shape and was properly maintained (which requires more than changing oil, BTW), it may be worth driving it with a few dings and scratches or maybe spending $200-300 with paintless dent repair company to make it look better.

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Sure! I had a big dent taken out the other day with PDL…only cost me $100 and you cannot tell where it was.Without a picture showing the amount of bodywork she needs,its hard to tell.

I wouldn’t fix the dents in a 16 year old car, but as long as it runs well and she likes it, why not keep it? Where else is she going to find a car that runs as well as this for a couple thousand dollars? For $1500, there can’t be too much wrong with the body. Smooth out a couple dents and respray, and that $1500 is gone. Every car will have problems as it ages. Unless the drivetrain needs replacement, there’s no big problem keeping the Element.


Thanks for the quick response. A few followup questions if you don’t mind:
The mileage on her car is actually 156,000. I was wrong when I said 135,000.
Approximately how long can one expect a drive train to keep functioning well in that model of Honda? Do they have a track record? Are they notorious for any other problems?
I just don’t want her getting into a money pit situation while she is saving for a newer car,
which technically she could afford now.

Thanks again.

No one can predict something like that . I ask again , has she asked for your advice ?
a 16 year old vehicle is to be evaluated on it’s own condition because it may not have the problems other 2004 Elements’ have had and develop some of it’s own .

OK Thanks guys. I’m outta here. You have all pretty much confirmed what I’ve been telling her.

Every car-owner relationship is unique, but if I like a car that meets my needs, I keep it a long time, maintain it well, and feel OK about the occasional big repair. My 1999 Civic, bought new, has over 190,000 miles and the only times it’s stranded us is when I once and my wife twice ran out of gas.