2004 Honda Element

I bought my Element new and now have 38,000 miles on it. About 6 month’s ago it started growling when you turned the steering wheel all the way while moving in a tight turn. My second trip back to the dealership for the same problem cost me 150.00 and what I think is a bunch of smoke. I was told that due to age (2004) & milage my rear differential fluid had failed! Can this possibly be and if so, did the 6 month’s that were spent after I was first told that there was nothing wrong with the vehicle further damage the differential? If that fluid failed should I be changing the transmission and front differential fluid also? Please Help!

Honda has very little experience in AWD and its shows.

The differential rear fluid replacement is the known fix and its quite common. No worries on front diff. or transmission. Just make sure to do schedule maintenance to them all.

You have the answers to those questions in your Owner’s Handbook. Look for a chart of scheduled maintenance. If you don’t have the Owner’s Handbook, you can get it off the Internet, or from the Honda dealer. At 38,000 miles, I think there is other scheduled maintenance you have deferred. These things are PREVENTATIVE maintenance, not annoyance maintenance (or, be annoyed a little now and then, or, be annoyed a LOT later. Choice).

Agree; my Caprice rear wheel drive had Positraction (limited slip) and the fluid had to be changed every 12,000 miles. On a regular differential there is no given interval or need. The groaning starts around 12-14,000 miles , and special fluid has to be put in for the friction clutches. Reading the manual avoid a lot of costs and nedles repairs.

Noise from the rear differential on the Honda CR-V is a known issue, and changing the fluid is the cure, according to Honda. Since your Element is essentially a CR-V with a boxy body instead of an aerodynamic one, I suspect that you are suffering the same problem as CR-V owners.

Change the fluid (a specialized Honda fluid, IIRC) and your problem should be resolved. Just be prepared for a fairly pricey procedure.

Manual says every five years or 90,000 miles.

Should I expect for every fluid to fail three years too soon. I tell you the dealership here is a crock! I have to take it in two or three time to get one item fixed! Only one dealership in 100+ miles, should I look for someone else to do the service on it?

No. Ok. Ok. Maybe. (In reference to the 12:57:52 PM questions/statements).

The AWD system is flawed and service interval likely should be every 30k miles. Subaru who has heavy experience in AWD recommends inspection every 30k which most places translate to replacement. Any competent mechanic can likely change it however I would stick to the OEM Honda diff fluid unless there is a known equivalent.