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Honda (Element) 2.4k engine 100k mile Service - To Adjust or Not to Adjust the Valves?

My 2008 Honda Element is approaching 100k miles and from what I read on the Element forums it’s imperative that I have the valves adjusted.

I called several Honda dealers and they said, they’re to be adjusted only if noisy.
A local mechanic said he adjusts them only if the engine is skipping.

From what I read with Honda, if they are noisy (relatively speaking) then thats good; “A noisy lifter is a happy lifter”. A tight (quiet lifter) can result in a burnt valve.

Is there anyone out there that had some experience with this? … Or an expert that can chime in?

Thanks for your feedback!

If this vehicle has a timing belt, I’d have the valves checked and adjusted, if necessary, when you do the timing belt. Otherwise, if it ain’t broke…

Adjusting valves does not always mean they are actually adjusted. If the a valve is within the specs for clearance, they may not other then retorquing the locking nut. The old adage about Valves being noisy or not, is just that. There are lot’s of rhythmic noises in a car that are mistaking thought of as valve train noises to the untrained ear. Nothing like actually doing the measure. IMHO, it depends on how much longer you plan to keep the car. When I was doing my own, I did it all the time. Now that I have to pay big bucks, It depends on how long I plan on keeping the car as I just don’t have a trained ear to make that judgement.

Me, I’d have them adjusted if I planned to keep it. No way to know if they’re in spec without checking.

" A tight (quiet lifter) can result in a burnt valve. "

There’s your answer right there.
The person you typically talk to on the dealer phone (service writers etc.) know little about auto tech.
They’re happy to wait until you come in needing a valve job. More profit.

Learn from the experience of first generation CRV owners. Honda failed to tell owners that the valves needed adjustment every 30k miles. Many valves got out of adjustment and result in damaged heads that cost thousands to replace.

So if Element owners are telling you it’s imperative to have the valves adjusted…do it. You can spend a few hundred bucks now or a few thousand later to repair the damage.

You ask if anyone has experience with this issue and I can state unequivocally that I have a lot; and then some. That includes the actual inspection and adjustments as needed and actually performing valve jobs on the cylinder heads that were damaged due to not inspecting the valve lash.

You’ve been given bad advice by both the dealers and the local mechanic.
The dealers (and Honda is not the only one) make a recommendation about noisy lifters. That is as bogus as it gets. The quiet ones are the ones that usually lead to damage although excessively noisy ones can also create a different type of damage if the problem is allowed to continue.

As to the local mechanic, by the time an engine is “skipping” due to a tight valve it’s often too late to prevent damage. The cylinder head valve seat and valve may already be damaged to the point where adjustment will not cure the problem OR the skipping may only be temporarily cured. It takes comparatively few miles for an exhaust valve face and valve seat to become damaged and once damaged its lifespan is drastically shortened.
Wont’ go into the detail of the damage specifics but hope some of this helps.


Here’s what may happen if your engine is quiet and you choose to ignore the valves

The valve lash will get too tight

You’ll lose compression

The engine will be hard to start when cold . . . extended cranking time

You might very well get misfires

You might burn the valves, resulting in an expensive head job

That whole thing about ignoring valves that are quiet is 100% BS. It just makes the customer think they have a low maintenance car. Unless an engine uses hydraulic lifters, the valve lash must be checked, and adjusted as needed

I’ve personally seen several vehicles that were low on power and hard to start, because the valve lash was too tight. But the valves were quiet . . .

Here’s what quiet valves leads to… :frowning:

Silent, but deadly . . . for your wallet