Service on 2003 Honda Element



I have a 2003 Honda Element five-speed with “smart four-wheel drive.” I love it and have cared for it well. It has 63,000 miles and is in great shape. I have had scheduled maintenance on it and was told that I needed to have the “fluids” flushed and replaced at 60,000 miles. The dealer wanted to charge me about $450. My question is: What fluids do I REALLY need to have flushed. I heard about my front and rear differential fluidd needing flushed. What else do I REALLY need to have done at this point? Thanks.


You need to compare what your owners manual states in the maintenance schedule vs what the dealer proposes for $450.

Lastly ask a few independent mechanics for quotes also, it will likely be cheaper.


Clearly, it is only necessary to do what is listed in the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule. However, I would advise caution on independent mechanics. Many are good and competent, and then there are those who are charlatans who take shortcuts or simply do not use the correct fluids or good quality parts when servicing a vehicle.

For example, there is a chance that an independent shop may not use the correct Honda-spec transmission fluid, and that could be a very expensive mistake for the owner. I would advise using only those independent mechanics who have an excellent word-of-mouth reputation, and you should definitely avoid all quick lube places as they are the most likely to use the wrong fluids.


As the others have said, it need only what the owner’s manual says. The rest of the the stuff is ADP (Additional Dealer Profit) How many of you reading this know where that “ADP” came from?

You have no requirement to have the work done by the dealer. Dealers are no better (or worse) than independent mechanics for almost anything you might need done on your car. They will almost always charge more per hour and often more for parts and supplies. They also tend to look at repairs a little different than the independent.

A dealer may well recommend work that strictly may not be needed, but could be connected to the problem or maybe replace a part when a little repair would fix it ALMOST as good a new.  

There is no need to bring your car to the dealer for any service other than service that is going to be paid for by a recall or original warrantee. 

I suggest that most people would be better off finding a good independent (Not working for a chain) mechanic.