Honda Element Years To Avoid | All 9 Best & Worst Years

Do you want to purchase a Honda Element, as it is one of the most popular cars in the used-car market? Knowing which years to avoid before making a final selection is always recommended.

This compact SUV was manufactured between 2003 and 2011, during this time it experienced a few problematic years that could result in headaches and expensive repairs.

Honda Element years to avoid include 2003, 2004, 2007, and 2008; they are considered the worst. The best years for Honda Element include 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2011. This result was concluded from trustworthy sources such as NHTSA, Edmund, JD Power, and Kelley Blue Book.

Honda Element Years To Avoid

Overall, the initial Element models are more prone to problems. The following sections will illustrate why the previous Element models were more problematic.

4. Worst Year: 2004 Honda Element (3.91 Rating)

Source: Cargurus

The reliability issues that plagued the first 2003 model continued into the following year. The airbags were certainly the most concerning part of the car, but the broken seatbelt light made things even more dangerous. Many prospective buyers abandoned the Honda Element due to these safety concerns.

The 2004 Honda Element’s windscreen had a habit of spontaneously splitting. The odometer and the seat cushions also have their share of problems. If you want to save money and time, you should avoid the 2004 Honda Element.

Common Problems:

  • Faulty odometer
  • Transmission failure
  • Defective air compressor

Reviews, Ratings, Recalls & Complaints:

3. Worst Year: 2007 Honda Element (3.90 Rating)

Source: The auto channel

The Element continued to have serious reliability problems in 2007. The gauge cluster was implicated in one of the more significant problems. Needles on the gauges would shatter, letting in an abundance of light. This would cause the drivers to lose focus, leading to hazardous road conditions.

The other prevalent issue with this model is key won’t go into the ignition and in the door locks, which is frustrating. The average cost to fix this issue is $500.

Based on information compiled by carcomplaints, we have determined that the 2007 model year is one of the worst. This may be due to higher repair costs or an increased frequency of problems for a given mileage range.

Common Problems:

  • The gauge needle falls off.
  • Loud and shrill wind noise at high speed
  • The speedometer doesn’t work.

Reviews, Ratings, Recalls & Complaints:

2. Worst Year: 2008 Honda Element (3.73 Rating)

Source: CNN Money

Many 2008 Honda Elements have issues with premature brake wear. As a result, regular brake maintenance became a must for vehicle owners. Many buyers were dissatisfied with Honda’s low-quality paint employed for this model year.

Nobody wants a car that looks awful, yet that’s what most customers got since the firm skimped on the paint. In addition, Honda Element received complaints, many of which cited problems with the heater/air conditioner not working properly.

Common Problems:

  • Premature brake wear
  • The heater / Ac is not working properly.
  • Paint chipping

Reviews, Ratings, Recalls & Complaints:

1. Worst Year: 2003 Honda Element (3.30 Rating)

Source: castle-imitation-butterfly

The first year of production for a brand-new automobile typically ranks among the worst in the industry. This also held true for the Honda Element. There were so many problems with the 2003 model that it had to be recalled 12 times.

The vehicle’s airbags were a major source of concern. In addition to the possibility of explosion upon hit, it was found that they also propelled shards of metal in the direction of the occupants.

The ignition system was also a frequent source of problems for the 2003 Honda Element. Car owners were stranded because their keys wouldn’t turn in the ignition. Fixing this problem is also expensive, typically costing around $500.

Common Problems:

  • The key does not go into the door lock
  • The windshield leaked/cracked.
  • The key will not go into the ignition

Reviews, Ratings, Recalls & Complaints:

Best Honda Element Years To Buy As Used

In the 9 years since its debut, Honda has released an array of fantastic Elements. Those who should be considered the cream of the crop are highlighted below.

5. Best Year: 2006 Honda Element (4.23 Rating)

Source: Top speed

The 2006 Honda Element isn’t a racecar but provides lively performance and enough smoothness to make everyday driving enjoyable. The 2006 Honda Element was awarded a perfect 5/5 stars for frontal crash protection in government crash tests.

The engine features Honda’s i-VTEC variable valve timing and lift technology, and it can generate up to 160 lb-ft of torque and 156 hp. The 2006 Honda Element lineup now includes the EX-P trim level, which was previously unavailable. Body-color exterior panels are an upgrade over the EX’s standard black.

Reviews, Ratings, Recalls & Complaints:

4. Best Year: 2005 Honda Element (4.23 Rating)

Source: citycarsw

The 2005 Honda Element is one of the ideal options to buy because it is affordable and a fantastic multi-purpose car in general. The four-wheel-drive variant of this car is the most flexible choice if you’re considering buying one.

There’s plenty of room for cargo in the trunk, easy access to the sides of the vehicle, and responsive steering with this vehicle. Additionally, the vehicle’s four-speed automatic or five-speed manual transmissions make this car powerful to drive.

Reviews, Ratings, Recalls & Complaints:

3. Best Year: 2011 Honda Element (4.27 Rating)

Source: Car and Drive

The 2011 Element is a wonderful choice because it is versatile, has a big interior, and has four-wheel drive as an option. Because it is the most developed and because many of the problems that plagued earlier models have been fixed, it is undoubtedly one of the best models now available. J.D. Power has named it Number 1 in Small SUV of the Year.

The SC model was dropped from sales in 2011, leaving only the LX and EX versions to choose from. Manual transmissions and in-dash navigation systems were also removed as add-ons. Unfortunately, The Element was discontinued after this model year, and there are few chances to return it.

Reviews, Ratings, Recalls & Complaints:

2. Best Year: 2010 Honda Element (4.28 Rating)

Source: CNET

The 2010 Honda Element is an excellent option if you enjoy taking road trips and exploring the great outdoors and need a unique and reasonably priced SUV to take you from point A to point B.

It does well in crash tests and has convenient rear doors for carrying cargo, but it isn’t built for extreme off-roading. An enclosed kennel, cushioned bed, 12-volt rear cooling fan, and a spill-resistant water bowl are all part of the dog-friendly kit that came standard for this model year.

Reviews, Ratings, Recalls & Complaints:

1. Best Year: 2009 Honda Element (4.66 Rating)

Throughout the journey of the Honda Element, the 2009 model received the least complaints and high-reliability scores. It’s even ranked as Number 1 Small SUV of the year. The 2009 Honda Element, which came out before the 2011 model, offered one more trim level than that year’s offering.

The 2009 Honda Element’s primary selling point is that it is a blast to drive. The Honda Element is a joy to drive because of its excellent gas mileage and refined handling.

The EX and SC trims also feature a voice-activated navigation system with a rearview camera. Its roomy inside and eye-catching appearance makes it a great pick for families with young children.

Reviews, Ratings, Recalls & Complaints:

Also Read: 15 cars Like Honda Element | Space, Range & Mileage

What Are The Common Honda Element Problems?

The Honda Element is a trustworthy car, but it has its flaws. A few instances are as follows:

1. Shaky Rear Tailgate:

Several Element owners have complained about a shaky rear hatch light, and the tailboard has been known to open on its own. The investigations state that an improperly adjusted rear tailboard brought this on.

2. Engine Oil Leakage:

Damaged oil pressure sensors led to engine oil leaks in components from the 2003-2011 model years. The check engine light will typically turn on to signal this kind of issue.

3. Defective Door Locks:

Frustrated Element owners have complained that the door locks frequently stop working. It seems the broken tumblers in the door locks were the cause. This problem plagued the 2003-2008 model years.

4. Key Didn’t Work in Ignition:

The Honda Element has more issues than just improper door locks. It turns out that the key to the 2003 model year has some problems, specifically that it won’t turn while in the ignition. Several accounts stated that they were forced to call a locksmith to turn their keys.


1. Is Honda Element a Good Car?

Honda has been producing some of the most reliable automobiles on the road for a long time. The Accord, Civic, CR-V, and Element are all popular globally because of their reliability.

Honda Element is a good car. You can expect your Element to last 250,000 to 300,000 miles or 15–20 years with minimal maintenance.

2. Is Honda Element Coming Back?

After the 2011 model year, Honda no longer produced the Element. According to many rumors, the popular SUV may return in 2024.

3. Is Honda Element Expensive to Maintain?

Element has a lower overall maintenance cost of  $491 compared to the average yearly cost of $521 for compact SUVs and $652 across all vehicles.

Related: 10 Best Low Maintenance Cars | With Annual Maintenance Cost

4. What Are The Other Alternatives to Honda Element?


The Honda Element had a shaky beginning but has matured significantly over the years. Even though the Honda Element was plagued with recalls, it still gained a solid reputation.

With the help of this article, you should be able to locate the best Honda Element with minimal effort and expertly handle the most pressing concerns that come along with it.

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9 months ago

The 2009 photo is incorrect. The 2009 models had the same body style as the 2010 and 2011 models. The photo appears to be the 2008 model.

Ahmad Ghayad
9 months ago
Reply to  Steve

Thanks for pointing out the error. Edited now.