I've compiled the below Honda Element inspection checklist based up on my one year of ownership of a 2006 Honda Element EX-P. Hopefully you can take what I have learned below and land yourself a mechanically sound Element.
Exterior Visual Inspection
  • Did the car spend a lot of time in a hot, wet, or salty area?
    • Check for paint oxidation
  • Turn the front wheels and check the front tie rod ends
    • Are the ball joint boots broken? If so, is a safety concern
Interior Visual Inspection
  • Inspect Interior Panels
    • What condition are they in?
    • Are they scratched up?
  • Lift open the rear tailgate. What's the general condition of the rear area?
  • Remove the console tray that sits between the driver and passenger seat.
    • Did anyone spill an
  • Was the previous owner a dog owner?
    • How much hair is on and embedded within the seat fabric?
  • Did the previous owner accidentally use a hose to clean the interior?
    • Remove the side foot trim and console tray to see if there's traces of rust
Inspecting Fluids
  • Oil
  • Power Steering
  • Brake Fluid
Road Test
  • Drive up and down a driveway (multiple times if you need to)
    • Check for clunking and creaking noises
  • Test the shifting
    • Does the transmission hesitate and/or make any weird noises?

Now that I Know What's Wrong, Should I Still Get One?

This depends on your comfort level with tools, a willingness and ability to learn new things, possess out of the thinking, and possibly have backup transportaiont if you break something and don't have replacement parts on hand. I learned even though you have Eric The Car Guy's YouTube Videos and access to the maintenance manual, some changes could be challenging if you've never maintained a car (like myself). Do you have a Harbor Freight close by? You'll find yourself going to Harbor Freight every weekend to build up your tool arsenal like I did. Here's a couple product that I cannot live without when it comes to maintaining my 2006 Honda Element EX-P.