I love my Honda Element. Based on my last year of maintaining the car myself, here's a couple of things I learned:

Buying a Honda 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

  • Check all interior plastic panels.
    • What condition are they in?
    • How scratched up are they?
    • Are any panels cracked?
    • Are any cracked?
    • Lift open the rear tailgate. What condition are the panels which make up the tailgate area?
    • Remove the console tray that sits between the driver and passenger seat.
      • Is there any corrosion?
    • 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
    What Should I Look For?
    Fluids Oil Power Steering Brake Fluid
    Driving Test - Go up and down driveways - Does the car have clunking or creaking noises? - How's the shifting? - Does the car hesitate when shifting gears?

    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.