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A Honda Element That Won't Start

by Harvey Birdman

Honda Elements tend to be reliable, so the most likely culprit for a non-starting Element is an electrical problem. Mechanical issues could be at fault, but a dead battery is far more likely. If proper maintenance intervals have been followed, it is even more likely that it is just a battery problem. A number of steps can be taken to fix a dead or dying battery and see if there are more serious issues preventing a Honda Element from starting.

Try to start the Honda Element. Listen for chugging, which indicates the engine is turning over. If there is no chugging, look at the dashboard lights. If the lights do not come on, or if they are only flickering, the battery is dead or dying.

Turn the car off and inspect the car battery for foam. The battery is leaking acid if there is foam, and a tow truck is needed. A professional mechanicshould deal with the battery due to the possibility of acid burns. If there is no foam, strike the battery post clamps with a shoe, as the clamps may need to reconnect. Try starting the Honda. If it does not start, the battery either needs a jump or should be replaced.

Turn the Honda Element off and pop the hood. Park a functioning car hood to hood with the Honda. Open both hoods. Connect one end of the red jumper cable to the positive terminal on the Element and the other end to the positive terminal on the other car. Connect one end of the black cable to the negative terminal on the other car and the other end to a bare metal part of the Honda. Start the functioning car and let it idle for five minutes. Then start the Element. Let the Element run for half an hour to fully recharge the battery, or you can quickly burn out the alternator by driving and charging. If this does not work, your battery may be beyond revival and need to be replaced.

Replace the battery in the Honda by first turning off the car. Take off the battery post clamps by unscrewing the O-ring clamps with a flat-head screwdriver and remove the retaining clamps with the screwdriver. Pull the battery out by the handle and slide in the new battery. Screw down the retaining clamps and electrical clamps, being careful to not over-tighten the screws. Try to turn on the Element. If the car lights come on but the engine does not start, the engine may be flooded.

Enable the "Clear Flood" mode, which will clear a flooded engine. A flooded engine occurs when there is fuel on the spark plugs, which prevents them from sparking. To enable the Clear Flood mode, depress the accelerator all the way to the floor before repeatedly turning the ignition to the "On" position. This triggers the Clear Flood mode, which makes the engine pump air instead of fuel, thus drying the spark plugs. Do this for five minutes, take your foot off the pedal and turn the car off, taking the keys out of the ignition. After a minute, the Honda should start. If not, there may be mechanical problems necessitating a professional mechanic with diagnostic equipment to fix it.

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About the Author

Harvey Birdman has been writing since 2000 for academic assignments. He has trained in the use of LexisNexus, Westlaw and Psychnotes. He holds a Juris Doctor and a Master of Business Administration from the Chicago Kent School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts in both political science and psychology from the University of Missouri at Columbia.

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