Ask Bark: The Element of Surprise

Phil writes:

Hi Bark,

My 2003 Honda Element is in need of a new engine due to a burnt valve. The vehicle is in otherwise good shape, with both the body and interior holding up well. I would like to keep it. However, my Element’s 240,000 miles and the quoted $2,800 price for a 70,000-mile replacement engine give me pause. I have another newer vehicle, so transportation isn’t a problem.

Should I fix the Honda and keep it as a sometimes commuter — or move on?

Ah, sentimentality. I’m going to answer your question in a bit here, but allow me some poetic license first.

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Yet Another Recall Edition: Honda's Odyssey Brakes Full Of Hot Air

Usually, we don’t report every recall (you’d be pretty tired of it pretty quick,) but in the interest of things being in the spotlight, please be advised that Honda will recall more than 410,000 Odyssey minivans and Element small trucks from the 2007 and 2008 model years, says Associated Press.

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  • Dennis Howerton Nice article, Cory. Makes me wish I had bought Festivas when they were being produced. Kia made them until the line was discontinued, but Kia evidently used some of the technology to make the Rio. Pictures of the interior look a lot like my Rio's interior, and the 1.5 liter engine is from Mazda while Ford made the automatic transmission in the used 2002 Rio I've been driving since 2006. I might add the Rio is also an excellent subcompact people mover.
  • Sgeffe Bronco looks with JLR “reliability!”What’s not to like?!
  • FreedMike Back in the '70s, the one thing keeping consumers from buying more Datsuns was styling - these guys were bringing over some of the ugliest product imaginable. Remember the F10? As hard as I try to blot that rolling aberration from my memory, it comes back. So the name change to Nissan made sense, and happened right as they started bringing over good-looking product (like the Maxima that will be featured in this series). They made a pretty clean break.
  • Flowerplough Liability - Autonomous vehicles must be programmed to make life-ending decisions, and who wants to risk that? Hit the moose or dive into the steep grassy ditch? Ram the sudden pile up that is occurring mere feet in front of the bumper or scan the oncoming lane and swing left? Ram the rogue machine that suddenly swung into my lane, head on, or hop up onto the sidewalk and maybe bump a pedestrian? With no driver involved, Ford/Volkswagen or GM or whomever will bear full responsibility and, in America, be ambulance-chaser sued into bankruptcy and extinction in well under a decade. Or maybe the yuge corporations will get special, good-faith, immunity laws, nation-wide? Yeah, that's the ticket.
  • FreedMike It's not that consumers wouldn't want this tech in theory - I think they would. Honestly, the idea of a car that can take over the truly tedious driving stuff that drives me bonkers - like sitting in traffic - appeals to me. But there's no way I'd put my property and my life in the hands of tech that's clearly not ready for prime time, and neither would the majority of other drivers. If they want this tech to sell, they need to get it right.